A Traveler’s Guide to Kenya Wildlife Safaris

Kenya wildlife safaris offer a complete immersion into Kenya’s magical wilderness for you to search for its diverse wildlife. Plan and book your Kenya wildlife safari to Kenya, Africa’s most popular destination that guarantees you exceptional Big 5 game and wildebeest encounters. Kenya is the original home of safari. With a mere mention of Kenya wildlife tours, the first thing that clicks on most people’s minds is the African bush elephants, lions, and wildebeests. But there are more awaiting you to unearth on a wildlife safari in Kenya. If you are a beach lover or interested in exploring the ancient ruins and lush rainforests, then you have every reason to undertake a safari to Kenya.

Where to go for Kenya wildlife safaris?

Kenya boasts of its multiple wildlife safari destinations. Each destination in Kenya has something unusual for nature lovers to experience. Here are the top game visit on Kenya wildlife safaris.

Masai Mara National Reserve

When it comes to wildlife safaris, Masai Mara National Reserve always comes first on the top list of destinations in Kenya and Africa at large. Located in far Southwestern Kenya at the border with Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara boasts of its alluring savanna landscape and diverse wildlife. Kenya wildlife tours in Masai Mara entirely take you on long day encounters of wildebeest migration, big 5 game, and other species. The key highlights of the Masai Mara safari include the dramatic wildebeest migration experience and guided Big Five game viewing tours. The iconic wildebeest migration encounter in Masai Mara is best enjoyed around July and October. During this period, millions of wildebeest and thousands of other grazers cross the Mara River from Serengeti National Park to search for the pastures and water. The great migration is the most powerful wildlife experience that every nature enthusiast never wants to miss.

Kenya Wildlife Safaris

Amboseli National Park

Lying in the Southern side of Kenya, Amboseli is an exceptional wildlife safari destination most popular for 2 facts. First, Amboseli is home to a huge concentration of African elephants. Secondly, the breathtaking views of the legendary Kilimanjaro Volcano thanks to its strategic location. Amboseli features over 5 distinct habitats, each with unique attractions that make it a vibrant destination. Amboseli National Park’s habitats comprise vast savannas, dry beds of Lake Amboseli, woodlands, and wetlands with Sulphur springs. On Kenya wildlife safaris in Amboseli, the expected animal encounters include African elephants, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards, zebras, lions, giraffes, dik-dik, buffalos, hyrax, lesser kudus, and others.

Tsavo National Park

Tsavo National Park (Conservation Area) combines two protected areas; the Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park. This is one of the oldest parks and is set in the semi-arid region, close to Voi town in Taita-Taveta County, Southeastern Kenya. The Tsavo National Park features rocky hills, dormant volcanoes, wetlands, and a bed of igneous rocks as well as natural springs. While in Tsavo National Park for a safari, expect to search for the diversity of wildlife including leopards, buffaloes, rhinos, red elephants, gerenuks, giraffes, hippos, oryxes, crocodiles, and cheetahs.

Lake Nakuru National Park

If you enjoy birding experiences, then Lake Nakuru should be a must-visit. Lying a few hours from the heart of Nairobi city, Lake Nakuru National Park is a birder’s haven. Over 400 bird species live in Lake Nakuru National Park including countless pink flamingos. The park also holds birds such as the Eastern imperial eagle, brimstone canary, bateleur, Abyssinian thrush, grey-crested helmet shrike, brown-backed scrub robin, black-winged lapwing, European rollers, greater spotted eagle, Northern puff back, red-capped lark, lesser kestrel, Kenya rufous sparrow, ruppell’s robin chat, schalow’s wheatear, long-tailed widowbird and others. The best time to go for birdwatching tours in Lake Nakuru National Park is from November to March. Around these months, it is possible to spot a huge concentration of migratory birds from Europe and North Africa. It is also the breeding period for most bird species.

Samburu National Reserve

Samburu National Reserve lies in the arid area of Northern Kenya. This reserve features rugged vegetation and is most popular for its special five (also referred to as Samburu five) species. They include the reticulated giraffes, Gravy zebras, Somali ostrich, gerenuk, and Beisa Oryx. Other notable wildlife to find in Samburu include lions, elephants, buffaloes, zebras, hippos, and over 390 bird species. The key bird species to identify on Kenya wildlife safaris or specifically birding tours in Samburu include vulturine guineafowl, black-capped social weavers, white-bellied bustards, grey wren-warblers, chestnut weavers, bare-eyed thrush, and African palm swift. Other birds include the marina sunbird, rosy-patched bush-shrike, Somali bee-eater, singing bush lark, secretary bird, pygmy batis, northern brown bull, Somali ostrich, pink-breasted lark, yellow-vented remotely, and white-headed mousebirds.

Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is most popular for its iconic experiences and sites including the Ivory burning site monument, Nairobi safari walk, walking trails at hippos pools as well an orphanage. On Kenya safaris, tourists have a lot to explore in Nairobi National Park. The park is home to diverse wildlife including black rhinos, cheetahs, Thompson’s gazelles, waterbucks, impalas, plain zebras, blue wildebeest, and hippos. Nairobi National Park also supports animals such as olive baboons, Grant’s gazelles, spotted hyenas, black-backed jackals, and lions.

Birds in Nairobi National Park –the park accounts for over 400 species of birds that are endemic and migratory. They include Egyptian goose, long-tailed fiscals, blacksmith lapwing, black-headed heron, spur-winged goose, fulvous whistling duck, African black ducks, Northern shovelers, blue-billed teal, Shelley’s francolins, coqui francolins, crested francolins, harlequin quail, and speckled pigeon. Other birds that make Nairobi National Park a great birding destination include the scaly francolins, common quail, yellow-necked francolins, little grebe, black-bellied bustards, white-browed coucal, great spotted cuckoo, Eurasian nightjars, swift bird, African rail, red knobbed coot, African finfoot, water thick-knee, spotted thick knee and more.

Aberdare National Park

Known for its steep forested gores and open moorland grassland, Aberdare is home to diverse wildlife and birds. The park boasts of wildlife such as buffaloes, leopards, warthogs, black rhinos, elephants, blue duikers, bongos, African golden cats, and spotted hyenas.Marine destinations to explore aquatic species in Kenya include Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve, Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park and Reserve, and Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve.

What is the best time to go for Kenya wildlife safaris?

Kenya is open to visitors on African wildlife tours all year round. But the dry season is the most ideal period for you to enjoy uninterrupted views of wildlife in most of the Kenya wildlife safari destinations. The peak dry season also falls at the same time when the annual wildebeest migration occurs in the Masai Mara National Reserve.

June to October

The dry season to travel for game viewing in Kenya runs from June to October. But what is interesting is that Kenya is an all-year-round wildlife viewing destination. From January to February, Kenya experiences warm temperatures and these months are the best for game viewing in destinations such as Amboseli National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve, and Lake Nakuru National Park.

March to May

March, April to May –These are the months when the rain starts and the sky remains blue. It is during these months when most game tracks become hard to pass through because they are characterized by heavy rains. June is when the peak dry season begins and it is around this month when most wildlife confine around most lakes, river banks as well as other waterholes. The commonly spotted wildlife include buffaloes, elephants, and many others.

July to September

July to September mark the long dry season in most destinations in Kenya. These are the best months to experience the Great Migration. It is around these months when you can encounter millions of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles. The most remarkable highlight not to miss around these peak dry months is the Mara River crossing.

October to November

October to November – months characterized by low rainfall and still they are ideal for game viewing. Around November, most destinations experience hotter temperatures with shorter rains. From December, most national parks and reserves feature lush green grass offering refuge to newly born species of animals. Important monthly weather conditions to mark as you plan your Kenya wildlife safari holiday. The wet season –the short rains occur from November to December, and the long rains start from March, April to May. The dry seasons – the short dry months run from January to February while the long dry months begin from June, July, August, and September to October.

The Great Migration

The Great Migration is one of the most powerful wildlife experiences that you shouldn’t miss on Kenya wildlife safari. Wildebeest migration is an annual movement of wildebeest from Serengeti National Park plains to the vast Masai Mara. The most powerful moment of this experience is the Mara River crossing. A huge concentration of wildebeest can be observed forcefully crossing the Mara River and accompanying them are the gazelles and zebras.  In Kenya, the Great Migration is best enjoyed in the Masai Mara National Reserve. While you observe millions of the wildebeest as they cross, you can also keep a close eye on the big cats.

