Kenya is the Africa of your imagination. A country of stirring natural beauty, endless open plains, game rich savannahs, flamingo-pink lakes, welcoming tribal cultures and palmed-fringed Indian Ocean beaches. The birthplace of the safari, Kenya offers fantastic game viewing and with a coastline of powdery white sands, it is the perfect destination to combine a safari and beach holiday.
It is still the thrill of the Big Five that draws many to Kenya, particularly to the Masai Mara, which is famous for its big cat sightings. Time your safari right and you may even get to see the spectacular Great Migration, as millions of jittery wildebeest make their annual pilgrimage through the famous Masai Mara on the hunt for food and water.
In the north, the more remote Laikipia Plateau offers a chance to see rare northern species such as the jigsaw-coated reticulated giraffe, the blue-necked Somali ostrich and the finely-striped Grevy’s zebra. Laikipia also offers a great range of safari activities such as horse riding, bush walking, camel trekking and for those wanting to sleep out under the stars, we suggest you try fly camping.
Elephant lovers will enjoy watching the herds grazing against the incredible backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro at Amboseli National Park, while bird watchers will marvel at the pink flamingo on the salty lakes of Nakuru and Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley.
If culture is more your thing, Kenya is home to over 40 different tribes with their own languages, customs and dress, including the Maasai and the Samburu. The Samburu region, north of Mount Kenya, takes its name from the brightly coloured tribesmen of the area. We love this region for its rugged remoteness and sense of space and would recommend combining a visit here with a more traditional Big Five safari destination, such as the Masai Mara.
In contrast to the dry baked earth of Samburu, Meru, which lies east of Mount Kenya, is criss-crossed with rivers, attracting hippo, crocodile and a whole host of birdlife. You can also track the Big Five here, but we think the remote location and lack of mainstream tourism, makes Meru best suited to more experienced safari enthusiasts.
Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is usually viewed as a transit destination, but we maintain it’s worth a day or two of your time. We’d recommend the Giraffe Centre, the Karen Blixen House and Museum, the Maasai markets, the wonderful street food and a trip to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where you can see orphaned baby elephant and rhino, which are raised there before being released back out into the wild.
Kenya also offers the perfect safari and beach combination holiday. The palm-fringed coastline is full of endless white sands and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are perfect for snorkelling and diving, as you explore the coral reef which runs parallel to the shoreline. Try deep sea fishing, kite-surfing, or simply swing on a hammock while you soak up the sun. For those with an appetite for culture, on the northern shore you’ll find Lamu which is the only complete Swahili town left in the world. Further south you’ll also enjoy walking around the Arabian architecture of Malindi, or the pristine and natural beaches of Watamu. But if it’s paradise beaches, luxurious accommodation and excellent service you’re looking for, we would recommend the southern shore, particularly Diani and Msambweni.
We've put together a guidebook with everything you need to know about Kenya. Written by our specialists, it details destination information, a wildlife guide, some suggested itineraries and plenty more to inspire your holiday. Fill in the form below and if you live in UK, your guidebook will arrive by post within the next couple of days. For those who live abroad, we will send you a copy by email.
Safari and beach is a winning holiday combination and as the home of the big five safari, Kenya is a leading light. Increasingly after a safari on the Kenyan plains we look to more exotic climes such as the Seychelles, Zanzibar and Mozambique for our beach R&R. Here our Kenya specialists say why we should stay closer to home and stick to the Kenyan coast for beautiful beaches and top watersports.