Guide to Kenya Safari: Type, Budget, Best Tours & Tips
Kenya is the number one tourist destination in Africa. It’s so popular that its fascinating terrain is always on TV, billboards, or advertisements, especially when talking about wildlife. Without a doubt, Kenya’s wildlife contributes so much to the country’s tourism. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists travel to Kenya to see not just its wildlife but its stunning landscapes, too. Not only that, but this country’s climate brings a different kind of mood as well. In addition to that, there is the thrilling Kenya safari for you to experience!
Kenya’s open grassland and rolling hills bring such an adventure that you should never miss. The variety of species that you will get to see here will surely make your jaw drop! That said, here are the types of safaris in Kenya that you must try.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF SAFARIS IN KENYA?
If you want to discover African species up close, there are some types of safaris in Kenya for you. And booking one for yourself will bring you closer to some lion, zebra, wildebeest, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, and many more! Here is a list of Kenya safari that you might want to consider.
1. WALKING SAFARIS AND BUSHWALKS
Walking safaris and bush walks are probably the best way to explore Kenya’s wildlife. The fact that you are on foot with a variety of animals is just exciting! Plus, entering such a wilderness with the birds welcoming you with tiny, soothing sounds for your ears is just heavenly. With walking safaris, you will get to see wild animals more naturally, of course, in a wildlife conservation area. However, almost all national parks in Kenya prohibit such activity inside their property, except for the Hells Gate National Park. But if it is a well-planned and supervised walking safari, private conservancies may allow it. The good thing is, walking safaris are guided tours, too! Moreover, local Maasai will guide you through and will help you spot the flora and fauna species on your walk.
On the other hand, there are two types of nature walks for this type of safari in Kenya. And regardless of whether you are at Masai Mara or any other wildlife conservancy in Kenya, you can push through. Specifically, these are nature walks within the camp and nature walks outside the wildlife reserves.
Nature walks within the camp – The duration of this walk will take 45 minutes to one hour. Take note that the rate for this walk ranges from 50 USD to 75 USD per person.
Walks outside the wildlife reserves – This walk covers nine to 15 kilometers. That said, the duration of this walk will take two and a half to three hours. Since this walk will be a bit longer, there will also be a packed breakfast or lunch for you on your walk. Furthermore, the rate for this walk ranges from 90 USD to 150 USD per person.
Meanwhile, these nature walks are best done early in the morning or in late afternoons. During those periods, the sun’s heat is not that harsh, and the walk is more relaxing. In addition, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard, and cheetah are some of the animals you will see on your walk. Indeed, this is an exciting type of Kenya safari for you!
2. HOT AIR BALLOON SAFARI IN MASAI MARA OR AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK
No fear of heights and dreaming of broad views of Kenya’s wildlife? Then bring yourself to the breathtaking adventure of Kenya’s hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara or Amboseli National Park! Flying over the savannah grasslands, you will perfectly spot a variety of Kenya’s wildlife. And since you are exploring through a hot air balloon, your eyes will also be filled with such impressive landscapes. If you want this type of safari, remember that the balloons take off at the break of dawn.
As you witness the sunrise’s beauty, the balloon will also take you to various parts of the Mara reserve or the Amboseli National Park. However, cancellation of this safari is also possible, especially if the weather condition is not safe. On the other hand, the flight lasts for an hour, and an experienced pilot oversees everything. Following such an incredible flight is a ”Champagne Bush Breakfast” available on the landing site.
Furthermore, the basket sizes vary, and only a maximum of 16 passengers are allowed per balloon. Sometimes, the number is also less if you are flying with a smaller basket. The price for this safari ranges from 415 USD to 495 USD (for Masai Mara) and 415 USD to 450 USD (Amboseli National Park). Also, there are child rates for children under 12 years of age.
Things to remember:
Pick-up time from camp or lodge to the take-off site: 5 AM to 5:30 AM
Take-off time: 6 AM to 6:15 AM
3. BOAT SAFARI IN LAKE NAIVASHA
What about some splash of water on your safari? Yes, Kenya also has a boat safari! In connection with that, this boat safari ride will bring you to one of Africa’s distinguished water lakes, Lake Naivasha. And to tell you, the lake alone will already satisfy you! The Eburru volcanic mountain range and yellow-barked Acacia Xanthophlea trees are too gorgeous for you not to appreciate. Not only that, but the wildlife this lake is sheltering will surely make your hearts happy! You can spot some hippo on the lake, while on the shores, prepare to see giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, eland, and wildebeest. Moreover, you will also be able to see a lot of bird species here. Pelicans, giant kingfisher, pied avocet, and flamingoes are a few.
