Taking a safari holiday in Kenya, or a tour in the Kenyan jungle is an agenda that tops many people’s bucket lists. Kenya is a land of plenty. From the pearl white sandy beaches, the turquoise aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean, the breath taking migratory herds found in the savannah, the dense eerie tropical rainforests, the prehistoric archaic historical sites and the variety of culture provide enough adventure for any safari.
Being on the equator, Kenya is an ideal destination to take a safari given that the weather in Kenya is always conducive throughout the year. The natural world and the unchanged ecosystem are a sure attraction for visitors.
Coming to Kenya for a safari may leave a tourist spoilt for choice because of the abundance of areas and places to tour. For this reason, there are a number of safaris optimized towards seeing certain areas.
What does a Safari to Kenya offer?
Kenya’s extraordinarily varied topology provides the range of habitats needed to support equally varied wildlife. The country is home to more than 100 species of mammals, more than 1,000 species of birds, and an incredible diversity of reptiles, insects and amphibians.
All the famous Big five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino are found here. Having attained notoriety during the hunting era for being the most prestigious trophies, the Big Five have retained their popularity into today’s photographic safaris.
However, the diversity of mammal species in Kenya goes far beyond these. Carnivores found here include cheetah, wild cat, caracal, serval, hyena, civet, genet, jackal and fox. Primates include vervet monkey, blue monkey, sykes monkey, colobus monkey and bushbaby. Plains game includes wildebeest, hartebeest, zebra, giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, bushbuck, waterbuck, eland, impala, reedbuck and dlkdik.
Kenya has a high number of endemic species, as well as species found only in one speciﬁc location. Some national parks and reserves are the last remaining habitat of a particular species, such as the roan antelope in Ruma National Park, the sitatunga in Saiwa Swamp National Park and the Sable antelope in Shimba Hills National Reserve.
There are high numbers of endangered species. The current list of critically endangered species includes black rhino, hirola, Tana River red colobus, Cosen’s gerbil and Macow‘s shrew. A number of sanctuaries have been established around the country to protect these species.
Many of Kenya’s vast variety of birds are indigenous to speciﬁc regions of the country. Highland forest and moorlands such as Mt Kenya, Mt Elgon and the Aberdare National Park attract green ibis, Hartlaub‘s turaco, mountane oriole, alpine chat, Sharpe’s longclaw and mountain buzzard. Savannah bush such as the Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks attracts ostrich, white-bellied go away bird, green wood hoopoe, Taita ﬁscal, buff – crested bustard and martial eagle. Savannah grasslands such as the Maasai Mara National Reserve species include gabon nightiar, lilac~breasted roller, Livingstone’s turaco, blue flycatcher and Pel’s ﬁshing owl.
Alkaline lakes in Kenya attract such large numbers of lesser flamingo that their water appears pink. Freshwater lakes have a wider diversity, with white pelican, long tailed cormorant, goliath heron, squacco heron, African spoonbill, fish eagle and malachite kingfishers being but a few of the species found here.
Lowland forest attracts some vew localised birds, including cuckoo hawk, red-tailed ant thrush and amani sunbird. Desert and semi desert, particularly in the area of Lake Turkana, attracts the hardy fox kestrel, Abyssinian roller and Somali ﬁscal.
Kenya has a remarkable number of endemic or near endemic species, such as Clarke’s weaver, fOJﬂd only in the Arabuko Sokoke Forest near Watamu and Hinde’s pied babbler, found only in Kianyaga near Embu town. Some birds even take their names from the regions of Kenya in which they are found, such as the grey-chested illadopsis, or Kakamega poliothorax, found only in Kakamega.
ln addition to all the resident species, an estimated 6,000 migratory birds make the journey to Kenya each year during the winter in Europe.
The marine parks along Kenya’s coast are home to a large array of marine species. Coral gardens, fringing reefs, mudflats, mangroves, sea grass and sea weed are all found here, and each provides habitat specific to certain species including dolphins, fish, crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, starfish and jellyfish. Rare and vulnerable species include the dugong, humpback whale and sperm whale.
What types of safaris are there in Kenya?
