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Safaris, mountains, blissed out beaches, vibrant colours and big smiles, Kenya has it all. It is the perfect introduction to Africa. Endless grasslands are interspersed with classical acacia trees and the best bit is that safaris don't have to break the bank with sightings of giraffe, lion and more virtually guaranteed. We've got loads of tips and articles to help you plan your trip so sit back and enjoy. If you are new to Kenya, then start with our introduction to Kenya by Rough Guide to Kenya author, Richard Trillo. To whet your appetite, our Kenya specialist Ben has pulled together his top picks, enjoy!:
Accommodation and food at Karen Rock House were good. It was very quiet there as we were the only guests. Our transport, guide (Elijah) and driver (Oliver) were excellent. Elijah was very informative and patiently answered our questions about everything we saw. Our first day was very full, a long drive to Hell’s Gate, bike ride and gorge walk. Elijah suggested that we postpone the boat trip on Lake Navaisha to the morning we left Nakuru rather doing it on the way and this worked well. On the bike ride, our youngest struggled with an adult sized bike with bald tyres. Fine for us and our eldest though. The gorge walk was great as was the boat trip on Lake Navaisha.
Lake Nakuru Lodge accommodation, food and setting was excellent - as were the game drives with Oliver and Elijah. We saw a lot more here and close up than we did in Ol Kinyei and the Masai Mara.
Maji Moto Camp was an interesting experience. Again, we were the only visitors and the facilities & food were good. We visited the school before travelling to the Mara Adventure Camp but could have spent longer as there was a lot to see and our children enjoyed playing football etc with the school children.
The Adventure Camp was brilliant. We had a packed schedule of game drives (up at 5.30 every morning) and George and Wilson (guide and driver) were a lot of fun. They played football with us and were very entertaining on bush walks and game drives. We felt all the staff at the Adventure Camp worked really hard to make the experience an enjoyable one - from preparing the food, supplying endless hot water and tea and making sure we got to see what we wanted. The Ol Kinyei conservancy is beautiful (although we saw more at Lake Nakuru).
Our itinerary was good - it was busy and varied which suited us very well. We felt a bit rushed on Day 1 - in hindsight, it really was too much for one day. The day we travelled to the Masai Adventure Camp was also time pressured and we had a to cut short our visit to the school.
Overall, 5/5 - an unforgettable experience.
Tim Sheppard reviewing Maasai Family Adventure
If you’re looking for a more personal experience of Kenya, something a little different from the standard safari and beach package holidays, then you should definitely speak to Tourdust!
We decided to have a family holiday with our two teenage boys in Kenya in 2014, a decision that turned out to be far from straight-forward as the FCO extended their no-essential travel guidance area by area in the months leading up to our holiday. After researching the travel companies specialising in Kenya , we chose Tourdust to organise our holiday, partly based on their highly informative website but mainly based on a conversation with Ben, who within a matter of minutes clearly understood what we were looking for.
Ben’s recommendation of the Laikipia Wilderness Camp, followed by the Sosian Ranch and then the Msambweni Beach House was absolutely perfect for us. Everywhere we went the experience was personalised, the service was outstanding and the quality of facilities was second to none. Yes, we did safari drives to see the fantastic range of wildlife in the area, but we also swam in the rivers, rode camels, went on game walks and ate delicious meals cooked on an open camp fire before sleeping out under the endless African skies listening to the lions roaring! Then a flight down to the coast and we relaxed in the luxury of the a villa overlooking the Indian Ocean, with massages on the beach, personal staff on hand and nothing too much trouble.
We knew that we didn’t want a standard package safari and beach holiday but what we got was beyond all our expectations – a truly personal, family experience of Kenya that we will remember forever!
Joanna Heard reviewing Classic Kenya Family Safari
We have just arrived back after our 10 days in Kenya and Zanzibar.
Pongwe Beach is an absolute little gem. Far exceeded our expectations after the standard of accommodation we experienced in Kenya and from the pictures on the hotel's website.
However, perhaps I should talk about Kenya first. We felt absolutely secure, safe and relaxed. There was no hint of anything untoward. There were security guards at Nairobi Airport and searches when going into shopping malls etc., but that was very low key. We were the only guests at Rock House and at Plantation Lodge. At Lake Naivasha Resort there was one other European guest, a German tourist. At the Mara Springs Camp it was busy because of the Migration, but there were no other English guests. Plenty of Australians, Americans and other Europeans, French, Belgian, German etc. All the hoteliers commented on the affect the British media reports have had on UK tourists visiting any part of Kenya. It is a great shame. Other nationalities seem not to have taken fright!
