Kenya Travel Guide: witness the true essence of wildlife!

Enjoy a Magical Kenya Safari with its breathtaking scenery and magnificent landscapes







Kenya Travel Guide

Kenya is one of the most popular African travel destination, an outstanding choice if you’re looking for an adventurous African safari of a lifetime with an abundance of wildlife, including the Big Five. Kenya lies on the Equator and is located in East Africa. It takes its name from Mount Kenya which means God’s resting place. Kenya is officially known as The Republic of Kenya and is renowned for its magical wildlife safaris, savannah plains, lakes, and culture.

Kenya is home to maybe the most beautiful and magical wildlife reserve in all of Africa: the stunning Masai Mara National Reserve! It's famous for its vast savannah plains with iconic acacia trees and incredible African sunsets, perfect to experience a magical safari sundowner. The Mara is also home to the Great Migration.

Kenya has 24 National Parks, among which Tsavo National Parks, Amboseli National Park with the iconic backdrop of the snow-capped Kilimanjaro, and Lake Nakuru. Lake Nakuru is also one of the 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kenya. Together with Lake Bogoria and Lake Elementaita, it is part of the Kenya Lake System surrounded by the Great Rift Valley, renowned for its diverse populations of (partly threatened) birds, like pelicans and flamingos. The lands around the lakes include large populations of black rhinos, wild dogs, lions, cheetah, and Rothschild's giraffe.

Apart from these popular safari destinations, Kenya offers rich cultures like the Maasai culture and beautiful scenery. 

Table of contents in this Kenya Travel Guide:

Interesting Facts Kenya

  Flag of Kenya

Kenya country flag

  Kenya's National Animal


  Kenya National Dish

Ugali with Sukuma Wiki and unofficial with nyama choma na kachumbari (maize porridge, grilled meat, and salsa)

  Currency in Kenya

Kenyan shilling (KSh)

  Kenya Time Zone
East African Time Zone or EAT (GMT+3 hours)

Things to do in Kenya to cross off your bucket list

Safari trip Maasai Mara Kenya

Witness the Great Migration on a Masai Mara Safari

Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most beautiful and popular Safari destinations in Africa and offers a high amount of wildlife viewing all over the year. The Mara is best known for its iconic savannah landscape with acacia trees and the best African sunsets. The Masai Mara Kenya also hosts one of the most impressive natural spectaculars on our planet: the annual Great Migration of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles crossing the plains and the Mara River, trying to avoid the jaws of crocodiles and other predators. The Maasai Mara is home to the entire Big Five, however, rhinos are more difficult to spot due to poaching in all of Africa. Other animals that are regularly spotted on a Masai Mara Safari are cheetahs, giraffes, hyenas, and if you're lucky the elusive leopard! The Mara is definitely the No. 1 place tvisit in Kenya for the ultimate safari experience, and maybe even in Africa. In my opinion, The Maasai Mara in Kenya is the best place for Photo Safari in Africa.

Views over Lake Naivasha and Oloidien from Chui Lodge

Relax at tranquil Lake Naivasha with bird & hippo sounds

Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake in Kenya, outside the town of Naivasha, and is part of the Great Rift Valley. It's a world-class birding destination and the waters also draw several species of wildlife. A big part of the lake is surrounded by a forest of mostly yellow fever trees.

There are lots of things to see and do around Kenya's Lake Naivasha, such as birding, boat tours, and wildlife viewing. Lodges with lush green gardens are located along the Naivasha lakeside, which gives you the possibility to watch hippos along the shores. If you're planning a Kenya Safari, you should definitely add tranquil Lake Navaisha to your Kenya itinerary. Curious about best place to stay at Lake Naivasha? Read more about my Lake & Bush Experience within the Oserengoni wildlife sanctuary at Lake Naivasha Kenya. 

Safari Guide Course in Maasai Mara Kenya

Safari Guide Course in Kenya

safari guide course or wildlife training in the African wilderness is an incredible experience for those who are passionate about the great outdoors and want to be more than just a tourist ticking off the Big Five. Joining a wildlife course is a conscious alternative to a safari trip in Africa and a great way to enhance your knowledge of African wildlife and the habitats they live in. I did my apprentice field guide course (or Nature Guide course) with EcoTraining in the Maasai Mara and wrote a blog about my experience!

