Are you worried that you are going to miss the iconic spots or other best places to visit in Kenya?
Especially, if you want to have perfect Instagram images from wild animals against stunning landscape backdrops, then you don’t want to miss a thing!
I recently traveled to Kenya and saw so many incredible places. I explored everything from huge safari destinations to peaceful lakes, and now I want to share all that with you.
I’ve put together a list of the must-see places and the best things to do in Kenya so you don’t miss a thing.
I’m excited to help you discover all the awesome places in Kenya and trust me, there are so many more than what is covered in this list.
If this is your first time traveling to Kenya then you must know these best travel tips to Kenya that I wish I knew. The most important thing, is Hakuna Matata, and enjoy your trip.
Now, let’s make sure your trip is one you’ll never forget!
1. Masai Mara National Reserve
Things to do: Games (safari rides), cultural tours, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, and more!
If you’re looking to experience the raw beauty of Africa, then you must visit the Masai Mara National Reserve. This park has over 580 square miles, where you can witness the Great Migration, an extraordinary event where over a million wildebeest, zebras, and gazelle travel across Africa.
Trust me, this is the most breathtaking and dramatic form of nature that you may ever see in your life!
Watching the Great Migration at the Masai Mara is one of the greatest highlights of my life and one that I hope you get to experience!
At Masai Mara, you also have a good chance to see the Big Five, which includes the lion, leopard, elephant, black rhino, and hippopotamus. I saw the Big 5, which crosses a big thing off my bucket list!
Unfortunately, not everyone can see the Big Five, so make sure to spend a couple days at the Masai Mara if seeing the Big 5 is a goal of yours.
If you want a truly unique and thrilling experience, I recommend booking a hot air balloon safari over the Masai Mara. Floating above this park, you can watch the great migration and other animals running across the landscape into the sunrise.
You truly get a bird’s eye view of the stunning beauty of nature.
The best time to visit Kenya is during the dry season. If you want to see the great migration then I highly recommend traveling from late July to October.
The dry season is also considered the busiest season, so make sure to book in advance.
2. Amboseli National Park
Things to do: Game (safari rides), cultural tours, hot air balloon rides, bird watching, guided nature tours, plus more!
Amboseli National Park is one of the best places to visit in Kenya where you can experience wildlife against the stunning backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s famous for its large herds of free-ranging elephants as Amboseli is home to the largest population of wildlife, including the African elephants.
Trust me, if you love elephants, then you must visit Amboseli National Park, as you will see more elephants than you can count!
During my trip to Kenya, I saw dozens of elephants in their natural habitat walking in front of Mount Kilimanjaro (which is Africa’s highest peak). I even saw some elephants in the process of mating! This was truly an unforgettable experience and something that I could brag about to all my friends back home.
Amobseli also offers some of the best opportunities to view Kilimanjaro, especially during the early morning.
In Amboseli, you can also spot other wildlife like cheetahs, giraffes, and over 400 species of birds!
For the clearest views of Kilimanjaro, schedule your game drives early in the morning. This is also a great time for wildlife spotting, as animals are more active in the morning during the cooler temperatures.
Things to do: Giraffe Center, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi national museum, Nairobi national park, and everything else a typical city has to offer!
Nairobi is the capital of Kenya and is one of the largest tourist destinations in Kenya.
The best part of Nairobi, is there are plenty of great things to do in this bustling city including a safari game drive in Nairobi National Park. It’s a short drive from the city, and you can see zebras, giraffes, and rhinos, against the backdrop of the city skyscraper.
While in Nairobi, you should also visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which cares for and rehabilitates orphaned elephants and rhinos. Not only is this a popular tourist attraction, but you will have the chance to view these animals up close while understating the best way to have ethical encounters with wild animals.
From my experience visiting David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, you should definitely get there at least 20 minutes early so you can get a spot with the best views and even have the opportunity to pet the animals (only if they come up to you).
While exploring Nairobi, you should definitely check out the vibrant markets and diverse restaurants. They offer a real taste of Kenya’s culture and cuisine. From local dishes to international flavors, there’s something for everyone (including my vegans!).
4. Hell’s Gate National Park
Things to do: Bicycling, hiking, rock climbing, game drive, plus more!
Hell’s Gate National Park spans around 68.25 square kilometers and offers stunning views of cliffs, and gorges, the opportunity to see wild animals, and plenty of outdoor activities. Hell’s Gate is famously known to inspire many landscape scenes from the Disney movie The Lion King, including Pride Rock.
Hell’s Gate is a perfect day trip that can easily be traveled from Lake Naivasha as a 30-minute drive or from Nairobi as a 2-hour drive.
When visiting Hell’s Gate, try to get there early in the morning, so you can enjoy fewer crowds and have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the countless activities there are to see and do.
In Hells Gate, you can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, cycling, camping, and game drives. What is more exciting than cycling next to a herd of zebras or giraffes nearby. While there are no predators here, the animals are still wild, so proceed with caution and maintain a safe distance from animals when you’re hiking or biking.
During my time in Hell’s Gate, I was able to hike along with my tour guide and complete a moderately easy hike that lasted an hour and a half and visit stunning landmarks while taking in the view every couple of minutes.
There is a small souvenir market inside the park that is alongside one of the more popular trails, so make sure to carry some cash if you would like to buy handcrafted souvenirs.
5. Lake Naivasha
Things to do: Safari boat ride, glamping, and bird watching.
Lake Naivasha stretches over 139 square kilometers (53 miles), and is home to over 400 species of birds, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.
While visiting Lake Naivasha, you must do the boat safari ride. During the ride, you will have the chance to see dozens of birds, flamingos, hippos, and many other land animals in their natural habitat.
Plus, you have the right to brag that you did a land and water safari ride.
