Best Places To Visit In Kenya

by Ucman Scher
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best places to visit in kenya

Best Places To Visit In Kenya

Kenya is a big country when it comes to offering places to visit. Whether it is the vast planes of Maasai Mara, the beaches of Diani or the beauty of Mount Kenya, Kenya offers it all to every one. I managed to do quite a lot of places in the country but despite my best effort, I still couldn’t do a lot.

To help me with presenting you with the best possible options, I reached out to other bloggers who chipped in. Here is a list of best places to visit in Kenya for excursions and safari.

Best Places For Safari In Kenya

You are never far from a game drive in Kenya no matter where you are and animals are just absolutely gorgeous, they don’t let you get bored for a split second. Out of the many national parks, reserves and conservancies, I have selected the best one’s for you below.

Check my Kenya Safari Guide for complete information to make your safari absolutely perfect.

Amboseli National Park

Tanzania might have the gorgeous Kilimanjaro but Amboseli takes the trophy when it comes to the best views of the tallest free standing mountain in the world. The iconic images of elephants grazing in the shadows of Kilimanjaro come from Amboseli National Park.

It is located in the south of Kenya and spans the Kenya Tanzania border. Amboseli is unique because of its unique scenery. The park is divided between the arid and dry dried up lake bed and the oases offered by the swamps. The wildlife here is no different or less dense than other surrounding parks like Maasai Mara. A safari here is a great experience with lions, giraffes, the famous elephants and tons of other animals.

Image by Herbert Aust from Pixabay

Nairobi National Park

Contributed by Victoria from GuideYourTravel

The Nairobi National Park is one of the smallest parks in all of Africa. Its location right next to the city of Nairobi makes it easily accessible and the perfect place for a weekend trip. Despite its size, there is a lot to see and do at this park. It borders the city of Nairobi which means you can go on a safari with skyscrapers as the backdrop.

You can see a variety of animals at the park including the rare black rhino which is a highly endangered species. Lions, cheetahs and leopards are can also be spotted although it might take some time and patience. A minibus will take you from the city to the entrance of the park where you can book day-trip safaris for just under 100$ per person. You can also ser the park without a safari company. Driving a 4WD is highly recommended if you plan to see the park although some roads are accessible with 2WDs as well.

If you truly want to experience the Nairobi National Park in all its beauty you should go for a hike and maybe even camp at one of the popular campsites. There are accommodation options available for all budgets from luxury glamping sites to more budget-friendly camps. Sleeping under the stars in such an incredible location is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed. Definitely add the Nairobi National Park to your bucket list for Kenya.

Nairobi National Park from Ole Sereni Hotel rooftop

Tsavo National Park

Contributed by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go!

Tsavo National Park is the largest protected area in Kenya, it is budget friendly and easy to cover most of the park in a 3-day Tsavo Safari itinerary. Tsavo is easily accessed by road from both Nairobi and Mombasa or by train or bus to the town of Voi, there is a range of safari accommodation in and around the park from budget camping to luxury lodges. A guided safari tour is recommended to make the most of your trip, but it is possible to explore the park on your own in a rental vehicle. Tsavo is split into Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park with each side offering something different.

Tsavo East National Park has expansive plains that are dry and flat where you can easily spot elephants, lions, giraffes, cheetah, zebra, cape buffalo, boars and more. Tsavo is also home to around 500 species of birds including ostrich, flamingos, storks, cuckoos and blue vulturine guinea fowl.

Tsavo West National Park has a volcanic terrain interspersed with rivers and lakes. Here you are likely to encounter hippos, crocodiles and leopards. Tsavo west is also the location of the Ngulia rhino sanctuary where if you are lucky you may spot one of the 80 elusive black rhinos that live in this protected area. This 90-sq-km area of the national park has been partitioned from the rest of the park with an electric fence and has 24-hour security to deter poachers. You can drive through this area of the park but only from 4pm-6pm as that is when the rhinos are most active.

Samburu National Reserve

Contributed by Heather from ConversantTraveller

Samburu National Reserve is a rather unique place, and quite different to the more frequently places like the Masai Mara. Located up in the north of Kenya, Samburu is a semi-arid land dotted with acacia trees, rocky mountain peaks, and the Ewaso Ng’iro River. During the dry season this riverbed runs dry, making it a great place to watch animals as they congregate around the last remaining water holes.