Mount Kilimanjaro and Maasai Cattle

Amboseli Safari with views of the Kilimanjaro

Amboseli (which is a Maasai word for "salty dust") is a unique safari experience and worth adding to your Kenya itinerary. Amboseli National Park in Kenya is famous for its big game and scenic landscapes, which offers the best view of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa! It's the home of the African Elephant; the best place in Africa to get really close to free-roaming elephants with some of the biggest tusks in Kenya. An Amboseli Safari offers high chances of spotting animals like cheetah, lion, zebra, and wild dogs. You can also find the leopard.

Amboseli National Park has five different wildlife habitats ranging from swamps and wetlands to open savannah plains and acacia woodland. The underground water supply from the Kilimanjaro funnels into two water springs in the heart of Amboseli. You can also find about 600 bird species in the park.

Flamingos Ngorongoro Lake Magadi

Observe flamingos at Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru Kenya is an alkaline (soda) lake located in west-central Kenya and is part of the Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa, which form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is ideal for game drives, picnicking, bird watching, and hiking.

Kenya's Lake Nakuru National Park is famous for attracting thousands of fuchsia-pink flamingos. The surrounding land includes large populations of black rhino, big cat species like tree-climbing lions, wild dogs, and Rothschild's giraffe. You can't find crocodiles and elephants on Safari in Lake Nakuru National Park. Although you can't compare Lake Nakuru with larger parks like the Masai Mara, I would suggest adding a one-day Lake Nakuru Safari to your Kenya Safari Tour.

Kenya Travel: Mount Kenya UNESCO

Climb Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya is the second tallest mountain in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve with amazing pristine sceneries, from dense forest and mineral springs to lakes and several small glaciers. Around Mount Kenya, you can find rare species of wildlife and unique vegetation. Things to do at Mount Kenya are hiking trails, climbing Mount Kenya, camping, and wildlife and bird viewing. You can find elephants, duiker, bushbucks, elands, and more. Mount Kenya is the source of the name of the Republic of Kenya and is close to the equator.

Travel Kenya: Samburu Game Reserve

Samburu Wildlife Safari

Samburu National Reserve in Kenya is a protected area and game reserve on the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro river, situated in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. The reserve is located in the Samburu District and is famous for rare wildlife species, such as the Grevy Zebra (only 3000 left in the wild), Reticulated Giraffe, the Beise Oryx, and the Somali Ostrich. Big cats and Wild dogs sightings are also common on a Game Drive in Samburu Game Reserve. The camps along the river offer great views of the waterway where you will most likely spot elephants on the palm-fringed river bank.

The Samburu National Reserve is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves. A lot of NGOs are active in the reserve. If you want to involve in wildlife conservation, check out Grevy's Zebra Trust, the Reticulated Giraffe Project, Save the Elephants, Ewaso Lions, or Rift Valley Wildlife Clinics.

Best time to visit Kenya

The best time to travel to Kenya depends on what you want to explore and which wildlife you would like to spot. The numbers of wildlife you are able to spot are dictated by the rains.

  • In general, the best time to visit Kenya is during the dry season, from July to October, when wildlife sightings are at their best and animals congregate near water holes or rivers. This is also the high season with little to no rainfall.
  • If you don't mind the chance of some rain showers and you want to avoid flocks of tourists, travel to Kenya between November and March (or even until May). It's Kenya's 'green season' and there are fewer tourists. It's also the best time for birdwatching and spotting newborn calves from the Great Migration herds (late January to February).
  • The best time to witness the Great Migration is between July and September, this is also the busiest season with lots of vehicles.
  • Kenya knows (short) heavy rains between March and April/May, this can affect wildlife viewing or other activities like hot-air ballooning. Except for this wet season, Kenya is an all-year-round travel destination.

