A holiday to Kenya captures the spirit of Africa for those who answer to the call of the wild. From elephant parades, wildebeest migrations and flamingo-filled lakes to lush rainforests, rolling grasslands and sun-baked plains, it packs in plenty to thrill both first-timers and repeat safari lovers. Whilst most come here for the game drives, there is more to this land than close encounters with The Big Five; from lazing on stunning palm-fringed beaches to floating above the savannah in a hot-air balloon.
Fulfilling every ‘Out of Africa’ fantasy, Kenya’s unbeatable landscapes set the scene for epic safari adventure. With backdrops that range from the open savannah of the Masai Mara to the sparkling snow-capped peak of Mount Kenya, this East African gem ticks off the clichés for an extraordinary number of national parks, extinct volcanoes, and wildlife reserves.
Safari, meaning ‘long journey’ in Swahili, is Kenya’s best asset, especially in the country’s finest reserves of Masai Mara, Amboseli, and Samburu. Whilst The Big Five – a term coined by big game hunters to reference lion, leopard , rhino, elephant and buffalo – gets all the glory, you can also get your fix of giraffes, baboons, hyenas, jackals, colourful parrots, crocodiles, cheetahs, flightless ostriches, and more.
Wildlife sightings come fast and furious, but time your visit right (ideally between mid-July and October) and you can catch the annual wildebeest migration in full swing and witness huge herds of game pouring into the Masai Mara. The Masai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s safari star, revered for its superb lion, cheetah and leopard sightings, huge savannahs, hot-air ballooning, and crocodile-infested Mara River.
Beyond life filled with daily game drives, discover the three volcanic islands at Lake Turkana, climb up Mount Kenya, dive at Wasini or Watamu, take the ferry to Lamu Island, home to Kenya’s oldest Swahili settlement, and visit Laikipia, Kenya’s wild Northern frontier country. For paradise found, head to Diani Beach on the shores of the Indian Ocean just south of Mombasa. Studded with soft sugary-white sands, palm trees, glamourous villas, and upscale hotels, this is by far the chicest beach on the Kenyan coast.
In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, you can tour Karen Blixen’s House and Museum, the farmhouse once belonging to the ‘Out of Africa’ novelist that opened to the public in 1986, and visit the stately Giraffe Manor, one of Nairobi’s most iconic buildings that is set in 140 acres of park and forest. Equally compelling is Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage located in the Nairobi Game Park. Run by Daphne Sheldrick, a Kenyan conservationist and expert in animal husbandry, this world-famous sanctuary rescues and fosters baby elephants and successfully reintegrates them back into the wild.
When to visit
The best time to visit Kenya is during the dry season from January to March and July through to October. The wettest months are April to May. Kenya is warm all year round but take a cardigan as the mornings and evenings can be chilly when out on a safari.