Elephants in Kenya

Kenya Travel Guide

While Kenya is most commonly associated with safaris and the Maasai Mara, the country is full of incredible travel experiences that extend far beyond the stereotypes.

From a coastline that gives Zanzibar a run for its money to a fairy-tale island that transports you back into time and a melting pot of cultures and architecture, Kenya has something for every kind of traveller.

Herd of african elephants on a safari trip to Kenya and a snow capped Kilimanjaro mountain in Tanzania in the background.
Elephants in Kenya

The Best Time to Visit Kenya

There is no bad time to visit Kenya. It all depends on what’s on your Kenya bucket list.

Want to witness the Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth? Book your trip between July and September to watch thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson gazelle make the dangerous roundtrip between the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara.

If you’re not too worried about seeing the Great Migration but still want your African safari fix, the best time to go to Kenya is during the dry seasons. Between January to February and June to September, you’ll have a much easier time spotting the wildlife as water is scarce.

During the wet seasons (March to May and October to December), you’ll have the opportunity to see baby animals and hundreds of migrating birds return.

For those wanting to conquer the mighty Mount Kenya, the safest time to climb the mountain is between January to February and July to September. The weather is dry, and you can expect clear, sunny days.

Lastly, one of the best reasons to travel to Kenya is its coastline. Throughout the year, you can expect hot, humid weather – perfect for lazy afternoons on Diani Beach.

Top Kenya Travel Destinations

Maasai Mara National Reserve

Cheetah in Maasai Mara National Reserve

Maasai Mara is where Mother Nature goes to gloat. Boarding Tanzania, the national park is world-famous for the Great Migration when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti.

Along the way, the animals will have to cross rivers full of hungry crocs and navigate past other predators like lions, cheetahs and leopards waiting to pick the weak ones off.

Besides the incredible wildlife sightings, the park is also home to the Maasai people. The tribe have lived here for centuries, and visiting the park will give you a glimpse into Kenya’s fascinating local culture, traditions, and history.

Amboseli National Reserve

Amboseli National Reserve’s crowning glory is Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest mountain and one of the world’s Seven Summits.

Located 4-hours from Nairobi, travellers flock here to see the park’s large herds of elephants, big cats, and the 600 species of birds that call the park home.

Elephants in Amboseli National Reserve

But what makes Amboseli a truly unique Kenya safari destination are the different habitats. As you go on your game drive, you’ll witness the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, savannah plains, woodlands, and wetlands with sulfur springs.

Lamu Island

Lamu Island is an incredible Kenya travel destination. A small island on the northeast of Mombasa and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Lamu is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited settlement.

Lamu Island Coast

The island dates back to the 12th century, and Lamu Old Town is where you can soak up the destination’s old-world charm.

Spend your trip scrolling along the streets lined with architectural influences from Europe, India, and the Arab world. Cool off from the heat of the day with a traditional Dhow boat ride at sunset, and step back in time with a visit to Lamu Museum. Here you’ll find exhibits on Swahili culture, the region’s nautical history, and the iconic Lamu Fort.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Nursery

While most tourists use Nairobi as a touchdown point and promptly leave the city to explore Kenya’s national parks, the capital has a handful of attractions worth seeing.

Der David’ Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Nursery leads the pack. Come here for a half-day trip, and you can meet the trust’s orphaned baby elephants.

The youngest are hand-reared until two years old. From there, the sanctuary relocates them to a reintegration centre in Tsavo National Park before being released back into the wild.

Want to do more to help these creatures? You can adopt an orphaned elephant, and receive regular updates on its rehabilitation progress.

Malindi

Malindi

While most travellers think of Kenya as a safari destination, its coastline can rival Zanzibar and the Seychelles.

Malindi is where you’ll find the Watamu Marine National Park. It boasts some of the best snorkelling in East Africa, and you can swim past pristine coral reefs, tropical fish, and (if you’re lucky) endangered sea turtles.

The white sand beaches lure sun worshipers from around the world, and the area’s rich trading history means you’ll find a smorgasbord of cultures and cuisines here.

Need a break from the ocean?

Visit Malindi’s historic old town, which dates back to the 12th century. Here, you’ll find attractions like the Jami Mosque, the Church of St. Francis Xavier, and the Vasco Da Gama Cross.

Mount Kenya National Park

Located east of the Great Rift Valley is Mount Kenya National Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the highest mountain in the country.

Mount Kenya stands 5,199 metres above sea level and is made up of three glacier peaks. Hikers can choose which to climb: Batian, Nelion or Lenana.

If you’re not a trekker, the park is still worth a visit. You can expect striking natural scenery and an abundance of flora and fauna for unforgettable safaris.

Kenya Travel Tips

Language in Kenya: Kenya has two official languages, English and Swahili. Most locals do speak a mix of the two as well as their tribal language.

Yellow Fever Vaccination: You’ll need to visit your doctor and get a mandatory yellow fever vaccination for your trip to Kenya. It needs to be at least 10-days old on arrival, and you won’t be allowed to enter Kenya without one.

Malaria: Kenya does have a high risk of malaria in specific regions. It’s low in Nairobi and surrounding areas, but you should consider taking malaria medication if you’re travelling to the central, eastern, western provinces or the Rift Valley and Nyanza. Consult with your doctor before you arrive in Kenya to get up-to-date advice on which malaria tablet to take.

Currency: The official currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling. However, the U.S. dollar is widely accepted and the prefered currency for safaris and national parks.

Travel Visa Requirements for Kenya

All travellers to Kenya will need:

  • A valid passport with two blank pages that is valid for at least six months.
  • Proof of a return ticket or onward travel documents.
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Depending on your nationality, you can purchase an eVisa or pay for your visa on arrival. However, if you’re travelling to other destinations in Africa, it makes sense to apply for the East Africa visa.

You’ll get access to Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya at a fraction of the cost if you paid for each visa separately. To receive the East Africa visa, you need to apply online before arriving and pay the government and processing fees.

Always check with the Kenya Consulate in your country for the latest visa requirements before travelling.

Safari Options for Kenya

Dreaming of a Kenya Safari

Guided Safaris: To get the most out of your Kenya safari, sign up for a guided safari. Kenya’s national parks are massive, and the inexperienced traveller will have a hard time finding once-in-a-lifetime sightings. Guided safaris in Kenya usually include a team of professionals, so you don’t need to worry about setting up camp or navigating the roads, meals, and tented accommodation.

Group Safari Tours: Looking for a budget-friendly safari in Kenya? You can’t go wrong with a group safari tour. From your arrival to departure and everything in between, your trip to Kenya is hassle-free. You can choose to join a group tour with other travellers, which is cheaper than a private guided safari.

Fly-in Safaris: Want to experience all that Kenya has to offer, but you’re short on time? Fly-in safaris are the most luxurious way to travel around Kenya. A bush flight means you get to skip 6-hour car rides and land right by your lodge in under an hour. The best part? You get to see Kenya from a different perspective along the way. 

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