Kenya is the quintessential safari destination. Its compact national parks and conservation areas offer a stunning variety of landscapes and flora and fauna while camps and lodges range from small authentic tented camps to historic family homesteads.
From the Masai Mara National Reserve, famed for its big cats, to the iconic view of Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park, every day offers something exciting and new. Kenya also stands out for its contribution to wildlife conservation - pioneering projects can be visited here - easily incorporated within your safari experience to offer a deeper understanding of the country and the challenges faced by modern day Africa.
On all our drive-in safaris we use private vehicles with personal guides. Having your own vehicle gives you ultimate flexibility, allowing you to follow your own schedule. Driving is also an economical alternative to flying, especially if travelling with friends or family.
You'll find a useful guide to Kenya and its attractions at the bottom of this page, along with some sample safari journeys and beach breaks with guide prices. These journeys are there to inspire you and give you a starting point. It is important to emphasise that all our private safaris are tailor-made and can be designed around you and your preferences - please do ask us for a quote. If you are travelling solo or would prefer to safari in a small group we also offer an excellent escorted tour of Kenya - you'll find full details below.
Why Real Africa? We remain true to our roots - small, specialist and committed to conservation. We're dedicated to offering you a personal service and all-round quality experience - something we've been doing for over 16 years now. You won't find the same expertise on the high street.
A short, good value drive-in safari visiting the scenic parks of Amboseli and Tsavo, famous for large herds of elephants
A wonderful private drive-in safari visiting Mt Kenya, Ol Pejeta, Samburu, the Great Rift Valley Lakes and the Masai Mara
A drive-in safari focusing on the best places to see wildlife and the Big Five in particular
This is an exciting fly-in safari to Saruni lodges in Kenya's Kalama & Sera Conservancies where you can track black rhino on foot
A drive-in safari to Laikipia, the Mara and the Great Lakes staying in Serena camps and lodges
Get close to the giraffes of Giraffe Manor before a fly-in safari to the famous Governors Camp in the Mara.
This superb Safari Collection holiday includes stays at Giraffe Manor, Sasaab Samburu and Sala's Camp in the Masai Mara.
A safari visiting Lake Nakuru, famous for its flamingos and rhinos, and the Masai Mara with its big cats
Capturing the essence of old-school romance this safari visits Samburu and the Mara with characterful tented camps
An escorted small group safari visiting the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Lake Elmentaita and the Masai Mara
Spend 4 nights on safari in Kenya's wonderful Masai Mara - camps available include Karen Blixen Tented Camp, Mahali Mzuri and Serian
A classic fly in safari to Kenya including the Masai Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo
Trek to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda before going on safari to Kenya's Masai Mara
A very special 5 night safari to Samburu's wonderful Elephant Watch Camp, location of BBC2 series This Wild Life with Saba Douglas-Hamilton
Get a real insight into elephant behaviour with a stay at Samburu's Elephant Watch Camp, followed by a safari in the Mara.
Enjoy a private safari in the wonderful Ol Pejeta Private Conservancy with its rhino and chimp sanctuaries before heading on to the world famous Masai Mara
A luxury fly-in safari combining outstanding lodges in outstanding wildlife areas.
With Kilimanjaro as a spectacular backdrop and watered by springs from its lower slopes, this stunning park is a popular place for elephants who love to graze the lush vegetation of its marshes.Continue Reading...
The dazzling white sands of Kenya's coast with coconut palms and mangrove lined creeks are a fantastic extension to any safari. You can rent a private house on the beach, stay in a boutique hotel or while away a week in a barefoot beach lodge. You'll also find superb marine parks with whales, turtles and whale sharks all in evidence along this stretch of coast.Continue Reading...
An area of traditional ranches and rolling farmland, the landscape is quite spectacular and different to elsewhere in Kenya. Many of these ranches have now been converted into luxurious safari lodges on private conservancies where you can safari, ride, walk the hills with local Maasai, fish and camp. You can also get involved in conservation activities if you wish, visiting local projects.Continue Reading...
