Kenya

Masai Mara, Tsavo, Samburu, Rift Valley, The Lakes, Amboseli, Laikipia, Meru, Mount Kenya, Nairobi

The leopards and baboons were vocalizing under the almost full moon while we slept under the stars on the deck of our Banda… Wonderfulness all.
— Rosemary R., Sunnyvale, CA

Kenya MapFrom the late 70’s when Next Adventure’s founders traversed Mount Kenya and went on a camping safari in the Masai Mara and Samburu, Kenya has been an absolute favorite. We find its classic and dramatic East African beauty unparalleled. Today still the country’s savannas, deserts, highlands, snowy peak and beaches host a rich and varied wildlife including unique desert-adapted species.

Kenya has it all – warm and welcoming people, fascinating cultures, stunning scenery and distinctive wildlife attractions including the magnificent annual wildebeest and zebra migration, so it remains a not-to-be missed safari destination.

  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Maasai Guide - Laikipia
  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Kili  McGowan's photo
  • Fig the Leopard, Olare Motorogi Conservancy
  • Fig the Leopard with Sunset, Olare Motorogi Conservancy


    Accommodations in Kenya

    Next Adventure recommends a wide variety of camps, lodges and hotels throughout Kenya. A few of our favorites are listed below and can be included in a custom safari itinerary:

    Mara Plains Camp Masai Mara

    Nkorombo Mobile Camp Masai Mara

    Serian Camp Masai Mara

    Ol Donyo Lodge Chyulu Hills

    Sasaab Samburu

    The Emakoko Nairobi

    Kenya has an international reputation for its classic East African beauty. The country has savannas, deserts, highlands and beaches that contain a rich and varied wildlife population. The presence of a colorful diversity of culture is also one of Kenya’s greatest attractions. Over thirty tribes inhabit Kenya. The five largest and best known are the Masai (or Maasai), the Samburu, the Tugen, the Turkana and the Kikuyu. These groups share a semi-nomadic, pastoral lifestyle, and each has a unique and rich culture. Kenya’s hospitable people, fascinating cultures, great tourist destinations and, especially, stunning scenery and wildlife make it a popular and unique destination.

    Leopard Buffalo Encounter - Kenya's Maasai Mara - Photo by Taylor Phillips

    Leopard Buffalo Encounter – Kenya’s Maasai Mara – Photo by Taylor Phillips

    Kenya is a large and diverse country. Although straddling the equator, the landscape is mostly semi-desert savannah. The climate is generally dry with warm days and cool nights although altitude and prevailing winds affect local conditions. Mount Kenya’s highlands are typically cooler while the northern and lower desert areas are warmer. Safaris operate year-round although East Africa has two rainy periods. The “short rains” fall in November/December and the “long rains” in April/May when lower rates may be available.

    Typically safari costs include a safari vehicle with a roof hatch and a driver/ guide, meals, accommodation, park and entrance fees and applicable taxes. Children under 12 sharing with adults may qualify for discounts.

    Hotels and airport transfers, optional sightseeing in Nairobi and Kenya visas are extra (currently $50 for US citizens online but subject to change). If your itinerary includes Tanzania, visas currently cost $100 per person for US citizens, also subject to change.

    MASAI MARA

    Cape Buffalo & Cattle Egrets in the Masai Mara

    Cape Buffalo & Cattle Egrets in the Masai Mara

    The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of East Africa’s top game reserves and is located adjacent to Tanzania’s famous Serengeti Park. The Reserve has plentiful wildlife, with large populations of gazelle, antelope (especially topi) and predators. This park is the only place in Kenya to see the Roan antelope. The Mara is famous for its prides of black-maned lions, and has cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs and even the elusive leopard. The annual migration of wildebeest and zebra from July to September provides one of Africa’s most dramatic scenes as millions of animals cross the Mara River into the Masai Mara. The stately presence of the Masai people greatly enhances the experience.

    TSAVO

    Tsavo is among the world’s largest animal sanctuaries, covering 20,000 sq. km, and has an incredible diversity of wildlife and scenery. The park is split into East and West Tsavo by the Nairobi/Mombasa highway. Tsavo is known for the so-called “red” elephants who cover themselves in the rich red earth of the area. Tsavo West has an odd, otherworldly landscape and is a Black rhino sanctuary. The western side also contains Mzima springs with hippo and crocodile, which can be seen from an underwater viewing tank. Tsavo’s wildlife also includes many lions, possibly descended from the famous “Man-Eaters of Tsavo”. Other animals found in Tsavo include leopard, cheetah, Lesser Kudu, Eland, waterbuck, oryx, Coke’s Hartebeest and gerenuk. The sunsets can be striking as the expansive sky is painted in rich color. The national park is located between Nairobi and the coast city of Mombasa.

