If you want to experience all of Kenya's top destinations—while also getting the chance to lay back and relax—this exciting 12-day itinerary is for you. You will start the trip in the bustling capital Nairobi before departing for Samburu Reserve, Olpajeta Conservancy, Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru National Park, Masai Mara Park and you will conclude the trip with two nights at Mombasa and Diani Beach. During this tour, you will discover Kenya's majestic landscapes, see the big five, spot diverse bird species, visit chimpanzees, watch an animal migration at Masai Mara, swim in turquoise blue water, and more.

Highlights

  • Spot the Big Five during game drives
  • Visit chimpanzees at Olpajeta Conservancy
  • Watch over a million animals migrate at Masai Mara
  • Observe a traditional dance at a Maasai village
  • Ride a camel at Diani Beach

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi Nairobi
Day 2 Transfer to Samburu Reserve - Visit Mount Kenya Samburu reserve
Day 3 Explore Samburu National Reserve Samburu reserve
Day 4 Transfer to Olpajeta Conservancy Nanyuki
Day 5 Visit Mount Kenya Nanyuki
Day 6 Visit Lake Nakuru National Park Nakuru
Day 7 Animal Migration at Masai Mara Park Masai Mara
Day 8 Explore Masai Mara - Optional Cultural Experience Masai Mara
Day 9 Game Drive in Masai Mara Masai Mara
Day 10 Transfer to Mombasa Coast Mombasa
Day 11 Visit Diani Beach Diani Beach
Day 12 Departure from Diani  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi

Nairobi city
Nairobi city

After your arrival in Nairobi, the tour guide will drive you to your hotel. At the hotel, you can relax and recover from any jet lag you may have or you can start exploring the bustling city.

Nairobi, the capital, is also the largest city in Kenya. The name comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which translates to "cool water" and refers to the Nairobi River which flows through the city. This busy city, which has an estimated population of over six million people in the metropolitan area, is popularly referred to as the Green City in the Sun. The city was founded in 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa, as a rail depot on the Uganda Railway.

You can spend the afternoon and evening resting or use the time to explore the bustling central hub of Kenya by visiting one of the city's famous flea markets or eating out at an authentic Kenyan restaurant.

Day 2: Transfer to Samburu Reserve - Visit Mount Kenya

A view of Mount Kenya
A view of Mount Kenya

After breakfast, you will travel north from Nairobi through magnificent central highlands towards Samburu Reserve. There will be a stop where you can take in some of the beautiful landscapes while enjoying a hot cup of coffee as you get an inside look into the pineapple farms. You will also stop at the foot of the majestic Mount Kenya which is over 17,000-feet (5,200 meters) above sea level.

The local ethnic people, known as the Kikuyu tribe, are agriculturalists who make use of the highly fertile volcanic soil on the lower slopes. They believe that God, commonly referred to as "Ngai" or "Mwene Nyaga", lived on Mount Kenya when he came down from the sky and that the mountain is Ngai's throne on earth. It is the place where Gĩkũyũ, the father of the tribe, is believed to meet up with God.  

The drive up to the northwest of Kenya includes a 20-minute stop at the equator closing line. At the equator, you can experiment with water and the different ways it moves in the two separate hemispheres. It is believed among some local people that standing in the middle of the equator for an hour will align your spinal-cord and cure back problems.

In the afternoon, you will arrive in time for a game drive to your hotel in Samburu Reserve.

Day 3: Explore Samburu National Reserve

Secretary Bird
Secretary Bird

You will have a full day to explore the famous Samburu Reserve and all the wildlife it has to offer. The reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised "Elsa". This lioness is famously known for the best-selling book and award-winning movie called "Born Free". 

Samburu offers a sublime birding experience with coveted endemic and arid specialists such as the Somali ostrich, guineafowl, Hunter’s Sunbird, and William’s Lark as well as a cast of fascinating creatures such as gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx, striped hyena, and much more.

To enjoy a full day of bird watching and animal sightseeing, it is a good idea to bring a packed lunch and drinking water from the hotel.

Day 4: Transfer to Olpajeta Conservancy

Chimpanzees in Olpajeta Conservancy
Chimpanzees in Olpajeta Conservancy

After breakfast, you will depart for Olpajeta Conservancy which is on the equator, west of Nanyuki and between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya. You should arrive in time for lunch and an afternoon game drive where you can spot chimpanzees, some of the last remaining northern white rhinos, and the big five.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which is 140 square miles, is a non-profit wildlife conservancy that operates in Central Kenya's Laikipia County. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes and to generate income through wildlife tourism as well as create complementary enterprises that focus on reinvesting funds into conservation and community development including health, education, and infrastructure development projects.

The conservancy boasts the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. In 2013, they reached a population milestone of 100 black rhinos. It also houses the two remaining northern white rhino in the world, who were moved here from Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. On top of this, the conservancy's Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned, and rescued chimpanzees. It is the only place in Kenya where you can view these incredible great apes. During game drives, you may also spot the Big Five among a large selection of other African animals.

Plan your trip to Kenya
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Visit Mount Kenya

Bird watching at Mount Kenya
Bird watching at Mount Kenya

This morning you will depart for Mount Kenya. The forests surrounding this famous mountain offer great birding experiences. Some notable species living in these forests include the Lesser Kestrel, Jackson’s Widowbird, Abbots Starling, Jackson’s Francolin, Hunter’s Cisticola, the Crowned Eagle, African Grass Owl, the Cape Eagle Owl, and many more species.

You will arrive in the late afternoon. After settling in, you can explore the nearby forests and go bird watching on foot.

Day 6: Visit Lake Nakuru National Park

White Rhinos in Lake Nakuru
White Rhinos in Lake Nakuru

After breakfast, you will depart the hotel for Nakuru. This trip also includes a stopover at a magnificent view of the Great Rift Valley. You will arrive at the hotel in Nakuru in time for lunch.

