Kenya is a picturesque country located in East Africa and the most popular African safari holiday destination in the world. So, whichever direction you decide to head for your holiday in Kenya, you’ll not be short of adventurous places to visit and fun things to do.
The Great Rift Valley will make you wonder at the sparkling blue lakes and meandering escarpments. The coast will mesmerise you with its shimmering ocean and beautiful beaches, while the spectacular highlands will cool your nerves with their scenic mountains and green scenery.
Should you decide to visit the north, the game parks and the Maasai Mara will definitely make you hold your breath with its exciting wildlife. But which are the top 5 destinations for a surreal holiday in Kenya?
1. Maasai Mara Game Reserve
The Maasai Mara, also known as the Mara or Masai Mara, is located in the southern part of Kenya within the Great Rift Valley, about 307 km southwest of Nairobi. It measures approximately 938sq. miles (1510sq. kilometres), and it is primary made of savannah grassland. The trip from Nairobi to Masai Mara takes roughly 7 hours. A flight from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to Mara takes around 45 minutes.
This game reserve is named after the Mara River, which cuts through the reserve and the red-cooked, statuesque Maasai people who have lived and grazed here for centuries. ‘Mara’ is a Maasai word that means spotted. It refers to how the area is dotted with craters, indentations, and acacia trees when looked at from a distance.
The beautiful scenery even made Disney filmmakers travel here to film shots for the ‘The Lion King 2019.’ The big cat diaries which air in National Geographic was also shot here. Over 290,000 tourists visit the Masai Mara each year, making it the most pouplar African safari destination.
Maasai Mara offers the best view of the Great Migration, when hundreds of wildebeests, Thomson’s gazelle, and zebras cross the Mara River from July through October. It is also home to Kenya’s Big Five, over 400 different species of birds, gazelles, crocodiles, hartebeests, hippos, warthogs, giraffes, hyenas, oribis, gnus, antelopes, and zebras. It has the greatest concentration of African lions, including the black-maned lion.
Exciting things to do during your Maasai Mara holiday, include guided nature walks, bush dining, fly camping, hot air ballooning, game viewing, cultural visits, game drives, and bird watching.
Fortunately for the travellers, this game reserve provides excellent wildlife viewing year-round. But during the rainy months – March, April, November, and December – the roads are harder to navigate and the wildlife difficult to spot. So, the best time to visit is during the driest months, usually late June to October – as the animals congregate around water holes and rivers, and the vegetation is thinner.
As the saying goes, the best way to explore a new place is with the people who were born and raised there. I planned my safari in Kenya with AjKenyaSafaris.com, and my experience was more immersive compared to when I visited Tanzania with a company based here in the UK. On a single game drive, I saw all members of the big 5, including the often hard-to-spot leopards. I also loved that the trip was about 30% cheaper, probably because local travel agencies have special rates with safari lodges in Masai Mara. View their African safari holidays here.
2. Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park is situated in Southern Kenya, near the Tanzanian border and northwest of Kilimanjaro. It is a massive plain of scrubby vegetation that allows incredible game viewing opportunities.
This game park is rightfully popular for its remarkable wildlife variety, including the vast population of over 50 mammal species and free-roaming elephants. ‘Amboseli’ is a name derived from a Maasai word ‘Ambosel,’ which means open, dry plains.
Standing in this park, you’ll view Mt. Kilimanjaro (the largest free-standing mountain worldwide) resting on its spot. Just watching the sunset or rise from Amboseli is nothing short of divine.
Also, if you’re a bird lover, this park is your paradise as it hosts roughly 400 bird species, including Madagascar pond Heron, lessee kestrel, the shoebill, and lesser flamingo.
Don’t miss a cultural dance from the Maasai community, a balloon ride, an epic game drive, and nature photography during your Kenya tour.
The roads to this national park aren’t all-weather roads, and so, the best time to visit is during the dry season, June to September. A flight to Amboseli from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport is about 45 minutes.
3. Lake Nakuru National Park
Just 5km (3miles) outside Nakuru, this spectacular park is among the best-known tourist attractions in Kenya. It is also a ‘must-see’ for any wildlife enthusiast as it offers a memorable chance of spotting both white and black rhinos.
It was established back in 1961, and Over 450 bird species have been recorded here. With over 300, 000 visitors every year, Lake Nakuru National Park is among the KWS’s two premier parks – the other one being Amboseli National Park.
The park is also famed for the pink flamingoes, greater and lesser, which flock the shores in order to feed on the ‘cyanobacteria’ that live in the lake’s alkaline waters.
This park is one of the great year-around Kenya safari destinations. But during the wettest months, April and May, the roads might become a little impassable. The grass also grows, making it difficult to spot the free-roaming animals.
4. Nairobi National Park
Located just 4 miles (7km) from CBD, Nairobi National Park is a distinct phenomenon, and it provides an excellent introduction to Kenya’s animals and birds. This park is actually the first one to be gazetted in East Africa and the only world’s metropolitan, a national park.
A Kenya safari to the park allows you to view its more than 400 species of birds, over 100 mammal species including 4 of the ‘Big Five’ – buffaloes, rhinos, leopards, and lions – and is a rhino sanctuary with a scenic zebra and wildebeest migration.
The scenery is also stunning with varying vegetation from the highland riverine forest and dry forest to open grass plains. Other attractions include the Orphanage, the Ivory burning Site Monument, the walking trails at hippo, and Nairobi Safari Walk.
5. Watamu Marine National Park
Well-known as one of Kenya’s best marine parks, Watamu Marine park is an eye-catching diverse aquatic ecosystem with more than 600 fish species, 100 coral types, and other beautiful marine creatures. This makes it a treasured underworld destination amongst divers and snorkelers. The marine park is situated in Kilifi county.
Less than one kilometre from the beach shore is an incredible network of coral, which is teeming with some of the stunning beauties in the ocean, such as moray, parrotfish, whale sharks, octopus, damselfish, and grouper.
Diving and snorkelling are the most popular activities here. Your divemaster will take you to unique locations where you’ll see from a safe distance a wide variety of fish, as well as other marine life, moving in and out of the coral.
Additionally, Kenya’s equatorial waters are comfy and warm year-around, ranging from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. The temperatures vary slightly due to seasonal changes. The water is warmest from November through March, and divers may require a somewhat heavier wetsuit from June to October. If you prefer staying dry, you can enjoy glass-bottom boat rides.
These are the best 5 destinations, which deliver a surreal holiday in Kenya. The best part is that Kenyans are very friendly, and the country itself is safe, making your Kenya holidays more adventurous and fun. Visit masaimarasafari.in and book your safari in Kenya. Whether you are coming as a group, a family or by yourself, this tour operator will create a Kenya safari adventure that is the right fit. The brand has Kenya holiday packages start for as low as $200 per person sharing per day for two people travelling together.