    MOUNT KENYA REGION

    The striking and snowcapped Mount Kenya is the second highest point in Africa at 17,058 ft. The mountain is a beautiful and challenging destination for trekkers and climbers. The summit and a second peak are for advanced climbers, but a third peak, Lenana, is more accessible. The volcanic peak dominates the surrounding slopes, valleys and gorges. Mountain elephant, black Rhino, Cape Buffalo, antelope and Giant Forest Hog roam the foothills in the 228 sq. mi. national park. The landscape is covered in unusual high-altitude equatorial vegetation like tussock grass, giant heather, lobelia and groundsel. This vegetation gives Kenya’s slopes an alpine desert appearance and an otherworldly feel.

    The Lewa Downs Game Ranch covers 40,000 acres of savanna beneath the northwestern slopes of Mount Kenya and carries game and cattle in balance and harmony. Lewa Downs provides a safe refuge to plenty of African wildlife, including Black and White rhino. Access to this area is exclusive.

    Not far from Mount Kenya National Park is the Aberdare National Park, a landscape of high alpine moors and primeval forests. The Aberdares are known for an abundance of wildlife, including a number of rhino, and the Karuru waterfalls, the highest in Kenya. It is also home to the world-famous Treetops Lodge and several other beautiful lodges.

    Also close by is the luxurious Sweetwaters Tented Camp, which is in the heart of the game reserve of the same name. It has magnificent views of the peak. Accommodations overlook a water hole, and wildlife around the camp includes giraffe, zebra, elephant and buffalo. Some of the activities offered are night game drives, bird and nature walks, and visits to a chimpanzee sanctuary and even camel riding.

    Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

    Simply known as Lewa, the Conservancy is nestled at the foothills of Mount Kenya and is home to some of the continent’s most endangered species – the black rhino and the Grevy’s zebra- and a plethora of other wildlife including the elephant, giraffe, buffalo, antelope, lion, cheetah and leopard.

    Conservation of endangered species
    Lewa is home to some of Africa’s critically endangered species, notably the black rhino and Grevy’s zebra. The Conservancy has been hugely successful in conservation of the native black rhino and the resident population has grown at an impressive 6% per annum.

    Lewa plays a crucial role in rhino conservation in Kenya, facilitating the translocation of its rhino to new or previously inhabited areas & providing technical expertise to established and new rhino sanctuaries.

    Lewa’s Grevy’s zebra population, at approximately 380 individuals, is the single largest at any one place in the world. With less than 3,000 left in the wild, the Grevy’s zebra is the world’s rarest zebra and the second largest equid. Lewa’s Research Team carries out important monitoring and research to inform management decisions on Grevy’s zebra conservation.

    Community Development
    For communities neighbouring wildlife, conservation can be the greatest tool for development and Lewa’s community development programmes have over the years transformed the lives of thousands from the adjoining communities. Today, Lewa supports 19 schools, 10 water projects, four clinics, a women’s micro-credit programme and so many other community projects, improving the quality of life of many.

    Conservation tourism
    Lewa boasts some of the most spectacular landscapes in northern Kenya and Mount Kenya serves as the perfect backdrop. With gentle rolling hills and natural, unspoilt beauty, guests enjoy the trip of a lifetime that consists of an unforgettable combination of great scenery, superb game viewing and excellent hospitality.

    Visitors also have the opportunity to experience Lewa’s extensive conservation and development projects. Proceeds from tourism are ploughed back into our various programmes, crucial funds that contribute to Lewa’s annual revenue.

    Lewa’s History
    Lewa’s rich history in conservation spans three decades, having started out as the Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary established in 1983 to help save the last remaining black rhino in northern Kenya. At the time, poaching for rhino horn saw a once thriving population plummet to near extinction, and Ngare Sergoi was a brave and pioneering venture, driven by love for the rhino. The sanctuary thrived and was later re-established as the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in 1995.

    MERU

    Meru National Park, north of Mount Kenya, offers a great range of mountain landscapes and wildlife habitats. Its lowland plains contain forest, swamp, savanna and rivers. Abundant rainfall and permanent streams support some luxuriant vegetation. Meru also has huge numbers of wildlife, including all of the Big Five – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. The unique species of Reticulated Giraffe and Grevy’s Zebra are found here. Meru is also known as the home of Joy and George Adamson and their “Born Free” lions. The area was once badly damaged by poachers, but has since been better protected. Meru is now a beautiful and relatively unused park. The inclusion of Meru into your itinerary may depend on the season. At times it can present superb wildlife opportunities without many tourists.

