Go on a safari in the Masai Mara, watch the great wildebeest migration, relax on Diani Beach… Kenya promises you unique moments. To be sure not to miss anything, follow our guide to the essentials in Kenya to make your stay as successful as possible.
Must-sees in Kenya: The Masai Mara
If there was only one park to be made in Kenya, it would without hesitation be the Masai Mara. Located in the south-west of the country, the reserve extends over 1510 km² and has been classified as a “national reserve” since 1974. The fauna there is incredibly rich, and the landscapes are sublime. Leaving from Nairobi or Mombassa, climb aboard a 4X4, with a guide, and travel miles of land in search of gazelles, rhinos, giraffes, zebras as well as thousands of wildebeest during the great migration. Going to the Masai Mara also means having the chance to be in contact with nomadic herders adorned with colorful pearl jewellery.
The best time to visit this park is from June to October, when you can see endless rows of wildebeest and zebra walking towards more fertile lands and trying to avoid the ferocious attack of hungry lions and crocodiles, the latter always waiting at the crossing of the river. mara river.
After feeling like you are in a 2 documentary, you can go to a Maasai village, which gives its name to the park, to see their traditional way of life and jump in their lively dances, although from our experience it is something too touristy that we do not know until to what extent can he be responsible or not.
Amboseli National Park
It is the second most visited park in the country, after the Masai Mara. Amboseli National Park is one of the must-sees in Kenya and has something to dream about. Located at the foot of Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park has no less than 1,000 elephants, buffaloes, wildebeest, gazelles, antelopes, hippos…
For the record, the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway, fascinated by this park, was inspired by it to write “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.
Declared a Biosphere Reserve, this huge park is famous for the large herds of elephants that roam a large part of the savannah looking for food or cooling off in pools and swampy areas. Remember that one of the most iconic postcard photos of Kenya and all of Africa is that of a herd of elephants heading for Kilimanjaro. There it is!
In addition to elephants and other animals such as lions, leopards or rhinos, Amboseli offers a landscape of extensive desert plains, acacia forests, lakes where flamingos live, traditional Masai villages and the Oldoinyo Orok peak, from where you will have a fantastic view of the park.
Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya. Originally a single huge park, Tsavo National Park is now cut by a road and a railway line that connect Mombasa to Nairobi. As a result, there are currently two parks: Tsavo East (to the east) and Tsavo West (to the west). The landscapes are very different from one park to another. In Tsavo West, the hills are interspersed with lava flows and the bush is quite bushy.
The park is also characterized by the presence of crocodiles and hippos that wade in the water points, fed directly by the melting glaciers of Kilimanjaro. In Tsavo East, there are large rolling grassy plains, baobabs and ocher soil. There are large herds of buffaloes, lots of elephants, zebras, and impalas.
If you start the visit by Tsavo West you will enjoy a greater diversity of landscapes although in the areas with more vegetation it is more difficult to observe animals, while Tsavo East is drier and although it does not have as much fauna, it is easier to see some of the Big Five .
Must-sees in both parks include Mzima Springs, Roaring Rocks Lookout, Chaimu Crater, Ngulia Rhino Reserve, Lugards Falls, Crocodile Point, and the views from Mudanda Rock.
The Samburu Reserve
In northern Kenya is the Samburu National Reserve. Mainly made up of lava plains, steep ravines and rounded hills, the reserve is home to large herds of elephants, as well as Grévy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, Waller’s gazelle, vulturine guinea fowl and the oryx beisa. But the great pride of the Samburu reserve remains the lioness named Kamunyak, famous for having adopted six oryx babies (the documentary “Coeur de lioness” tells this incredible story perfectly).
The Ewaso Nyiro river which crosses the reserve is an important point in the Samburu reserve because it allows animals to drink.
Among the essentials in Kenya, there are of course the beaches. South of Mombasa, Diani Beach is an ideal haven to relax and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Renowned for its coral reef that surrounds a turquoise lagoon, Diani beach attracts diving enthusiasts and professionals armed with masks and snorkels, who come to admire the multitude of fish of all colors.
Although it is not the most beautiful city in the world and it does not have many tourist attractions, in addition to not being known for being the safest city in the world, you can take advantage of the fact that you land at Nairobi International Airport to get to know it a little better by getting closer to some of its points of interest.
Among the places that we recommend you visit in this chaotic city are the National Museum, the Maasai Market and the Karen Blixen House Museum , the Danish writer who wrote the famous book Out of Africa , which inspired the famous film starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
Another popular thing among tourists visiting Nairobi is dining at The Carnivore, where you can try all kinds of exotic meats cooked on the grill.
Before moving around the city on your own, we recommend that you check with your accommodation what precautions you have to take, as well as ask about security in the areas you want to visit.
The best beaches in Kenya
Lake Victoria, or Lake Nyanza, is the largest lake in Africa and the fourth in the world in area with nearly 68,100 km². Named in honor of Queen Victoria of England, the lake also borders Tanzania and Uganda. It has more than 3000 islands with wonderful beaches and is home to many herbivores, but also lions, leopards, hyenas and the reed antelope. Definitely one of the must see places in Kenya that you shouldn’t miss.
Lake Nakuru is one of the things not to miss when traveling to Kenya. The shores of the lake attract more than a million flamingos, but also white rhinos, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, ostriches and lions. Almost African, Lake Nakuru National Park is located just 170 kilometers northwest of Nairobi and covers nearly 45 km².
1h45 from Nairobi by car, Mount Kenya is the highest point in the country. 5199 meters high, it is the second largest massif in Africa. Little frequented and less known than Kilimanjaro, which faces it, Mount Kenya remains the favorite playground for trekkers. Its ascent is an opportunity to meet the Kikuyu people and discover a unique biodiversity in the world.
On the Kenyan coast, north of Mombassa, the island of Lamu is a small archipelago that is worth seeing when you go on a trip to Kenya. Lamu bathes in a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. It boasts magnificent sandy beaches, palm trees and endless mangroves. It reveals a fascinating history and culture, tinged with local traditions and Islamic riches. There are no cars here. We travel on foot or on the back of a donkey, which makes the experience even more authentic.
Northwest of Nairobi, in Laikipia County, Nanyuki is worth a visit. Founded in 1907 by British settlers, Nanyuki sits on the equator line. The protected natural areas around the city, such as the Kerugoya forest, offer us a glimpse of its fauna and flora.
To the northwest of the capital Nairobi there are several lakes located in the Great Rift Valley, among which Naivasha and Nakuru stand out, which we will talk about in the next point.
Located in the highest part of the valley, at 1,884 meters above sea level, Lake Naivasha is perfect for a boat safari observing hippos and some species of birds such as pelicans and ospreys up close.
It also has the particularity that in the middle of the lake is Crescent Island, a wildlife paradise where you can walk among giraffes, zebras and other harmless mammals, without fear of being attacked by large predators.
Lake Nakuru National Park, located 150 kilometers from the capital Nairobi, is one of the best places in Kenya and Africa for bird watching.
This alkaline lake located on the southern edge of the Great Rift Valley, at an altitude of 1,754 meters, impresses with the thousands of flamingos that fill its shore with pink and feed on its algae, as well as being one of the places with the most chances to observe the black and white rhinos, the latter in danger of extinction.
During the route that goes from Lake Naivasha to Nakuru, we recommend you to be attentive to observe different species of birds and mammals such as hippos, giraffes, impalas, warthogs, gazelles, zebras and badouins.