On the other hand, the rate for an hour boat safari ride ranges from 25 USD to 30 USD per person. Usually, the capacity of a boat is six to 20 persons, but the ideal craft is the six-to-12-seater only. There are available life vests for you as well, and an experienced local will guide you, too. However, Lake Naivasha gets rough in the late afternoon to evening, so boat safari rides are not allowed during those periods.
The usual schedule for boat safari: 7 AM to 11 AM and 2 PM to 4 PM
4. NIGHT DRIVE SAFARI
If you are for night adventures, then the night drive safari is for you! This type of safari will allow you to spot some nocturnal animals in Kenya. Grab this opportunity, and you will see these animals:
Bat Eared Fox
Indeed, the night drive safari is exciting! However, this safari is not allowed inside National Parks and Wildlife Reserves in Kenya. That said, you can only do this type of safari in selected private conservancies like:
Mara North Conservancy
Olare Motorogi Conservancy (outside Masai Mara National Reserve)
Ol Pejeta Conservancy (in Nanyuki)
Furthermore, a night drive safari in Soysambu Conservancy at Lake Elementaita is also possible. That is if you are staying at Lake Elemantaita Serena Camp or Mbweha Lodge. Take note that private vehicles are not allowed to do the night drive safari. So, make sure that you are doing this safari with an authorized guide and driver. In addition, for this safari, you will ride a 4×4 Land Cruiser or Land Rover vehicle.
Meanwhile, this safari lasts for two hours. The rate ranges from 60 USD to 120 USD per adult, per night drive. If you are with your child, there are some applicable child rates for this safari, too.
The usual schedule for night safari drives: 7 PM to 9 PM
5. VAN OR 4×4 LANDCRUISER JEEP SAFARI
For this type of safari, you may choose between two options — a van or a 4×4 Landcruiser Jeep.
Also known as “Safari Tour Vans,” this is the most famous mode of transportation for safari tours. What makes it well-known is its lower pricing compared to the other vehicles for safari tours. Moreover, a maximum of eight passengers is allowed per van. But, for perfect comfort, the ideal count is six passengers only. In addition, the vans are complete with pop-up game viewing roofs, ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio calls, and individual seats. Meanwhile, using Safari Tour Vans, you can reach most lodges and camps in National Reserves and Parks in Kenya.
For 4×4 Landcruiser Jeep:
Riding a 4×4 Landcruiser Safari Jeep is another way to explore Kenya’s wildlife. This type of vehicle is more comfortable over rougher sections of the road. However, unlike the Safari Tour Vans, this type of vehicle costs higher as this is also the most luxurious safari vehicle. There is no question about that as this type of vehicle is also well-equipped. It comes with UHF radio calls, suitable seating, while some have air conditioning and electric cooler boxes. Furthermore, a maximum of nine passengers is allowed per jeep, but the ideal number is six passengers. Also, there are two subtypes for this vehicle.
Close sides –This type is perfect for highway travel.
Open-sided –This type is ideal for drives within various reserves and parks.
6. FLY-IN SAFARI TO MASAI MARA
Another type of Kenya safari is the fly-in safari. This type of safari is ideal if you want to enjoy drives in reserves with open-sided safari vehicles. Furthermore, a fly-in safari package to Masai Mara is available in most camps and lodges.
Daily flights to Masai Mara:
Morning flight from Wilson – departure: 10 AM, arrival: 11 AM
Afternoon flight Wilson – departure: 2:45 PM, arrival: 3:45 PM
7. HORSEBACK RIDING SAFARI
Let us make your wildlife adventure more fun with a horseback riding safari! This safari is not allowed inside Masai Mara’s primary reserve. But you can do this in the larger Mara ecosystem that includes private conservancies. Furthermore, you can also do this in other locations in Kenya, like Laikipia, Amboseli, Mount Kenya, and Lake Naivasha area.
