With its spectacular wildlife, cultural diversity, breathtaking landscapes, glorious beaches e.t.c, Kenya is your ultimate holiday destination. Whether you are an adventure junkie, photographer, a couple on honeymoon, a business traveler, nature lover, a solo traveler, resort hopper groupie or anything in between our safaris will seamlessly appeal to you.

Kenya is the land that created the safari. Chances are when you imagine yourself in a 4×4 Jeep rumbling over the savannah with lions, elephants and great herds of wildlife, you are picturing a Kenyan safari holiday.

The big cats, The Big Five, The Special Five, The Small Five, The Shy Five, The Ugly Five, rhinos, exotic flamingoes, and uncountable wildebeests – they are all here on a landscape that is otherworldly in its size, variety, colour, and beauty.

In Kenya you’ll find snow-capped mountains towering over the equator, acacia trees framing a fiery sunset, the drama of soaring Rift Valley formations, thick forests with a primeval lushness, and a magnificent coastline of diamond beaches fronting emerald seas.

KENYA – CRADLE OF SAFARI:

Full Country Name: Republic of Kenya
Area: 583,000 sq km
Population: 41.61 million (UN 2011)
Capital: Nairobi
Borders: Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda
Religion: Christian, Animist, Muslim
Time Zone: Standard time is three hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time
Languages: English and Swahili are the official languages and are taught in schools throughout the country. However, there are many other tribal languages including Kikuyu, Luhia, Luo and Kikamba as well as many minor tribal languages
Country Dialling Code: +254

Safaris in Kenya have enchanted travellers for centuries with the allure of wildlife, spectacular scenery and exotic tribes. Kenya comprises of wildlife, culture and the cradle of mankind – a natural paradise and land of contrasts, with world famous national parks like the Masai Mara, Samburu, Amboseli, Tsavo and Mt Kenya.

Kenya’s wildlife regions are the magnet, which lure safari enthusiasts to East Africa, but the white sandy beaches and tropical palms of the Swahili coast is another good reason to choose this hospitable, friendly country as a vacation destination.

There are many different ways to experience Kenya.  Whether you want to view a pride of lions from a 4X4 safari vehicle, walk through herds of plains game, watch a herd of elephants from the comfortable veranda of your safari lodge, track game on horseback or search for birds in a thick rainforest, the possibilities are endless.

CLIMATE: The climate in Kenya varies due to the sharp variations in altitude from sea level to 5,100 metres. Due to the proximity of the Equator, Kenya generally experiences a pleasant climate throughout the year with plenty of clear sunshine all the year round and although warm by day is often chilly at night. The ‘long rains’ usually fall in the months of April and May. The migration usually takes place after the long rains, when from late July to October the wildebeest migrate from Tanzania to find new grazing. During the months of October and November, there are occasional scattered rains, the ‘short rains’, which freshen the atmosphere and vegetation and lay the dust.

CURRENCY & BANKS: The Kenyan currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KSH), which is divided up into 100 cents, and it is now permitted to take local currency into the country.

US Dollar notes printed before the year 2000 will not be accepted. Barclay’s Bank in Kenya has implanted a new policy where they will no longer accept notes printed before 2000. Clients who carry US Dollar notes printed before 2000 will be compelled to accept a rate of exchange lower than normal.

ELECTRICITY: In Kenya the general voltage is 240 and the frequency is 50 Hz. The British three rectangular blade plugs are common. Some lodges and camps only have power in the early mornings and evenings. Batteries may be recharged in camps during the day but it is wise to double check with the camp manager.

As the sockets can vary a ‘Travellers Adaptor Set’ is recommended. Voltage sometimes fluctuates and whilst power cuts are rare, they are not unknown. It is useful to carry a torch.

HEALTH: Health requirements vary from country to country. We recommend you speak to your local Travel Doctor for up-to-date information and advice. The following information is to be used as a guide only.

Malaria: It is recommended that precautions against malaria are taken for travel to most regions in Africa. We suggest you contact your doctor for advice on which prophylactic is recommended.

