The ultimate 'bush and beach' destination, Kenya is a classic getaway appealing to honeymooners, families and everyone in between. No matter how many times you’ve watched Big Cat Diaries or The Lion King, nothing will prepare you for the real thing. The country’s allure goes hand in hand with the romantic landscapes immortalised by the likes of Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa; sweeping plains, rushing rivers and looming kopjes (small hills) dotted with gazelles and giraffes. Kenya holidays are a chance to witness wildlife roaming free, no more so than during the Great Migration when zebras,
elands and wildebeest in their millions cross parched plains and rivers to find water and fresh grazing – it’s quite simply one of nature’s greatest spectacles. Once bodies are tired and brains are brimming with all kinds of safari trivia, flopping down on the golden sands of Kenya’s coast is a treat like no other. Enjoy days spent experiencing Lamu’s paradise shores, whether that be taking in the Kenyan sun or making the most of the adrenaline-fuelled activities on offer. Head down the coast and pop into the Watamu Turtle Watch where turtles are rescued and released into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. As Out of Africa’s Karen Blixen once said, ‘you don’t always go on safari, do you?’ - Kenya really does have a bit of everything.
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While Kenya is best known for the lodges and landscapes of the Masai Mara and the multitudes of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle who migrate there annually, there are other - more family-friendly - lodges in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy from which to enjoy a luxury safari holiday in the Laikipia region. This really is a heavenly place to bring the family, with children able to spend their holiday in Kenya identifying animal tracks, camping, making bows and arrows, fishing, horse riding or camel trekking in the company of Samburu or Masai warriors. It's also an incredibly romantic destination and we can recommend the best parks and lodges to stay in if you're planning a luxury honeymoon to Kenya.
Elsewhere, and relatively untouched by the modern world, the beaches of the Kenyan Coast are lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. We work with only the very best hotels and can arrange a huge variety of watersports, from waterskiing and windsurfing to snorkelling and diving on the reefs and exploring mangrove creeks by kayak. The enduring legacy of the Omani empire that once stretched along this coastline adds an additional angle, with a visit to the culturally fascinating Lamu Town a big recommendation.
Finally, we can arrange private trips to the more remote corners of the Rift Valley Lakes - havens for flamingo and myriad other bird species - while further north Lake Turkana - the Jade Sea - sits in a desert wilderness. This was the birthplace of the first proto-humans, and you don't need to be a disciple of Darwin to feel a sense of the profound importance of the place.
On the subject of origins, most original of all on one of our Kenya holidays are our exclusive helicopter safaris into the wilds of the Northern Frontier District. This sparsely inhabited but intensely beautiful region occupies the top half of the country, and so helicopter is often the best, and sometimes the only, way to explore.
Several members of the Original Travel team have lived, worked or were brought up in Kenya. We revisit existing properties and new lodges on a regular basis and work with only the very best guides. We can always recommend the best watering hole to spot elephants cooling off, or that serve an ice cold Tusker beer, depending on which type of watering hole you're after.
What can you find in Kenya that you won't find anywhere else?
- Blixen-esque landscapes that are to die for. Plus, true ‘Out of Africa’ fans can visit the author’s actual farmhouse ‘at the foot of the Ngong Hills,’ preserved in its original splendour.
- Legendary game reserves, from the ancient tribal lands of the Masai Mara to the untamed wilderness of Meru, once home to Elsa the Lioness.
- Beautiful beaches where you can unwind on fine white sand and dip into the warm Indian Ocean. The Kenyan coast is both idyllic and culturally compelling as well.
Post-safari beach time
Kenya holidays offer the perfect ‘bush and beach’ combo. After a safari (the ‘bush’), recover on a beach beside crystal clear sea, looking out for swinging colobus monkeys, or relax on Lamu, a timeless isle with a languid pace, sunbaked white sand and bustling old town.
Kenya’s mighty game reserves
The Masai Mara
World famous for its Great Wildebeest Migration, superb game viewing and neighbouring private conservancies where you can enjoy night drives and walking safaris. Scan the savannah for the Big Five (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalos) and keep an eye on the skies for a sight of some of the area’s fabulous bird life. If you have some time on your hands, experience the local culture while meeting the Maasai people, accompanied by a local guide and translator.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru is the gem of Africa’s Great Rift Valley and is home to one of Kenya’s oldest rhino sanctuaries as well as flamingos in their thousands. Venture out onto the water in a boat to experience the wildlife firsthand. Keep your eyes peeled for lions coming to the water to drink and listen out for hippos honking nearby.
As well as the famous Big Five, Samburu is home to the Special Five, unique creatures, some of which are found nowhere else in Africa, including reticulated giraffes, beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebras, gerenuks and Somali ostriches. Leave camp and head out with an expert guide for that ‘off the beaten track’ experience.
Mount Kenya and the Aberdares
At over 17,000ft, Mount Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa and is connected to the nearby ancient Aberdares mountain range by an animal-filled grassy belt. The area is home to multitudes of elephants and rare wildlife such as the African golden cat, Jackson mongooses and black and white colobus monkeys.
Tsavo is split into East and West by the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, with the East being slightly larger and more wonderfully wild. They are two of the oldest and largest wildernesses in Kenya, offering wildlife spotting away from the crowds. In the West, venture out with a guide for a taste of some world-class rock climbing or head to the East and keep your eyes peeled for dust-red elephants roaming the plains, many of which were rescued and rehabilitated in the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Nestled at the foot of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, Amboseli’s expansive plains provide the perfect backdrop for an action-packed adventure. Discover the most undisturbed population of elephants in Africa, either in a rumbling safari truck or as a Kenyan cowboy on horseback. Discover the park on foot with a visit to Observation Hill for a refreshing sundowner overlooking the entire national park before cosying down at camp.
Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, is home to the country’s first national park, earning it the title of ‘The World’s only Wildlife Capital’. Just a short drive out of the city, you’ll find open grass plains that boast a huge array of wildlife species including endangered black rhinos, lions and over 400 types of birds.
Families will love
Getting up close and personal with The Lion King and encountering the Big Five while staying in a few of our personally vetted family-friendly lodges make for the ultimate family safari. Children can enjoy activities with Maasai or Samburu tribespeople, learning how to track animals and craft bows and arrows. Then head to Lamu’s paradise shores, where teens can race around long stretches of white sand and explore the archipelago on a traditional dhow.