Kenya is located in wildlife-rich East Africa. The warm Indian Ocean runs along the country and offers beautiful beaches and sun-bathing opportunities. The landscape is one of Savannah, lake-lands, mountain highlands and the Great Rift Valley making this home to a plethora of wildlife. Animals such as lions, elephants and rhinos call Kenya home. There are also many National Parks and reserves perfect for day and night safaris.
During July and August the migration crosses the Mara River where the animals stay in the Masai Mara until November before heading south back into the Serengeti.
So anytime between July and early November will ensure you see a plethora of wildlife and activity.
Most people find the hot, dry weather of January and February the most pleasant in comparison to the rest of the year’s weather. This is also the best time for bird watching, as birds in huge numbers flock to the lakes.
Whether you travel in Winter or Summer, the early morning game drives are cold and as you climb from sea level you can expect a drop in temperature. It makes sense that you would want to go during the dry season because if you are outdoors, you will get wet and your shoes muddy.
For beach lovers, the Indian Ocean is warm all year round, but rain can fall at any time. It would be best to avoid the coast between mid-March to late May when the temperatures can be extremely high, and there is also high rainfall.
Learning the culture of the colourful Masai Mara Tribe
White sandy beaches and isolated islands
Amazing underwater activities
Discovering interesting facts about ‘The cradle of Mankind’
Kenyan people are often referred to as colourful, cultural and friendly. Adorned in original tribesmen and women outfits, witnessing one of their tribal dances is a highlight of a Kenya Safari.
The Masai Mara are a Nilotic ethnic group with a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Expect chant lullabies and humming songs which culminates in a polyhonic syncopated rhythm. See them jumping several meters into the air while they perform the adumu/aigus dance and then give it a go yourself!
Wildlife Safari highlights
The Masai Mara Reserve
Kenya is best known for the chance to experience the great Wildebeest Migration. Every year millions of wildebeest and zebra migrate between Kenya’s Masai Mara and the Serengeti in bordering Tanzania.
The spectacle of seeing vast herds of animals on the move through huge plains is one of the greatest wildlife experiences on the planet.
Prides of lions pursue the herds and occasionally go in for kills ensuring non-stop action and adventure.
The best time to visit the Masai Mara for the Wildebeest Migration is July through to September and October.
However if you aren’t in Kenya at these times of the year, you will still be sure to have plenty more wildlife highlights to experience. The Masai Mara is famed for big cat sightings particularly lion and cheetah. You will also see many other species of wildlife on Kenya’s safari landscapes of lush grasslands and open plains dotted with acacia trees.
Interesting Fact: The park is named after the Maasai people who traditionally lived in the area and also derives from the Maasai description of the wilderness area when viewed from the hills or in the air – “Mara” meaning “spotted” which describes the patchy appearance of the vegetation and the shadows of the clouds.
The Masai Mara Game Reserve is teeming with wildlife, covering some 1510 sq km of plains and riverine woodland along the meandering Mara and Talek rivers.
The Mara reserve is home to numerous giraffes, warthogs, bat-eared foxes and grey jackals, as well as spotted hyenas and baboons. Various antelopes are also found in their numbers in the reserve, such as topis, impala, hartebeests, Thomson’s gazelles and Grant’s gazelles.
One of Kenya’s biggest parks, it is home to huge herds of elephants as well as some unusual antelope species. Fringe-eared oryx, lesser kudu and the long-necked gerenuk can be spotted here.
Tsavo East is flatter and drier than the western part of the park, consisting mainly of semi-arid grassland and savannah. One of Kenya’s largest rivers, the Galana River, flows across its dry plains attracting much of the park’s wildlife, including numerous hippos and crocodiles.
Kudus, waterbucks and dik-diks are also commonly found along the river side. Tsavo East is also home to endangered hirola antelopes and black rhinos.
Samburu National Reserve
The arid region has unique animal species such as the gerenuk, Beisa oryx and reticulated giraffe.
Shimba Hills National Reserve
Often over-looked, this reserve lies close to Kenya’s coast and is home to the country’s only population of sable antelope.
Nairobi National Park
On the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi you will find this game reserve. Just a few kilometers outside of the city you can spot leopard, lion, rhino, cheetah, eland and giraffe. A wildlife experience while at your hotel is possible when visiting Giraffe Manor in Nairobi before you head off on your safari. Here a herd of resident Rothschild giraffe poke their long necks into the dining room while you eat breakfast.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park, famous for its greater and lesser flamingoes, covers 180 sq km’s of central Kenya, northwest of Nairobi. It is home to both black, white rhinos and sometimes leopards can be spotted.
Nakuru is a birding paradise, inhabited by nearly 450 bird species including several interesting water birds.
Beneath Kenya’s warm ocean there is a world of creatures to discover while snorkeling or diving. Five marine parks and reserves along the coast (including Africa’s oldest marine park – Malindi Marine National Park) protect a number of marine species. Turtles (including the endangered Olive Ridley turtles in Watamu Marine National Park) and dolphins to shoals of tropical fish, sharks and manta rays.
More detail on what Kenya Tours offer:
The perfect destination for your first safari
If you’re travelling to Africa for your first safari then Kenya is one of the best countries to choose. It’s easy to access from the northern hemisphere while the tourist infrastructure is well developed with a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Not forgetting the Big Five game viewing is superb!
The Masai Mara National Reserve
Established in 1961, the Masai Mara National Reserve is situated in an enormous game park in Narok County. It is joined to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
The reserve was named in honor of the Masai tribe, who were the original occupants of the region. Translated from the Masai word ‘Maa’ meaning ‘spotted’ which is indicative of how the area looks from a distance with circles of trees, thickets, savannahs and cloud shadows that seem to dot the park.