THE BEST SAFARI TOURS TO BOOK
If you have already booked the best South Africa tours and want to try something new, here are a few of the best Kenya safari tours!
3 DAYS MASAI MARA SAFARI
Budget: 400 USD to 585 USD
Day 1: Start your Safari from Nairobi.
The departure time from Nairobi to Masai Mara is 7:30 AM. The travel time will take at least five hours with a stop-over at the Great Rift Valley. Following that is lunch at Masai Mara. In the afternoon, at 3:30 PM, you will drive to the park to see the wildlife. Moreover, lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino, elephant, and wildebeest are what you will spot here. At 6:30 PM, you will drive back to the Fisi Camp for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 2: Full day in Masai Mara.
For your second day, you have two schedules for your wildlife spotting. One is from 6:15 AM to 9 AM, and the second is 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM. But you may also choose a full day schedule complete with a picnic lunch. Your second day will again end in the Fisi Camp for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 3: Return to Nairobi.
At the break of dawn, you will drive in the Mara. After that, breakfast will come next before returning to Nairobi. In connection with that, the typical arrival in Nairobi is in the early afternoon, by 2:30 PM in particular.
5 DAYS TWIGA SAFARI
Budget: 840 USD to 1,390 USD
Day 1: Start your Safari from Nairobi.
By 8 AM, from Nairobi, you will drive to Masai Mara with a stop-over at the Great Rift Valley. After lunch at Masai Mara, you will head to the Mara reserve by 3:30 PM for your wildlife spotting. And, at 6:30 PM, you will drive back to the Mara Sopa Lodge for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 2: Full day in Masai Mara.
Your second day will start by 6:30 AM with a drive to the Mara reserve for another wildlife spotting. This drive will last until 9 AM before having breakfast. After that, you may opt to do some nature walks before heading to the afternoon and evening wildlife adventure. This day will also end with dinner and an overnight stay at the Mara Sopa Lodge.
Day 3: Trip from Masai Mara to Lake Naivasha.
From Masai Mara, you will travel to Lake Naivasha for numerous bird species and other fascinating animals. In connection with that, the animals you will see at the lake range from waterbuck to warthogs. You may also book a one-hour Lake Boat Safari with an extra cost to spot more of the lake’s wildlife. Furthermore, your third day will end at the Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 4: Trip from Lake Naivasha to Lake Nakuru.
Your fourth day will start with breakfast before heading to Lake Nakuru by 9 AM. Lake Nakuru is a UNESCO World Heritage site and bird & rhino sanctuary. But, this lake is not just about the birds and rhinos. Here, you will also see some lions and leopards. Moreover, after lunch, at 3:30 PM, you will then drive to the park for great photo opportunities. This day will end at 6:30 PM, and you will return to Flamingo Hill Tented Camp.
Day 5: Return to Nairobi.
You will end this safari tour with a 6:30 AM wildlife spotting. After that, breakfast will come next before returning to Nairobi. Along the way back to Nairobi, there will be a short stop at the Rift Valley Escarpment.
4 DAYS FLY-IN MASAI MARA SAFARI
Budget: 2,365 USD to 3,460 USD
Day 1: Start your Safari from Nairobi.
Your tour guide will collect you from your hotel in Nairobi or at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). From the said points, you will go to a domestic airport, Wilson. At Wilson Airport, you will board a flight going to Masai Mara that will take an hour. Upon your arrival in Masai Mara, you will then drive to the tented camp. Your first safari drive will start at 3:30 PM at the Mara reserve. Your first day will end by 6:30 PM, at the Mara Explorer Camp – Masai Mara, for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 2: Full day in Masai Mara.
Your second day will start with a Hot Air Balloon Safari at the Mara reserve. The take-off schedule is from 6 AM to 6:15 AM. That said, you should be ready for your service going to the take-off site by 5:30 AM. Upon your landing, a ”Champagne Bush Breakfast” awaits. This entire day is for you to explore the whole reserve. Like the first day, this will end by 6 PM with some entertainment at the camp.
Day 3: Another day in Masai Mara.