I was afraid we would not see much wildlife in the Mara with so many vehicles swarming the park. However, we were amazed, not just by the number of Wildebeest, Zebra , Thomson's Gazelle etc, but by the variety of other animals we came across. Our team were wonderful. Samuel, our driver had a great sense of humour, knowledge of wildlife and the country, as well as being a very safe and careful driver. Elijah, our guide, had an incredible knowledge of all the flora and fauna and our cook, also Samuel, managed to conjure up very wholesome and plentiful meals with the limited facilities and provisions available to him at the Wilderness camp and at Mara Springs Camp.
After early morning starts, it was great to get to Pongwe Beach and completely relax for a few days. If you are going to promote the property in place of Lamu, we would have no hesitation in recommending it. It is English owned and well managed. The rooms are spotless, the gardens and pool well maintained and the beach swept every day. Despite being full there were plenty of loungers and hammocks hidden away, so it always felt intimate, never busy. The cuisine is excellent too and great attention is given to presentation and variety.
Thank you, Ben, for all your help and patience when we were jittery about whether to continue with Kenya. I am very glad we did as we had a great time and have many happy memories. I do hope the media coverage is not causing you too much loss of business and that the message can be spread that the Nakuru Park, Lake Naivasha and the Mara are quite safe areas.
Jennifer Cole reviewing 6 Day Maasai Mara and Rift Valley Safari
My son & I had a superb time, there isn't one word to describe the trip but many adjectives come to mind; stunning, humbling, breath taking, beautiful, hilarious (that was due to my sons face when we watched lions mating!), fascinating....Each day was exhilarating and amazingly each day got better.
Our main guide Duncan was very knowledgeable and easy going, David our cook was excellent and also a good source of information. All the guides we encountered we were pleased with.
There were so many highlights it's difficult to pick one but our time at the Maji Moto camp with Masai is probably my main highlight, walking in the bush with a knowledgeable tribe member, the widows camp and the school very humbling and setting extraordinary.
The whole trip was well organised, flexible not fixed, I'd give it a 6/5!
Travelling alone with my son can sometimes feel daunting but I never had any concerns during our trip and the balance of activities and travelling was perfect for a family holiday.
joanne clarke reviewing Maasai Family Adventure
Again, thank you for your help planning our wonderful holiday in Kenya. Both the Masai Mara and Lamu were a good fit for our family. Thank you for all the time you spent on the phone discussing possibilities and exploring options with me. This was a favourite family holiday. Having planned the logistics of other trips, it was wonderful to have you do this much more competently than I could have done myself.
Our transfers went smoothly. We were met in Nairobi both times by Denis from Gamewatchers. He and the drivers were personable and competent, sharing information about Nairobi and discussing our trip with interest. When our daughter got sick upon return to the airport, Denis took good care of us, interceding with security to help us get her inside as quickly as possible.
We most enjoyed our time at Masai Mara and The Intrepids. We were well looked after by the staff, our steward and waiter were personable and attentive, and the accommodations were a wonderful place to relax. The game drives were fun for all of us, and we especially enjoyed our guide, Katembo. Seeing such a concentration and variety of animals within the park was such thrill for everyone. Our teen daughter enjoyed the drives and appreciated wifi access, so she could post pictures from each day's sightings. Our 11 yr. old loved spending time with Judy in the Adventurers Club, and opted out of a couple of drives to stay back and do activities with her. Judy was excellent with her. On the last night, at our waiter's request, the chef cooked a traditional Swahili meal for us, which was the favourite meal of our stay. Intrepids was a good choice to accommodate all members of the family.
We were very pleased with the choice of Lamu for our beach stay. We stayed at Kiwandani House in Shela. We truly enjoyed the beauty of the traditional Swahili style house and the relaxed and quiet atmosphere of the town. We were well cared for by a very adept staff. Asya the manager was accommodating and helpful. Chef culinary skills were excellent on both taste and presentation. He provided us a personal 4 star restaurant and over fed us with the most delicious food. He did very well at accommodating our preferences. Sylvester, our steward, was gracious and tireless and humble. We were very impressed at the attention to detail he gave, from setting the table to preparing our rooms. He was helpful, kind, and accommodating in all things. We spent much of our time relaxing by the pool or enjoying the ocean breezes from the upper floor, but found plenty to do to occupy our three days there. The highlight was participating in the release of a nest of baby sea turtles on Manda Island. Again, Lamu was an excellent choice.
Our family enjoys nature so this was a highlight holiday. Never once did we worry about security or feel unsafe. We enjoyed the natural beauty of the country and the hospitality of the people. We loved Kenya and hope to return again. Thank you for following up with us once we were home to see hoe our trip went.
