9 Best Places to Go on Wildlife Safari in Kenya

9 Best Places to Go on Wildlife Safari in Kenya
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Known as the birthplace of safari, Kenya is one of the best destinations in Africa for game viewing. With over 20 national parks and reserves to discover, this East African favourite is perfect for first-time safari goers and returning enthusiasts alike.

Kenya is renowned for its easy Big Five sightings, and there’s a whole host of rarer species here too. Safari guides are often tribal warriors, who will be happy to teach you about tracking and local culture.

Landscapes in Kenya’s parks are diverse and set the scene for a collection of safari activities that go far beyond the classic game drive. Here, you can track wild dogs, venture into the wilderness on a camel trek, or even try a spot of fly camping.

Most visitors spend around 7-10 days in Kenya, often combining their safari with a few days at the beach. All budgets are catered for with a wide range of safari accommodation available. Luxury lodges are a hit with those looking for a little romance while wilderness camps offer the added thrill of full nature immersion.

If you’re thinking about going on safari in Kenya, here are the top destinations to consider including on your itinerary:


Game Safari in Kenya – Top 9 Destinations

Pin this Kenya Trip Planner featuring the Best National Reserves in Kenya for Game Safari


Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve is probably the most famous safari destination in the world. It’s known for its traditional safari experiences and easy game viewing. The Big Five all roam here, so if you’re keen to see black rhino, elephant, or buffalo, this is the place to come.

This popular reserve is renowned for its big cat sightings, thanks to the feast served up by the Great Migration. Come between July and October to see this incredible natural spectacle when the plains are alive with wildebeest and zebra. You might even witness a river crossing, where the migrating game braves the jaws of snapping crocodiles.

Masai Mara National Reserve | Photo by sutirta budiman on Unsplash

The reserve does get busy during peak season, but you can avoid the crowds by staying in one of the private conservancies like Mara North or Naboisho. Here, your experience will be more exclusive, with off-road game drives, hot air balloon rides and night safaris adding to the adventure.

Many travellers following a classic 5-day Kenya itinerary choose to focus their visit on the Masai Mara National Reserve. It’s easy to reach from Nairobi, with regular bush flights offering seamless, and scenic, transfers. You’ll be picked up from the airstrip and whisked off to your lodge or camp – often enjoying a game drive on the way.

Join this tour in Masai Mara National Reserve ➡️ 3 Days Masai Mara Safari Group Joining (Daily Departures)


Amboseli National Park

Photogenic Amboseli National Park is known for its large herds of elephants. These magnificent beasts are often seen trundling across the open plains against the spectacular backdrop of a snow capped Mount Kilimanjaro. This is traditional safari country and a popular choice for travellers hoping to tick off the Big Five.

Located in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Amboseli National Park is home to varied landscapes as well as abundant animal species. Here, you’ll come across everything from savannahs to swamps, each offering a unique habitat to the resident wildlife.

Amboseli National Park | Photo by Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash

Out on the plains, you have a good chance of witnessing a big cat hunt in action. Lions and cheetahs are frequently seen chasing down their prey, so keep your camera handy. Meanwhile, over in the wetland areas, flamingos and pelicans rule the roost while crocodiles lurk in the shallows.

If you want a multi-country safari experience, visits to Amboseli can be combined with Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro National Parks, just across the border in Tanzania. The best time for safaris in Tanzania and Amboseli is between June and October, during the long dry season.


Tsavo West National Park

Divided by the Nairobi-Mombasa railway, the Tsavo National Parks are the largest in Kenya. This is the former realm of the man-eating lions of Tsavo, who preyed on railroad workers in the 1890s. Today, the descendants of these notorious big cats prefer a more natural diet, so there’s no need to worry!

Tsavo West is the most visited of the two parks, mainly because it’s the most accessible. This region offers a peaceful safari experience away from busier reserves like Masai Mara and Amboseli.

Photo by Ahmed Galal on Unsplash

Biodiversity in Tsavo West is staggering. On a single game drive, you might spot everything from hippos wallowing in the river to rare corncrakes flitting about the trees. The big hitters are here too, including the largest population of elephants in Kenya – this is the ideal place to see the famous super tuskers.

The vast scale of Tsavo West does mean that animal sightings can be harder than in the smaller parks, but this just makes them even more rewarding. Yet animals aren’t the only reason to come to Tsavo West. The scenery in this under-appreciated park is photo-worthy too, with plains, peaks, rivers and wetlands to explore.



Tsavo East National Park

Tsavo East receives fewer visitors than its counterpart, making it a great destination for a true wilderness experience. This park is nine times larger than the Masai Mara and is the sort of place where you might not meet another safari vehicle all day.

The landscape here is flat and dry, punctuated by acacia trees and a few rocky outcrops. This is good news when it comes to wildlife sightings – animals are easy to find as hiding places are few and far between. You’ll often see game congregating around water sources too, making for first-rate photo opportunities.

Tsavo East National Park | Photo by A P on Unsplash

Keep your eyes peeled for the famous red elephants. They enjoy dust bathing in the iron-rich earth to stay cool and ward off the intense sun. This unusual sight is unique to Tsavo, and the reason many safari-goers come to this part of the country.

You’ll see more than just elephants in Tsavo East. Look out for tiny dik-diks resting in the shade and lesser kudu feeding on shrubs out on the plains. Bird enthusiasts will be in their element, with over 500 species to spot including the Somali bee-eater and the Taita falcon.


