Introduction


Where do you plan to visit in your next African safari of a lifetime? Think of safari destinations in Kenya, the home of the African Safari. Indeed, Kenya is a renowned African safari destination, famous for its spectacular wildlife, tropical beaches, and rich cultural heritage. Apart from being the only safari destination whose travel circuit includes a game drive within 10 minutes of its capital city,

Kenya has bagged numerous travel awards as a leading golf and tourism destination. Hence, it is no surprise the country’s safari jewels remain on people’s shortlists at a time when the world is still slowly coming out of a global pandemic. Then, as you decide on where you want to travel for leisure, safari, or a round of golf, here are five “Out of Africa” safari destinations you should include in your Kenya itinerary: –

The Kenya Safari Destinations

1. The Epic Maasai Mara – Best for the Great Wildebeest Migration

Overview:
You haven’t been to Kenya until you visit the epic Maasai Mara. Here, millions of migratory herbivores roam the sweeping grass plains, with the predatory eyes of the Big Five lurking in the tall grasses. Yet, all these migratory herbivores must cross the hippo and crocodile-infested Mara River to access the greener pasture on the other side.

Indeed, Maasai Mara is a delicate yet beautiful ecological environment home to 95% of the world’s mammal, reptile, and amphibian species and 485 bird species. And during the dry season, the well-watered ecology occupying 1,510 square kilometers attracts at least 250,000 zebras, more than 1.3 million wildebeest, and other migratory herbivores, transforming into a spectacular wildlife show.

Then, come and witness the famed annual wildebeest migration through the eyes of the Maasai warriors, the guardians of the land. See, Maasai Mara stretches along the Kenya-Tanzania border, the ancestral home of the Maasai. Here, the nomadic inhabitants adapted to the delicate Serengeti ecosystem to coexist with the wild.

Key Attractions: The Great Wildebeest Migration, Maasai Villages
Things to Do: Full Day Game Drive, Bird Watching, Hot Air Balloon Ride, Bush Walks, Maasai Village Visit, Champagne Bush Breakfast, Bush Meals and Sundowners

What to See: The Famous Big Five (Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Black Rhino, Elephant), Gazelle, Cheetah, Topi, Hippo, Hyena, Giraffe, Mongoose, Weaver Birds, Ostrich, Crocodiles, Wildebeest, Migratory Birds

Best Time for the Safari: July to October, Christmas to Mid-March
How to Get There: By Road and Direct Flights

Where to Stay: Budget to Luxury Lodges and Tented Camps

2. Amboseli National Park – The Postcard Park of Kenya

Overview:
The Amboseli National Park is considered one of the best spots in Africa to see endless herds of elephants. Indeed, whereas the big cats roam everywhere in the Maasai Mara, it is in Amboseli where elephants can practically overrun your convoy. And, with the majestic and mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro in neighboring Tanzania standing tall and visible at the backdrop above everything else, this wildlife habitat is the postcard park of Kenya.

Now, Amboseli has lots of swamps and marshy pools that remain wet even during the dry season. They attract vast wildlife all year round, guaranteeing spectacular views on all your visits. Also, numerous conservation and ecotourism projects are going on, including the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, the Big Life Foundation, Lion Guardians, and the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. Here, scientists and conservationists partner with locals and armed anti-poaching rangers to protect the animals and prevent human-wildlife conflict and deforestation.

Key Attractions: Elephant Viewing, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kimana Community Wildlife Sanctuary, Observation Hill

Things to Do: Full Day Game Drive, Bird Watching, Hot Air Balloon Ride, Guided Nature Walks, Cultural Tours, Champagne Bush Breakfast, Bush Meals and Sundowners

What to See: Elephants, Bat-Eared Foxes, Zebras, Giraffe, Buffalo, Lions, Cheetahs, Non-Migrating Wildebeests, Thompson Gazelles, Hippos, Spotted Hyenas, Baboons

Best Time for the Safari: July to October, Christmas to Mid-March

How to Get There: By Road and Direct Flights

Where to Stay: Budget to Luxury Lodges and Tented Camps

 

3. Buffalo Springs, Shaba & Samburu National Reserves – Best for Walking Safaris

Overview:
If you are looking for the ultimate crowd-free safari destinations in Kenya, think of visiting the Samburu, Shaba, and Buffalo Springs national reserves along the edge on northern Kenya. The three interconnected national reserves are in a vast semi-desert characterized by endless sunburnt acacia thorn bushes, occasional mountain peaks and volcanic plugs, and clusters of the local Samburu people adhering to a semi-nomadic traditional lifestyle, similar to the Maasai, their close cousins. Its thriving rare wildlife, bird species and locals rely on seasonal rivers and the permanent Ewaso Nyiro River slicing through Samburu National Reserve.