Kenya Wildlife Safaris

Park entry fees for Masai Mara

The park entry fees vary depending on the destinations you plan to visit for game viewing or wildlife tours in Kenya. The charges are  are per visitor. In the Masai Mara, the entry fee for an adult foreign nonresident is USD 200 per visitor valid for a day. Children are charged USD 50 per person valid for a single day while students under the foreign nonresident category pay USD 50.

Adult East African residents are charged Kshs. 4500 then children plus students all pay kshs. 2000 per person for a single day. Adult Kenyan citizens are charged kshs.1000 per person for a day, and students and children kshs. 1000 per person valid for 24 hours.

During the peak season which runs from July to December, the park entrance fees are charged differently. Adult foreign nonresidents are charged USD 200 while children plus students all pay USD50 per person. East African residents (adults) pay kshs4500; children and students are charged kshs. 2000.

During the peak months, adult Kenyan citizens are charged kshs. 3000 while children pay kshs. 1000 per person. Citizens living in Narok (adults) pay kshs. 2000 then children plus students pay kshs. 1000 per person valid for one day (24 hours).

Big Five game viewing

The big 5 game safaris are a must-do on Kenya wildlife safaris. Embarking on the Big 5 game tour is a great opportunity for you to search for elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, and rhinos. These make Kenya a complete Big Five game safari destination. Other wildlife safari activities include bird watching, bushwalking, hot air balloon safaris, marine life viewing, etc.

What is the best time for Masai Mara Great Migration?

July, August, September, and October are with no doubt the best time of the year for nature enthusiasts to experience the most of Masai Mara Great Migration. The most memorable of this annual event is the Mara River crossing. There is also an option of observing wildebeest as they give birth. The birthing season for wildebeest falls around January, February, and March. These are the months when the rainy season begins. It should be noted that female wildebeest breed seasonally and even ovulate spontaneously. The breeding/birthing season occurs around the period when there is abundant availability of pasture and water.

What are the big five in Kenya?

The Big 5 games are a must-see on the Kenya safari tour. Wildlife safaris in Kenya to see the Big Five game involve embarking on a journey to find African bush elephants, rhinos, leopards, buffaloes, and lions. The best places in Kenya to visit for Big Five game safaris include Maasai Mara National Reserve, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and Lake Nakuru National Park. The big game safaris in Kenya can also be best enjoyed in Amboseli National Park, and Tsavo National Parks (Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park). Laikipia Plateau is another remarkable area where you can find the big five game including rhinos. This conservation area also holds wildlife species such as reticulated giraffes, gravy zebras, and African wild dogs.

How much is a Kenya wildlife safari tour?

Kenya Wildlife Safari has no standard rate/cost. It varies depending on several factors including the activities you plan to engage in, accommodation type, travel style, the safari package, the destinations, and transportation.

How long can the Kenya safari take?

The number of days you intend to spend on Kenya wildlife safaris is never restricted. You can opt for short Kenya tours which run from 1 day to 5 days or embark on the most rewarding long road trips starting from 6 days to 30 days. Long safaris are ideal because you have a chance to explore a lot of the different tourist sites.

What is the rarest wildlife/animal in Kenya?

Kenya is home to a myriad of wildlife and besides wildebeest, there is also roan antelope. In the 2021 national wildlife census, the number of roan antelopes was recorded to have reduced to 15-20 in the Kenyan plains. The dwindling population of these antelope species is attributed to poaching whose population was flourishing, especially in Kenya.

Kenya or Tanzania, which is better?

 Choosing between Kenya and Tanzania for an African wildlife safari holiday can be challenging. The two destinations all offer distinct experiences. They are the best destinations to visit for thrilling Big Five game and wildebeest migration experiences. The difference may arise from the quality of their national parks and the abundance of wildlife species. To excellently make a comparison of the two destinations, it is better to visit all of them. You can explore the Serengeti –Masai Mara ecosystem on the Kenya –Tanzania wildlife safari combo. On a combined safari to explore Serengeti and Masai Mara, you stand a chance to explore the big five, zebras, and also witness the great wildebeest migration.

Are Kenya safaris expensive?