    SAMBURU

    Samburu View

    Samburu View

    The Samburu National Reserve is found in the arid countryside north of Mount Kenya and is the traditional home to the Samburu people. Samburu is a haven for rare wildlife such as the Grevy’s Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Beisa Oryx, the Somali Ostrich and the long-necked antelope, Gerenuk. Samburu has also its share of predators including lion, cheetah and leopard. The arid landscape is made up of grasslands and desert dotted with acacia and rocky hills. Doum palms line the Uaso Nyiro River, which lures animals from across the desert. The vistas and landscape provide fabulous scenery to accent the plentiful game. Samburu is adjacent to the Buffalo Springs Reserve, which has less thornscrub and more acacia trees and savanna grass. Buffalo Springs has abundant game and several quality accommodations.

    RIFT VALLEY AND LAKES

    The Great Rift Valley is a stunning and impressive landmark that cuts through the Kenyan landscape northeast of Nairobi. The giant chasm was formed by a massive fracture line and is so deep and defined that it can be seen from space. In Kenya, the Rift is about 50 km wide and as deep as 3000 m. The prehistoric landscape has the seven great lakes of Kenya within its dramatic scenery.

    Two picturesque lakes found in the Rift Valley are home to a huge population of brilliant flamingos. Lake Naivasha, the world’s highest freshwater lake, is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Lake Nakuru is a soda lake whose surrounding area provides a sanctuary for Black and White rhinos and the rare Rothschild’s giraffe. The lake itself boasts a spectacular display of flamingos. On the small lake, barely four by six miles,  one or two million of the flame-pink birds can be seen. Another lake in the valley, Elmenteita, has luxury accommodations, notably the new Serena luxury tented camp. The lake is home to plentiful flamingos as well as Kenya’s only breeding population of Great White pelicans.

    AMBOSELI

    With the majestic view of Mount Kilimanjaro ever present, Amboseli offers some of Kenya’s best displays of wildlife. Ernest Hemingway wrote of Amboseli as being the essence of Africa. Elephant live in the foothill forests and swamplands, plains animals graze the grasslands and leopard can be seen prowling the salt flats. The open savannas are dotted with impala and many other antelope. Amboseli also has giraffe, rhino, Vervet monkeys, baboons and kudu. The park was first established in 1948, and was later turned over to tribal control in 1961. Amboseli is in the heart of Masai land, containing many of the proud, nomadic people’s manyatta villages.

    THE COAST

    The Kenyan coastline is one of the most beautiful in Africa. Its climate is tropical and the beaches are fringed with palms. A spectacular coral reef runs along the coastline and boasts beautiful marine life. Lagoons, mangrove forests and cliffs host overwhelming birdlife. The coastal region offers many popular attractions and activities including swimming, sunbathing and birdwatching. The gateway to the region is Mombasa, which has a long, rich history. The seaport has been a trading post since 200 AD, bringing foreign luxuries to the colorful bazaars. Lamu is another bustling community on the northern coast that is still visited by Arab trading dhows.

    NAIROBI

    Sheldrick Trust's Elephant Orphanage

    Sheldrick Trust’s Elephant Orphanage

    Nairobi is the largest city of East Africa, with over 3.3 million inhabitants and steady growth. It has developed into one of the great commercial centers of the world. Nicknamed the “City of Flowers”, Nairobi’s high altitude, warm climate and fertile soil promote the growth of both tropical and temperate plants all over the area. Jacaranda trees gracefully shade the city’s streets, and bougainvillea brightens the avenues it lines. Nairobi also has a national park only five miles from its center. There is a wide choice of hotels and lodges in and around the city.

    As the birthplace of the safari, Nairobi city is a natural starting point for most Kenya safari itineraries. Indeed nearly all of the famous safaris of colonial history set off from here, some with lines of ‘bearers’ miles long.

    Attractions include:
    • Karen Blixen Museum
    • Giraffe Centre
    • Grand City Tour
    • Cultural Tour
    • Carnivore Restaurant
    • The Nairobi National Park


    Kenya – 18-Day Luxury Safari- Kenya, Rwanda & Zanzibar

    12 nights in Kenya with the Swahili Coast Nairobi - Naivasha - Ol Pejeta - Samburu - Masai Mara - Malindi

    Day 1 Arrival in Nairobi, Kenya, The Boma Nairobi
    Day 2 & 3 Drive to Naivasha, Kiangazi House
    Day 4 Drive to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Sweetwaters Tented Camp
    Day 5 & 6 Drive to via Mount Kenya to Samburu, Elephant Bedroom Camp
    Day 7 & 8 Fly to Masai Mara, Serian Camp
    Day 9-11 Fly to Nairobi & on to Malindi, Turtle Bay Beach Club
    Day 12 Fly to Nairobi, The Boma Nairobi
    Day 13 Morning activities, lunch & afternoon departure

    For full details, please view the full PDF itinerary here.