Samburu National Reserve is the most popular of the three safari destinations in Kenya. It has lots of elephants and the rare weirdly proportioned gerenuk. And remember Elsa the Lioness in the 1974 Born Free television series? Conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised the lioness and shot the film from Samburu. Proceed to Buffalo Springs for magnificent leopard sightings. The reserve is also home to the rare Burchell’s and Grevy’s zebras, the blue-legged Somali ostrich, and the Maasai ostrich. And Shaba National Reserve sits on a massive volcanic rock with four springs running through it.
Key Attractions: Semi-Arid Wildlife, Elephant Viewing, Kalama Conservancy, Ol Olokwe Mountain

Things to Do: Full Day Game Drive, Bird Watching, Guided Bush Walks, Rhino Spotting on Foot, Mountain Climbing

What to See: The Big Five, Gerenuk, Black Rhinos, Baboons, Reticulated Giraffe, Blue-legged Somali Ostrich, Grevy’s Zebra, Ruppell’s Vultures, Rare Wild Dogs, Endangered Pancake Tortoise

Best Time for the Safari: July to October, December to March

How to Get There: By Road and Direct Flights

Where to Stay: Budget to Luxury Lodges and Tented Camps

 

4. Tsavo East and West National Parks – Best for Elephant and Rhino Spotting

Overview:
Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks are oldest and largest safari destinations in Kenya, equivalent to three times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the US. Tsavo East National Park was established in 1948 and occupies for 11,747 km², 333km southeast of the capital city, Nairobi, and 173 km northwest of Mombasa City, along the Kenyan coast. Likewise, Tsavo West National Park has wildlife scattered on a 7,065km² savannah bushland dotted with palm thickets, seasonal rivers, acacia woodlands, mountains, and hills. These lie adjacent to each other, separated by the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. Better still; you get an excellent view of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tsavo East National Park.

Due to their proximity to the Kenyan coast, you can have a day excursion to the Tsavo East and West National Parks while on an overland journey from the Maasai Mara or Amboseli. Then, proceed to the coast for your beach holiday. More so, the Kenya railway passes through the parks and can drop tourists at a station within the park. Hence, they are excellent safari destinations in Kenya for the minimalist globetrotter.

Key Attractions: Galana River, Yatta Plateau, Prolific Bird Life, Maneaters of Tsavo, Elephant and Rhino Sanctuaries, Mzima Springs, Lake Jipe, Kanderi Swamp

Things to Do: Full Day Game Drive, Bird Watching, Guided Bush Walks, Cave and Geological Explorations, Underwater Hippo Watching at Mzima Springs

What to See: 500 Recorded Bird Species, Lions, Red-Skinned Elephants, Black Rhinos, Leopards, Hippos, Giraffe, Oryx, Zebras, Lesser Kudu, Cheetahs, Gerenuk, Gazelles, Cape Buffaloes, Yellow Baboon, Waterbuck

Best Time for the Safari: June to September, January and February

How to Get There: By Road, Railway and Direct Flights

Where to Stay: Budget to Luxury Lodges and Tented Camps, Self-Catering Cottages.

5. Aberdare National Park – Horseback Riding and Golf Safaris

Overview:
Finally, here is one of the off-the-beaten safari destinations in Kenya to have on your itinerary. The Aberdare National Park covers the Aberdare Ranges, a water catchment and protected area comprising two ecosystems. It is nature at its best characterized by virgin forests and sources of most rivers in the country. Yet, the park derives its fame as the place where Princess Elizabeth was vacationing when she found out about her father’s death, King George VI, and flew home to become the Queen of England. To date, the 90-year-old rustic Treetops Hotel where Queen Elizabeth was staying attracts thousands of visitors each year. Its strategic location along the ancient elephant migratory path, with a saltlick and natural watering hole at the front, provides a 24/7 view of magnificent wildlife.

Then, we recommend the scenic Aberdare National Park as part of your honeymooners’ safari destinations in Kenya. Expect to see large herds of elephants as they stop at the watering hole outside your hotel en route to the Mt. Kenya National Park. Also, the second-largest population of endangered black rhinos roams free here. Other rare montane species include the bushbucks, black and white colobus monkeys, Defassa waterbucks, and the nocturnal spotted genet and giant forest hogs.

Key Attractions: Aberdare Ranges, 250 Bird Species, Magnificent Waterfalls, Afro-Alpine Moorlands, Aberdare Game Sanctuary, Ol Pajeta Conservancy

Things to Do: Horseback Riding, Morning and Night Game Drives, Guided Nature Walks, Bush Breakfast, Sundowner, Chimpanzee Trekking, Hiking

What to See: Aberdare Mountain Ranges, Elephants, Buffaloes, Bongo Antelopes, 290 Bird Species,

Best Time for the Safari: June to October, December to March

How to Get There: By Road or Direct Flights

Where to Stay: Budget to Luxury Lodges and Tented Camps

Final Thoughts – Kenya’s Travel Protocols after the Pandemic
Most of the safari destinations in Kenya encompass wide open spaces. In turn, they guarantee visitors’ safety and easy adherence to post-pandemic protocols like social distancing, heightened sanitation in lodges, and effective emergency response. Hence, Kenya is ready, willing, and waiting to welcome you for an unforgettable African safari.

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