PS – Useful Travel Resources that will help you plan better for your Trip to Kenya as you tick off the Best Big 5 Safari Game Experience in Kenya – 


Nairobi National Park

As well as being the jumping-off point for safari destinations around the country, Kenya’s capital has its own national park. If you don’t fancy flying to the larger reserves or are short on time, then Nairobi National Park is the answer.

A visit to Nairobi National Park for a Wildlife Safari is one of the primary things to do in this Nairobi Travel Itinerary.

Often overlooked in favour of the better-known safari locations in Kenya, Nairobi National Park offers quick access and surprisingly rich wildlife viewing. After driving a short distance from the city’s business district, you’ll be in the kingdom of big cats and black rhinos.

Nairobi National Park | Photo by Grace Nandi on Unsplash

Over 100 mammal species can be found in Nairobi National Park, including cheetah, baboon, and giraffe. If you’re lucky you might encounter hyenas. Leopards live here too, although they’re rather elusive.

This is the only wildlife park that borders a city – there’s nowhere like it in the world. It’s a surreal experience, going on game drives across the grassy plains with towering skyscrapers in the background. There are picnic sites and hiking trails around hippo pools to enjoy if you want to make a day of it.


Lake Nakuru National Park

Nakuru is one of the most-visited Rift Valley lakes. Surrounding the lake are grassland plains and woodlands, which make for a diverse wildlife experience. This is a popular park for game drives, hiking and bird watching.

The immense lake is famed for its pink flamingos who come here to feed on the algae. Previously present in their millions, the flamingo numbers of today are vastly reduced due to rising water levels. Yet Lake Nakuru remains one of the best places to see flamingos in Africa – there are usually around a thousand of them still wading these waters.  

Lake Nakuru National Park | Photo by Bibhash (Polygon.Cafe) Banerjee on Unsplash

Back on dry land, there’s plenty of plains game to keep you entertained, including waterbuck, impala, and giraffe. You’re also in with a chance of seeing both white and black rhinos as well as hippos during your visit.

One of the most unusual sights in Lake Nakuru National Park is the rare tree-climbing lions. These kings and queens of the savannah have taken to hanging out in the trees, so don’t forget to look up when you’re driving through the forests!



Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Ol Pejeta is a remote conservancy in the heart of Laikipia County. It’s known for its trailblazing conservation programmes and offers immersive wildlife experiences to adventurous travellers. Safaris here are intimate and educational – they’re popular with budding naturalists.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

The Big Five are all found here, but the main draw is the rhinos. Ol Pejeta is home to one of the largest black rhino sanctuaries in East Africa, as well as the last two remaining northern white rhinos in the world.

The conservancy is also the only place where you’ll see chimpanzees in Kenya. You can visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary and meet the inhabitants who have been rescued from the black market.

What sets Ol Pejeta apart from other parks and reserves is the wide range of conservation activities on offer. One day you could be tracking lions and collecting ecological monitoring data. On another, you might be joining the K9 anti-poaching unit to put the dogs through their paces.

There’s culture here too, with visits to neighbouring ranch communities being the highlight of many Ol Pejeta itineraries. You’ll discover how livestock grazing is used to manage the land, and that farming can indeed sit side-by-side with nature.


Samburu National Reserve

Up in the north of Kenya, Samburu National Reserve is a bit of an insider secret. It’s the ideal safari destination for travellers who have already visited places like Masai Mara and want to experience something a bit different.  

Samburu is an arid region, with rocky escarpments, dry riverbeds, and a few mountains making for dramatic scenery. Game viewing is rewarding, and you’ll likely see elephants and lions each time you head out into the bush.

Samburu National Reserve | Photo by sutirta budiman on Unsplash

There’s a lot of endemic wildlife here too, including a collection of rare animals known as the ‘Samburu Special Five’. See if you can spot the gerenuk – an antelope that stands on its hind legs to reach high tree branches. The reticulated giraffe and Somali ostrich also make frequent appearances.

The reserve is also known for its Singing Wells cultural excursions. Water here is scarce, and you’ll often come across tribesmen herding their livestock across the plains in search of a better grazing area. It’s a real privilege to watch the Samburu warriors digging for water, and singing while they work.



The remote county of Laikipia is one of the wildest safari destinations in Kenya. This former ranch land has been transformed into conservancies, offering unrivalled wildlife encounters to intrepid visitors. Laikipia is popular with travellers who are returning to the country for something over and above the standard safari offerings.

High-altitude plateaus, deep forested valleys, and undulating plains provide varied terrain for safari drives and bush walks. Game viewing is phenomenal, and thanks to the size of the region, you won’t be competing with other vehicles for prime vantage points.

Photo by sutirta budiman on Unsplash

The Big Five are here in impressive numbers, as well as endemic species like the Grevy’s zebra. If you’re lucky, you might encounter the rare black leopard – there are only a handful of them here in Kenya.

Yet it’s the unique activities that set Laikipia apart from its rivals. Here, you can enjoy horse riding safaris, try camel trekking, and sleep under the stars on a fly camping adventure. Wildlife viewing by helicopter and wild dog tracking are also on the agenda. These experiences are a great way to feel in tune with nature and discover a hidden side of the country.

Pin this Kenya Travel Guide featuring the Best Places to go for Safari in Kenya

Kenya is undoubtedly one of the best places to go on safari in Africa. Whether you’re venturing out on your first-ever game drive or looking for immersive bush activities, Kenya is the ultimate destination.  

No two reserves are the same, with each offering different experiences, landscapes, and wildlife. Combine a couple of parks if you are able, to get a taste of the country’s diverse regions and cultures. Then, if time allows, finish your Kenya safari extravaganza with a few days chilling at the beach beside the Indian Ocean.


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