    Kenya Naivasha Samburu Sample

    12 night Family Safari in Kenya Nairobi – Rift Valley – Masai Mara – Laikipia – Kenyan Coast

    Day 1 – Arrive in Nairobi, Giraffe Manor (2 nights)
    Day 2 – Visit Giraffe Center & Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Manor
    Day 3 – Drive to Rift Valley, Elmenteita Serena Camp (2 nights)
    Day 4 – Safari activities in Rift Valley from Elmenteita Serena Camp
    Day 5 – Fly to Masai Mara Game Reserve, Rekero Camp (3 nights)
    Day 6-7 – Wildlife viewing in Masai Mara from Rekero Camp
    Day 8 – Fly to Laikipia (via Nairobi). Game drive to Sabuk Lodge (3 nights)
    Day 9-10 – Wildlife viewing and cultural activities in Laikipia from Sabuk Lodge
    Day 11 – Scheduled flight to Malindi (via Nairobi), Charter flight to Delta Dunes Camp (2 nights)
    Day 12 – Beach activities from Delta Dunes
    Day 13 – Boat & road transfer to Malindi, Scheduled flight to Nairobi Wilson Airport, dinner and transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International for departure

    For full details, please view the full PDF itinerary here.

    Kenya Family Rift Laikipia Sample

    African Horizons Cheetah on Landcruiser

    Cheetah on Landcruiser in the Mara
    Photo credit: African Horizons

    Bull Elephants at Ol Donyo

    Bull Elephants at Ol Donyo


    KENYA NORTHERN CIRCUIT (8 days) Nairobi, The Ark, Samburu, Mount Kenya Safari Club, Sweetwaters, Masai Mara

    Day 1 – Pick up hotel in Nairobi. Drive north to Aberdare Country Club for lunch (205K and 3 hours driving). Transfer to The Ark for overnight.

    Day 2 – Samburu Game Reserve. After breakfast continue north to Samburu arriving in time for lunch (205K and 3 1/2 hours driving). Afternoon game drive. Dinner and overnight at Samburu Serena Lodge.

    Day 3 – Samburu Game Reserve. Full day in Samburu / Buffalo Springs with morning and afternoon game drives. Meals and overnight at your lodge.

    Day 4 – Drive to Mount Kenya Safari Club for overnight {155K and 2 hours driving}.

    Day 5 – Sweetwaters Tented Camp. After breakfast depart for Ol Pejeta arriving in time for lunch (55K and one hour driving). In the afternoon proceed on a game drive including a visit to the Chimpanzee Orphanage. Dinner and overnight at Sweetwaters Tented Camp.

    Day 6 – Drive to Masai Mara {30K and 1/2 hour} and afternoon game drive. Dinner and overnight at Mara Safari Club.

    Day 7 – Masai Mara. Full day in the Masai Mara with morning and afternoon game drives. All meals and overnight.

    Day 8 – Nairobi. Transfer to the airstrip for the late morning flight to Nairobi. Met on arrival and lunch at Carnivore.

    Cost: please inquire.

    KENYA CHEETAH SAFARI (8 days): Nairobi, Samburu, Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara

    Day 1: Arrival in Nairobi

    Upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to the historic 5-star Sarova Stanley Hotel. One of Nairobi’s oldest and best renowned city hotels, it stands in the city centre within easy reach of both shops and tourist attractions, and offering a health club, roof-top swimming pool and a wide selection of restaurants and bars.

    Overnight at Sarova Stanley Hotel on bed and breakfast basis.

    Day 2: Nairobi to Samburu

    After an early breakfast, drive north of Nairobi up the Great Rift Valley to the Samburu / Buffalo Springs National Reserve arriving in time for a late lunch at the Samburu Sopa Lodge. Built on raised ground allowing for panoramic views of the distant Samburu Hills and Mount Kenya, the lodge stands in the centre of this pristine reserve and features a curve of cottages clustered around a waterhole that attracts a wide range of wildlife both day and night. After lunch, take a game drive in the twin Samburu and Buffalo Springs Reserves, which provide one of the few sanctuaries in Kenya for the endangered Grevy’s zebra, the rare beisa oryx and the blue-shanked Somali ostrich.

    Dinner and overnight at the lodge.

