Christine, Digital Nomad, Travel Expert
Kenya Travel Guide
Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Kenya Ultimate Travel Guide
Situated at the heart of East Africa, Kenya is an incredible place with a wide range of attractions that enchant even the most discerning tourists.
From magnificent metropolises and world-class safari destinations to dramatic landscape with miles of coastlines and savannahs, the country offers thousands of holidaymakers exceptional experiences each year.
Here is an ultimate guide to help you plan a seamless trip to one of the most popular travel destinations in Africa;
Packing list and tips
On top of other travel essentials, here are some items you’ll absolutely need for your Kenyan trip;
· Water filtration bottle – although, this will depend on which part of the country you’re visiting tap water isn’t the best choice for drinking water. You should only drink bottled water or pack a water filtration bottle.
· Mosquito repellent – unless you’re visiting the western part of Kenya, the risk of contracting malaria in the rest of the country isn’t high. However, mosquito bites are super annoying!
· Casual but comfortable cloths
· Don’t park your favorite clothing – most adventures in Kenya are long, days can be hot and roads can be dusty. At the end of the day, you’ll be covered in sweat and dust. On safari walks, it’s not alien to get your shirt torn by bushes and thorns. In short, you should pack stuff you can afford to part ways with if you must.
· Less is more – Kenya is the last place you’d want to overpack for. Pack just enough breathable, lightweight clothing. After all, most camps and hotels offer daily laundry services.
Best places to visit in Kenya
Nairobi National park
Even if you only have a day to spend in Kenya, you can still enjoy an epic game drive.
Located just under 8 miles from the CBD, Nairobi National Park is as close as you can come to a mix between a bustling city and a safari!
It’s the only National Park in the world located within a city and it offers a rare sight of vast grass plains graced with hundreds of different wildlife species, with a backdrop of towering skyscrapers.
If you only have a few days in Kenya, the easiest way to explore the park is on a tour. Particularly because most tours provide hotel pick up and drop off.
Alternatively, if you have enough time and would like to see the park at a leisurely pace a self-drive would be perfect. All you need is to hire a 4x4 vehicle.
You can also go for a scenic walk around Safari Walk or walk around a small orphanage where you can see a few rehabilitated animals from lions to elephants and warthogs.
Nairobi National Museum
For history buffs, Nairobi National Museum is a great place to peruse Kenya’s history and heritage. The museum is superbly organized with a nice overview of the country’s history, culture, nature, and contemporary art.
There is also a pleasant snake park with a wide variety of all the snakes you’d never want to encounter and a small botanical garden where you can have a peaceful nature walk.
It’s also conveniently located slap bang in Nairobi CBD so you can combine it with other attractions within the capital.
However, winding through the museum isn’t as straightforward and you might benefit immensely from a local guide.
Fabled as one of the world’s best wildlife reserves, Massai Mara National Park is a sanctuary and a great hub to visit if you’re yearning for an authentic African safari experience.
The ‘Mara’ hosts scores of different species inclusive of the emblematic Big five of elephants, rhinos, lions, wildebeests, and cheetah. While Massai Mara is a year-round destination, the best wildlife spotting opportunities are during the dry season from late June through to October. At this time of the year, you can effortlessly tick every animal off your list with a single drive!
In addition, the dry season marks the start of the phenomenon Great Migration – a captivating natural event where millions of wildebeests scramble their way from Tanzania to Kenya in search of greener pastures and water.
Regardless of the time of the year you decide to visit you’ll be sure to spot a bunch of different animals on a four-wheel, safari walk, or even from a hot air balloon.
Often overlooked in favor of the highest mountain in Africa (Kilimanjaro in Tanzania) Mount Kenya is the second-highest mountain in the continent and equally enthralling.
You can be at any spot of the three peaks of Mountain Kenya (Batian 5199m, Nelion 5188m, Lenana 4985m) and you’ll still be at the highest point in the country and second highest in Africa.
For outdoor enthusiasts, a multi-pitching trek via any route offers more than a challenging adventure.
The three main trekking routes take you through breath-taking scenery, great spots for wildlife spotting and you’re almost guaranteed an absolutely mesmerizing sunrise once you make it to the summit.
Throughout the journey, you’ll be treated to otherworldly views by the astounding landscape which transposes with each changing level – from bamboo to alpine forest then moors, and finally volcanic lunar dreamland.
Beyond savannahs and tropical forests, Kenya boasts a distinctive coastline. The beaches in the Northern part of the coast between Malindi and Watamu are dotted with small deserted islets which are a perfect escape for beach bums.
When you’re done with the sun and sand for the day nothing beats a walk around the coastal town at dusk.
Nestled between the beaches and the lush bush surrounding the area, you’ll find charming villages and structures dating back to colonial times. You can stroll through the gravel narrow paths to enjoy the best street food in the region.
The best place to stay in Kenya
The Giraffe Manor
The Giraffe Manor is one of the most opulent boutique hotels in Kenya and a perfect place to stay if you want to combine a fantastic chic stay with a wildlife viewing adventure.
You can actually have breakfast with giraffes! The Giraffe Center is also next door so you can spend your day stroking, feeding, and taking selfies with the animals.
Room rates at this hotel start from $875 per night (adult sharing) and $605 per night (per child sharing).
Villa Rosa Kempinski
Offering the perfect fusion of modern luxuries and Kenyan hospitality Villa Rosa Kempinski's hotel stay is unrivaled.
The five-star hotel is famed for quality services and as a great place to enjoy a pampering getaway.
Room and meal rates start from $250 per night to $500.
· Town Lodge Upper Hill, Nairobi
· Eden Safari Camp
While there are a lot of cheap options for travelers on a shoestring budget, hostels aren’t the safest option. Luckily, there are lots of classy yet cheap Airbnbs spread across the country. You can easily score great deals from as low as $30 in a decent neighborhood.
How to get around in Kenya
Matatus (the main public transport) is an experience in itself. It’s the most common way to get around for locals but if you’re not a daredevil the best alternative is app-based transport. While matatus are way cheaper, taxis and app-based transport drivers are less reckless.
Must-try food in Kenya
· Ugali – this is a Kenyan staple and a celebrated delicacy in most households. It’s usually eaten alongside partially cooked vegetables.
· Chips Masala