Many travellers plan to spend two weeks in Kenya – one week for safari and one week on the coast. The week on the coast is fairly straightforward with water sports and lounging on the beach in Diani, Tiwi, Malindi or Watamu. Less straightforward is the decision of how to spend the week on safari. This article will provide some one-week itinerary suggestions to give you confidence in planning your Kenyan safari. Most people arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and that will be the premise for the itineraries proposed here.
If you want to travel overland to the coast, then Amboseli National Park followed by Tsavo East, Tsavo West or Lumo Sanctuary make two nice stops between Nairobi and Mombasa. From Amboseli you can get stunning views of Mt Kilimanjaro – this is where you get that quintessential photo of elephants crossing the plain in front of the majestic mountain. Tsavo East and West National Parks together make up the largest park in Kenya. Next door is Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary and Taita Hills; animals can roam freely between all four parks.
If you prefer to fly from Nairobi to the coast, then Maasai Mara, Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru are the typical trio for a week-long safari. To experience the top three parks of Kenya a circuit visiting Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Maasai Mara fills a week very nicely. If your budget does not extend to all three parks (entry fees are US$80 per day) or if you prefer to stretch your legs in between long days of game driving, swap Lake Nakuru with Lake Naivasha. There you can do walking safaris, cycling safaris, hiking and boating as different ways to experience Kenya’s wildlife.
For something a bit different you could head north to Samburu, passing Mt Kenya on the way and stopping at Ol Pejeta where Kenya’s only chimpanzee sanctuary is located. From Samburu, travel west to Thomson’s Falls and Lake Baringo, before heading south to Lake Nakuru National Park and then finish in Nairobi.
To get the most out of the week the following itinerary travels up to northern Kenya and returns to the more popular southern parks. This itinerary involves a lot of travelling however and you would definitely feel like you deserve a week of lounging on the beach after this!
Day 1: Depart Nairobi early in the morning and travel to Samburu National Reserve, arriving in time for an afternoon game drive.
Day 2: Spend a full game driving in Samburu.
Day 3: In the morning depart Samburu for Lake Nakuru National Park where you take an afternoon game drive.
Day 4: Travel from Nakuru to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in the morning, then go on an afternoon game drive.
Day 5: Spend a full day in the Maasai Mara.
Day 6: After an optional early morning balloon flight and/or visit to a Maasai village, travel from the Maasai Mara to Lake Naivasha.
Day 7: A morning boat ride amongst the flamingos and hippos on Lake Oloiden, a hidden gem just next to Lake Naivasha, before travelling back to Nairobi in the afternoon.
There are plenty of other places in Kenya and a week is a very short time to experience all of Kenya’s highlights. But hopefully this has given you some ideas for your first Kenyan safari which will then whet your appetite for coming back again and again to the world’s premier safari destination.