Kenyan Safari – all you need to know

Photo by Heather M. Edwards on Unsplash

A safari through Kenya can be an unforgettable experience for the safari traveler: vast savannahs, many forests, arid landscapes, wild animals including the fascinating “Big Five”. However, you have to consider a few things in advance in order to choose and plan the perfect safari for you. The better the preparation, the more beautiful, relaxed and stress-free the safari through Kenya will be.

What is the best season for a safari in Kenya?

You may wondering about what is the best time to take that Kenyan Safari. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, and other times it does. In Kenya, there is a dry season and a rainy season. The long rainy season runs from mid-April to mid-June. From the end of October to November the small rainy season. The warmest period in Kenya is from December to March. Then it rains very little and the temperatures are over 28 degrees a day. Now is a good time for a Kenya safari: At this time, the landscape is very green and beautiful to look at due to the previous small rainy season. A particularly large number of bird species can also be observed during this period.

If you want to benefit from special prices, you should travel in the rainy season from April to June. Even then, a safari in Kenya can be very nice and seem more exclusive. After the rainy season, it becomes a little more difficult to see the animals at first due to the high grass landscape.

In the Masai Mara, visitors can take part in a special spectacle. From July to September, large herds of wildebeest and zebra come from the Serengeti to graze on the grass. This period of time is not very long, but it is definitely advisable to plan your safari tour in the Masai Mara in this way. Especially at the Mara River, many animals are sighted at that time. Therefore, this time is also very popular with many visitors for safaris through Kenya. From mid-October to December, temperatures are around 24 degrees.

The right clothing for a safari through Kenya

Choosing the right clothing to Kenya should be just as important as the experience itself. Wrong choice of clothes can ruin your overall experience in a rather interesting country. Jeans are rather unsuitable for a safari tour. The dense fabric makes you sweat very quickly. Cotton trousers and cotton shirts are always a good idea on safari, preferably in light colours. Dark colors attract mosquitoes. A hat against Kenya’s scorching sun and a scarf against the wind are also important on the safari. A jacket for the late evening hours should not be missing in your luggage, since, unlike during the day, it can get very fresh in Kenya at night. Swimwear is required for the pool in the lodges.

You may need to take a first-aid kit with you on safari

Medicines that you need on your safari trip should be brought from home. In addition to the medication that has to be taken individually, you should take headache pills, stomach pills, sun gel and an insect pen on the safari tour. During a safari through Kenya it is difficult to get medicine. On the coasts there are many pharmacies, but in the rest of the places it will be difficult.

What can you do about diarrhea on safari?

During a safari in Kenya one could be plagued by diarrhea, which is annoying but it does happen due to a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s the unfamiliar food that you encounter when travelling to a new place. But because of the heat you shouldn’t eat too oils anyway. Diarrhea from chilled drinks is more common because the ice cubes in the drinks are made from tap water. But you can buy the drug “Dia Stop” in one of the pharmacies in Kenya. These pills can be taken on any safari and often help immediately.

Don’t forget sun protection and mosquito repellent on a safari
Both sun protection and mosquito repellent should be bought at home before the safari trip, as it can be very expensive in Kenya. A high sun protection factor is recommended for sun protection. Mosquito repellent should also be packed for every Kenya safari.

Drinking water in Kenya

Because of the heat, you should drink plenty of fluids during a safari tour. However, you should never drink tap water in Kenya. In Kenya you can buy bottled water on every corner and these can then be taken on the safari. It is particularly recommended to order water without ice cubes in restaurants. Otherwise the risk of diarrhea increases.

Dealing with smoking and alcohol in Kenya

In Kenya, smoking is banned in hotels, restaurants and in public. The exception are the balconies in the hotel. In public, you should stick to the ban, as violations can be very expensive. In the restaurants and hotels there are usually specially signposted smoking areas where you can smoke without any problems. You can buy alcohol in Kenya. You can get international products there, but also local varieties. When it comes to alcohol, local products are cheaper than imported ones.

What souvenirs to bring back from the safari?

Basically, you could bring anything that you can buy during the safari trip. However, there are a few exceptions: On the one hand, you should pay attention to the weight. On the other hand, of course, no things should be bought that violate the Washington Convention on the Protection of Endangered Species. For example, lion claws. Shells are also not allowed, although they are often sold at the stalls.

Dealing with monkeys on safari in Kenya

Monkeys will cross paths at some point on any Kenya safari. It is not uncommon to find them in hotels or lodges. The animals are usually harmless, but feeding or petting them is not recommended. If a monkey scratches or bites, diseases can be transmitted. The balcony doors and windows should remain closed, otherwise the monkeys can quickly enter the room to look for food. The monkeys can sometimes become very aggressive.

How do you behave towards the “beach boys” in a Kenya safari?

If you are unintentionally approached by traders, the so-called beach boys, on the beach or at the hotels in Kenya, it helps if you ignore them completely. This is probably the quickest way to find peace. But if you want to buy something, you should always negotiate the price down. This is already taken into account by the dealers.

Safe behavior during safari through Kenya

For your own safety, you should always stay in the car during the safari tours. Leaving the car is strictly forbidden and should be strictly observed. Even if the animals look nice, they are still wild animals. Furthermore, not all animals are immediately visible in the high grass or the landscape and can reach you faster than you would like.

How to stay on Safari – Lodge or Camp?

