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Kenya

East Africa’s eternal safari destination
Overview

Celebrated in literature and film from Hemingway to Born Free, Kenya has long been Africa’s quintessential travel destination. With a well-established park network dating to British colonial days, Kenya offers the classic African experience—remarkable wildlife and a wealth of tribal cultures—backed by landscapes ranging from the Mara’s grand savannas to Amboseli’s incomparable Kilimanjaro vistas.

Topping the list of must-see Kenyan destinations is Masai Mara National Reserve. This vast savanna park is home to Africa’s premier wildlife spectacle, the Great Migration of over a million wildebeest and two hundred thousand zebra, who annually brave the watchful gaze and waiting teeth of lions and crocodiles to cross the rain-swollen Mara River. Adjacent to the park, safari-goers can experience village life among the Maasai people, whose transition from traditional cattle-grazing to wildlife conservation activities has been instrumental in expanding the Mara ecosystem.

Dozens of other parks dot the Kenyan landscape. Most famous is Amboseli, where huge tuskers roam among acacias, grasslands, and swamps fed by the melting snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Further east, the wide-open expanses of Tsavo West National Park teem with lions, buffalo, giraffes, wallowing hippos, and elephants tinged red with volcanic dust flung up with their trunks for protection from the equatorial sun.

Several off-the-beaten-track attractions lie further north. The nonprofit Ol Pejeta Conservancy safeguards East Africa’s largest black rhino population, while Samburu National Reserve is home to great cats, wild dogs, over 400 bird species, and the so-called “Samburu Five”—an uncommon mix of creatures that includes the endangered Grevy’s zebra, the reticulated giraffe, the rare Beisa oryx, the blue-shanked Somali ostrich, and the striking giraffe-necked gerenuk.

Even more than the legendary majesty of the land, it’s the people that make Kenya special. Wherever you go you’ll be welcomed with warmth and wide smiles.

Read more about Kenya

Country Highlights & Attractions

  • Witness Africa’s greatest wildlife migration in the Masai Mara
  • Snap big-game photos with a Mt. Kilimanjaro backdrop in Amboseli National Park
  • Track the famous red elephants of Tsavo West National Park
  • Enjoy cultural encounters with the Maasai, East Africa’s famous herdsmen
  • Get off the beaten track in seldom-visited Samburu National Reserve
Wildlife

Wildlife in Kenya

Home to the Great Migration and world-renowned for its wildlife since 19th-century safari days, Kenya offers the classic African experience. Beyond the famous “Big Five”—lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros—you’ll discover lesser-known creatures like the Samburu Five, along with some of Africa’s finest wildlife rescue and rehabilitation projects.

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Rothschild Giraffe

Discover these rare and beautiful creatures at the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife’s giraffe sanctuary, which promotes environmental conservation through education for Kenyan youth.

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Lions

Great prides of lions thrive in the Masai Mara, made famous by such shows as the BBC’s Big Cat Diary.

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Great Migration

Millions of wildebeest and zebra brave attacks from waiting predators as they travel from Tanzania to Kenya during the Great Migration—best seen between June and October in Kenya’s Masai Mara.

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African Elephants

Impressive herds of African elephants wander the wilds of Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks.

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The Samburu Five

Get off the beaten track in Samburu National Park to see these five rare and endemic animals: the gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, Grevy's zebra, and beisa oryx.

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Rhinoceros

For close encounters with one of the world’s most endangered mammals, visit Ol Pejeta, East Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary.

Country Facts

Jambo! Vibrant Kenya can be said to encapsulate the entire African experience in one country, with its varied geography of coastal plain and beaches, inland plains, and central highlands translating into enormous biodiversity. Kenya’s human landscape is equally rich, encompassing tribal cultures such as the Maasai as well as the contemporary buzz of urban Africa. Slightly more than twice the size of Nevada, the country portrayed in Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa is filled with settings of intense natural beauty and game parks such as the Masai Mara, considered among Africa’s best for viewing animals.