This day will start with an early morning drive to the reserve before breakfast. Early morning is where most animals are active, and you will spot a lot. In addition, you may also schedule a visit to the Maasai Village nearby with the camp manager. During your stay at the village, you will learn about the life of the nomadic Maasai — Kenyan tribe. Not only that but, you will also see their unique mud homes—the Manyatta huts. Lunch will then follow before the afternoon drive to the reserve. The third day will end by 6:30 PM at the Mara Explorer Camp – Masai Mara.
Day 4: Return to Nairobi.
After your breakfast in Masai Mara, you will drive to the nearby airstrip for your flight back to Nairobi. Upon your arrival in Nairobi, your guide at the Wilson Airport will transfer you back to your hotel.
BEST TIME TO GO FOR KENYA SAFARI
The best time for Kenya safari is the dry season, from January to March and July to October. Aside from these are the periods to spot most of Kenya’s wildlife, you will also witness the wildebeest migration. This migration happens from July to October. Furthermore, during this period, hundreds of thousands of animals are also looking for food and water. You will see zebras, elands, and gazelles crossing on the Mara River.
On the other hand, take note that the wet seasons are from November to December and April to June. During these periods, bird migration happens, and you will see newborn animals, too. That specific scene is also awe-inspiring! Therefore, you can still visit Kenya’s wildlife parks, reserves, and conservancies any time of the year.
WHERE TO STAY IN KENYA
VILLA ROSA KEMPINSKI
Location: Chiromo Road, 00800 Nairobi, Kenya
Villa Rosa Kempinski offers elegantly furnished rooms with city views. Each room comes with a minibar, desk, and flat-screen TV, while some rooms have balconies. In addition, local and international cuisine is also available at their restaurant. You can also enjoy Italian dishes at Lucca Restaurant and Deli at Cafe Villa Rosa. And, for added relaxation, a spa with treatment rooms and a sauna is also open for you. Apart from these, there is also a fitness center and outdoor pool for you! Meanwhile, the price of the rooms here starts at 264.54 USD per night for two guests.
Location: Keekorok, Maasai Mara National Reserve, 00100 Keekorok, Kenya
Keekorok Lodge offers accommodation in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The rooms are spacious with a balcony and garden, pool, and reserve views. Additionally, the rooms are complete with a ceiling fan, allergy-free bedding, and mosquito nets. For meals, you may enjoy traditional dishes at their Hippo Bar with lake views. Moreover, dinners are best in their Elephant Deck. What more is that, here, you can also explore the Keekorok Nature Reserve! On the other hand, the price of the rooms here starts at 199.99 USD per night for two guests.
LAKE NAIVASHA COUNTRY CLUB
Location: South Lake Road, 00100 Naivasha, Kenya
Lake Naivasha Country Club offers elegantly decorated rooms. The rooms are with tiled floors, wooden interiors, and furniture. They also come with a private bathroom, while some have a balcony with garden views. Furthermore, this hotel also has a restaurant that offers meals from their produce. Lake Naivasha Country Club also offers activities such as visits to the Crescent Island Private Sanctuary. Meanwhile, the price of the rooms here starts at 259.12 USD per night for two guests.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR KENYA SAFARI
1. Take wise precautions and abide by the rules and guidelines given to you.
2. Listen to the briefing that will be given to you by your safari tour guides.
3. Do not forget to be in proper safari attire. Choose lightweight clothes with neutral pastel colors for your safari tours. Also, be in comfortable shoes and only bring money belts if you can.
4. Bring a hat, insect repellants, and your medications (if there are any) with you on your safari tour.
5. Pack your cameras and binoculars with you. The said equipment will help you spot Kenya’s wildlife perfectly.
DISCOVER THE PERFECT KENYA SAFARI FOR YOU!
What makes spectacular wildlife is a pleasant climate, and Kenya has that. No wonder why the wildlife in this country is diverse and is continuously growing. Every year, it welcomes tourists with magnificent sceneries and species, perfect for such wildlife fantasies. From mammals to birds, Kenya will not disappoint.
Furthermore, all the wildlife parks, reserves, and conservancies will surely bring you extraordinary adventure, just like the wildlife sanctuaries in India. What’s more, you can have such an adventure in so many ways! You can go on walking safaris, boat safaris, hot air balloon safaris, or via vehicle safaris. If you are looking for more thrill, there are also night drive safaris, horseback riding safaris, and fly-in safaris! With that, there is one question left for you to answer. Are you up for the Kenya safari?