Kenya is not a country short on fabulous places to stay and from camps to lodges (want to find out what the difference is between those? Have a read of our handy guide), to boutique beachside hotels, it’s got you covered. As a result, choosing our best lodges in Kenya has been no easy feat, but choose we did! Below you’ll find all our favourites, including both high-end and budget-friendly spots and everywhere from the Masai Mara to Laikipia and the beach – all you could want really! Read on to discover your own favourites.
The Masai Mara has earned a little bit of a reputation for being overcrowded and full of very high-end camps, but if you know where to look you can find some excellent and well-priced gems. One of our favourites has to be Speke’s Camp. We know some camps are the height of cutting edge design and architecture but Speke’s is a return to those classic safaris of old and the tents are peppered with beautiful artefacts and plush furnishings. But fear not, you won’t be leaving all modern conveniences behind and will be pleased to hear there’s both wifi and flushing toilets. The perfect blend of life in the bush and modern living! Set between Kenya’s Mara North Conservancy, Olare Orok Conservancy, and the main Masai Mara Reserve, the area is known for excellent game viewing and as an added bonus, each group staying at Speke’s Camp is given their own private vehicle. If you plan your trip between July and October you’ll also be treated to the spectacular Great Wildebeest Migration as it passes by.
Angama Mara Camp
You might have seen us mention Angama Mara Camp in blogs before but it’s because we not only think it’s one of the best lodges in Kenya, but possibly in the whole of Africa! If your safari adventure has been inspired by the ever wonderful film Out of Africa (find our favourite movies set on the continent here in case you need any more inspiration) then Angama Mara is the spot for you. It is here that you’ll find the very place immortalised forever on the film’s poster – you can even recreate the movie magic with a picnic on the hillside and emulate Meryl Streep and Robert Redford yourself. Design-wise, Angama is known for its incredible architecture and stunning interiors, and also for its spectacular views. Spend your days on awe-inspiring wildlife adventures before relaxing in the pool that makes the absolute most of the outstanding vistas. This is the spot to visit if you want wonderful wildlife, unparalleled luxury and the best place to sit and enjoy a G&T for miles.
With the incredible safari offering in Kenya, you could be forgiven for thinking that’s all the country has to give – but you’d be wrong. Not only can you enjoy some of the best wildlife in Africa, but you’ll also find some of the best beaches. And when it comes to beach holidays in Kenya, none are more spectacular than Lamu Island and no hotel here can top the subtly decadent Peponi. Here you’ll feel you’ve been whisked back to a Kenya that time forgot, happily ensconced in old-world charm as you relax into the understated luxury. Spend your evenings sipping on cocktails and enjoying superbly cooked seafood caught right on the doorstep – you can’t get fresher than that! Surrounded by palm trees and placed in a prime spot next to Shela Beach, this idyllic spot is the perfect place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in Lamu life.
Laikipia Wilderness Camp
With its network of conservancies, private farms and reserves, the Laikipia region of Kenya has some of the highest wildlife densities in the country. If you’d like to visit, Laikipia Wilderness Camp is one of the top spots and is perfect for travellers looking for an authentic safari experience. There are no bells and whistles and instead, the camp focuses on incredible activities that allow you to get under the skin of the region. Expect to explore the bush on foot on a walking safari, sleep under the stars, swim in rivers and enjoy meals under the vast Kenyan sky. Tailored photography courses also make it a good choice for any keen snappers hoping to hone their camera skills. If you’re looking for a well-priced Kenya stay that really introduces you to the country’s beautiful wilderness, this is the one for you.
Elephant Bedroom Camp
The Samburu National Reserve is a highly underrated region and often overlooked despite the fact that it’s home to some of the best lodges in Kenya. The Ewaso Nyiro River runs through the heart of the barren landscape and brings with it elephant, buffalo, lion, zebra and leopard. With its 12 spacious tents set right on the banks of the river, the Elephant Bedroom Camp is the place to see the reserve in style. A stay here brings with it peace, tranquility, lazy riverside meals, exciting game drives and of course (as the name suggests) a chance to get up close to some of the region’s 900 elephant. As well as the usual (spectacular) game, you may also come across some of the more unusual creatures such as Grevy’s zebra, long-necked gerenuk, Somali ostrich and Beisa oryx. And after a long day getting to know the locals, head back to camp and relax in your own private plunge pool. Bliss.