Kenya gained its independence from Great Britain in 1963. Its government is a parliamentary democracy, with elections held every five years. The capital city is Nairobi.

Language & People

Kenya’s two official languages are English and Kiswahili. The country’s 45 million people include more than 70 tribal groups, who speak dozens of indigenous languages, mostly of Bantu origin. Among these, the Kikuyu comprise the largest single ethnic group. The seminomadic Maasai of the Rift Valley are of the Nilote group. Religious affiliation is about 82 percent Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with indigenous beliefs accounting for the remainder.

Food & Drink

Kenya’s cuisine reflects diverse indigenous roots and centuries of influence from European, Indian, and Arab traders and colonists. The fertile land produces fresh fruits and vegetables, along with coffee and tea. A staple cutting across many ethnic groups is a polenta-like dish of cornmeal or millet called ugali, accompanying savory vegetable, fish, or meat stews. Refreshing African lager-style beers are also widely appreciated.

Weather & Elements

Bisected by the equator, Kenya is an ideal year-round destination with four distinct geographical regions: arid desert, savannah grassland, fertile lowlands (coast), and highlands. In general, the hottest months are February and March, and the coldest months July and August. Temperatures range from 60° to 90° F in the humid coastal region, and from mid-40s to mid-80s in the highlands. Kenya’s “long rains” extend from late March to mid-May and the “short rains” from October to December. Peak months for the Great Migration are June through September.

Entry Requirements & Visas

U.S. citizens: Passports and visas are required, and passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date the visa is obtained. Visas may be obtained before arrival or at the port of entry. For most up-to-date visa information, and for non-U.S. citizens, see the Embassy of Kenya website: www.kenyaembassy.com.

For visa and passport assistance, we recommend Travel Document Systems: www.traveldocs.com.

Currency

Kenya uses the Kenyan shilling (KES). As of November 2014, $1 US = 1 KES. For up-to-date exchange rates, see www.oanda.com.

Foreign currency can be changed at banks and change offices in larger towns. ATMs are only available in larger towns, and credit cards are accepted only at travel agents, major lodges, and hotels. When obtaining cash using your credit card, a personal identification number (PIN) will be required.

Departure taxes (if applicable) can be paid in local or foreign currency. If using U.S. dollars, make sure that banknotes are in good condition and not issued before 2006.

Immunizations & Health

No immunizations are required to enter Kenya, with the important exception that proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for all travelers traveling from, or transiting through, a country with YFV transmission.

Malaria medication, hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations are generally recommended for all travelers. Requirements and recommendations change frequently, so check directly with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC: www.cdc.gov/travel; 800-232-4636), a travel clinic, and/or your personal physician for the most current information. Plan ahead for immunizations, as some require administration several months prior to departure.

Electricity

Alternating current of 220V/240V and 50Hz is used in Kenya. Electric plug type G, also known as the standard British 3-pin (rectangular pins), is the most common.

Phone & Internet

Kenya country code: +254

International access code calling out of Kenya: 00

  • Cell-phone coverage throughout Kenya is extensive, but cannot be guaranteed at all times, especially in remote areas.
  • Internet access is generally very good in towns and villages but less dependable elsewhere, especially in parks and reserves.

For more information about Kenya, see the national tourism board website: www.magicalkenya.com.

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Guides
KE - Stephen Kyengo

Stephen M. Kyengo

Stephen is a proficient safari driver and enthusiastic guide. His wealth of knowledge about the African wild, combined with his fluency in English, Swahili, and intermediate Japanese, make him a most remarkable travel companion. His seven years of experience in safari guiding is reflected in his intimate familiarity with the flora and fauna. His passion for the region may be partly inherited, as his father is also a professional safari guide. Outgoing and lively, Stephen loves meeting new people and is an accredited member of the Kenya Professional Safari Guide Association. His favorite parks are Samburu and Masai Mara; his favorite animal is the giraffe.