One of the most popular reasons for visiting this wild reserve is to see the Samburu Special Five – that includes rare species of giraffe, zebra and ostrich. These unusual creatures are endemic to northern Kenya and this is one of the few places you can see them. Watch as the gerenuk antelope balances on its hind legs to feed on the leaves up in higher tree branches. Leopards are often spotted here too, as well as huge herds of elephants.

It’s a real privilege to spend time with Samburu warriors as they introduce you to this incredible landscape and teach you about the local culture and traditions. Ask them to show you the famous ‘Singing Wells’ where herdsmen draw water for their cattle, singing while they work. Water is scarce up here, so every drop counts

The easiest way to get to Samburu is by plane, and there are regular bush flights between Nairobi and the Samburu air strip. You can drive too, and the trip from the capital takes around 6 hours. Exploration is generally by guided game drives, although if you’re staying in one of the neighbouring conservancies you’ll be able to enjoy bush walks and night drives too. Stay for 3-4 days to enjoy the full experience.

Maasai Mara

Contributed by Pam from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

One of the most famous national parks in the world is the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Known for being home to some of the most diverse wildlife, the Maasai Mara should be on any family bucket list! Taking a safari in Kenya is great at any time of the year, but the peak time to visit is for the Great Migration where millions of animals migrate from Kenya to Tanzania from July to November.

The Maasai Mara is located in the southwest of Kenya. Most people visit as part of a safari package from Nairobi. However, you can drive the 4-hour drive yourself, or you can fly directly into the Mara. Upon your arrival in the Mara, there are a few safari companies that can meet you there as well.

With some luck, you may be able to spot the Big 5 Safari animals – lions, rhinoceros, water buffalo, elephants, and the leopard. A three to four-day safari would allow you ample time to explore and see as much wildlife as possible.

One of the best things to do in the Maasai Mara is to take a hot air balloon ride. Getting a bird’s eye view of the Mara at sunrise is a breathtaking experience. Your safari company or accommodation can coordinate the hot air balloon.

Due to its incredible nature, the Maasai Mara is one of the best places to visit in Kenya!

Check out more about Maasai Mara safari here as well as a Kenya safari guide.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Ol Pejeta conservancy is a truly unique place. Despite its small size, it is unique with the last 2 northern white rhinos and the largest population of Africa’s black and southern white rhinos. You can check my complete Ol Pejeta guide here.

The stars of Ol Pejeta

Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru offers a unique opportunity to see a stunning lake full of flamingoes along with a game drive. It is also quite small and makes for a perfect safari experience.

Check out more details here.

nakuru gay travel

Best Beaches in Kenya

Zanzibar might get all the credit as the beach capital of East Africa, Kenya has a real stunning set of beaches spread throughout its coast. the three favourite one’s for me are:

Diani

Diani is close to Mombasa, the second largest city in Kenya. The white sand beach stretches for miles with pristine waters of Indian ocean. The resorts are the main attraction here and there is no lack of some truly stunning places here. For more details check my Diani guide.

Watamu

Watamu is located close to Malindi and north of Diani. If you prefer to enjoy a more local vibe with stunning white sand beaches, this is your spot. The beaches are beautiful white sand with lots to see and do here including dolphin spotting. Check out my Watamu guide for more details.

watamu beach

Lamu

Lamu is an island located on the northern tip of Kenya with a truly unique culture. This small island is pristine with its golden sand beaches that stretches for miles. The local Swahili culture and food make it very different to the rest of beach spots. For more details check out my Lamu guide.

Best Unique Experiences In Kenya

Kenya has a lot more to offer than just safari and beaches. I have listed the most favourite one I found or did below.

Kericho

Contributed by Jyoti from StoryAtEveryCorner 

Kericho is home to the beautiful tea gardens of the world-famous Kenyan tea. Kericho is as beautiful to see as the tea is delicious. It doesn’t offer wildlife Safari but it’s is one of the best places to visit in Kenya.

Kericho is located in the western tourism circuit. To get to Kericho you would need to drive to Kericho. The roads are well maintained though. Many locals take a mataus to get to Kericho. 

