Kenya is the original home of the safari – which is simply the Swahili word for journey. Immortalised by writers from Ernest Hemingway to Karen Blixen, the country contains a stunning diversity of landscapes, a myriad of animal, bird and plant life, and fascinating traditional culture.
Understandably, since it offers some of the most dramatic game viewing in Africa, Kenya is one the most popular of all safari destinations. That is why we focus on selected locations that will keep you well away from the crowds and allow you to experience the magic of the country as it was in days gone by – with safaris on offer that include walking, fly-fishing, camel trekking and riding.
In Northern Kenya, the Laikipia Plateau contains a huge 9,500 sq km of private game reserves. The region nurtures exceptional wildlife and cultural diversity and is home to many communities including Kenya’s Laikipiak Maasai and Samburu tribes. Habitats range from dry savannah and open woodlands to spectacular canyons and low forested valleys, and there is abundant wildlife, including Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo) plus many endangered species. To the North the reserves and conservancies of the Samburu ecosystem are characterised by a dramatic landscape of semi-arid desert divided by the meandering Ewaso Nyiro River and dotted with lush springs, doum palms, volcanic rocks and sacred mountains. Meru National Park is part of huge 370,000 acre conservation area made famous by Joy Adamson’s Born Free. This semi-arid area offers a very high diversity of animals, including the Big Five and many rare species.
Amboseli National Park is best known for its unrivalled views of Kilimanjaro and its population of over 1,000 elephants, including some of the largest in Africa. Its flat savannah grassland is rich in game including buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, eland and lion.
The Masai Mara is famed for the spectacular annual migration of a million wildebeest and zebra searching for lush grazing following the rains, stalked by omnipresent predators: truly one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. But this fascinating eco-system also teems with resident game all year-round, including enormous herds of plains game, big cats and elephant as well as colourful birds, small game and riverine wildlife – plus always stunning scenery. As this is one of Africa’s busiest national parks we only offer accommodation in the lowest people and vehicle density locations.
Kenya’s coastline extends over 500km, with pristine white sand beaches lapped by the warm, turquoise Indian Ocean and flanked by swaying palms and casuarina trees. It is home to an abundance of marine life and contains much of historic interest, including the remains of ancient Swahili settlements, tombs, mosques and forts; the best preserved example of this ancient culture is Lamu Town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many different types of coastal property are available,from ancient wealthy Arab traders’ houses now converted into boutique hotels, to fully staffed beach house rentals, to rustic chic beach lodges made largely from reed and palm fronds.
Kenya has a tropical, equatorial climate, but there are large regional variations influenced by altitude and latitude. The country is divided into two main climate zones: the hot, dry lowlands and the cooler, wetter highlands. The main rains are April, May and November but there are some regional variances.
The best time to visit Kenya depends on what you want to do. If you’re interested in wildlife viewing, the best time to visit is during the dry season from June to October or mid-December to mid-March though the northern areas are a little more unpredictable and the main rains should be November rather than April & May. The best time for the coast is August to March and within this January to March would be the peak.