Chris Nyambu

Chris brings knowledge and dedication to his career as a safari guide. Highly focused and passionate about his profession, he is accredited by the Kenya Professional Safari Guide Association with eight years’ guiding experience. Because Chris speaks fluent English and Swahili, he is a perfect bridge between our safari guests and the places they visit. His conversance with the African wilderness—its geography, flora, and fauna—is equally fluent. Driven by his love for wildlife and desire to conserve nature, he became a member of the Friends of Tsavo. Among his favorite places to travel: Masai Mara, Samburu, and Lake Nakuru. When not traveling or guiding, he enjoys football and photography. His favorite subject? The African elephant.

Jan
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Dry Season

Grass is short, so it’s easy to spot wildlife that is concentrated near waterholes.

Temperate Season

Ideal Safari season – wildlife is easy to track, and the weather is temperate.

Rainy Season

Tropical downpours mean an ideal season for birding and photography.

Light Rains

Cooler weather & nighttime rains mean animals are more active during the day.

Jan, Feb & Mar: A wonderful, mostly dry time of year with clear, hot days. The grasses are short and the animals congregate around water sources – an ideal time for a safari in Kenya. As the April rains approach, it is increasingly hot and humid into March. Average high: 82-95F. Average low: 54-57F

Apr, May & Jun: Although April will present the heaviest rains of the year, May and June are excellent months for exploring Kenya with less crowds and great value combined with near-perfect weather. The lighting, green foliage and clear air following the rains make this a prime time for photography. Average high: 77-85. Average low: 55-61.

Jul, Aug & Sept: This is the peak safari season. Warm days, cold nights, and dry weather all around. It is easy to spot wildlife concentrated around waterholes. The Great Migration is in full swing in the Masai Mara. Average high: 79-8F. Average low: 54-57F.

Oct, Nov & Dec: Days warm up in anticipation of the welcomed November short rains. A wonderful, less-crowded season for a safari offering great value. Average high: 70-82F. Average low: 54-63F.

Read more about The Best Time To Visit

5 Kenya Safaris

Kenya

Masai Mara, Amboseli & Samburu 7 Days / 6 Nights

Activities: The Big Five, Classic Game Drives, The Great MigrationMaximize your time in Kenya’s finest wildlife reserves on this luxurious fly-in safari, winging from the verdant Amboseli and seldom-visited Samburu to the world-famous Masai Mara.

Read more Highlights & Departures
Safari From $6,698 USD per persontrip details

Highlights

  • Spot giant tuskers and mesmerizing Kilimanjaro vistas in Amboseli
  • Track rare desert species through the varied landscapes of Shaba and Samburu
  • Feel Africa’s grandeur amidst the big skies and vast savannas of the Masai Mara
  • Listen and look for lions at your exclusive tented camp, once home to Born Free author Joy Adamson
  • Discover traditional song, dance, and culture during a visit to a Maasai manyatta

Departure Dates


Make it your own! Private trips are just for you and your travel companions. Choose your preferred departure date and we handle all the details.

NEED HELP DECIDING?

We Speak Safari
Call 888-483-7696 | Request a Reservation  

Kenya/Tanzania

Great Migration 12 Days / 11 Nights

Activities: The Big Five, Classic Game Drives, The Great Migration, Urban ExplorationsGet a front-row perspective on Africa’s most thrilling wildlife spectacle, as millions of animals traverse the vast expanses of Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara.

Read more Highlights & Departures
Safari From $11,698 USD per persontrip details

Highlights

  • Explore Africa’s most magnificent grasslands on both sides of the border: Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti
  • Follow in the footsteps of Africa’s iconic animals – lions, antelopes, zebras, and more – on daily game drives
  • Stay in the heart of the action, at luxury tented camps overlooking the Mara River
  • See elephants silhouetted against snowcapped Mt. Kilimanjaro in Amboseli National Park
  • Immerse yourself in the primordial beauty of Ngorongoro Crater, an ancient caldera filled with grasslands, waterholes, and thousands of mammals

Departure Dates


Jul 26-Aug 6Aug 16-Aug 27Sep 13-Sep 24

Also available as a Private departure - choose your own dates!