This large soda lake is one of the most picturesque places in Kenya. It’s a favourite feeding place for large flocks of flamingos and its shores a popular grazing spot for white rhinos. The surrounding forests contain leopard and black rhino.Continue Reading...
Situated just over 200 miles from Nairobi, Meru National Park is perhaps most famous as having been the home of Joy and George Adamson and the lioness Elsa and subsequent film Born Free. Much less visited than other National Parks, it offers the chance to game-view away from the crowds, in a landscape that differs from the other famous Kenyan Parks.Continue Reading...
UNESCO World Heritage site Mt. Kenya National Park covers a diverse ecosystem surrounding the second highest mountain in Africa (5,199m). At lower altitudes you find colobus monkeys, Cape buffalo and elephant before climbing through bamboo forest and the alpine zone, each with its own unique plants and birdsContinue Reading...
Located in the dry plains of central Kenya, with the waters of the Ewaso Nyiro river providing a wildlife haven in this harsh environment. Diverse landscapes support a wide variety of animal and birdlife, some unique to this area. The semi-nomadic Samburu people farm neighbouring land.Continue Reading...
The most famous of Kenya’s reserves, with its grassland home to lions, leopards and cheetahs. Also host to the annual wildebeest migration from Tanzania’s Serengeti. Together with the conservation areas in the north and east, the Mara offers some of the best game viewing in Africa.Continue Reading...
If you combine the two Tsavo parks - East and West - you are left with one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world: 20,000 sq. km of protected terrain. It is one of the oldest parks in Kenya, opening in 1948. The park is divided into two sections as it is bisected by a major road and railway line from north to south. Named after the river that runs through it, it shares boundaries with the Mkomazi Reserve in Tanzania and the Chyulu Hills National Park and is most famous for the huge elephant herds which roam the park. Tsavo East offers classic savanna while Tsavo West has a more dramatic green and hilly landscape studded with giant baobabs.Continue Reading...
You can visit Kenya year-round. The most popular time to travel is from July to February, and as most parks are at altitude it rarely gets too hot. Temperatures peak January to March at around 28 degrees. The Great Migration arrives in the Mara in July and stays until October, an unforgettable spectacle. The main rains fall in April and May, transforming the landscape to a lush green. There are many newborn animals at this time.
Dry season (hot): January – March
This is the hottest time of year and an excellent time for game viewing. The grass and vegetation is thin and low, allowing for uninterrupted views and fewer places for the animals to hide. There is also less water, meaning the animals have to congregate around rivers and waterholes, making them easier to spot. This is considered one of the best bird-watching periods, with the birds visible and with migratory species moving through.
As many of the main national parks and reserves are up in the central highlands the temperatures are not as high or humid as they are on the coastal plains. Early morning game drives are cool, and many camps and lodges have pools with shady areas to relax around during the heat of the day. On the coast it is hot and the water is at its clearest for diving and snorkelling.
Green season: April – May
The long rains start in late March and continue through until the end of May. As a general rule the rain falls in the late afternoon as either spectacular thunderstorms or torrential downpours that can continue into the night. Mornings are generally clear and bright. The whole landscape comes to life, with the new grasses coming through and the plains dotted with flowers. Many animals give birth during this period, so there are lots of young around and in hot pursuit are the lions, leopards and cheetah keen on feasting while they can on these easy meals.
Advantages of travelling during this period are that prices are lower, you avoid the crowds, the wet ground keeps the dust down when travelling off road and there are plenty of young animals to admire. It is also a great time for photography with the light, lush backdrops and lack of haze. Downsides are that roads can get damaged and impassable so a 4x4 is advisable. Some camps close in April/early May for refurbishment but the majority continue to operate throughout the year and offer excellent special rates at this time.
