Overview for Kenya
Kenya has a great diversity of landscapes including open savannah grasslands, the spectacular Rift Valley and snow-clad Mount Kenya. The highlight of any trip to Kenya is the great Wildebeest Migration. Over 2 million animals take the 1,800 mile journey each year in search of food and water. In rural areas the Masai and Samburu tribes co-exist with the wildlife. Kenya has designated 23 national parks, 28 national reserves, 6 marine and 4 national sanctuaries covering all categories of ecosystems.
Best time to visit
The best time to travel to East Africa is during the dry season. East Africa has two dry seasons – December to February/March and June to October. The annual migration of wildebeest and zebra herds takes place year round between the Serengeti (approx. November to June) and the Masai Mara (approx. July to October).
The most common form of transportation while on safari is either 4wd or ‘pop-top’ safari vehicle, allowing for excellent game viewing opportunities. Road journeys in Kenya can be long with potentially rough roads, so for those who prefer a more comfortable experience, we offer a range of fly-in safaris that save time and avoid the long and uncomfortable travel times.
One of Kenya’s greatest attractions is the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle crossing the Tanzanian border and rivers to reach the lush grasslands of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Hunted by many predators including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and circled by vultures as the journey unfolds. This takes place between late June and September.
Traditionally the wildebeest, zebra and gazelle follow the rains to take advantage of the new grasses on the plains of the Serengeti and Masai Mara. Based on traditional weather patterns occurring annually the following is a basic idea of how the migration moves throughout the year:
December – April: Ndutu region, Tanzania. This is generally when the calves are born but the herds remain sedentary until April when the calves are strong enough to start moving north.
Early April – June: Serengeti, Tanzania. The migration begins moving northwest following the “long rains” across the Serengeti plains towards the Western Corridor and the Grumeti River.
June - July: Western Corridor, Tanzania. The migration crosses the Grumeti River and moves northeast into the northern steppes of the Masai Mara.
October - Early December: Masai Mara, Kenya. As the “short rains” begin in northern Tanzania the migration begins to move south back in to the Kleins/Lobo region of the Serengeti. From here they follow the rains through to Seronera and end back at Ndutu for calving season.
The best way to see the migration is on our Migration, Lake and Crater Safari.
Due to the fact that weather patterns are continually changing, there is no hard and fast rule as to where the animals will be at any time. The above is a guide only.
The Rift Valley
Part of the Afro-Arabian rift system which stretches some 6000 km from the Dead Sea in the Middle East, south through the Red Sea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi to Mozambique.
Rift Valley drainage is poor, and due to the high evaporation and volcanic deposits, some of the lakes are known as “soda lakes”. The lakes are home to microscopic blue-green algae, insect larvae and crustaceans on which flamingo feed. Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake and is home to a variety of bird species. The lake water is used to irrigate the surrounding countryside. Elsamere (opposite Hippo Point) is the former home of the late Joy Adamson of Born Free fame, and is open daily.
Lake Nakuru NP - home to flamingos and pelicans, also waterbuck and rhino.
The Great Rift Valley and Lake Nakuru are best visited on our Kenya Classic Tour.
National Parks & Reserves:
Aberdare NP - home to a variety of fauna, flora and diverse scenery in a spectacular mountain setting. Animals easily observed in the park include; the Black Rhino, leopard, baboon, black and white Colobus monkey and sykes monkey. The Kenya Horizons tour visits this amazing mountain range.
Meru NP - a jungle of forest, swamp and tall grasses with a variety of herbivores and predators. Wildlife found in this park includes Grevy's Zebra, Elephants, Eland, Bush Pig, Waterbuck, Cheetah, Leopard, Reticulated Giraffe and Hippopotamus
Mt Kenya NP - Africa’s second highest mountain at 5199m with great trekking. Wildlife commonly seen includes Include Elephants, tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, suni, black fronted duiker, mole rat, bushbucks, water buck and Elands. This destination is best visited on our Wilderness Tented Safari.
Masai Mara National Reserve – location of the annual wildebeest migration from July to October. The Mara is open grassland with flat-topped acacia trees in the south-west corner. A balloon safari is a great way to experience the Mara.
Samburu National Reserve - expect close-up sightseeing’s of elephants, reticulated giraffe and gazelle. The Treasures of Kenya Fly-In Safari spends ample time in this famous reserve.
Amboseli NP - with a backdrop of Mt Kilimanjaro, The park is famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants among other wildlife species. Visit Amboseli on the Kenyan Odyssey to Mombasa.