Kenya

  • What is the Best Safari in Kenya?

    Chris Walker Bush
    January 23, 2020

    Where Can I Have the Best Safari in Kenya?

    When it comes to planning the best safari in Kenya, logistics makes things a little bit confusing.

    Unlike Tanzania, where the entire Northern Circuit can be packed into a five-day itinerary, Kenya's diverse landscapes mean that you'll often be forced to choose between parks. Will you see the red elephants of Tsavo or the Special Five at Samburu.

    In a perfect world, you'll have the time to just visit all of them. We know that isn't always realistic, especially if you're planning a safari on a budget.

    To make the decision easier, we've selected the highlights of each of the major Kenyan national parks. You can mix and match with your safari expert to design the perfect itinerary!

    wildebeest migration masai mara kenya maasai mara

    The Maasai Mara

    No visit to Kenya would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Maasai Mara. Home to the Wildebeest Migration for 3-5 months of the year, the sprawling Maasai Mara is the quintessential safari destination.

    As Kenya's most popular safari destination, the Maasai Mara is home to a huge variety of accommodation. From budget tented camps on the outskirts all the way up to luxury lodges on the Mara River, there truly is something for all budgets.

    Even if you aren't visiting during the Wildebeest Migration (August - October), the Maasai Mara remains one of the best places in the world to spot the Big Five. You might even get lucky and spot African Wild Dogs!

    Private Conservancies

    While the Maasai Mara is a massive park in its own right and has a wealth of accommodation options, those looking for a more luxurious, secluded safari may want to consider the various private conservancies in the area.

    Many of the lodges and camps within these conservancies offer game packages inclusive of game drives, activities, meals, and alcohol. You can even purchase these packaged with flights to and from Nairobi.

    While you'll get an undoubtedly unforgettable luxury experience in such conservancies, it's important to note that even private conservancy guests will need to enter the Maasai Mara proper in order to see a river crossing on the Mara River.

    flamingos lake nakuru lake bogoria kenya

    The Lakes (Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, and Lake Bogoria)

    Often combined with the Maasai Mara due to their placement between Nairobi and the Mara, Naivasha, Bogoria, and Nakuru can be combined into a two night/three-day extension that can add a lot of depth to your trip.

    Lake Nakuru National Park is the only one of the lakes to be a true national park. While it is no longer home to the flamingos that once made it famous, the park is nonetheless an excellent place for a game drive - especially if you're interested in seeing rhinoceroses.

    Remember those world-famous images of massive flocks of flamingos on Lake Nakuru? The flock might have moved on, but it can still be seen in Lake Bogoria. You won't find a lot of big game here, but Lake Bogoria's resident flamingos are a drawcard all of their own.

    Last, but certainly not least, Lake Naivasha is one of Shadows of Africa's favorite places. Overnighting on the shores of Lake Naivasha gives you the chance to take a boat safari and/or a walking safari in nearby Crescent Island Game Sanctuary.

    Hell's Gate National Park

    Located a short drive from most Lake Naivasha hotels, Hell's Gate National Park is a geologically active park with a unique volcanic landscape that is said to have inspired the landscapes in The Lion King.

    With no big game to worry about, Hell's Gate National Park is a terrific place to enjoy a bike ride or hike. You can even go rock climbing here!

    If you're looking for a break from the safari car, a day exploring Hell's Gate is a must.

    amboseli national park mount kilimanjaro kenya tanzania

    Amboseli National Park

    Amboseli National Park is home to the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro you'll find in either country.

    Located on the Kenya-Tanzania border, Amboseli is often used as a bridge between the Tanzanian and Kenyan legs of a safari. Where better to photograph elephants than against the backdrop of the Roof of Africa?

    Even if you aren't visiting Tanzania, it is possible to include Amboseli National Park in a five-day Kenyan itinerary. You can combine it with Lake Nakuru and the Maasai Mara to get a more diverse safari experience.

    Tsavo East & Tsavo West

    Often overlooked due to being a bit more 'out of the way', Tsavo East and Tsavo West lie between Amboseli National Park and the Kenya Coast.