Ol Pejeta Bush Camp
Now we’ve already discussed Laikipia but within that is something even more magical – Ol Pejeta, a non-profit wildlife conservancy that’s home to the Big Five and the highest population of black rhino in East Africa. Add to that the views of Mount Kenya and it’s definitely a must-visit. In the conservancy itself, our must-stay is Alex Hunter’s atmospheric Ol Pejeta Bush Camp. This beautiful tented camp is the perfect place to explore the conservancy and whether you want to fill your time with game drives, lion tracking, walking safaris or even visiting the last two northern white rhino in the world, there’s plenty to keep you busy. The focus here is on conservation but you can trust the camp will keep you comfortable with beautiful views, comfortable beds and hot water on tap (not always a given at some camps!).
We couldn’t possibly put together a list of the best lodges in Kenya and not include Governors’ Camp for this Masai Mara mainstay is a classic for good reason. Originally built in 1972, Governors’ sets the tone for what travellers should expect from all safari camps! It’s everything you think of when you imagine yourself in the bush; evenings spent around a campfire discussing adventures of the day, canvas tents and most importantly, awesome wildlife. Book a stay here and you’ll enjoy excellent game drives, sunrise balloon safaris over the Mara (they are as magical as they sound) and if you’re here between July and October you’ll also witness millions of wildebeest crashing through the Mara River on their Great Migration journey. If all that wasn’t enough, the film crew for the BBC show Big Cat Diaries stayed here whilst they were filming – an excellent testament to the predators you can spot.
Elsa’s Kopje Lodge
If you’re looking for romance in Kenya then look no further than Elsa’s Kopje for this lovely lodge is dripping in it! Set in the beautiful, off-the-beaten-track Meru region, Elsa’s has charm by the bucket-load. With three stunning honeymoon suites (that you should really book regardless of whether you’ve got a ring or not!), delicious food (not always guaranteed when you stay at camps in the middle of nowhere) and views for days, this lodge was always destined to be a favourite spot for lovers. But dreamy setting aside, it’s also an excellent spot for anyone hoping to see some interesting wildlife. Meru is home to an abundance of elephant, giraffe and hippo as well as some more unusual critters such as naked mole rats, Grevy’s zebra and gerenuk. This is the place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a different side to Kenya.
Encounter Mara Camp
We’ve mentioned the Masai Mara a few times, but with it being the most famous safari destination in Kenya, how could we not? As you’ve probably guessed, it’s also home to some of the best lodges in Kenya and here’s one more for you: Encounter Mara Camp is an excellent option for anyone looking to take a trip to the well-known region. It’s great value, so whilst you shouldn’t expect high-end luxury, you should expect impeccable service, fantastic game viewing with local guides and an opportunity to take part in and understand some wonderful cultural experiences. The camp is set in the private Mara Naboisho Conservancy, which would usually mean a pretty high-end price tag but Encounter Mara offers the same great access to the protected wildlife at a snip of the cost. You can’t say fairer than that.
Ol Donyo Lodge
Amboseli & Chyulu Hills
You might already know the famous Hemingway quote ‘I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy’, but did you know that the lush jewel that is Amboseli & Chyulu Hills was one of his favourite places to stay? Sitting in the shadow of Mount Kenya and with some of the most beautiful vistas Kenya has to offer, we’re not surprised. Ol Donyo Lodge has to be our top spot here. The thatched beauty has suites overlooking the waterhole, a well-stocked bar, a library to help you identify passing wildlife, and a veranda offering some of our favourite sundowner views and is generally an all-round winner! It’s also an excellent spot for anyone looking to get up close and personal with the animals (keep an eye out for the magnificent big tuskers especially) with morning and evening game drives each day and fantastic horseback safaris on offer. We think it’s got the perfect mix of everything.