Yellow Fever: A Yellow Fever vaccination is required. All travellers must carry proof that the Yellow Fever vaccine has been administered at least 10 days prior to travel.

ROAD TRAVEL: Kenya like most countries in Africa is a third world country. Therefore, please be aware that the infrastructure in certain areas is not up to the standard you would find at home. Specifically, some of the roads are often very rough and short journeys can take much longer than expected. For example, a journey from Nairobi to the Masai Mara which is 300 km’s takes 5-6 hours and from Lake Nakuru to Amboseli 6-7 hours. Some days will be very long and bumpy due to Kenya’s road conditions. The views and spectacular scenery encountered usually make the trip well worthwhile.

VISA INFORMATION: At the time of writing, a visa for Kenya is required for Australian Passport Holders. The visa can be obtained on arrival at the airport or at border posts.

Kenya has enforced a ‘blank pages’ condition of entry”. This means that all those requiring a visa to enter Kenya must have at least two blank pages available in your passport upon arrival. Failure to meet this requirement may result in an entry visa being refused.

Single Entry Visa: USD $50 per person on an Australian Passport (subject to change).

Multiple Entry Visa: Please note that if you are travelling within East Africa (Tanzania, Zanzibar or Uganda or Rwanda) you can request free re-entry into Kenya. You will however be required to pay the normal visa charges for the other countries but may re-enter Kenya freely.

Transit Visa: USD $20 per person on an Foreign Passport. Transit time in Kenya cannot exceed 24 hours (subject to change).

We hope that you will find this country Information on Kenya useful for reference when preparing for your holiday. All the information above was correct at the time of writing and is to be used as a guide only. Health, visa and other specific details should be double checked by your travel agent at the time of booking.

MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE:

The main park, gazetted in its present form in 1968 by the Kenyan Government. The busiest area, with the highest number of lodges, which are usually much bigger and where game drives are confined to defined roads and tracks. The Mara and Talek Rivers dissect the park and these are where the majority of the migration crossings take place. Vehicle numbers are not restricted and the reserve is open to self-drive tourists. There are, however, a handful of very good lodges in this area.

 MASAI MARA PRIVATE WILDLIFE CONCESSIONS / SANCTUARIES:

These are privately managed reserves, run in conjunction with Masai communities that border the National Reserve. Far better managed, they offer the same excellent wildlife opportunities, but far fewer vehicles and have much more flexibility in terms of activities and driving off-road. Numbers of tourists are heavily restricted, with access limited to those who are staying in one of the camps.

Staying here also allows you access to the National Reserve if you would like, but those staying in the National Reserve cannot visit the private concessions. You have the best of both worlds. Lodges are generally smaller, the wildlife experience better and more exclusive and the guiding of a higher quality – reflected in a higher price.

 

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY IN KENYA:

Kenya is a photographer’s dream, with an ever-changing landscape, spectacular wildlife and a rich and colourful cultural heritage. However, always ask permission when photographing people. When on safari, to get decent shots you need to consider a camera with at least a 300mm zoom lens.

Some camps are better suited to photographers, with many of the guides being amateur photographers themselves.

But all guides have a knack of getting people in the right place at the right time. The shoulder season in October and November is particularly good for photography, as the light rains clear the air, keep the scenery lush and the animals healthy. There are usually spectacular skies at this time of year and far fewer tourists.

All camps have facilities to charge camera batteries and some even have specialist lenses that you can borrow.

BEST OPTIONS FOR A FAMILY SAFARI IN KENYA:

The key to a successful family safari is flexibility and fun. Each family has their own wish list and each member of the family will enjoy slightly different things. Therefore, for small families with young children (up to five years old), we only recommend small camps that cater for children this young. They feature flexible mealtimes and the option of a private vehicle. All guides are fantastic with children.

If travelling as a larger family group, then bush houses tend to offer the best value options. They can be booked on an exclusive basis, and include a pool and staff. You can be completely flexible on what you do and when you do it.

For children up to around 12 years of age, lodge managers and guides will happily fill their day with fun activities. These include line-fishing, identifying dung and insects, making bows and arrows and looking for animal tracks (as well as the animals themselves).

