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 has no obvious safari routes, but there are clusters of parks that can easily be visited together. The country is relatively compact, so one can ‘mix and match’ to take in some of the highlights that don’t make an official circuit. Most people fly into Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) and make connections from there (out of the domestic Wilson Airport). Whichever circuit is chosen, one can always add a return flight from Nairobi to the Masai Mara, which should definitely be on every itinerary.

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 has an incredible resident wildlife population, which is boosted every year by the wildebeest migration from the neighboring Serengeti in Tanzania.
  • 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 and flocks of flamingo in Lake Bogoria
  • Amboseli National Park for views of Mt Kilimanjaro 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. The wide-open spaces have amazing wilderness appeal.
  • Amboseli National Park (2 to 3 days) at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro offers excellent elephant viewing and is 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 seeing the rare sable antelope

Central and Northern Safari Circuit (1 to 2 weeks)

The 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 with many watercourses crossing the dry terrain and has an unspoiled feel about it.
  • 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.
  • Laikipia Plateau (2 to 3 days) , at the base of Mt Kenya, encompasses many private game reserves and offers great opportunities to see black and white rhino.
  • Aberdare National Park (1 to 2 days) , in the central highlands, offers a different kind of wildlife watching while perched in tree hotels, including Treetops and the Ark. These places act as massive hides where you can sit and watch the animals come to you.


Popular add-ons:

  • Mount 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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