The tea gardens of Kericho feature rolling hills covered in lush green tea bushes, neatly organized in rows. Kericho has the cool mountain air all year and rain every afternoon, with a light hail. It’s just the place to be for a warm afternoon tea with baked treats in one of the cafes during the rain. 

One day would suffice for a visit to Kericho but if you like the calm and lush greens, you can spend more in the mountains. 

Kericho is an easy place to visit and there are likely no organized tours. Everyone speaks English in Kenya and the locals are extremely friendly, so getting around is easy. However, you may be able to score a tea factory tour if you know someone. Be sure to buy Kenyan tea at the source. It’s the best for any tea lover. They tea boxes make great gifts back home. 

Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay

Mount Kenya

The second tallest mountain in Africa in located in Kenya and has quite a presence. Climbing it should be on top of your list if you’re a mountain lover. If you are lazy like me, you can still see and do a lot around this beautiful mountain. Check out more details here.

Mount Kenya at sunrise

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is the biggest lake in Kenya and offers a lot to see and do whether you love watching birds, exploring the beautiful lake, seeing hippos close up or do a walking safari on its Crescent island. It is very close to Nairobi and you can easily get here in an hour and a half. Check more more details here.

Lake Elementaita

If you are heading to the great Rift valley and want to enjoy an exclusive view of the beautiful flamingoes without hoards of tourists and entrance fees, Lake Elementaita is just perfect. Check out more details here.

Haller Park

Contributed by Rachel from Average Lives

Haller Park is one of the best animal parks in Kenya, and it attracts over 160,000 local and international visitors each year. You can find the park in Barumbi Mombasa on the Kenyan coastline. It was once a limestone quarry but is now known worldwide for its conservation and incredible wildlife in a natural setting. Expect to find tropical flora, many species of birds, and wild animals including, crocodiles, snakes, giraffes, and zebras.

You can reach Haller Park via the Mombasa/ Malindi road, south of the Bamburi cement plant. There is the option to visit yourself and get an Uber here, or you can opt to go with a tour provider. Once you arrive, you can go on a guided educational tour around the park. These tours are in many languages, including English, Swahili, French, German and Italian.

It is useful to know that this is not a safari experience, and visitors should not expect that. Instead, it is similar to a zoo, but it is on rehabilitated land, and they are known to take care of their animals. The best things to do here are to stroll through the walking trails, see the giant tortoises and feed the animals.

The official website is OwenandMzee and read to discover when the best time to visit is when the animals are getting fed, and this is usually about 3 pm – 4 pm. Therefore, it is a good idea to arrive at Haller Park at 2 pm and spend some time exploring and making your way to feed the giraffes. Overall, it is a fantastic experience due to the unique flora and how you can get close to the animals.

Hell’s Gate National Park

Contributed by Becky from SightDOING

North of Nairobi, Hell’s Gate National Park offers a safari experience unlike the rest of the country. Here, you can walk or cycle through park roads without the safety barrier of a vehicle between you and the wildlife! Thankfully, you won’t find extreme predators here, but it can still be thrilling to see zebras, warthogs, and other animals up close. Be careful of the monkeys, who will gladly steal your snacks if you set your backpack down!
In the dry season, Hell’s Gate is also known for its popular gorge hike. The slot canyons here are otherworldly and don’t look a thing like the rest of Kenya, making it a unique add-on to your trip and one of the best places to visit in Naivasha. Cycling the park road to look for wildlife plus the gorge hike will take about half a day, not including transportation. Rock climbing is another popular add-on here, if you have time to spare.
The closest town to Hell’s Gate is Naivasha; from here, it’s easy enough to arrange a park visit independently by taxi or matutu (minibus). Bicycle rentals are available outside the park. Day trips from Nairobi are also possible, but given the distance (2-3 hours each way, depending on traffic), it’s recommended to join a tour or arrange a private car.

Mount Longonot National Park

Mount Longonot is another unique place which you just cannot miss out. How often can you walk around the entire crater rim of a volcanic caldera. It makes for a perfect hiking day with animals roaming around and magical views from he top. Check out more details here.

I hope this article gives you some inspiration to choose the places you can visit your trip.

 

 

 

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2 comments

Steph February 13, 2021 - 4:43 pm

Great post, that you for letting us contribute! We can’t wait to explore more of Kenya

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Ucman Scher February 14, 2021 - 9:24 am

<3

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