For older children and teenagers, they start to fully appreciate the animals and outdoors. They will not only engage with the guides more and learn about the cultural diversity found here, but will want to burn off some energy with mountain biking, rafting and walking safaris. The coast also offers more grown-up activities, such as kite surfing, snorkelling and sea kayaking.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PARKS:

The best way to enjoy a safari is to spend time in different parks, as this will offer you a choice of different wildlife, different scenery and different activities. Most people combine two different parks with some time on the coast, allowing for greater variety.

The Mara is undoubtedly the place for a classic safari – open savannah, rolling plains dotted with game and giraffes towering in the distance next to flat-top acacia trees. In contrast to this, Laikipia is home to wildlife reserves that offer more dramatic and rugged scenery, with a particular focus on rhinos and wild dogs. It is also here that you can do some of the more adventurous activities, such as horse-riding, walking or mountain biking.

Further north, you have the fiery landscapes of the Samburu region, with a dramatic volcanic landscape, softened by rivers and palm trees. The lakes (Nakuru and Naivasha) are great for birding, with vast flocks of flamingos appearing almost overnight. Alternatively, the vast plains of Tsavo offer a chance to explore one of Kenya’s wildest and largest parks. And the coast has its own marine parks, which are perfect for any number of activities.

A TYPICAL DAY ON SAFARI:

Safaris are all about being flexible, so your guide will usually discuss what you would like to do each day and plan accordingly. As a rule of thumb, you are woken just before sunrise with a cup of tea or coffee, so you can freshen up before the day begins. You then leave camp for your morning game drive or walk around 06:30.

Breakfast is usually taken as a picnic in a shady spot in between drives or walks, returning to camp for lunch around midday. During the hottest part of the day, relax by the pool, take a siesta or watch wildlife from the camp itself. Around 16:00, there are hot drinks and biscuits, before you head out again.

Around 18:00, you then enjoy a traditional sundowner drink to toast the setting sun, before returning to camp before nightfall. After a shower and pre-dinner drinks around the fire, you settle down to a delicious dinner. This is followed by a quick nightcap, then bed.

SAFARI ACCOMMODATION LIKE IN KENYA:

There is a huge choice of accommodation in Kenya. Each property is different and, with so much choice, it is easy to get it wrong. Here is a rough guide to the options on offer:

Mobile Bush Camps: As the name suggests, these are small mobile camps that are set up for a finite number of nights. Usually an overnight bush experience offered by permanent lodges, they can also be part of a longer walking safari. These fully serviced camps are set up for you and have simple dome tents, a small camp bed and a mattress, with bedding provided. Simple, but delicious meals are prepared for you and hot water is brought on demand to wash. There is a long-drop toilet (hole in the ground) in a separate small tent, although some of the larger tents have their own bucket showers at the back.

 Permanent Tented Camps: These are classic, East African camps, with only a handful of spacious, stylish, tented rooms. They feature comfortable beds and fine linen, small dressers, soft furnishings and private en-suite facilities. Usually, there is a patio or decking area outside the tent. These camps are typified by great service levels, shared safari vehicles and communal dining in the evening, with drinks (including alcohol) often included in the cost. They are great fun and very flexible.

Luxury Camps: Fine dining, silver service and spa treatments feature heavily, whilst some properties offer private vehicles for game drives. Properties can be a mixture of canvas and permanent structure, but always with elegant and eclectic designs. There are exceptional levels of service, with an emphasis on personal touches and attention to detail.

Private Ranches: These are usually family homesteads or working ranches that have been converted into luxury accommodation. They offer some of the warmest welcomes in Africa, given the families themselves usually manage the properties and live on site. Again, only a handful of rooms, with a warmth and hospitality you would only find in someone’s home.

There is usually a wide range of activities on offer, given the surrounding land is owned by the lodge. Therefore, they are very flexible for large groups or families, although individuals and couples are also welcome.

