Gazelle in front of a safari jeep

Essential First Time Safari Tips for Safaris in Kenya

A safari is one of those travel experiences that unites nearly every type of traveller – after all, who wouldn’t want to explore beautiful natural landscapes while catching glimpses of some incredible animals in the wild? When you think about all the opportunities for cultural experiences, wildlife sightings, and unforgettable adventure, it’s no wonder that safaris rank so highly on everyone’s must-do lists!

One of the best places to go on safari is, indisputably, Kenya. If you’re a traveller dead-set on seeing the best wildlife, embarking on the best experiences, and enjoying the best atmosphere, Kenya is almost definitely the best place for you to have the ultimate safari adventure! Today, we’re bringing you a few of our favourite tips and tricks for exploring Kenya on a safari.


Travel to: Kenya


Determine when you’ll travel

While Kenya is a year-round destination, the country’s weather patterns vary greatly month-to-month, which means that before you set off on safari, you’ll need to decide when, exactly, you want to visit. Kenya experiences a dry season along with two rainy seasons.

  • The dry season lasts from mid-December until March. During this time, temperatures will soar, and there will be very little rain. This season is great for wildlife viewing, as animals congregate around available water, but it’s also the high season – expect to pay more for travel, and anticipate crowds.
  • The “long rains” occur from March until May. This is Kenya’s down season, and travellers will find discounted rates and fewer crowds (though keep in mind that many lodges and amenities will be closed for the season).
  • The “short rains” occur from October to December. This period of time usually isn’t as rainy as the long rains, and temperatures are beginning to rise.
A giraffe at sunrise in Kenya
Your guide will know the best times to spot animals! | © Harshil Gudka/Unsplash

Decide what you want to see

Part of determining what time of year you want to visit Kenya involves deciding what you want to do once you get there! Everything from the types of animals you’ll see to the available activities and even the cost of your trip will be dependant on what you’re dreaming of doing once you arrive in Kenya.

If seeing the Big Five (five of the most impressive animals one can see on safari – elephants, buffalo, leopards, lions, and rhinos) is important to you, then visiting during the dry season is a good idea. When water is scarce, as it is during this time, more animals can be found in large groups.

Kenya is also one of the homes of the Great Migration – every year, from July to October, millions of animals migrate from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. If seeing this incredible natural phenomenon is at the top of your bucket list, you should carefully time your visit.

Are you a bird lover? You’re in luck – Kenya is home to hundreds of amazing species of birds, and the best time to see them is actually the wet season – not only will you be able to see countless species, you’ll also enjoy fewer crowds and less expensive travel.

Research tour operators

When you travel anywhere, you want to make sure that you’re in good hands, right? It’s important to go on a safari with an experienced tour operator – not only will you feel safer while you’re exploring a new country, the knowledge of local guides means they know all the best tips and tricks to help you have the best safari experience possible. Group tours are a great way to get the most out of your safari – from the safety of airport transfers and pre-arranged accommodation to knowing where to find the best food to the joy of meeting like-minded travellers during your trip, travelling on a group tour, especially while you’re exploring Kenya, is always a great idea.

A bird on a branch in Kenya
Kenya is a birdwatcher’s haven! | © Sneha/Unsplash

Prepare well in advance

What visas do you need to travel to Kenya? What vaccinations do you need before you leave? How are you getting from the airport to your accommodation? What’s the weather going to be like?

You should know the answer to all of these questions off the top of your head well before you leave for Kenya! The answers will vary from person to person and depending on where you’re travelling from, but it’s always a good idea to know your stuff well in advance. Another benefit of travelling with a tour group is you’ll have people responsible for making that planning as easy as possible – you’ll always have someone around to answer your questions and makes sure your trip goes off without a hitch.

a rhino in Kenya
You may not see rare rhinos on your safari, but it will still be amazing! | © Harshil Gudka/Unsplash

Manage your expectations

Your safari in Kenya is going to be amazing because of the incredible nature, amazing people you’ll be travelling with, and the opportunity to see animals in the wild – not because of one specific accomplishment, like seeing every member of the Big Five. Every safari is different! Focus less on things outside of your control, like the weather, crowds, and specific animals, and instead on how amazing it is to step out of your everyday life and explore a new country. Trust us: you’ll enjoy your trip much more if you stay in the moment!

Although travelling on a safari in Kenya can seem like a massive undertaking, the process can be straightforward, easy, and even fun with a little planning and the right tour operator. Following our tips can go a long way towards making sure you have the best experience possible, but remember to always listen to the recommendations of your guides while you’re travelling – they’re the experts!

Are you dreaming of going on a safari?

Maggie is a life-long traveller who, after three years abroad, has returned home to Toronto, where she works as a Content Editor at TourRadar. When she's not reading, writing, or dreaming about her next trip, she can usually be found cooing over other people's dogs or hunting down Mexican food.

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