​Popular Routes – Kenya

Anthony Ham
Expert
By Anthony Ham

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Kenya.

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Anthony is the author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Popular Routes in Kenya

Popular Routes Where Wildlife Viewing Is a Major Part of the Tour

Kenya is relatively compact, so you can easily ‘mix and match’ destinations depending on time and interests. Most people fly into Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) and make connections from there, out of the domestic Wilson Airport (WIL). The Masai Mara National Reserve is easily added to any circuit with a return or connecting flight.

Southwest Safari Circuit (0.5 to 1.5 weeks)

The southwest offers some of Kenya’s premier and most popular wildlife viewing.

Destinations:

  • Masai Mara National Reserve (2 to 4 days) is the country’s main attraction. The reserve’s incredible resident wildlife population is boosted every year by the wildebeest migration.
  • Lake Nakuru National Park (1 to 2 days) is in the scenic Rift Valley and is known for its healthy populations of black and white rhino


Popular add-ons:

  • Hell’s Gate National Park and Lake Naivasha for cycling among wildlife
  • Lake Bogoria National Reserve and Lake Baringo for a birding extravaganza, with flamingos possible in Lake Bogoria
  • Amboseli National Park for views of Mt Kilimanjaro, big cats and big herds of elephant
  • Lamu Island for a taste of Swahili culture and relaxation on the beach

Southeast Safari Circuit (0.5 to 1 week)

If you’re planning a beach holiday, there are several options for a safari add-on. These parks are easily reached by car from any of the coastal resorts around Mombasa and Watamu or from Nairobi.

Destinations:

  • Tsavo East National Park (2 to 3 days) is Kenya’s biggest park and the transitional zone between the savannah and the northern semi-desert with wildlife rarities to match
  • Amboseli National Park (2 to 3 days), at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro, offers excellent elephant viewing and lots of lions. It’s one of Kenya’s most popular parks.


Popular add-ons:

  • Masai Mara National Reserve for seeing the wildebeest migration and big cat action
  • Diani Beach for some sun and surf
  • Shimba Hills National Reserve for sightings of the rare sable antelope

Central & Northern Safari Circuit (1 to 2 weeks)

This area is altogether more rugged and remote than its southern counterpart and offers excellent wildlife viewing.

Destinations:

  • Meru National Park (2 to 3 days) is very scenic and unspoiled with watercourses crossing the dry terrain, as well as rhinos and lions
  • Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo Springs National Reserve (2 to 3 days) are neighboring parks that feature some of the more interesting dry-country animal species and dramatic dry-country scenery
  • Laikipia Plateau (2 to 3 days), at the base of Mt Kenya, encompasses numerous private game reserves and offers great opportunities to see black and white rhino
  • Aberdare National Park (1 to 2 days) offers a different kind of wildlife viewing while perched in tree hotels overlooking waterholes


Popular add-ons:

  • Mt Kenya National Park for hiking and climbing the mountain
  • Masai Mara National Reserve for seeing the wildebeest migration and big cat action

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