Private Houses and Villas: Perfect for families and large groups who want the privacy and flexibility of enjoying their holiday exactly as they like it. Fully staffed, with private guides and vehicles, these properties can manage wildlife activities and meal times around the group, to ensure everyone is happy. They can be found in both the wildlife areas and along the coast.

 Coastal Properties: The best places to stay are the small, boutique-style retreats. Often featuring cool Swahili designs, they provide shade from the sun, overlooking palm fringed beaches. Many have pools, which helps when the tide is out. Again, some are better suited for families with a range of activities on offer, whilst others are perfect for a quiet retreat or honeymoon.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO KENYA?

What you are looking for will dictate when you travel. Kenya is equatorial and as such it is the altitude, rather than the latitude, that determines local climates. The coast remains warm and humid, with rain peaking from April to June (the same time as the rest of the country), with shorter rains in October and November.

The Mara and the central highlands have a cooler, temperate climate, due to their elevation. Whilst warm and pleasant during the day, they can become quite cold at night. The outline below should give you an idea as to what each month offers:

 January to March: One of the hottest and driest times of the year. Little water around and, in theory, a great time for game viewing. However, temperatures can be sweltering.

 April to June: South-eastern monsoon winds bring the long rains, so much of the wildlife is giving birth in preparation for the lush vegetation that will follow. It is also a great time for birders, as the birds are in their mating plumage and wildflowers are in abundance. It can be very wet, however, and a number of the coastal properties close. This is also known as ‘the green season’.

 July to September: The best time to witness the wildebeest migration and the coolest time of the year. It can get very busy in the Mara National Reserve, so you need to pick your spot carefully. All of the other parks are easily accessible but free from the Mara’s crowds.

 October to November: One of our favourite times to go on safari and one of ours as well. The tail end of the migration may still be around, whilst the arrival of the short rains brings the countryside to life. Flora looks lush and green, rivers flow and the animal are well fed. The air is clear, bringing spectacular sunrises and sunsets; it is no surprise that many photographers prefer this time of year. This is also known as ‘mid’ or ‘shoulder’ season.

Best Kenya safari destinations:

Famous private wildlife conservancies in Kenya:

  • Ol Jogi Conservancy
  • Borana Conservancy
  • Ol Pejeta Conservancy
  • Soysambu Conservancy
  • Sanctuary Farm Naivasha
  • Kongoni Conservancy
  • Mundui Estate Naivasha
  • Kitale Nature Conservancy
  • Hippo-point Naivasha Conservancy
  • Taita Ranch, Sangare Ranch
  • Loldia Conservancy Naivasha
  • Sossian Samburumburu
  • Oserengoni Conservancy Naivasha
  • Kigio Wildlife Conservancy Naivasha
  • Crater Lake Game Sanctuary Naivasha
  • Galana Wildlife Conservancy
  • Laikipia Nature Conservancy (Ol Ari Nyiro)
  • Loisaba Conservancy
  • Dawida Ranching Company Ltd
  • Lewa Conservancy
  • Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Mara Naboisho Conservancy Masai Mara
  • Olare Motorogi conservancy Masai Mara
  • Enonkishu Conservancy Masai Mara
  • Lemek Conservancy Masai Mara
  • Mara North Conservancy Masai Mara
  • Ol kinyei conservancy Masai Mara
  • Olare Orok conservancy Masai Mara
  • Olchorro Oiroua Conservancy Masai Mara
  • Olarro Conservancy
  • Olerai Wildlife Community Conservancy
  • Golini Mwaluganje, Oloisukut Conservation
  • Mara Siana Conservamcy
  • Satao Elerai
  • Nashulai Maasai Conservancy Ngwesi
  • Jaldesa Community Conservancy
  • Kiunga Marine Community Conservancy
  • Leparua Community Conservancy
  • Lower Tana Delta Conservation Trust
  • Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy
  • Ndera Community Conservancy
  • Ngare Ndare, Pate Island Conservation Group
  • Ol-Lentile Conservancy
  • Gwasi Hills Community Forest Association
  • Sidai Oleng Wildlife Sanctuary (Kimana)
  • Lumo Wildlife Conservation Trust