Dry season (cool): June – September
Slightly cooler than the spring thanks to the rains clearing the humidity, this time of year is famous for the annual migration that enters the Masai Mara at this time. Over one million wildebeest and zebra cross the Mara River and graze the rich, post-rain grazing. It is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth, and this time of year is a wonderful time to be witnessing it. The grasslands are not as dry as they can be in January with the animals still finding plenty of food and water. With the animals come the big cats, still after the young wildebeest.
Should you wish to visit the Northern areas, such as Samburu, then this is a good time. With its more arid and dry climate, it is hot all year-round, but this time offers the best window to witness its rugged and wild beauty.
Short rains: October - Mid-December
During these months come the short rains, a secondary wet season. They are a lot drier that the main rains but are a vital part of the annual cycle to keep the grazing growing for the animals to last through until the spring. They tend not to be as long or disruptive, but there can be downpours that damage roads and increase driving times. As a rule they do not affect itineraries or viewing, a fact illustrated by the fact that camp prices are much the same for this periods as for the dry seasons.
Kenya offers all the classic safari options. With our drive-in safaris we use private vehicles and a personal guide, ensuring you always have the best view and can travel at your own pace. With our fly-in safaris we use small planes ranging in size from four seats upwards, with game drives conducted in the camps/lodges open-sided safari vehicles.
We can also combine the two styles for you, as well as including walking safaris, night drives and balloon trips. Both styles undoubtedly have their benefits - with driving you get to see more of the country, local people and villages and you have your local driver/guide there to explain customs, the changing landscapes and to point out things of interest. Driving is also more economical, especially if there are a few of you sharing a vehicle. With flying you can maximise your time in the key wildlife areas, avoiding long journeys. Your safaris are conducted by rangers who live in that region and therefore have an extended knowledge of that park/reserve and its wildlife. You can also enjoy all sorts of added benefits like bush breakfasts and sundowners out on the plains during your game drives.
Several pioneering conservation projects are based in Kenya adding a different dimension to your travels - you can visit the Sheldrick Trust in Nairobi National Park, meet the rangers who work 24/7 with the elephant orphans, and spend time with the elephants; or you can safari in Samburu, spending time at the Save the Elephants research centre, meeting scientists and renowned conservationists like Saba Douglas-Hamilton. You can stay on private conservancies at the forefront of the modern conservation movement, such as family owned Borana or Lewa, or the Ol Pejeta Conservancy - all known for their work with rhino conservation.
Kenya is one of the best countries to visit for a safari if you are short on time, are new to safari or are looking for a great value safari. The main parks are all near to each other (by African standards...) and have a high concentration of animals, making the game viewing easier and more accessible. If you have longer, there is a large variety of landscape and terrain to enjoy, from arid semi-desert, high altitude forest, fresh water and soda lakes to rolling grassland. Add to this excellent camps and lodges, and it makes for a wonderful holiday destination.
The most famous of Kenya's reserves is the Masai Mara. Situated on the countries South-West border and abutting the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, this area of open savannah is famous for its big cats - indeed it is here that the BBC filmed their "Big Cat Diary" series. This reserve is different from many of the other national parks, in as much as the Masai tribe still own the land and can be seen grazing their herds in the northern concessions.
The Mara is also home to the annual Wildebeest Migration, when over one million animals cross from the Serengeti every year in search of fresh grazing. There is a wide selection of safari lodges and camps available in the Mara, from large lodges of up to 100 rooms down to intimate camps set in their own private concessions to the north.
Kenya is also famous for its Rift Valley Lakes, that lie on the floor of the Great Rift valley. The most famous is Lake Nakuru, a national park that is home to a multitude of flamingos as well as being an excellent place to see rhino. Lake Nakuru, and the smaller Lake Elementaita to its south, are both soda lakes, but the nearby Lake Naivasha is fresh water and as a result is an excellent destination for bird watchers, with fish eagles and kingfishers abounding. The lodges by the lakes tend to be larger, popular escapes for people from Nairobi to use over weekends. There are now smaller lodges opening, such as the new Serena at Elementaita.
Mt.Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya, and the highland area known as the Aberdares nearby allows you to visit upland forests and heath not seen elsewhere. There are Mountain lodges in these parks, often situated near water holes where the animals, especially elephants come to drink.