Kenya is one of the most visited African wildlife safari destinations. Some visitors think a safari in Kenya is expensive. Usually, what makes Kenya safaris expensive is the high cost of safari lodges. Especially when they are found slightly far from the tourist destinations. This means you have to incur the cost to enable you to move to and from where your safari activities are going to be done. The park entrance fees and conservation levies. The park entry fees may vary depending on the protected area. As you plan to visit Kenya for a holiday, it is important to keep in mind that the fees paid for accessing Samburu or Nairobi National Park may differ significantly from the fees for those visiting Masai Mara National Reserve.

All-inclusive accommodation rates. With all-inclusive, you pay the set price per visitor per day. An all-inclusive package covers the cost of activities, meals, accommodation, and other expenses.

Where to stay during the Kenya Wildlife Safaris?

A complete Kenya wildlife safari includes safari lodges/camps where you can spend a night. The available safari lodges/accommodations in and around the safari lodges in Kenya consist of budget, midrange, and luxury options.

Top accommodation options in and around Masai Mara include Mara Explorer Tented Camp, Tayari Luxury Tented Camp, Matira Bush Camp, Little Governors’ Camp, Mahali Mzuri, Richard’s River Camp, Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, and Porini Mara Camp.

Accommodation choices in Amboseli National Park include Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge, Ol Tukai Lodge Amboseli, Amboseli Eco Camp, Sentrim Amboseli Lodge, Kibo Safari Camp, Penety Amboseli Resort, and Penuel Plaza Hotel.

Places to stay in and around Nairobi National Park include Ololo Safari Lodge, Nyati Hill Cottages, Osoita Lodge, and Samra Hotel.

Accommodations in Tsavo National Park include Red Elephant Lodge, Galana Crocodile Camp, Voi Safari Lodge, Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, Ashnil Aruba Lodge, and Salt Lick Safari Lodge.

Lake Nakuru National Park has accommodation options including Lake Nakuru Lodge, Ivory Park Hotel, Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, and Lake Nakuru Flamingo Resort & Spa.

What to pack for the Kenya wildlife safari?

Anyone with plans to go on Kenya wildlife safaris is required to pack wisely. Your packing list for Kenya wildlife tours should comprise mostly essentials including among others;

Safari clothes

Casual, lightweight, and loose-fitting are the best clothes to consider packing for your Kenya wildlife tours. These types can easily cool and also dry. When choosing the clothes to pack, it is essential to get those with neutral colors. These can blend with the environment. But try as much as you can to avoid military-like attire because they are unlawful since they are only worn by local forces. On the list of clothes to pack, consider carrying a short and long-sleeved shirt. More so, safari multi-pocket safari vest best for photographers. A light jacket, casual trousers, a pair of safari shorts, a pair of nightwear, and sports bras for ladies.

Comfortable shoes

Footwear is essential, especially for those of you with plans to embark on bushwalking or trekking. Consider packing fully closed lightweight but comfortable walking shoes or boots.

Safari hats and sun protection

The weather conditions in Kenya are generally different from that of other destinations and having a safari hat is ideal to protect you from the hot sunshine. The sunglasses are useful for protecting you from dust and also sun rays.

Insect repellent

Insect repellents are useful in protecting you from biting insects while on a wildlife safari or bush walk. Have for yourself at least DEET as it is considered to be more effective.


You need some medication to cater for all emergencies. You can come with already prescribed medication from your home doctor or get a prescription and purchase them in the pharmacies in Nairobi city. The important medications you need to have include anti-malaria pills, pain relief tablets, and others.

Photography gear

You shouldn’t travel for wildlife safaris in Kenya and return with no evidence of what you came to do. Having your photography gear should be a must. The essential photography list should cover good cameras, and extra battery as well as storage. You also need to carry a pair of binoculars, travel adaptors, and a laptop to help you download your images. Take note that Kenya uses mainly the type G plug which has 3 rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. The supply voltage is 240V and 50HZ.

Additional items to carry

Your list should also cover items such as toiletries. The packing list of toiletries should cover items like moisturizers, sanitary products, shampoo, toothpaste. Hair brush, wet wipes, a small sewing kit, toothbrush, and others. An alarm clock, money belt, sunscreen, first aid kit. Reading materials are among the essentials you shouldn’t forget to have on your Kenya wildlife trip.

Conclusively, Kenya wildlife safaris are a perfect way to explore the country’s diverse wildlife in the wild. Plan and book the best African safaris to Kenya to unearth its wonders with Native Africa Tours.

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