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Kenya Country Guide

Everything you need to know

The first taste of the African continent for many (myself included), Kenya is quintessential Africa. But with so many different areas and terrains, parks and reserves, planning a safari can be daunting. Well, it’s not! Connected by an excellent network of airstrips and flying routes, virtually every area combination can be done. We’ve put together our ultimate Kenya country guide packed with all our favourite places and some classic itineraries to get you started. We’ve even thrown in a couple of quirky ones too, because that’s what we’re all about at Timbuktu.

The Masai Mara and Conservancies

The Masai Mara is quintessential Africa (and in every Kenya country guide), jam-packed with awesome wildlife, scenery and culture. It’s this glorious beauty that has earned the Mara its fabulous reputation as one of the continent’s wildlife hotspots, but with that reputation comes the tourists! But if you know where to stay (we do) and what to do (we also know that) then this is one of the most wonderful safari destinations on the continent.

The surrounding private conservancies have changed the game for Masai Mara safaris. Concentrations of game are just as good as the Mara, there’s hardly any tourists and most camps offer walking safaris and night drives. The Naboisho and Mara North conservancies in particular are wonderful examples of community-based conservation models and some of the best places on the continent to glean an insight into the lives of the iconic Maasai.

How do I do it?

The Mara and conservancies fit in to just about any itinerary and work equally as well as an introduction to a safari as they do a spectacular finishing point. Dip into the Mara ecosystem with a few nights in one camp in a conservancy or the Mara before moving on, or spend longer in the area (and save on travel) with a few nights in two very different camps, one in the reserve and one in a conservancy.

Where do I start?

Start off with a trip like Kenya’s road less travelled (Samburu, Meru and Mara) or Mara to Mahe (Lewa Downs, Masai Mara and a cheeky bit of beach time in the Seychelles to finish) or hit Kenya’s hotspots with All the highlights, all in one. You can also swap lodges from the reserve itself or pick one in a conservancy for your nights in the Mara.

Masai Mara
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Laikipia and Lewa Downs

No Kenya country guide is complete without the two above mentioned. On heading north from Nairobi, you’ll reach the Laikipia region and Lewa Downs, both famous for their pioneering conservation work and literally bursting at the seams with wildlife and fantastic hospitality.

How do I do it?

Laikipia and Lewa combine well with the Masai Mara or the parks further north – Samburu and Meru for example. If you’re looking for an extra dimension to your safari then this is the region for you – the area is famous for walking safaris to night drives and even horseback safaris, so make sure to pick a lodge that caters to your interests.

Where do I start?

Take yourself off-the-beaten-track with our self-driver’s dream trip, travelling from Lake Nakuru to Aberdare and finishing in Laikipia. We also love Conservation, cats and walking safaris in Kenya, for something a little different. In Laikipia enjoy the range of activities (everything from helicopter trips to walking safaris) and in Lewa Downs make a visit to the country’s original rhino sanctuary.

Laikipia
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Samburu

Hot, dry and startlingly beautiful, the arid Samburu is definitely worth the journey to get there and should be included in every Kenya country guide! The area is wonderfully different and the lodges, fantastic – offering Moroccan-style spas, horse safaris and the chance to play football with the local communities.

Where do I start?

The more you fly, the more expensive your safari itinerary becomes and this is something to think about when including the Samburu – it does take some time (and money) to get there. One option is to stay in the area and combine it with Meru, or even a lodge in Laikipia to keep travel costs down, but it also combines very well with the Mara and the Coast for a more traditional safari.

How do I do it?

Combine the two things Kenya is most famous for with our Conservation & culture trip. This itinerary will allow you to spend time interacting with the colourfully decorated, semi-nomadic people of the Samburu tribe as well as visiting the wildlife wonder of Laikipia. If you want to do something completely different we’d recommend our Wilds of northern Kenya trip where you’ll spend time exploring the remote and untamed beauty of Samburu and Matthew’s Range.

Samburu
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kenya travel guide

Amboseli

Down to Southern Kenya and Amboseli, the place of super herds of super elephants and world-famous views of snow-capped Kilimanjaro.

How do I do it?

Amboseli is easy to get to, beautiful and suits all manner of safari-goers from first-timers to twentieth-timers (how can you get bored of that view?). It’s location means it combines well with most other parks and reserves, and can easily be squeezed in to an itinerary for not much extra cost.

Where do I start?

With those incredible views and Big Tusker sightings, you can’t go wrong adding Amboseli to any itinerary. We love our All the highlights, all in one which will zip you right across Kenya to see it all or our Gorillas & game parks trip pairing Kenya’s Amboseli and Masai Mara with gorilla trekking in Rwanda for the ultimate bucket-list adventure.

Amboseli & Chyulu Hills
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kenya travel guide

Kenya’s coast & Lamu Island

Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline is the stuff of dreams: miles and miles of white sand fringed with coconut-heavy palm trees and the bluest of blue oceans gently lapping at the shore. There’s something for everyone too, from the hip and trendy beach bars of Diani, the glorious diving at Msambweni or the sultry Swahili culture of Lamu Island. If money and time allows, we can’t think of a better way to end a safari in Kenya…

How to do it?

Domestic flights in Kenya are generally excellent and there are plenty linking the parks and reserves to the coast. Some stop in Nairobi and some go direct but either way, you shouldn’t have any difficulty combining the two.

Where do I start?

If you’re looking for something that encompasses everything Kenya has to offer, have a peek at our Classic Kenya bush & beach trip – this really is the ultimate Kenya safari and sand combination. Otherwise, simply have a go at designing your own trip and adding a little beach time in at the end for some relaxing R&R after all those early morning safari adventures.

Lamu
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