    Combined, Tsavo East and Tsavo West account for 4% of Kenya's total landmass, making them one of the world's largest national parks. While they are home to the Big Five, their isolation and the relative sparsity of wildlife means they aren't recommended for first-time visitors.

    Tsavo West's unique blend of landscapes makes it a surreal place to visit. Extinct volcanoes, swamps, rolling plains, and natural springs combine to create an almost alien environment. While lower wildlife density might be off-putting, world-class birding and the distinctive landscape make it a photographer's dream.

    Neighbouring Tsavo East is semi-arid and can boast better wildlife viewing due to the lack of vegetation. It is here you'll find the famous red elephants of Kenya, whose habit of taking dust baths in the ruddy earth lends them a martian hue.

    If this isn't your first safari or you've got a few extra days, a trip to the twin parks of Tsavo West & Tsavo East can be a great way to add something unique to your trip.

    Samburu National Reserve

    Samburu

    Wild and rugged Samburu is home to Kenya's unique "Special Five". The special five include the reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, Somali ostrich, Beisa Oryx, and Gerenuk. These five animals cannot be seen together anywhere else in the world.

    Samburu is often combined with the Maasai Mara to form a Big Five and Special Five safari. It is ideal for those wanting to get off the beaten track and see something different.

    Buffalo Springs

    Along with nearby Shaba Game Reserve, Buffalo Springs lies in the same ecosystem as Samburu. Boasting the same rugged charm and unique wildlife, it is even more off the beaten track than Samburu.

    Buffalo Springs is usually recommended for those taking an extended safari in the Samburu region, as it does not offer anything that more accessible Samburu doesn't.

    masai people kenya maasai mara

    Ol Pejeta/Sweetwaters

    Ol Pejeta (otherwise known as Sweetwaters) is the ideal inclusion for a family safari in Kenya.

    Part resort and part private reserve, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is home to something for everyone.

    First and foremost, Ol Pejeta is a terrific game-viewing destination. It is home to the highest density of wildlife in Kenya after the Maasai Mara. It is also home to the largest black rhinoceros sanctuary in East Africa. You'll even find two of the last Northern White Rhinoceros in the world here!

    Ol Pejeta is also home to a group of 37 chimpanzees, making it a great place to see our closest living relatives without having to take a trek to Uganda or Rwanda.

    There is also the opportunity to track lions on foot, spot endangered African wild dogs, go hiking or cycling, go horseback riding alongside rhinos, take night game drives, and so much more.

    mount kenya aberdare national park kenya

    Aberdare National Park/Mount Kenya

    An often-overlooked gem in Kenya's north, Aberdare National Park is a heavily forested, mountainous park famous more for its treehouse-style accommodation than wildlife viewing.

    It was here that Queen Elizabeth was vacationing when she became Queen, and the romance of that story still draws tourists to the park. We even offer a Royal Tree safari to recapture that magic.

    The park is technically home to the Big Five but a trip to Aberdare is more about the experience than the quality of game viewing. It offers unparalleled serenity in a unique, mountainous environment not found anywhere else in Kenya.

    Climbing Mount Kenya

    Africa's second-highest mountain isn't quite as famous as Mount Kilimanjaro, but Mount Kenya is worthy of your attention It may even be preferable to Kilimanjaro if you're looking for a more challenging and less crowded experience.

    Climbs range in length from 3-5 days, with different routes offering different levels of difficulty.

    maasai people mombasa kenya coast malindi watamu

    The Kenya Coast

    Zanzibar in Tanzania maybe East Africa's most famous beach destination, but don't sleep on Kenya's coast. There are some who even argue that the beaches of Malindi and Watamu are better than anything you'll find on Zanzibar.

    Accessible by overland transfer (via Tsavo East & West), train, or flights from Nairobi or the Maasai Mara, the Kenyan coast boasts similar white sand beaches and turquoise waters with much more competitive pricing than you'll find on Zanzibar.

    While crowded Mombasa isn't the ideal beach destination, there are gorgeous resorts in nearby Watamu and Malindi made for rest & relaxation.

    Why Choose?

    Of course, if you've got the time and the budget, it's totally possible to visit all of the above parks in a single itinerary.