Your afternoon will be spent exploring Lake Nakuru National Park. This remarkable park is internationally known for its animal sanctuary which includes both black and white rhino species. While exploring the park you will also discover many different bird species including the spectacular pink greater and lesser flamingoes. The park is also home to large flocks of pelicans, waterbuck, leopards, and the endangered Rothschild giraffe.

Day 7: Animal Migration at Masai Mara Park

Cheetah family in Masai Mara
Cheetah family in Masai Mara

After breakfast, you will depart for Masai Mara Park which is fondly known as "the jewel of Kenya's parks". This world-famous wildlife reserve is teeming with wildlife and birds. You will arrive at Masai Mara Park in the late afternoon.

The park is an extension of the vast Serengeti Ecosystem which is known for some of the most spectacular game migrations in the world. Every year, over a million animals including wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle migrate from the Serengeti in northern Tanzania across the Mara River and into Kenya in search of fresh feeding grounds. The migration takes place between late June and September.  During this crossing, hundreds of animals are swept away by the fast-moving Mara River while others are killed by African Crocodiles—meaning only the fittest make it into Kenya.

Day 8: Explore Masai Mara - Optional Cultural Experience

A lioness in a tree at Masai Mara
A lioness in a tree at Masai Mara

You will have the day to explore this spectacular park. You will also be able to pay close attention to the migrating animals and spotting the big five. Because of the thriving wildlife activity, a second day in the park gives you the chance to witness the natural behavior of the park's wildlife. This can include a lion killing, a cheetah chase or the serene activities of elephants grazing and birds building nests. 

This international conservation destination has been placed as one of the seven new wonders of the world and offers a unique opportunity to fully experience Africa's endless plains, an abundance of wildlife, and incredible vistas. Travelers will have a once in a lifetime experience to observe the big five in their natural habitat including the endangered rhinos.

Optional activity:
In the morning, you can visit a Maasai village to discover the wonderful culture of the indigenous villagers. This visit includes personal interactions with "the Morans". These are the young Maasai men trained as soldiers to protect the Maasai communities. The Morans once had to kill a lion as a rite of passage into manhood.

A traditional dance performed by men and women will welcome you to their village and a guide will lead you through the village as you discover how the Maasai live as well as learn about their beliefs and traditions. There are also demonstrations of how the Masaai make fire using just sticks and animal dung. You will get the unique opportunity to go into Maasai villagers' houses and witness the full family set-up. At the end of the guided tour, you will have a chance to buy some gift items and curios made in their village at the market.

Day 9: Game Drive in Masai Mara

Verreaux's eagle in Masai Mara
Verreaux's eagle in Masai Mara

You can choose how to spend your last full day in Masai Mara.

Most game drives are between two to three hours long. The sheer diversity of wildlife in the park means that going for a game drive is a good idea—since it's more than likely you'll spot different species or witness unique interactions that you didn't see previously. You can opt for a full day drive which starts at 10 am and ends at 4 pm. Bird watchers may want to get an early start to the day and start the game drive at 6:30 am, for a three-hour game drive, to catch the spectacular birds at sunrise.

Day 10: Transfer to Mombasa Coast

Warm Indian Ocean at Mombasa
The warm Indian Ocean at Mombasa

You will depart from Masai Mara in the morning to catch your local flight to Mombasa. The flight to the Kenyan coast, which departs from the park, offers spectacular views of Masai Mara and Serengeti Park from the air. 

After arriving in the picturesque Mombasa, known as Kenya's white and blue city, you will have the chance to relax as you enjoy an African beach experience.

Day 11: Visit Diani Beach

Ride a camel along the white-sand shores of the Indian Ocean
Ride a camel along the white-sand shores of the Indian Ocean

Today you'll have the whole day to discover a sunseeker's paradise, Diani Beach, at your own pace. There are a host of water-related activities to choose between as well as plenty of restaurants to try and sights to see. Otherwise, you can enjoy a quiet day suntanning or dipping into the clear turquoise water.

Suggested activities:

  • Start the morning with a stroll along the beach.
  • Set up camp for a proper lie out and take full advantage of the stretches of dazzling white-sand beach and crystal-clear shallows interspersed with rising sandbars.
  • Go for a dip or snorkel to see some of the stellar underwater life which could include spotting wild dolphins.
  • If you're feeling adventurous, you can try kitesurfing, rent a jet ski, or arrange to go scuba diving.
  • Check out Kaya Kinondo, a forest revered by the Digo people and the only sacred forest open to tourists. You can enjoy a guided nature walk through the small grove, stepping over chunks of ancient coral and tangled roots as you discover medicinal plants and an ancient tree believed to take away fears and worries.
  • Visit the 16th-century Kongo Mosque further north. This is Diani's last surviving relic of the ancient Swahili civilizations that once controlled the coast. Consider bringing a packed lunch with you to enjoy a picnic under the baobab trees that are clustered here.
  • Join a tour to the Colobus Conservation Center to view the injured or orphaned colobus, Sykes', and the vervet monkeys who are receiving rehabilitation. The center helps protect the Angolan black and white colobus monkey since the species is in decline. You'll be able to spot them crossing the road on rope ladders that were put up by the center's staff.

Day 12: Departure from Diani

The white sand beach of Diani
The white sand beach of Diani

When it's time to depart, you will catch a domestic flight back to Nairobi before getting onto your international flight. Depending on your departure details, you may have the chance to soak in some sun on the beach in Diani before heading home.

Map

Map of Best of Kenya: Landscape, Safari, & Beach - 12 days
Map of Best of Kenya: Landscape, Safari, & Beach - 12 days