One of my favorite things about Lake Naivasha was the plenty of opportunities to see dozens of Hippos! Plus, if you’re lucky, your boat captain will throw a fish into the water and you will actually see a hawk swoop into the water to grab the fish from trees halfway across the lake!
The best time to go on a boat ride is during the early morning when the lighting is perfect and the animals are just starting to get active. So you have plenty of opportunities to take pictures of animals along the beautiful sunrise!
Just remember to bring a jacket as the mornings are chilly, especially along with the breeze of going fast in the motorized canoe boats.
Things to do: visit Fort Jesus, explore markets, go karting, dive/snorkeling, relax at beautiful beaches, and enjoy other coastal city activities.
Mombasa is a coastal city with African, Arabian, and Indian cultural influence. In Mombasa, you can enjoy the picturesque beaches and rich history of these mega cultural influences.
Mombasa is best known for its stunning, white sandy beaches, such as Dani Beach. Mombasa coast is along the Indian Ocean and offers clear warm waters that are perfect for swimming or just relaxing on the sand.
You can also explore historical sites like Fort Jesus, which is one of the most well-preserved Portuguese forts built in the 16th century. If you enjoy relaxing along the coast or are a history buff, then you must visit Mombasa while in Kenya.
7. Diani Beach
Things to do: horseback riding, camel riding, skydiving, dolphin watching, scuba diving, snorkeling, beach walks, and other water-related activities.
If you want to add a beach getaway during your safari adventure, then you must visit Diani Beach. Located about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from south of Mombasa, is Diani Beach which is known for its stunning white fine sand and clear waters along the Indian Ocean coastline.
It’s a favorite for both locals and tourists, known for its relaxing atmosphere and abundant activities. Not only can you enjoy horseback riding, but you can also ride camels along the beach!
This is such a fun bucket list activity that you must do!
I have not had the privilege of visiting Diani Beach during my visit to Kenya, but this is at the top of my list when I go back to Kenya.
The best time to visit Diani Beach is year-round but is particularly great during the cooler seasons from July to September.
8. Mount Kenya National Park
Things to do: Hike, bird and animal watching.
Mount Kenya is the second-highest mountain in Africa and offers people the chance to enjoy nature in its purest form.
Most of the hiking trails in Mt Kenya take around 4-7 days, as the trails can be steep and intense at some points. Hikers in a party of two or more are required to have a guide. If you are a solo traveler and planning on hiking without a guide, then make sure to have all the essential items to keep you safe as a solo traveler.
Mount Kenya is over 2,800 square km and the highest peaks are Batian and Nelion peaks ranging from 5,188 to 5,199 km. Most of the trails on Mt Kenya are pretty challenging, such as the Sirimon Route which is approximately 31 miles there and back, and Lenana Peak which is the third highest peak on the mountain.
Before hiking on Mt Kenya, remember to pack plenty of warm layers as the morning and night can be extremely cold.
Also, remember to take your time hiking up the mountains and proceed with caution at all times. The key to enjoying Mount Kenya is to take it slow and allow your body to adjust to the altitude.
9. Kakamega Forest
Things to do: Hiking and birdwatching
Kakamega Forest is one of the last fragments of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest in Kenya. This is one of the last rainforests in Kenya, however, it does make up a much larger rainforest stretching across East and Central Africa.
The Kakamega forest is over 223 square kilometers (91 miles) and offers rich wildlife, including over 330 bird species, 400 butterfly species, and 7 primates, including the colobus monkeys.
I suggest hiring a local guide for the best experience in Kakamega. They not only help spot the diverse wildlife but also provide insights into the ecological significance and conservation of the forest.
Since Kakamega is a rainforest, you can plan your visit according to how much rain and wildlife you would like to experience. During the rainy season from April to May, you may see more birds during their migrations, however, visiting during December to February are the driest summer months and are also a good time to visit.
10. Lake Nakuru National Park
Things to do: Hiking, birdwatching, game drives, camping, cycling with Rhinos!
Lake Nakuru National Park is another great place to visit in Kenya if you enjoy bird watching.
This park stretches over 188 square kilometers and is a haven for bird enthusiasts, as you can see over 400 bird species at any given time. Lake Nakuru is also home to over 5 threatened bird species and it is a thriving habitat for over 500 plant species.
The park offers game drives and camping so you can explore its diverse landscapes and spot other wildlife. My favorite thing is that you can even cycle with the Rhinos at Lake Nakuru during their annual event in September.
While I did not have the privilege of doing this during my trip to Kenya, this is at the top of my bucket list when I visit Kenya again.
11. Tsavo National Park
Things to do: game drives, wildlife sanctuary, camping, hiking, and so much more!
Spanning over 22,000 square kilometers, Tsavo National Park is massive and split into two sections – Tsavo West and East. Each section offers views of stunning landscapes and wildlife experiences unique to each section of the park.
In Tsavo East national park, you can enjoy the views of elephants covered in red dust against the backdrop of the Galana River. The elephants get this red color dust on themselves from the Tsavo naturally occurring rich volcanic soil.
Tsavo soil is naturally this red color and the vast Yatta Plateau. It’s a scene straight out of an African wildlife documentary.
While in Tsavo East, you must also see Yatta Plateau which has the longest lava flow in the world over 300 kilometers or 186 miles long.
Tsavo West, on the other hand, is more mountainous and wet, with Mzima Springs being a highlight. Here, you can see hippos and crocodiles in crystal-clear waters.
So while in Kenya, I highly encourage you to visit Tavao National Park for the iconic pictures of red elephants and the unique adventure of experiencing the Yatta Plateau.
This park is perfect if you’re looking for wildlife safaris with more diverse landscapes and less crowds.
As you travel to these best places to visit in Kenya, I hope that you discover the same beauty and love for this incredible country as I have.
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