    Our ten-day Complete Kenya safari visits the lion's share of the above parks, but speak with your Shadows of Africa safari expert about creating an itinerary that covers the width and breadth of Africa.

  • 5 Differences Between Tanzanian and Kenyan Safaris

    Chris Walker Bush
    November 30, 2019
    What are the differences between Tanzanian and Kenyan safaris? We highlight the five biggest differences between the two safari destinations.
  • Taking a Lion King Safari in Tanzania and Kenya

    Chris Walker Bush
    July 29, 2019
    Disney's The Lion King has made more and more people curious about Africa. Why not take your own Lion King safari to see the animals in person?
  • Planning a Safari During Rainy Season

    Chris Walker Bush
    March 8, 2019
    Planning a safari during rainy season might not seem like a great idea, but Shadows of Africa has some tips on how you can experinece Africa year round.
  • The Top 10 Destinations for an African Safari

    Chris Walker Bush
    August 10, 2018

    The Top 10 Destinations for an African Safari

    When it comes time to plan your African safari adventure, it can be difficult to choose from the many fantastic safari destinations.

    While East Africa's Wildebeest Migration might be the star attraction, there are plenty of reasons to consider other options.

    Today, the Shadows of Africa team breaks down the benefits and drawbacks of the ten best African safari destinations.

    Looking for the perfect destination for an African Safari? From Tanzania and Kenya to South Africa, here are the places you need to visit on your Africa safari trip itinerary! #safari #africa #tanzania #kenya #southafrica #travel

    #10 - Ethiopia

    Ethiopia isn't commonly thought of as a safari destination.

    The nation's most famous attractions tend to be of a historic nature, with images of iconic Gondar and Lalibela sure to come to mind first.

    However, it is perfectly possible to combine a cultural and historic exploration of Ethiopia with a safari to see its unique animals.

    Nowhere else in the world will your safari include black-maned lions, walia ibex, or gerada baboons. This makes Ethiopia a fantastic choice for those who have already 'been there, done that'.

    Pros: Unique wildlife. Fascinating history. Delicious food.

    Cons: Not a traditional safari destination. Recent political unrest.

    #9 - Rwanda

    What comes to mind when you think of a trip to Rwanda?

    Chances are, it's either gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park or visiting the haunting Rwanda Genocide Museum in Kigali.

    Did you know you can also combine the above with a Big Five safari in Akagera National Park? While the park was once something of an afterthought, the Rwandan government has recently made huge strides to import both rhinoceros and lions to bring the park back to its former glory.

    A perfect day trip from Kigali, a safari in Akagera can be tailored to also include a boat safari to make for something different.

    Pros: Easy day trip from Kigali. See gorillas, chimpanzees, and the Big Five in one trip.

    Cons: Wildlife numbers are low and Rwanda tends to be expensive.

    namibia-safari

    #8 - Namibia

    Namibia's stunning landscapes are amongst its biggest selling points. How can you not fall in love with the windswept Skeleton Coast or the towering dunes of Sossusvlei?

    While the tiny southern African can't quite compare with the 'big boys' when it comes to game drives, the country is still a fantastic safari destination in its own right.

    Etosha National Park, in particular, is attracting game enthusiasts from around the world with its towering elephants, the huge variety of bird and animal life, and its dramatic landscapes.

    When you combine this with the country's other significant charms, it becomes a very attractive prospect.

    Pros: Stunning landscapes. Very affordable.

    Cons: Long drives between destinations.

    zambia-elephant

    #7 - Zambia

    Like neighboring Zimbabwe, Zambia is perhaps best known as the home of the majestic Victoria Falls.

    But did you know that it is also a fantastic game drive destination?

    While it is certainly a bit more of an off-the-beaten-track destination than Zimbabwe, Botswana, or South Africa - Zambia's South Luangwa National Park and Lower Zambezi National Park are truly awe-inspiring game-drive destinations that can compete with some of the most famous safari parks on earth.

    Pros: Combine a safari with a visit to Victoria Falls. Off the beaten path charm.

