“The Masai Mara is the most photogenic safari location in Africa and the country offers a huge variety, both in landscapes and inhabitants!”
Kenya has it all; from the tropical coral seas and white beaches of the Indian Ocean to the colder climate of the western highlands, from the dry savannahs of the south to the semi-desert around Lake Turkana in the north. This variety allows for many different safari options and exceptional experiences for all travellers.
The most famous location is the Masai Mara National Reserve, part of the huge Serengeti-Mara ecosystem and home to the highest concentration of large wildlife on the planet! The annual migration of over 2 million wildebeest and many zebra is ongoing throughout the year. The herds move in a generally clockwise route across the plains of the Serengeti and the Mara following the rains. The famous Mara River crossings usually take place in both Kenya and Tanzania from July to October each year, in a spectacle often referred to as the greatest show on earth!
From a traveller’s perspective, an important fact is that many safari destinations in Kenya are at a high altitude, around 2000m above sea level. This results in two significant benefits, compared to other safari destinations:
1) it doesn’t get as hot as it can in other regions, in fact, it could be chilly a night, which is great!
2) there is a really low risk of malaria in these high-altitude areas, making for a good destination for families with small children.
Another very interesting aspect to Kenya is that a trophy hunting ban has now been in place for more than 40 years. This has resulted in wildlife being trusting of vehicles, making them more approachable in certain areas. As good genes in terms tusk and horn size have been retained rather than selected for hunting, there are some magnificent specimens of certain animals!
safariFRANK does not support overly close interaction with some animals such as cheetah’s climbing on vehicles. However, respectfully sharing space with relaxed large animals is a fantastic experience, not possible in many other places.
Kenya also boasts another great conservation success story- the Conservancy model in which private companies and local community landowners collaborate in conservation. There are a number of different examples in operation, but in essence, the local communities agree to make the land available for conservation and eco-tourism in exchange for revenue, employment and even grazing benefits. These models do sometimes result in tourists seeing wildlife and cattle in close proximity. However, this is a small price to pay as the reality is that was it not for this arrangement, there would have been no wildlife in these areas at all and much more pressure on the National Parks. The method also allows for traditional pastoralist cultures to thrive. A great outcome for all!
- Kenya is home to around 55 million people comprising of more than 40 different tribal cultures.
- The safari as we know it was invented here. Safari is the Swahili word for journey.
- An over 40-year ban on hunting has resulted in animals being very approachable.
- The equator runs through the country, as does the Great Rift Valley.
- Huge variety in terrain from white beaches to highlands of the up-country.
Why we like it
- The long history of safari culture and the close-knit safari community.
- The conservancies are great conservation models working with local communities to ensure that they receive real benefits.
- It is home to reserves at high altitudes reducing the risk of malaria for children.
- The varied landscapes-from the famous Masai Mara to the WILD Lake Turkana, Kenya has it all!
- The Masai Mara Reserve, the most photogenic safari destination on earth!
- The easy access from the United States and Europe with direct flights to Nairobi.
Where to go
We have divided Kenya into 6 safari regions, namely the Masai Mara and private conservancies, Laikipia, Amboseli & Tsavo, Northern Kenya, the Kenyan coast and Nairobi.
Safaris in Kenya take place almost exclusively by flying between these locations through scheduled flights leaving from Nairobi. A typical safari would visit three of the locations, with one of them being the Mara, especially for first-timers!
Kenya has a long history as a safari destination and has been made famous by numerous writers, movies and TV shows over the years. It is well loved for its hospitality, many family-owned safari operators and excellent service!
When to Go
Kenya is on the equator and as such there can be some variations in weather. It also comprises of some safari locations with high elevations, up to 2000m above sea level, which results in mild to chilly temperatures at these locations year-round. In certain areas, notably Laikipia, it is not uncommon to have a lit fireplace in your room, year-round. Visitors to these areas are often surprised at how cold it can be and warm clothes are recommended for game drives.
Kenya, similar to Tanzania, has four main seasons. It is considered an all-year destination, but the season you visit will greatly impact your experience, so be sure to choose the correct season for the experience you would like.
The ‘long rainy season’ (March, April & May)
This is when Kenya receives the majority of its rainfall and it is fairly consistent each year. Rain typically falls in heavy downpours each afternoon. Safaris at this time of the year can be complicated as road conditions deteriorate and animals disperse from water sources. If you go on safari during this time you may get a bit wet and muddy, but it is all part of the fun!
On the plus side, many baby animals are born, the skies are at their prettiest and environment is bursting with new life. It’s also the quietest time of year to travel so you will have an exclusive experience and the lack of other travellers results in great deals to be had.
The ‘short rainy season’ (November & December)
These rains are not as intense as the main rainy season and can be unpredictable and vary considerably from year to year. A safari at this time of the year can be very enjoyable provided you don’t mind the chance of a little rain.
The ‘long dry season’ (June to October)
This is the peak season for tourism in Kenya and rainfall is unusual with days normally clear and sunny. Keep in mind that temperatures vary depending on location and altitude. In high altitude areas like the Masai Mara and Laikipia, it may be pretty cold, especially on early morning game drives! This is considered the best time for a safari as animals congregate around water sources, making their viewing more predictable.
Between August and September, the annual wildebeest migration starts to cross the Mara River, an event which is on many traveller’s bucket list!
The ‘short dry season’ (January & February)
This is the period between the short and long rainy seasons and rain cannot be totally ruled out. It is, however, a great time of the year to travel. Many areas are still green from the short rains, so photographs are clear, crisp and will have vibrant colours. Birding is also at its peak as migratory birds have now arrived.
Read more about best seasons to travel to different regions in Africa.
Stay in the private conservancies around the Masai Mara National Reserve, away from the crowds and where your stay will contribute directly to the conservation of the area!
Most of the lodges in the conservancies offer day trips into the Reserve to experience the migration’s river crossings if that is on your bucket list. In the conservancies it is also possible to drive off-road, conduct night-drives and do walking safaris, adding other dimensions to the experience.
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