Widely known as the ‘home of the safari’, Kenya’s has long welcomed visitors to experience its incredible wildlife and has a vast network of 54 national parks and game reserves to its name, varying in both scale and infamy.
This means that whatever your inclination and budget we can find the right area for you to complete your African safari experience in the ultimate traditional safari destination.
Below you will find information on some of our favourite national parks and concessions where you can learn more about what you can expect in each area.
Set in the shadow of the majestically looming Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park in Southern Kenya combines stunning scenery with prolific game wildlife roaming its plains. Sometimes described as ‘Africa’s Elephant Park’, it is true that the area is one of the best places in Africa to observe family groups of elephants and large bull elephants at close range. Aside from this, there are 56 known animal species in the park, and you are likely to see Grevy’s and Burchell's zebra, white-bearded wildebeest, eland, buffalo, hartebeest, hippo, giraffe, wild dog, waterbuck, jackal, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle and impala. If you are lucky you may also come across big cats such as lion and cheetah, as well as hyena. Read more about Amboseli National Park.
When to Go: With excellent year-round sightings and such enviable landscapes, it is understandably one of Kenya’s most attractive areas for safari exploration and can be busy during the popular months between July and October.
Location: Situated an hour's flight from Nairobi, or four hours by vehicle due southeast, Amboseli is fairly compact compared to other parks in Kenya, covering a total area of 392 square kilometres within the Rift Valley Province.
Where to Stay: Tortilis Camp or Angama Amboseli
An idyllic and lesser-visited area that is often referred to as the gateway to Northern Kenya, the Laikipia Plateau is an undiscovered ecosystem of wilderness terrain that covers over two million acres and is home to indigenous Samburu, Kikuyu and Boran tribes. The unique and varied habitats here create stunningly scenic landscapes, from arid plains to icy mountains and sweeping hills, making it an excellent choice for the discerning safari enthusiast looking for something authentic, away from the tourist trails. It is estimated that 10% of Kenya’s black rhino community are found here in Lewa, so it is also a good place for Big Five game sighting, whilst avoiding the crowds. Many northern game species are found here, such as gerenuk, Grevy’s Zebra, Jackson’s hartebeest and the reticulated giraffe. It is also the only area to have a growing population of wild dogs, and there are burgeoning numbers of leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and many other game species. This is in many ways thanks to the pioneering commitment of the Laikipia community and the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), established to promote conservation across the district’s private reserves. Read more about the Laikipia Pleateau.
Where to Stay: Lewa Wilderness Camp
A world-renowned place of adventure and exploration, this is a worldwide stage where the brutal and unfettered reality of nature is played out in the greatest wildlife show on earth. Its fertile rolling grasslands, bisected by riverine forests, attract countless game, enticing wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle, which ensures that predators are never too far away and the sense of raw energy on the savannah is palpable. Despite some areas being notoriously over-visited, it is nonetheless possible to experience sensational safaris and incredible wildlife sightings from the camps we have selected. Read more about the Masai Mara & Conservancies.
Where to Stay: Ngare Serian Camp or Kicheche Mara Camp
Where rugged wilderness meets the glistening waters of the Indian Ocean, the revered Kenyan coastline is a place of unimaginable beauty. Where gentle trade winds allowed the passage of traditional dhow boats between Arabia and India, traders once saw the area as a favoured spot to exchange spices. The resulting heady mix of imported and indigenous influences from Africa, Arabia and Asia created Swahili culture, which would go on to produce Kenya’s most spoken language. Today, this melting pot of people and cultures is still felt and can be enjoyed alongside excellently preserved marine life and spectacular offshore coral reef system, stunning beaches and mangroves that teem with birdlife, making it a perfect place to unwind once your safari time is over. The capital, Mombasa, is Kenya’s second largest city and the gateway to some of the finest beaches and resorts in the area. Despite Mombasa’s heavy development for mass tourism, we feature those areas that truly portray the beauty and serenity of the area, away from the tourist hordes. A small coastal town two hours north of Mombasa, Watamu Bay has an impressive coral reef and Swahili influence and is a tranquil destination that also has a National Marine Park, which is a popular day-trip option for snorkelling and exploring the abundant marine life.
Where to Stay: Msambweni Beach House
Set in the Nakuru district of the Great Rift Valley, the centre of Kenya, the varied ecosystem of Lake Nakuru consists of a shallow soda lake at its centre, immediately surrounded by alkaline swamps and backed further by grass plains and bushy woodland. The flocks of pink flamingo that are drawn to the lake’s algae provides one of the most popular sights in, not just Kenya, but the whole of East Africa. Located 140 kilometres northwest of Nairobi, this is one of Kenya’s major national parks and is widely considered one of the best areas to sight the endangered white and black rhinos, which are often seen by the shores of Nakuru having been brought back from near-extinction by a successful breeding campaign. Lying at an altitude of up to 1,800 metres above sea level, the park was designated as a bird sanctuary in 1960 and gained national park status in 1968 to protect the colonies of greater and lesser flamingos.
Kenya’s capital city in the central highlands has rapidly evolved from an undiscovered and unpopulated swampland, at the turn of the 20th Century, to a sprawling metropolis that is one of Africa’s largest and best known. When railway workers set up a camp here in 1899 it was named ‘Mile 327’, whilst the local Maasai had called it Ewaso Nai’beri or ‘place of cold water’. Modern day Nairobi is a place of skyscrapers and hustle and bustle, its elevated position of 1,800 metres above sea level gives it an air of cool. It can be a great place to acclimatise to Africa either before or after venturing on a safari of Kenya’s wildlife and beaches. There are always question marks over the security of Nairobi, and whilst it is true that walking around the city at night should be avoided, the daytime is not so restrictive, with security patrols making it easier to explore, sightsee and shop in the city, whilst exercising usual caution. The area of Karen is more upmarket and generally very safe, with larger houses and tree-lined, wide streets with country house hotels.The Karen Blixen Museum is often a point of interest and a well-run homage to the author of ‘Out of Africa’ and Karen herself lived here between 1914 and 1931. The museum contains artefacts like the original gramophone Blixen used to play Mozart and the estate grounds, which replicate an early 20th Century coffee plantation. The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife’s Giraffe Centre offers yet more wildlife appeal, and was established to protect the Rothschild Giraffes and to educate people on the conservation of these popular animals.
Where to Stay: The Emakoko
Arguably Kenya at its most untamed and further removed from some of the more mainstream areas, Meru National Park was established in 1968 and is referred to as a ‘remote and rugged wilderness’. The area is famed for its connection to the orphaned lioness Elsa, who was hand-reared here by George and Joy Adamson, who subsequently wrote the popular non-fictional book Born Free. Despite being subject to some poaching during the 1970s and 80s, it is now popular once more. Covering an area of 1810 square kilometres starting northeast of Mount Kenya’s foothills and spreading eastward, the park is located 370 kilometres northeast of Nairobi and straddles the equator. The striking scenery of the park includes Commiphora and Acacia bushland, vast open plains, swampland, doum palms and belts of tropical riverine forest. The 13 rivers and network of mountain springs that feed into the Tana River are the lifeblood of the park and a terrific water source for the animals that roam its plains.
Where to Stay: Elsa's Kopje Lodge