NEED HELP DECIDING?

We Speak Safari
Call 888-483-7696 | Request a Reservation  

Kenya/Tanzania

Serengeti, Masai Mara & Beyond 14 Days / 13 Nights

Activities: Active Safaris, The Big Five, Classic Game Drives, The Great Migration, Cultural VisitsTake a grand tour of East Africa’s finest wildlife reserves, from Amboseli’s elephant herds and Kilimanjaro vistas to the big cats and unbroken savannas of the Serengeti.

Read more Highlights & Departures
Safari From $6,898 USD per persontrip details

Highlights

  • Enjoy nonstop opportunities to spot the Big Five in East Africa’s richest wildlife habitats
  • Follow the awe-inspiring migration of a million wildebeest from Kenya’s Masai Mara to Tanzania’s Serengeti
  • Discover the incomparable beauty of Ngorongoro Crater, a timeless wildlife oasis
  • Feel Africa’s grandeur in Amboseli National Park, where magnificent Mt. Kilimanjaro frames epic panoramas of wildlife-packed savannas and swamps
  • Seek out big cats, wild dogs, and endangered Grevy’s zebras in seldom-visited Samburu National Reserve

Departure Dates


May 17-May 30Jun 14-Jun 27

Also available as a Private departure - choose your own dates!

NEED HELP DECIDING?

We Speak Safari
Call 888-483-7696 | Request a Reservation  

Kenya

Masai Mara, Amboseli & Tsavo 8 Days / 7 Nights

Activities: The Big Five, Classic Game Drives, The Great MigrationExplore Kenya’s most famous parks, savoring Kilimanjaro-framed wildlife vistas in Amboseli, meeting Tsavo’s famous red elephants, and tracking the Big Five through the Masai Mara.

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Safari From $5,298 USD per persontrip details

Highlights

  • Witness the legendary snows of Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park
  • Our premium tented camps offer the ultimate Out of Africa experience, in the region where the memoir was set
  • Connect with Maasai herders during a cultural encounter in one of their villages
  • See elephants bathe in red volcanic dust and pods of hippos swim in spring-fed pools at Tsavo National Park
  • Watch hordes of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope run the gauntlet of lions and crocodiles in Masai Mara National Reserve

Departure Dates


Make it your own! Private trips are just for you and your travel companions. Choose your preferred departure date and we handle all the details.

NEED HELP DECIDING?

We Speak Safari
Call 888-483-7696 | Request a Reservation  

Kenya

Masai Mara & Beyond 12 Days / 11 Nights

Activities: The Big Five, Classic Game Drives, The Great Migration, Cultural VisitsBuild treasured family memories on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, sharing the thrill of game drives, walks with Maasai warriors, and intimate encounters with giraffes and elephants.

Read more Highlights & Departures
Safari From $3,998 USD per persontrip details

Highlights

  • At Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Sanctuary, get up close with Africa’s friendly titans
  • Feed rare Rothschild giraffes at Langatta Giraffe Sanctuary
  • Get active! Climb, bike, and hike around Lake Naivasha, track the Big Five in Masai Mara, learn the customs of Maasai warriors
  • Watch the eternal dance of predator and prey in Masai Mara National Reserve
  • Enjoy close-up encounters with rhinos and chimpanzees at refuges devoted to their protection
  • Track wildlife through the red desert expanses of Samburu National Reserve

Departure Dates


Make it your own! Private trips are just for you and your travel companions. Choose your preferred departure date and we handle all the details.

NEED HELP DECIDING?

We Speak Safari
Call 888-483-7696 | Request a Reservation  

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