Featured Kenya Safari Tips

Game Drive in Africa with private guide and landcruser

Safari Game Drive Africa

Guide to game drives in Africa featuring 15 things you need to know to make the most out of your safari in Africa to see wildlife and birdlife in their natural habitat.

Chui Lodge Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary Lake Naivasha

Chui Lodge Naivasha

A hidden gem near Lake Naivasha and Lake Oloidien; a perfect getaway if you want to experience the lakes and the bush, in the Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary

What to pack for safari in Africa?

What to pack for Safari?

Your ultimate safari packing guide, including what to wear on safari, what to bring on a game drive, must-have safari essentials, and detailed safari packing list.

Things to know before you travel to Kenya

Safety in Kenya

Kenya is generally a safe country to travel to, however violent robberies, kidnapping, petty theft, car-jacking, and mugging occur regularly in Kenya, especially in Nairobi, Mombasa, and other larger cities. Terrorist attacks have happened in the past, and further attacks are very likely. Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free. Try to avoid the Kenya-Somali border; to Garissa county; to Lamu county (excluding Lamu Island and Manda Island); to areas of Tana River county north of the Tana river itself.

Use your commons sense while traveling and pay attention to your personal security, be alert in crowded places, avoid large gatherings or demonstrations, and monitor local media. Avoid walking and traveling after dark. I felt safe the entire time when traveling in Kenya, especially in the company of my safari provider(s). I found the people very warm and gracious. Keep a safe and legal distance when looking at animals and don't swim in lakes and rivers.

Do I need a visa when traveling to Africa?

Visa requirements for Kenya

Almost all foreign nationals require a visa to travel to Kenya. You can obtain a visa through the embassy or consulate, but you can also apply for an online (e)visa or a visa upon arrival. Just be sure your passport is valid for 6 months. For more details and an online visa application, visit the official Visa Application System of the Immigration Department of the Republic of Kenya.

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel Choices for Traveling to Africa

Responsible Travel in Kenya

Spend your money in national parks, game reserves, and with local communities to emphasize the importance of wildlife tourism over (for example) trophy hunting. Hunting (legal and illegal) is a big issue in Kenya. National Parks and reserves often have projects to control and monitor this practice.

Never purchase items made from endangered species, such as ivory, fur, or turtle shells. Don't volunteer in orphanages and don't visit schools when the children are still present, as it is disruptive for the children's education. If you really want to make an impact, ask if the school requires items and donate them to the teacher.

Also, it is best to organize your trip through a responsible, reputable, local tour operator, to stay at locally owned eco-hotels, to use local guides, and to buy local food. Search for organizations that are also teaching and supporting locals to create their own sustainable independence or invest in conservation education in schools.

Which vaccinations and antimalarials do I need for Africa?

Vaccinations & anti-Malaria tablets for Kenya

Required vaccinations depend on what you will be doing in Kenya, which places you will be visiting, and how long you will stay. However, most travelers to Kenya require Hepatitis A, TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), Rabies, Cholera, and Typhoid. There is a risk of Yellow Fever as well as dengue, Zika virus, filariasis, and sleeping sickness due to the tsetse fly. Malaria is a risk throughout Kenya, except in areas above 1800 meters. Use mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, and antimalarials if you travel to Kenya. Consult a travel clinic for personal advice regarding your travel plans.
What language do they speak in Africa?

Spoken languages in Kenya

The two official spoken languages in Kenya are Swahili and English. Swahili is the national language of Kenya, but in total there are 68 languages spoken in Kenya. This makes Kenya a multilingual country. Other regional languages in Kenya are Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Meru, Kalenjin, Kamba. Make an effort to learn a few words in Swahili. Jambo is only a tourist-way to greet. 'Habari' is a better word to say 'hello, how are you?'

Featured Kenya Travel Knowledge

The Big 5 Africa

What are the Big 5 safari animals of Africa and where to find them?

Great Migration

What is the Great Wildebeest Migration in Africa and where to see it?

Serengeti Balloon Safari at sunrise

Balloon Safari

What is a Balloon Safari, how much does it cost and where can you do it?

Find more knowledge and definitions about safari in Africa in our safari encyclopedia

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