More than just a destination to visit for animal safaris, Kenya is a diverse country brimming with warm hospitality, friendly faces, and jaw-dropping natural wonders. From a white-sand coast along the Indian Ocean to scenic highlands, the East African country is an ideal destination to visit for every type of traveler.
Wildlife enthusiasts come in droves to view the “Big Five” and wildebeests, marine explorers visit in search for underwater splendor, and curious visitors find interest in every taste of Kenyan culture along the way. Use this guide to help you brainstorm types of tours in Kenya to book, logistics to arrange before your trip, and tips on how to make the most of your stay.
Whether a preference for highlands and valleys, rainforests or the coast, adventure travelers always find plenty to explore in Kenya. Try kayaking or windsurfing if water adventures are your thing, trek or rock climb toward the glacial peaks of Mount Kenya for a thrilling workout, or horseback through the Chyulu Hills in Southern Kenya.
When you’re not ticking your Instagram bucket list with a photogenic meal at Giraffe Manor hotel in Nairobi, take day tours through Kenya’s cities or a Swahili language course. If you want to go beyond the urban sprawl, learn about tribes like the Maasai or Samburu -- and their traditions -- for true nomad goals. From museums, historic sites, and festivals, you can best experience Kenyan culture with a full immersion itinerary: be sure to visit Lamu Old Town and have a taste of Kenya’s staple food, ugali.
Wildlife Tours & Safaris
Book a safari tour to experience Kenya’s most prized wildlife and visit Maasai Mara National Reserve, one of Kenya’s most famous game reserves. Keep an eye out for wildebeest river crossing on the Mara, camels and birds, or endangered rhinos in Nairobi National Park. If you are coming for wildlife, Kenya’s “Big Five” (lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, and buffalo) make it a top place to visit.
Beach & Sea Tours
From beautiful white sand beaches along the Indian Ocean, scuba diving in Malindi, or soaking in lakeside views, Kenya is an unexpected paradise for beach, sun, and marine life. Enjoy the coastline's tropical climate as you check out the coral reefs and satisfy your inner mermaid.
Planning Your Trip
Before you visit Kenya, be sure to create a wishlist of activities you'd like to try and places you want to visit. This way you can be mindful of seasonality when you choose trip dates and tour itineraries. View these tips to help you plan your upcoming trip to Kenya.
Best Time to Visit Kenya
The best time to travel to Kenya is between January and February, where the weather is dry and hot. Visits to Maasai Mara are best experienced between July and October (October is ideal if you want to observe the wildebeest river crossing), but can come with higher expenses.
What To Look For in Tours to Kenya
Booking a tour in Kenya can seem overwhelming -- as with any new, unfamiliar country. Try to secure your tour beforehand to ensure a smooth arrival and double check that all logistics are covered. Confirm transportation, housing, and meals and ask about expected gratuity. If you want a true, well-rounded experience in Kenya, look for tours that offer discounted add-on packages or thorough itineraries. Great packages cover village and wildlife, but also grant exposure to Kenya’s vibrant city life (something you don’t see in the media often).
Typical Tour Costs
The most appealing Kenya tour itineraries are often multi-day excursions. You can expect to pay a minimum of $1,500 for such tours. This usually covers 2-4 days and includes transportation, an English-speaking guide, accommodations, meals, and park entrance fees.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
The dress code in Kenya is a little more conservative than countries like the United States (especially with warm weather). Save your bikini or trunks for the beach only and don’t let the heat deter you from dressing respectfully. If you plan to experience Kenyan night life or go to a special event, know that it is customary to dress up, so bring a couple of “nicer” outfits. Additionally, to save your sanity and possible diseases, bring mosquito repellent and use it generously.
Other Tips For Travel in Kenya
- Currency & visas: The local currency used is the Kenyan shilling. Major credit cards are accepted in cities, though cash is often encouraged in smaller towns or shops -- ATMs are widespread, regardless. Travelers can acquire a tourist visa electronically using Kenya’s e-visa or upon arrival at major airports.
- Transportation: Car rentals, taxis, and shuttles arranged by your tour operator are common means of transportation. Another more budget-friendly way to travel in some Kenyan cities is by matatu: a minibus. When using a taxi to get around, be sure to confirm a price before you enter the vehicle.
- Accommodations: Lodging in Kenya ranges from $20 budget accommodations to higher-end hotels with a nightly rate of $300. Other more luxurious arrangements include glamping and posh hotels.
Health & Safety
Travelers heading to Kenya should have routine vaccines up to date as well as Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations, at the very least. When scheduling your trip, allow 4-6 weeks to arrange appointments for these travel vaccines and any necessary medications.
Currently Kenya is still on warning alert for the Zika virus, so take steps to avoid and minimize mosquito bites to prevent transmission -- especially if you are sexually active, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant. To ensure a safe and healthy trip to this beautiful country, schedule an appointment with your travel doctor and run through your full trip itinerary to check that additional vaccinations aren’t needed. You can keep up to date with travel health requirements on the CDC website.
Kenya is generally safe to visit, but there are regions of the country that experience a higher risk of crime or danger than others, in addition to petty crime.
According to the U.S. Department of State, travelers should avoid the border between Kenya and Somalia due to potential terrorist threats. It is also advised to visit the Old City strictly doing daylight hours. Be sure to check travel alerts before booking your trip as well as before departure. Additionally, take care to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrival and be alert when exploring high-crime areas.