Kenya Safari Vacations
Kenya was where it all started. It is the home of the original safari of stiff khaki, brown leather, and pith helmets.
- There is something about a Kenya safari tour that gets in the blood. It certainly did ours, and we hear it a lot from our guests.
Take Nick, for example, “I first stepped onto Kenyan soil in 1972 en route to Madagascar. I felt that I had arrived home, a feeling that has never left me.”
- We love Kenya for its icons – the Great Rift Valley, the Maasai warrior, Elsa the Lioness, Simba the lion cub, the Great Migration, Mount Kenya – but we love it even more for its hidden gems.
A Kenya safari provides life-changing experiences to offer the young and old which are eclipsed by its celebrity neighbours.
A Kenya Safari Vacation: Our Top 4 Reasons
1. The areas that aren’t talked aboutNamunyuk, the Matthews Range, Laikipia, Lake Turkana, Lewa…
These are wonderful natural spots away from the crowds, and offer the unique experience of smaller homesteads and ranches where you and your children can ride, paint or fish in acres and acres of your own space.
2. Maasai WarriorsKenya manages to bundle together many tribes within its borders, but the most famous are the Maasai garbed in distinctive red cloth.
To get up close to a Maasai warrior is like reaching out and touching the past. As these tribes slowly lose their battle with modernisation, we recommend getting out there and learning all you can about -and from- these supreme hunters: you will irrevocably change your children.
3. The Migration never gets boringThe might of hundreds of thousands of hooves pounding, animals surging together on their instinctual quest for life and survival.
The desperate battles with the accompanying carnivores. Talk to us about a seasonal camp that responds to the Migration so that you don’t miss the action.
4. The best of both worldsKenya’s coast is the place for action (kitesurfing, scuba diving, windsurfing, mountain biking), and a great spot to take kids (fab family-focused hotels some with kids’ clubs), so we love Kenya for the time-trusted combo of safari and beach.
Kenya’s great international hub of Nairobi airport, its great internal flight network, and the lack of time difference from the UK make Kenya an extra compelling choice for multi-generational travel.
Why Avoid Kenya
There are parts of Kenya that have fallen prey to their own success and are ugly and busy at best.
Parts of the Maasai can be chocka, with little restriction on vehicle numbers and no discernable etiquette at sightings, and parts of Samburu can be horribly overrun with tourists. This has an impact on the environment too: parts of the bush look more like a city park than a wild reserve.
With so many unscrupulous visitors, animals bear the brunt of it and can behave ‘unpredictably’.
The good news is, Kenya is a big country. Just like you wouldn’t avoid Mallorca just because of Magaluf, or Mexico just because of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, you don’t need to avoid Kenya just because of its tourist spots. Talk to us and we’ll tiptoe you round anything unsavory.
The Best Time To Take A Kenya Safari Holiday
The best time to visit Kenya is during the dry season from June to October, when temperatures are comfortable and game concentrations are at their highest. The bush is at its most sparse and waterholes draw wildlife to camera-happy spots.
Kenya’s seasons are predominantly ruled by the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergance Zone), where the northeast and southeast trade winds meet. The resulting effect of this meteorological zone is a pattern of rainy and dry seasons, rather than summer and winter.
Traditionally this has brought rains to most of Kenya twice a year – the long rains in late March to late May, and shorter rains in October and November.
These two rainy seasons you’ll probably want to avoid for your Kenya safari (unless you can convince your kids that birding is really fun). You’re unlikely to spot a great deal of game because the bush is thick and wildlife is camouflaged – and rain isn’t particularly pleasant for you or your surprise bush breakfasts and sundowners.
Having said this, it doesn’t tend to rain all day, and prices – a long with tourist numbers – drop significantly.
April and May are the wettest months and not traditionally the best time to take a Kenya safari vacation. On the other hand accommodation rates are at their lowest and the air is incredibly clear – which pleases serious photographers. However, be prepared for some tented safari camp enclosures.
The Great Migration moves into the Kenya Mara around July/August usually, staying in Kenya for around 2-3 months until it heads south of the border around October/November.
Predicting what is likely to be happening in Kenya on any given month is no exact science, so you do need to be flexible in travel plans and mind – and you do need to prep your kids that sometimes you won’t see a thing on a game drive.
The weather has become increasingly erratic in Africa, having been stable for many generations.
Kenya reliably experienced drought every 10 years (late and sporadic rains), and we could predict this and the localized effects this would have. Over the last 40 years there has been less of a pattern as the frequency of drought years has escalated.
What to do in Kenya:
Our Top Experiences
Riding – LaikipiaKenya’s safari history has always involved horses, and there’s something for everyone on the riding front.
Unlike neighbouring Tanzania, the terrain in much of Kenya is hoof-friendly, and the altitude of the highlands means that horses are not walking restaurants for many irritating bugs – and neither will you be.
There is riding to suit every age and ability here too, you don’t have to be a horse-nut.
Migration Safari – Maasai MaraExperience a ‘wild’ Mara safari by staying in small and private mobile camp, complete with bucket showers, solar lights and proper beds, with the added thrill of paying homage to the awe-inspiring mass migration of 2.5m wildebeest.
‘”…wildebeest from horizon to horizon with the most awesome scenery – what a lifetime experience!” enthused guest Jenny on her return.
Samburu Singing Wells – Mathew’s RangeA unique and authentic wilderness experience which is not commercialised and has never even been photographed. Every morning samburu families head to their family well and sing as they fill up the troughs to water their livestock.
The cows recognise their family song and come down to their own well to be watered. All the Samburu families from the area gather to share stories and pass on messages, a scene of semi-clad Samburu that has remained unchanged for centuries. Imagine this experience up on the classroom wall at school when you return.
Kayaking – LamuKenya travellers can head to Kizingoni Beach for a spot of kayaking through inland waters, paddling through the mangrove forests.
We are big kids ourselves so we’d tend to then head out on the water for some wakeboarding or waterskiing, a spot of sailing, a sneaky snorkel, maybe a banana boat, and then compare our pruned fingers.