The reserve is renowned as one of the greatest and most popular wildlife parks in all of Africa. Famous for an incredible abundance of big cats such as lion, leopard and cheetah.
The annual migration during which masses of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and 1.5 million wildebeest make their way to and from the Serengeti while crossing through the crocodile infested Mara river is truly a sight to behold.
The animals migrate in search of fresh grass after seasonal rains, moving in herds of thousands. The occasional kill by a pride of lions is something you would see in nature documentaries.
The elephants of Amboseli National Park
Renown as one of the best places in the world to get close to free-ranging elephants. Amboseli offers guaranteed spectacular sightings of its more than 1400 big-tusked elephants against a stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. Kenya’s second most popular park also has many other species including buffalo, lion, impala, cheetah and spotted hyena. All of which are easily spotted in the long dry months when vegetation is sparse.
Scaling Mount Kenya
While not as famous as Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya offers a stellar climbing experience for travelers in search of adventure. It’s Africa’s second tallest mountain, at nearly 5000 meters high. However Mount Kenya is considered a more challenging climb than Mount Kilimanjaro. If you’re up for the adventure, the journey up to the summit offers dazzling panoramas over the plains as well as the chance to spot wildlife. Elephant, black rhino, buffalo and colobus monkeys can be seen en-route.
Beach time in coastal paradise
Kenya is a great destination if you want to combine a safari with beach time. The coast of Kenya has some spectacular soft white sand beaches fringed by warm turquoise ocean. You can either chill out on a beach lounger for days, or have an active beach holiday. A choice of watersports on offer include windsurfing, kitesurfing, diving and snorkeling. A exploration of the sealife will include turtles, sharks, dolphins and shoals of tropical fish. For those needing some time out, a sailing trip on a local dhow will offer up a romantic moment.
Birdwatching at the Great Rift Valley lakes
With more than 1000 bird species, Kenya is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The Great Rift Valley has a succession of lakes and wetlands and is home to one of the most diverse bird populations in the world.
Millions of candyfloss-pink flamingos feed on the algae in Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria. Here you can also see eagles, pelicans, cormorants and goliath herons along with more than 350 other species.
The elevated freshwater Lake Naivasha attracts black herons, kingfishers and great white egrets. Keeping the birds company, are giraffe, buffalo, Colobus monkeys, hippos, zebras and many other game. Take a boat trip out on the lake, and try and spot an African Fish Eagle scoop up a bite to eat.
Taking time out on Lamu Island
Lamu Island is only a short flight away from Nairobi, but it feels like you are stepping back in time. The tiny car-free island only has donkeys and traditional dhow boats for transportation. Lamu Town, Africa’s best-preserved Swahili settlement and Kenya’s oldest town, oozes history and charm. With centuries-old beautiful buildings, quaint alleyways, lovely cafés and a vibrant market.
On the other side of the island, Shela Beach is an idyllic stretch of golden sand beach. With only a handful of hotels and guesthouses and a few restaurants, here you can live out simple beach days.
Cycling in the wild in Hell’s Gate National Park
For a different wildlife experience visist Hell’s Gate National Park which is the only game reserve in Kenya where you can view wildlife by bicycle. Cycling is the best way to take in the natural splendor of the park. Dramatic gorges, towering cliffs and billowing plumes of geothermal steam along with its wildlife of zebra, giraffe, eland, Thomson’s gazelle, hartebeest and baboons.
Experience rich and diverse cultures
Kenya is home to a diverse array of cultural groups. These include the Masai, Turkana, El Molo, Rendille, Swahili, Pokot and Samburu. Each with their own distinctive histories, customs and traditions. With countless cultural experiences on offer to travelers, you will be fascinated when learning more about Kenya’s people. Whether learning how to make jewellery with Samburu women, going on a walk in the bush with a Masai wildlife guide, cooking a meal with a Swahili family, or attending a traditional Turkana wedding.
Weather in Kenya
Kenya has a tropical climate due to the fact that it lies on the equator. The weather is variable, influenced by the altitude and other climatic factors. The average daytime temperatures are between 20°C and 28°C, but you will find the coast to be warmer. Kenya is also affected by the strong monsoon winds. The dry season is from June to October with the rainyseason being from November to May.
More about the dry season in Kenya:
These are generally the coldest months where temperatures vary quite significantly from region to region. During the day the sky is clear with the sun peeking out, but the early morning temperatures can be as low as 10°C. Thereby the early morning safaris are chilly, so pack for cold conditions. With very little rain and low humidity making game drives rather pleasant.
More about the wet season in Kenya:
Temperatures can be between 24°C and 27°C. Lower altitudes are more consistent at 30°C. Early morning game drives are once again quite chilly, so prepare with a few layers of clothing. The humidity from December to April is very high.
How to get to Kenya
Kenya Airlines is the national airline carrier and various airports as below:
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. Approximately twenty minutes from the main business district.
Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
Kisumu International Airport is the main airport connecting western Kenya with the world.
The number of airlines flying to Kenya is increasing making Kenya more accessible however our consultants will assist you with the best routing for your needs.
Facts on Kenya
Full name: Republic of Kenya
Capital city: Nairobi
Area: 583,000 sq km; 225,096 sq miles
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +3 ()
Languages: Swahili (official); English (official)
Religion: 35% Protestant; 30% Roman Catholic; 30% Muslim; 5% Animist