    Cons: Off the beaten path translates into less information and infrastructure availability.

    zimbabawe-lion

     

    vic-falls-zimbabwe

    #6 - Zimbabwe

    Zimbabwe is one of Shadows of Africa's most popular new destinations, with people from all over the world coming to witness the powerful Victoria Falls and explore this gorgeous country.

    It's a shame that so few people extend their trip to see more than just the falls, as national parks such as Mana Pools National Park and Hwange National Park offer fantastic game drive opportunity.

    Combine this with the history of Great Zimbabwe and the aforementioned Victoria Falls and you have a country that can boast being the complete package.

    Pros: Victoria Falls. Close to South Africa.

    Cons: Less developed tourist scene away from Victoria Falls. Political issues.

    queen-elizabeth-uganda

    #5 - Uganda

    Uganda was once dubbed the Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill, and we certainly agree with that sentiment.

    No country in Africa can offer quite what Uganda does: world-class gorilla and chimpanzee trekking, terrific game drives, and the majesty of the mighty Nile.

    A perfect destination for those who have already visited Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa - Ugana's wild charm and variety of offerings makes it a great place to plan that second safari.

    Pros: The best place to combine gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, and a Big Five safari.

    Cons: Poor road conditions, expensive domestic flights.

    botswana-safari

    #4 - Botswana

    One of the world leaders when it comes to wildlife conservation, Botswana is a truly world-class African safari destination.

    Chobe National Park is home to Africa's densest concentration of wildlife, Chobe is a conservationist's dream that can boast Africa's largest elephant population and some of the world's most stunning landscapes.

    Of course, there's more to a Botswana safari than just Chobe. Botswana is home to a number of other fantastic parks that are worthy of your time.

    Pros: World class conservation record. Africa's densest wildlife population.

    Cons: One of Africa's most expensive destinations.

    south africa cheetahs safari

    #3 - South Africa

    Arguably the most famous African safari destination, South Africa is justified in its popularity.

    Its diverse landscapes, fantastic beaches, world-class wines, and famous game parks make it a hugely popular destination.

    South Africa's level of development and the fact English is the primary language makes it an appealing destination for first-time safari travelers, but it also means a more crowded tourism scene.

    Still, Kruger National Park is justifiably considered one of the world's best safari parks, and the prospect of combining this with the stunning Garden Route, the popular South African wine regions, and the gorgeous beaches makes South Africa a great choice.

    Pros: English speaking nation, well-developed tourism market, and a variety of activities.

    Cons: Crowded market can make booking hotels difficult.

    amboseli

    #2 - Kenya

    Kenya often refers to itself as "Africa's safari capital", and the East African country absolutely has a claim to that mantle.

    Home to the world-famous Maasai Mara as well as boasting the best views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kenya is also an affordable and well-developed tourism market that is great for families or people traveling on a budget.

    Shadows of Africa offers a huge variety of Kenyan safari tours, so there is something for all walks of life.

    Pros: Home to the Wildebeest Migration in August-September. Views of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Amboseli. Cheapest East African nation.

    Cons: Popularity means hotels sell out early.

    leopard-tanzania

    #1 - Tanzania

    The undisputed king when it comes to African safaris, Tanzania is home to the Wildebeest Migration for ten months of the year.

    It's also home to the World Heritage-listed Ngorongoro Crater, Africa's tallest mountain, and the gorgeous island paradise of Zanzibar.

    When it comes to putting together your dream Tanzanian safari, Shadows of Africa have you covered. We've been in operation here for almost a decade and know the country inside and out.

    Pros: The best place to see the Wildebeest Migration. Mt. Kilimanjaro. Zanzibar. Ngorongoro Crater.

    Cons: East Africa's most expensive destination.

    Want to go on an African safari adventure? From Tanzania and Kenya to South Africa, here are the 10 best countries to visit for your African safari trip. Let us help you plan your safari itinerary! #travel #africa #safari #tanzania #kenya #southafrica

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    With so many choices when it comes to planning your African safari, it can be difficult to find the right fit for you.

    Thankfully, Shadows of Africa has expertise in all ten of the above countries and can help find the perfect fit for you!

    Contact us to start planning your dream safari now!

