Home of classical safari, Kenya combines some of the richest Big Five areas on the planet with landscapes that are truly grand and iconic. The Kenyan safari experience is highly developed, with a wide range of tour operators, lodges and transport companies welcoming thousands of visitors every year. For the budget conscious there are overland tours in modified trucks or minibus taxis, as well as large hotel-style lodges offering competitive rates and standard accommodation. For those who can afford it, Kenya boasts a number of camps that rival the world’s top boutique hotels in terms of service, location and dining, offering experiences tailored to the exacting standards and tastes of their high-end clientele.
Kenya’s varied landscapes offer a multitude of thrilling safari activities. Guests can walk through some of the most remote and isolated regions in the world guided by tribesmen for whom these natural wonders are an ancestral home. Helicopter flights that reach the pristine shores of the high-altitude lakes around Mount Kenya can take keen trout anglers to spots rarely ever touched by man. Traditional morning and evening game drives unveil a host of rich wildlife, rounded off with scenic sundowners and superb dining. Fly-camps made up of small tents set up in the bush or bed set up on high platforms in the open invite guests to enjoy a night directly beneath a galaxy of stars.
A safari in Kenya can take place on foot, on horseback, by bicycle, by boat, on a quad bike or in a customized open safari vehicle. Keen nature photographers can set off with specialized guides who combine knowledge of wildlife and photography. Those looking for a more active thrill can run with Maasai warriors or hike up some of Africa’s highest mountain slopes. Birding enthusiasts can lose themselves in plethora of resident and migrant species found in Kenya.
One of the most thrilling natural spectacles in the world, during the late winter months the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra crosses into southern Kenya from Tanzania, with vast herds of animals plunging across rivers and braving the jaws of some of Africa’s biggest crocodiles. Predators such as lion, leopard, hyena and the occasional cheetah follow the Migration, their watchful presence heightening the drama as they wait and watch for the weak, sick or simply unwary. Hundreds of vehicles enter the Masai Mara daily, seeking to witness a lion kill or a dramatic river crossing. This is one of the most sought-after times to travel and accommodation must be booked far in advance. While tourist numbers are high and sightings are almost always shared with a number of other vehicles, the wildlife viewing during this time is truly spectacular. Smaller and more intimate camps set on exclusive concessions or deep in the remote reaches of the national parks can lessen the impact of other tourist while still providing an exceptional wildlife experience.
While the Masai Mara is a definite highlight of any journey in this country, most Kenya safaris will visit several different areas, travelling either by road or by scheduled light aircraft flights. It is possible to include a number of experiences in any itinerary, from exploring the vast Laikipia plateau on foot to seeking out unusual species in Samburu. A relaxing spa or yoga retreat might be the ideal way to end your itinerary, while you could also choose to spend some time delving into Kenya’s fascinating colonial history or discovering its conservation heroes, such as the Adamsons and their famous lions. Indulge in a round of golf on a verdant fairway that straddles the equator at the base of Mount Kenya or saddle up to ride through the stark Chyulu hills, camping out beneath the stars along the way.