There are a number of safaris offered in Kenya. These safaris include:
- Kenya Wildlife Safari
- Kenya Camping Safari
- Kenya Luxury Safari
- Kenya Beach Safari
- Kenya Adventure Safari
- Kenya Business Safari
- Kenya Family Safari
- Kenya Coast Safari
- Kenya Honeymoon Safari
- Kenya Conference Safari
- Kenya Golf Safari
- Kenya Sport Safari
- Kenya Wedding Safari
- Kenya Ecotourism Safari
- Kenya Flying Safari
- Kenya Bird Watching Safari
- Kenya Cultural Safari
- Kenya Balloon Safari
- Religious Safaris and Retreats
- Kenya Camel Safari
- Kenya Photography Safari
- Kenya Disability Safari
- Kenya Bird Watching Safaris
Kenya safari Guide
Safety is a big concern for visitors to Kenya. Thousands of people enjoy going on safari in Kenya every month, but with official government travel warnings out for the country, it’s difficult to know exactly what the real situation is like. Find out how to enjoy a safe holiday in Kenya from my tips below
Staying Safe in Nairobi, Mombasa and other large towns
Nairobi has a bad reputation, similar to Johannesburg and Lagos. It’s a big city, there are a large number of people living in poverty and struggling to get employment. But as a visitor, if you follow the basic guidelines below, you should be fine. As with most large cities, a lot of crime happens in the outskirts or poorer neighborhoods, areas tourists don’t normally venture unless you’re with a friend. There’s a lot to see and do in Nairobi, so don’t avoid it, just take care and be smart about it.
- Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage.
- Don’t walk on your own at night, always take a taxi.
- Don’t wear jewelery.
- Don’t carry too much cash with you.
- Wear a money belt that fits under your clothes.
- Don’t carry a lot of camera equipment or other valuables.
- Beware of thieves posing as police officers – if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not.
Note: If you’re wandering round the streets in Nairobi, and are feeling hassled or threatened, step into the nearest shop, supermarket or hotel. It helps calm your nerves and people are generally helpful and friendly if you let them know you are worried.
Staying Safe on Safari in Kenya
Kenya has one of the most developed tourism sectors in Africa. Safaris are generally very well run, the lodging is superb, and the wildlife fantastic. Follow the rules your guides, drivers and lodge staff tell you about as far as the wildlife is concerned and there are really no special safety issues you need to worry about.
Staying Safe on the Coast in Kenya
Don’t ever walk on the beach at night, unless you are staying in a private resort and the owners know it’s safe. There are parts of the Kenyan coast like Lamu and Mombasa, that have a reputation for being a little unpleasant, as far as just getting accosted by young men wanting to sell you things. Beware of your valuables at all times and keep them in a locked safe. The Kenyan coast is beautiful, so don’t miss it, just book a decent hotel and enjoy yourself.
Safety and Volunteering in Kenya
There are lots of volunteer opportunities in Kenya, and it’s a really a life-changing experience. Make sure to volunteer with an established agency. Talk to ex-volunteers about their experiences and how they managed to stay safe and keep their valuables safe too. If it’s your first time in Kenya, opt for a group volunteer experience to get used to the way of life. In general, rural people are always a bit more friendly than city folk, that’s common all over the world.
Staying Safe on Kenya’s Roads
Roads in Kenya aren’t very good so accidents are quite common. Potholes, road blocks, goats and people tend to get in the way of vehicles. Avoid driving a car or riding a bus at night because potholes are difficult to see and so are other vehicles especially when they are missing their headlights, a fairly common occurrence. If you are renting a car, keep the doors and windows locked while driving in the major cities. Car-jackings occur fairly regularly but may not end in violence as long as you comply with demands made.
What do you pack for a holiday to Kenya?
Given the luggage restriction and in the unlikely event of luggage loss, one needs to be mindful of what they pack for their safari.
- Safari clothing- with the clothing, caution has to be taken when it comes to the colors. The colors have to be neutral to the environment and colors that do not get dirty very fast. In addition, such colors as blue should be avoided as they attract tsetse flies. People are advised to go for comfortable, non- synthetic and fitting clothes. Khaki and stone materials of clothing are preferred. The season and consequently the weather have to be taken into account packing light and warm clothing when appropriate.
- Safari Hat- the sun may be very harsh during the safari. For this reason, you need to cover yourself from the harsh sun’s rays. You need a safari hat that is perspirant absorbent on the inside and water proof on the outside.
- Safari shoes- the safari shoes are an important consideration especially if you are going to do a lot of walking on the safari. While walking, the safari boots are an excellent option. Two pairs of safari boots are ideal just to be on the safe side. For a safari that does not involve a lot of walking, light and comfortable shoes such as sandals are best.
- Safari equipment - ideal safari equipment include:
- A camera
- A compass
- A torch/flashlight and a couple of batteries
- Pen knife
- Locks for your luggage.
- Water proof matches/ lighter
- Zip lock/ plastic bags to protect the equipment against water while canoeing or while raining.
Some items such as mosquito nets and toiletries are provided by the hotels. A safari is a once in a life time experience. Planning a safari right and getting all the items right guarantees a safari that is out of this world.