  • A Day Excursion in Nairobi

    Lesia
    September 21, 2017

    What is there to do in Nairobi if you have just a one day layover? When visiting Kenya, proceeding on safari to the famous Masai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru or even Ol Pejeta is quite common; as we know Kenya is one of the most accessible countries in East Africa. Yet, if you have just a one night transfer in Nairobi for business and don’t have lots of time for the long safari carry on reading.

    nairobi-national-park-safari

    We have a solution for you! The capital of Kenya, Nairobi, can boast an opportunity to see wild nature without even having to go out of the city. Recently, our youngest team members loved their visit to Nairobi National Park, the Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Center.

    The Elephant Orphanage only allows visitors strictly between 11 and 12pm. Julia and Lesia from Shadows had adopted two young elephants in the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust about six months ago. It gave them an advantage to visit at 5pm when these cute creatures were getting ready for sleep. That is why they planned their day accordingly.

    david-sheldrick-wildlife-trust Wirh adoption certificates, February 2017

     

    At 8am, after a refreshing breakfast, they headed to Nairobi National Park for a short game drive and to be in time for the giraffe and elephant visits. It is quite a short drive to the park, but when it concerns Nairobi, you may need to be ready to deal with heavy traffic. Realistically, it takes around 40 minutes to get there.

    The most special thing about the Nairobi National park is the opportunity to observe wildlife right in front of the skycrapers. Just a short distance from the entrance, you can see zebras, giraffes, antelopes and African buffaloes. If you are lucky enough, you will get to see at least a couple of lions and even the endangered black rhinos. The ladies were more than surprised to observe around 7 rhinos at the same time! Elijah, from our Nairobi office, explained that in Nairobi National Park it is possibly the best place in Kenya to view these rare and endangered species. In stunning Nakuru National Park, you may only get a slim chance at seeing such a big group.

    rhinos-safari-kenya

    nairobi-rhinos-kenya

    The team also paid a visit to the Ivory Burning Site Monument, where more than 100 tons of ivory was burnt to hinder poaching.
    It was the largest ivory burn in history.

    After the game drive, the ladies visited the Giraffe Center, which is open from 9am up to 5pm. The center allows visitors to touch the giraffes and even feed them; but you need to be careful, these proud animals can hit you with their heads.

    giraffe-center-nairobi-kenya Julia in the Giraffe Center

     

    Finally, the most exciting part of the trip for Julia and Lesia was the visit to their adopted elephants Jotto and Malkia. They were saved by the David Shelrick Wildlife Trust and will be re-introduced back into the wild at the mere age of three. Any visitor of the orphanage can choose an elephant to sponsor. The minimum donation per year is just $50! This helps the foundation to supply babies with milk, food and to save more animals all around the Kenyan National Parks.

    elephants-orphanage-nairobi In hurry to get some milk

     

    The Trust is not just hosting elephants, but as well as warthogs, rhino and a giraffe. This is a great chance for you to be a part of rescuing and saving african species from extinction. Some of the guests adopted more than 5 babies and come regularly to visit them. There is even an opportunity to adopt elephants online; this means that you can make an appointment to visit your baby at 5pm, when there are not that many tourists around. Thereafter, they spent a fanstic evening enjoying the restaurants of Nairobi.

    Nairobi is definitely a city of contrasts. Here you will find everything - skyscrapers and slums, wildlife and traffic, a mix of nationalities and cultures. It is one of the most modern African cities with its own atmosphere.

  • The Ultimate Safari Packing List: What to Pack for your African Safari

    AdminSoa
    July 4, 2017
    When it comes time to pack for your safari, we've got the ultimate packing list as well as a guide to how to dress for safari.
  • Planning a Dream Honeymoon in Africa

    AdminSoa
    June 1, 2017
    Planning your dream honeymoon? The Shadows of Africa team can arrange something truly unforgettable across our huge selection of destinations.
  • Things to do at Lake Naivasha

    Chris Walker Bush
    March 11, 2017
    Lake Naivasha is a popular stop on Kenyan safaris due to its proximity to a number of other attractions. Read on to find out why it should feature on your itinerary.

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