During the Kenya safari you are in national parks and reserves that are away from the tourist centers. Therefore, there are few or no hotels in these areas. There are either lodges or tented camps here. Lodges are very similar to hotels. They are permanent buildings and often offer luxurya pool or spa area. With so much comfort, the safari feeling is less than in a tent camp. There are different types of tent camps for overnight stays during a safari in Kenya. The tents are sometimes quite large, sometimes larger than a hotel room, and have their own toilet and shower. The equipment varies depending on the price range. The camps are often not fenced and therefore wild animals could also walk through the camp. Of course, this gives a slightly larger safari experience. If you can’t make up your mind, you can combine the accommodations and try both on the safari.

Possible starting points of the safari in Kenya

Kenya’s north or south coast?

The north coast of Kenya offers crystal clear water, lots of fish and the best fantastic weather. If you don’t just want to relax, but want to be active yourself, you can do this with various sports such as snorkeling, diving or fishing. Surfing, kiting or renting a sailing boat are also popular activities on Kenya’s coast. The north coast is also an ideal starting point for excursions in the area or a safari. Kenya offers a wide range of possibilities: For trips to the surrounding area, you can go shopping to Mombasa or explore the island of Lama.

The south coast also convinces with a turquoise blue sea and several coral reefs. Numerous fish and turtles as well as dolphins are also at home on the south coast. The coast is surrounded by native coastal forest, which is home to many birds and wildlife. The coasts are always a popular place to start a Kenya safari. Diving and snorkeling are also popular here.

Diani Beach in Kenya

Kenya’s most famous beach is Diana Beach, stretching 25 kilometers along the Indian Ocean. This stretch of coast is particularly popular with travelers to Kenya. The best time to travel here is from late November to mid-March. The reefs on this beach are particularly popular with divers. If you like it a little quieter, you should visit Galu Beach. This is south of Diana Beach and is in the middle of an original environment.

The best national parks and reserves for a safari through Kenya

The Tsavo National Park

The largest national park in Kenya, with a total area of ​​over 21,000 square kilometers, is Tsavo National Park. Since 1949 it has been divided into Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park. The eastern part is the slightly larger one with an area of ​​over 11,000 square kilometers. The many grass and bush savannahs are distinctive for the park. The steppes are characterized by acacia forests, rocks and canyons. Seasonal rivers and standing water can also be found there.

In Tsavo East National Park it is easier for safari participants to find and observe wildlife as there are fewer forests in this part of the park, making it easier to spot animals at the waterholes. Due to its location between Nairobi and Mombasa and the easy accessibility from the hotels on the coast, Tsavo National Park is a very popular park for a safari in Kenya.

Taita Hills

Taita Hills Reserve is located on the edge of Tsavo West National Park. The hilly reserve has been established as a wildlife sanctuary since 1972. Many rare animal species can be found here by safari travelers. In the Taita Hills Reserve, game drives by 4×4 or a hike can be made. For Kenya visitors it is worth staying overnight in the Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge, which is built on stilts in this private reserve, because elephants can be observed well from the elevated observation point.

Shimba Hills

Kenya’s Shimba Hills National Reserve is approximately 193 square kilometers in size and is located southwest of Mombasa. The national reserve is known for the occurrence of rare sable antelope. But other animal species such as elephants, buffalo, monkeys or individual giraffes are also at home in this national park. The Shimba Hills Reserve is not far from Kenya’s popular bathing beach, Diani Beach.

The Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park is located on the border with Tanzania in south-west Kenya. Many safaris through Kenya pass through this national park as Amboseli sits at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain range. This offers a breathtaking sight in the background of the landscape traveled through on the safari. Around 800 elephants live here in Amboseli National Park. These animals have largely been spared from poachers because the area belongs to the Maasai. These keep foreign hunters away, which of course benefits the animals. In this way, the natural age and social structure of the elephant herd could be preserved. Those interested can get to know the Maasai culture better and visit a Maasai village. It should be noted by safari participants that the Maasai do not want to be photographed. It’s part of their tradition. Exceptions are made if you ask politely in advance and may pay a fee.

Maasai Mara

Among all wildlife sanctuaries, the Masai Mara is one of the highlights for a Kenya safari. The 1510 square kilometer national park is part of the Serengeti. It is Kenya’s most animal-rich reserve. The large animal migration that takes place from July to September is particularly exciting for the safari participants. During this time, large herds of zebra, wildebeest, antelope and gazelle migrate through the area, which is a vast grassy savannah, in search of food. The name Masai Mara derives from the fact that the Maasai live in the area. The second part of the name means “spotted” or “spotted”. This refers to the appearance of the landscape. Viewed from above, the individual trees of the savannah look like dots.

Lake Nakuru National Park

The Lake Nakuru National Park area is located around Lake Nakuru in Nakuru, Kenya, less than 200 kilometers from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Lake Nakuru National Park is the second most visited park in Kenya by safari travelers after the Masai Mara. From the baboon rock, also known as the Baboon Cliffs, you have a good panoramic view of the lake. The rock is one of those rare places where you can leave the car and go on safari for a bit on foot. Over 50 species of mammals live in Lake Nakuru National Park. These include antelope, waterbuck, monkeys, buffalo and giraffe, and even lions can be seen. Elephants, on the other hand, do not live in this park, the area is simply too small for that. Lake Nakuru Park is also a rhino sanctuary. 60 black and white rhinos were settled here.