Best Kenya Safaris: 8 Top places for the ultimate safaris in Kenya
This is a guide on where to go for the best safaris in Kenya.
We’ll show you the 8 best places to visit on wildlife safaris in Kenya. This shortlist of top Kenya safari destinations will help you plan the very best Kenya safari tours.
8 Top Places for the Best Kenya Safaris
- 1 Masai Mara National Reserve
- 2 Amboseli National Park
- 3 Samburu National Reserve
- 4 Lake Nakuru National Park
- 5 Tsavo West National Park
- 6 Aberdare National Park
- 7 Meru National Park
- 8 Laikipia National Reserve
Let’s take a closer look at the 8 places to go for the best safaris in Kenya.
1. Masai Mara National Reserve (southern Kenya)
One of the most famous game reserves in the world, Masai Mara is Kenya’s top safari destination.
Masai Mara competes with Serengeti Park in Tanzania for the title of the best safari destination in Africa.
They are part of the same ecosystem. These two iconic national parks share an unfenced border that animals can move across freely.
Masai Mara Kenya Safari Highlights:
- The Great Migration - the largest mammal migration in the world! Over two million wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles migrate across the plains and rivers. Hungry predators hot on their heels.
- Big cat paradise - Masai Mara is famed as the best place to see lions, cheetahs and leopards in Africa. These predators are abundant in Kenya’s top national park throughout the year.
- Dream safari landscapes - Masai Mara offers the perfect setting for a classical wildlife safari.
2. Amboseli National Park (southern Kenya)
Amboseli is Kenya’s second-most popular national park, after Masai Mara.
Amboseli Kenya Safari Highlights:
- Large elephant herds - Amboseli is famous for its sizeable elephant population, which includes big old bull elephants with impressive tusks.
- Epic scenery - with Mount Kilimanjaro towering in the background, Amboseli is one of the best Kenya safari destinations to take stunning wildlife photographs.
- Maasai cultural interactions - the Amboseli region is a great place to meet the local Maasai people and gain insight into this proud tribe of Kenya.
3. Samburu National Reserve (northern Kenya)
The Samburu Reserve is a lesser-known gem. It is one of the best Kenya safari destinations, yet it is often overlooked!
This remote national park is less crowded than Masai Mara and Amboseli. Some call Samburu Kenya’s best kept secret. It’s an ideal choice for a more secluded Kenya safari tour.
Samburu Kenya Safari Highlights:
- Outstanding natural beauty - a diverse and pristine wilderness area with stunning landscapes. Samburu is listed as one of the most beautiful places in the world by CNN Travel in 2022.
- Rare wildlife - known as the Samburu Special 5: Grevy’s zebras, gerenuks, reticulated giraffes, Somali ostriches and Beisa oryxes.
- Abundant animals and birds - Samburu is home to high concentrations of animals. It hosts plenty of elephants, buffalos, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, hippos, and more. The scenic Ewaso Ng’iro River attracts a variety of birds and animals all year.
- Unusual features - hilly landscapes with giant termite mounds and tall doum palm trees, add to Samburu’s allure.
- Samburu culture - the friendly local tribe of semi-nomadic people that live in traditional villages and follow old customs.
4. Lake Nakuru National Park (central Kenya)
Lake Nakuru National Park is a popular favorite on Kenya safari tours. It is only 164 kilometres (201 miles) from Nairobi, a short two-hour drive from Nairobi city.
Lake Nakuru Kenya Safari Highlights:
- Stunning scenery - an expansive soda lake nestled the Great Rift Valley surrounded by grasslands and woods.
- Wildlife galore - hosts a diverse abundance of animals including both black and white rhinos, endangered Rothschild’s giraffes, lions, hippos, waterbucks, elands, and impalas.
- Tree-climbing lions - one of very few places in Africa where the lions climb up into the trees. This rare sight alone makes Lake Nakuru Park one of the best Kenya safari destinations.
- Birding hotspot - a birdwatching haven, Lake Nakuru National Park hosts over 500 bird species. The soda lake attracts diverse bird life, including massive flocks of pelicans and flamingos in some seasons.
5. Tsavo National Park (southern Kenya)
Tsavo National Park is formed by two national parks, namely Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks. Together, they form the largest national park in Kenya, at 22,000 km² (13,671 mi²).
Home to the pair of notorious man-eating lions of Tsavo that hunted over 100 railway workers in 1898.
Tsavo West Kenya Safari Highlights:
- Rugged wilderness - dramatic landscapes with scenic Chyulu Hills, rocky outcrops, waterholes, acacia woodlands, springs, marshes, caves, dormant volcanoes and lava flows.
- Natural springs - the Mzima Springs has an underwater observation chamber and is home to hippos, crocodiles, fish and varied birds.
- Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary & Ngulia Hills - a secure enclosure hosting endangered black rhinos at the foot of Ngulia Hills, one of Tsavo’s most attractive features.
- Variety of animals - Tsavo is home to lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, rhinos, zebras, giraffes and elephants.
Tsavo East Kenya Safari Highlights:
- Vast and wild landscapes - with open plains and beautiful landmarks such as the Galana River, Yatta Plateau, Lugard Falls, Kanderi Swamp, Taita Hills and the towering Mudanda rock formation.
- Elephant herds and other Big 5 - see an abundance of elephants (often coated in red dust). Sometimes spot lions and buffalos and, if you’re lucky, rhinos and leopards too.
- Remote wilderness - a pristine wildlife area that is less visited, making for the best Kenya safaris off the beaten track.
- Unusual antelopes - sightings of fringed-eared oryx, lesser kudu, gerenuk and critically endangered Hunter’s hartebeest.
6. Aberdare National Park (central Kenya)
One of the most beautiful and lush national parks in Kenya, Aberdare National Park offers a unique Kenya safari experience.
Near Mount Kenya in the central highlands of Kenya, Aberdare has a cooler climate than most of the best Kenya safari destinations.
Aberdare Kenya Safari Highlights:
- Big 5 safari - a black rhino stronghold where chances of seeing all 5 of the Big 5 (rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo, and elephant) are high.
- Unusual forest animals - home to forest-dwelling animals, including the black leopard, Colobus monkey, and bongo antelope.
- Beautiful scenery - the moorlands of Kinangop Plateau and the dense tropical forests of Salient dotted with waterfalls. Enjoy breathtaking vistas, thanks to the elevation of Aberdare Park.
- Excellent year-round wildlife watching - get up close to the animals at waterholes and viewing hides for superb wildlife photographs throughout the year.
7. Meru National Park (central Kenya)
One of the less-visited national parks in Kenya, Meru National Park is an underrated destination for the best safaris in Kenya.
Meru Park was home to Elsa the lioness, made famous in the novel Born Free and movies based on the book. Elsa was an orphaned lion cub raised by George and Joy Adamson and later released back into the wild, in Meru National Park.
- Visit the grave of Elsa the Lion.
- See Black and White Rhino in the Rhino Sanctuary.
- Former home of Joy & George Adamson and Elsa the lioness.
- Views of Mount Kenya.
- Rivers and riverine habitats and Adamson Falls.
Meru Kenya Safari Highlights:
- Uncrowded wildlife safaris - as a lesser-known park, Meru is ideal for the best Kenya safaris without the crowds. A superb choice for a more secluded Kenya safari experience.
- Unspoiled wilderness - an untrammeled wildlife sanctuary featuring streams, savannahs, woodlands, rivers and Mount Kenya as a scenic backdrop, ideal for authentic Kenya safaris
- Big 5 animal sightings - the Big 5 of Africa are often sighted, along with cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles and many other animals.
- Varied safari activities - game walks, boat cruises, whitewater rafting, and fishing on Tana River, day and night game drives, and visits to Adamson’s Falls.
- Birder’s paradise year-round - over 400 bird species recorded ranging from Hinde’s babbler and Pel’s fishing-owl to Eastern chanting goshawk and Hartlaub’s bustard.
8. Laikipia National Reserve (northern Kenya)
A must-visit for adventurous travelers seeking the best Kenya safaris. Laikipia Plateau is one of the top regions for safaris in Kenya, hosting abundant wildlife on its vast open savannahs.
Laikipia rivals Masai Mara as the best Kenya safari destination with its abundance of diverse wildlife in high densities and fewer tourists.
Laikipia: Kenya Safari Highlights
- High wildlife densities - excellent game viewing including healthy populations of African wild dogs, the Big 5 of Africa (especially rhinos and elephants), Grevy’s zebras, reticulated giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeests and many more.
- Rhino hotspot - home to about half of Kenya’s rhino population. Laikipia is one of the best places in Africa to see rhinos, hosting both black and white rhinos.
- Exclusive and luxury safaris - only a handful of private lodges and limited visitors allowed to provide a high-quality Kenya safari experience.
- Making a difference - successful conservation projects and wildlife conservancies protecting endangered species, coupled with community-run lodges that benefit the local communities.
- Remote wilderness - Laikipia is a sparsely populated region offering sweeping views over vast swathes of uninhabited landscapes.
- Unique safari activities - walking safaris, horseback riding, visits to chimpanzee sanctuaries and the rhino sanctuary, climbing Mount Kenya, camel trekking, night game drives, bike tours, helicopter flights, and more.
There you have it, 8 of the top places for the best safaris in Kenya. There are many other amazing places to visit on safaris in Kenya. Like the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lake Naivasha, Lewa Conservancy, Mount Kenya and Lake Bogoria National Reserve.
For tips and help planning the best Kenya safaris, contact us.