Kenya is an amazing country. One of Africa’s premier destinations for safaris and wildlife viewing, it doesn’t get any better than Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Massive herds of elephants, prowling prides of lions, galloping groups of giraffe, migrating masses of wildebeest and zebra- the Mara is unlike any other place on earth. Add to this the incredible Lake Nakuru National Park, with its impressive population of rhinos, and Lake Naivasha/Hell’s Gate National Park, and Kenya has more safari options than one could possibly imagine. When you’ve had your fill of wildlife, the bustling capital of Nairobi is a great urban break from those long days on safari. The largest city in Kenya, Nairobi has shopping, dining, and a happening nightlife, along with opportunities to get up close and personal with elephants and giraffes. Kenya- another MUST SEE when traveling through Africa.
Most every overland trip through East AFrica will pass through Kenya at some point, as it is THE reason many come to Africa in the first place- the wildlife viewing is unsurpassed. Alternatively, international flights can be found into Nairobi, with ground transportation organized from there. As with most places in Africa, it is easier to book your safaris, accommodation, transportation, etc. through the same agency- it would be virtually impossible to do it piece-meal, or plan it as you go.
Things to do in Kenya
- Run with the herd- The Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra in the Mara occurs annually between July and October. One of the world’s natural wonders, this is action-packed Wild Africa at its very best...
- Hang out in the Mara- Even if your trip doesn’t coincide with the migration, the Maasai Mara is ALWAYS worth visiting. Known for its large prides of lions and massive herds of antelope, the Mara is one of Africa’s PREMIER game reserves. Do not miss it!
- Get to know the locals- Many safari companies will offer a chance to visit a local Maasai village while on your trip through the Mara- a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into the resident Maasai culture.
- Lake Nakuru National Park- Probably best known for the thousands of flamingos that can typically be seen at Lake Nakuru, this park is also getting a reputation for its impressive rhino population. A great park that can be visited in a day or two, Lake Nakuru offers wildlife viewing opportunities that many other parks can’t.
- Lake Naivasha and Hell’s Gate National Park- yet another amazing wildlife park to tour in Kenya. The lake is populated by thousands of flamingos and massive flotillas of hippos. A walking safari through the park provides unique opportunities to get up close to gazelles and giraffes.
- Explore Nairobi- Kenya’s pulsing capital is always happening. Get out and explore the city, take in some if the sights and sounds, and get a feel for what urban life in East Africa is really like.
- Kiss a giraffe- The Giraffe Sanctuary in Nairobi offers a unique opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with these giants of the savannah. Whether orphaned or inured, most of these giraffes have been rescued from the wild, and are now fan-friendly, and all too eager to give you a smooch.
- Pet a baby elephant- The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates an elephant orphanage in Nairobi, which is famous for its daily feeding frenzies- small herds of baby and juvenile elephants bumbling around and into one another while their caretakers feed them with giant baby bottles. Quite a scene, a great cause, and an even better photo opportunity.
- Don’t take photos of the local Maasai without their permission- they view this as disrespectful and as an exploitation of their culture. If you do meet some, have a chat with them, and then ask if you can take a photo. They might ask for money, they might ask to trade something, they might just smile and say sure- just ask first.
- If you’re fortunate enough to know a local in Nairobi, ask them to take you out and show you the ‘real’ Nairobi. Chances are, it will be something totally different than what you’d find on your own, and a better experience to boot.
- If you’re heading to the Elephant Orphanage, get there a bit early. There is only one feeding per day (10 or 11am, depending on the day), and it is a very popular attraction in Nairobi. You’ll want to get your tickets quickly and get down to the feeding area for a primo spot.
- Also, it is a good idea to just hire a taxi for the day when heading out to the Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Sanctuary- it will save you having to find a ride from one to the other, and you can usually get a cheaper rate. Ask around at your accommodation if anyone else is interested in going if you want to make it even cheaper by splitting the cost of the taxi.
- You’ll quickly realize when on safari- in ANY game park- that more cars means more happening. A cluster of jeeps on the horizon typically means lions, cheetahs, leopards, or some other big attraction. It can quickly become a jeep and truck traffic jam- your driver will do his best to get you a good view, just be patient.
- Rhinos are typically pretty skittish- Lake Nakuru is one of a very few places that you can get fairly close to these incredible animals.
- The Naiberi River Resort is INCREDIBLE- a huge thatch-roofed dining area, great bar, awesome pool, beautiful grounds, and amazing food- it’s worth stopping in for a night just to check the place out.