Africa Travel Articles
Kenya Safari Guide For Beginners
Author: Dominic Chadbon
Birthplace of the classic Hemingway-style safari, Kenya is home to some of the best game viewing and most famous reserves on the continent. But unlike neighbouring Tanzania, whose most popular parks lie on a well-trodden circuit, Kenya's safari destinations are scattered throughout the country and planning an itinerary depends on what you want to see and who you're travelling with.
Western Kenya: great lakes & the wildebeest migration
A safari itinerary in western Kenya usually begins in Nairobi (as indeed most Kenya safaris do) and includes the country's famous flamingo-covered lakes - Lake Naivasha and Nakuru are the most rewarding. The biggest name in western Kenya is of course the Masai Mara National Reserve, home to some of Africa's best year-round game viewing as well as the annual migration. Present in their hundreds of thousands from around July to November, the wildebeest and zebra herds attract constant attention from Africa's top predators and consequently visitor numbers are high in peak season.
There's plenty of Masai Mara accommodation: many lodges are family-friendly - they offer special kids programmes for example - while others focus on romantic exclusivity. For front-row seats to the migration it's vital to book your accommodation or safari early - sometimes as much as a year in advance. And if it's privacy you want on your Kenya safari, head for the Masai Mara's private conservancies for exclusive game viewing without the crowds.
Eastern Kenya: savannahs & the best views of Kilimanjaro
Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks are Eastern Kenya's flagship reserves. Easily accessible, Amboseli sits right on the border with Tanzania and is famous for its scenes of elephants ambling across the plains as a snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro looms behind them. Full of animals, Amboseli's mostly flat and open terrain makes for easy game viewing and there's a wide range of accommodation. January and February are good months to visit as well as June through September but visitor numbers are high in these months; if you want something a little off the beaten path, you'll need Tsavo.
At 22 000km² Tsavo is bigger than Wales and has to be split into two halves - West and East. A sprawling swathe of wooded savannah, Tsavo is classic big game country with most of its accommodation set in Tsavo West. Best visited between May and October and suitable for travellers who want a more remote and wild Kenya safari, Tsavo's trump card is its proximity to Kenya's Indian Ocean coast. Along with several other smaller reserves in the area, Tsavo can easily be incorporated into an excellent safari and beach combination holiday - great for families, great for honeymooners.