If you wish to see Kilimanjaro, situated across the southern border in Tanzania then the best place to visit is Amboseli. It is here that the iconic images of the open plains, often with elephants, are taken with Kilimanjaro looming up as a backdrop. If you want to take this photo yourself, then go soon. Its estimated that in 15 years the snow and glaciers will all have disappeared from the summit. Amboseli is home to some beautiful safari properties, both lodges and camps, and can be reached via a good tarmac road that heads towards the Tanzanian border from Nairobi. Satao Elerai is one of our favourite camps for those wanting to wake up with a view of Kili.
Slightly to the North-West is Samburu National Park, a much drier landscape with its own unique types of animal - such as the Grevys Zebra, specifically adapted to life in this harsher environment. We absolutely love Samburu with its characteristic red earth, mighty broad river, doum palms and vast herds of elephants. Visiting the Save the Elephants research centre is recommended as is a trip to the new Reteti Elephant orphanage further north. Our favourite camps are Elephant Watch Camp in the park itself and Saruni Samburu just outside the park in a spectacular cliff top location.
Down by the coast lie two of the largest of Kenyas National Parks, Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks. Popular with holidaymakers enjoying a stay on the coast, they are home to good levels of game but the large areas - and often short duration of stays here - makes the game-viewing more hit and miss.
If you wish to go on a safari to see as many animals as possible as quickly as possible, then Kenya is a great choice. It is home to the Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo, as well as a myriad of other fauna and flora. It also offers a wide variety of terrains within a small (for Africa) area, allowing you to visit different habitats in a comparatively short period of time.
Journey times are shorter and the roads better (we didn't say good..) than in other destinations, meaning you can easily visit several National Parks on the same safari. The National Parks are also smaller than in many other countries, meaning the game is more concentrated and the viewing easier. This is particularly useful if you are travelling with children whose attention span is shorter.
"We pulled up to the crest of the ridge and stopped. Before us lay the whole of the Northern Masai Mara, the escarpment in the distance. A table, covered in a starched white linen table cloth, was set out before us and the smell of fresh coffee reached our noses. It was truly the most spectacular breakfast I've ever eaten, as zebras and thompson gazelles grazed not far from us and the constant barking of wildebeest filled the air." Robert, Real Africa Director.
Most of our safaris in Kenya are private, meaning you are met on arrival by your private vehicle and personal guide and they will stay with you throughout your holiday. They are all qualified safari guides with many years of experience at guiding, but they are also so much more. Kenya is a vibrant and beautiful country and as you travel between the parks and reserves, the guides will be able to tell you about the real country, explaining everyday things to you and pointing out local sights. We are very proud of our Kenyan guides and they are one reason why so many of our clients return there with us.
Our charitable Trust works on several projects in Kenya and our clients are welcomed and encouraged to visit them. We support a school on the edge of the Masai Mara reserve, having recently completed building a new classroom. The children are always delighted to get a visit and get off some lessons...We also help support a vocational training college, training young Masai for jobs within the Tourism industry and several anti-poaching and wildlife conservation initiatives.
"Kenya is one of my favourite places in the world. As well as the major calling card of the Masai Mara there are many out of the way places and superb camps and lodges for a visitor to explore. I absolutely love Laikipia and Samburu. I'm ashamed to say that I only recently discovered them. There are some fantastic camps, superb guides and I was surprised by the diversity and quantity of wildlife. My whole experience was enriched by visiting key conservation projects and being given that valuable first-hand insight into what goes on behind the scenes to protect the wildlife I love to see." Sara, Real Africa Marketing Director
In one week you can gaze up at Kilimanjaro from the marshes of Amboseli, game-drive for leopard and lion in the Masai Mara, search for hippo by boat at Lake Naivasha and watch rhino at Lake Nakuru. Few other places offer such variety. You can even visit baby elephants and feed (or kiss!) giraffes on the way back to the airport for your flight home...