    Distance/drive time: 380 km / 5.5 hours

    Day 3: On safari in Samburu

    Enjoy a full day on safari in Samburu (morning and afternoon game drives). In the evening, there is an option of sundowners before dinner in the central dining room.

    A place of endless skies, dust-red plains and palm-fringed rivers, Samburu National Reserve lies on the fringes of the vast and arid desert once known as the Northern Frontier District, whose heat-scorched scrublands extend all the way to the jade-green waters of Lake Turkana and beyond. Physically dramatic, the 104 sq km landscape of the Reserve features rocky battlements, craggy scarps, dry river beds and fallen boulders rising out of the thorn scrub against a backdrop of the far-distant hills and the great red table mountain known as Ololokwe.

    Day 4: Samburu to Mount Kenya

    Leave the lodge after breakfast and travel south along the flanks of Mount Kenya to enter the Serena Mountain Lodge. Sailing like an ark amid the primeval forests of Kenya’s highest mountain, Mount Kenya, this timbered tree hotel offers champagne-clear mountain air, sweeping views across the tree-canopy, sparkling trout streams, and gentle forest walks. Cool, tranquil and hushed for optimum game-sightings, the open-air viewing-deck looks down onto its own water hole, which attracts numerous herds of elephant and buffalo. The panoramic tree-level dining room offers both local and international cuisine, while the central bar offers a blazing fire and its own private game-viewing terrace.

    About Mount Kenya National Park (Namesake of the nation)
    One of the world’s highest National Parks, Mount Kenya is an extinct volcano some three and a half million years old. Straddling the equator, the mountain offers a unique mosaic of forest, moorland, rock and ice and is crowned by the glittering twin peaks of Batian (5,199 m) and Nelion (5,188 m). The sacred home of Ngai, God of the Kikuyu people, Mount Kenya is Kenya’s highest mountain, a national icon, a climbers’ Mecca, the nation’s namesake, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, and a wildlife stronghold. Anyone in reasonable health can attempt the steep trek to Point Lenana (4, 985 M), which is the highest point for trekkers. Of the approximately 500 climbers who attempt to scale Nelion each year, around 200 make the summit. Around 50 experienced climbers achieve the summit of Batian annually.

    Wildlife highlights: includes; giant forest hog, tree hyrax, white-tailed mongoose, elephant, black rhino, suni, black-fronted duiker, bongo, leopard, Mount Kenya mouse shrew, hyrax, duiker and the endemic mole-rat. Birds: 130 recorded species.

    Distance/drive time: 220km / 3 hours

    Day 5: Mount Kenya to Lake Nakuru

    After breakfast, drive south to Lake Nakuru National Park in time for lunch at Lake Nakuru Lodge. In the afternoon enjoy your first glimpse of the Lake’s fabled 1.2 million flamingos, perhaps find rhinos grazing on the lakeshore (this park is the nation’s largest rhino sanctuary), and arrive back at the Lodge in time for a swim and a sumptuous buffet supper.

    Distance/drive time: 240 km / 3.5 hours

    Day 6: Nakuru to the Masai Mara

    Leaving the lodge after breakfast, continue up the floor of Rift to arrive in the famous Masai Mara National Reserve, and at the Mara Sopa Lodge in time for a late lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy your first game-drive in the Mara. World renowned for the breathtaking spectacle of ‘the greatest wildlife show on earth’, the awe inspiring annual migration of the wildebeest, the Mara is Kenya’s most visited protected area. Technically an extension of Tanzania’s renowned Serengeti National Park, the Mara constitutes only 4% of the entire Serengeti ecosystem but its rolling grasslands, meandering rivers and towering escarpments offer one of the world’s most rewarding and evocative wildlife arenas. Returning to the lodge, enjoy a swim, relaxation on your private veranda, sundowners at one of the lodge’s many bars and dinner in the central restaurant.

    Distance/drive time: 365 km / 5.5 hours

    Day 7: On safari in the Mara

    Spend all day on safari in the reserve with morning and afternoon game drives and breakfast, lunch and dinner at the lodge. When it comes to game-viewing, there is nowhere in Africa richer in wildlife or more eventful in encounters than the Mara. A pristine wilderness of haunting beauty, it promises its visitors a profusion of wildlife, prolific bird life and the unprecedented opportunity of catching up with all the members of the ‘Big Five’ in one morning.

    Day 8: The Mara to Nairobi

    After breakfast at the lodge, drive to Nairobi and take lunch at the world famous Carnivore Restaurant, rated among the top 500 restaurants in the world. Depart for your flight home.

    Distance/drive time: 265 km / 4 hours


     

    Kenya Safari Destinations


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