Michaela M reviewing Masai Mara & Beach Family Safari
Our Guide, Nicolas was fantastic. We bombarded him with questions which he was always able to answer and as a result we came away feeling that we had much more understanding of Kenya, not just the wildlife, but the people, politics and economy etc. The driver, Duncan was great too and seemed to know the Mara really well which meant we were often the only vehicles in an area and that we saw loads. Demetrius, the cook too were really helpful and made being vegetarian completely comfortable - the kids loved his food. And the kids say I have to feedback that the truck was awesome (it really was!).
Magi Moto was an interesting experience and one that we have thought about a great deal since returning home. It was not so rich in terms of wildlife - it's a fairly desolate place isn't it - but we were impressed by the projects there and the kids loved the warrior training. At times I felt uncomfortable that people's lives were being so openly presented to us, but I am not sure there is a way around this and also understand that our presence brought them a source of income. We met people there with an incredibly intimate knowledge of their environment that was quite inspiring. We did not do the complete walk to the Papesua Masai cultural village as it felt too long for Luca (7) and as it turned out there was no one there anyway. This was a good thing because it meant we had a quite period when we got to Mara Springs before going out for an afternoon drive. The children really appreciated the down-time and when a monkey stole Jasper's melon from the porch of our tent their day was made!
Cally Hargrave reviewing Maasai Family Adventure
Terri and I just got back from Mt. Kenya, the tour you arranged for us was fantastic.
Shawn Madore reviewing Mount Kenya Sirimon Naro Moru Trek
Daisy and I really enjoyed the trek, it was the highlight of our holiday. I'm full of admiration for the our Guide Francis, cook Wilson and his team of porters. Not only did they feed us like kings but Francis never put a foot wrong on the whole mountain and, as you know, they don't have all the high tech equipment we have such as good boots and 4 season sleeping bags. That really brought home the income gap and I was glad we had brought a decent tip with us. We both enjoyed chatting to Francis as we walked and at meal times and he gave us a very interesting perspective on Kenya life.
At the Rock House Patrick and his wife were very helpful especially sorting out our forward coach trip. It would be great if you could feed back our thanks to the guys.
Transport to and from the mountain was fine, better than I was expecting. The huts were a bit of a shock to the system but you quickly get used to them and its definitely better than tents! The acclimatization day was interesting, I think it may well have helped us summit fairly easily but we were the only group who did it. Overall I would recommend it if you have time.
I will recommend Tourdust to others and I'd give you 5/5.
chris kirtley reviewing Mount Kenya Sirimon Naro Moru Trek
A big thank you to the team at Tourdust for our fantastic trek to Mount Kenya.
We made it. It was a tough climb and not for those who are afraid of heights. I learnt loads about the flora and fauna of Africa from our expert guide Francis and we enjoyed great food prepared by Ngari.
Full write-up and pictures of my trip are here
Kathryn Bullock reviewing Mount Kenya: Sirimon - Chogoria Trek
We had an excellent trip, thanks!
The guide was very knowledgeable and flexible with breaks, timings, etc. He kept phone contact with the main office to ensure all connections/vehicles were in the proper place at the right time. The lodging was acceptable for a trek. Nothing great, mostly hard huts or tented camps, but nice to have a warm shower on days between our tenting nights. The one night we were supposed to be in The Pelican Lodge, we were changed to Lake Nakuru Lodge, which was fantastic!
During the trek, the cook made wonderful breakfasts and dinners. There was a decent variety of soups, vegtable and meat dishes. Lunch was a basic 'box lunch' with a sandwich, chicken, boiled egg and fruit. Lunch was acceptable and fueled us for the journey, it just got a little redundant by the end of the trek.
All pre-trip literature was informative and sufficient.
I have already and will continue to recommend this trip to others. For the trek: the days are long and tiring, but it was very worth the effort, and the sense of accomplishment is immeasurable. The safari itself was also great. The amount of time spent driving between the trek end to Nakuru and Nakuru to Masai Mari got old... however, this is unavoidable when trying to do it all.
Thanks again for aranging a very enjoyable trip!
Alan Bardsley reviewing Mount Kenya: Burguret Chogoria Traverse
My guide, Duncan Kingori, was fantastic. In the three days we were with him I don't think I ever asked him a question, on any topic, which he couldn't answer in detail. He was a fountain of information about the mating habits, gestation periods, family practices, hunting strategies etc. of every animal we encountered, but never in an intrusive way. He also appears to be an excellent driver and mechanic, and in a dozen hours or so we seem to have seen pretty much everything Maasai Mara can offer - not least all of the Big Five.
I was also very impressed by the two Mountain Rock camps, and think the new temporary camp inside the park is particularly fine. It was exactly what I wanted: comfortable, but not featherbedded or faux-colonial. I can't say I am a big fan of the Rock House in Karen - the staff were friendly enough and the food was OK, but all the tortured wood and fake (fibreglass) rock gives the place a heavy, gloomy air!
Meals, service & advice and overall impression was great. It would have been good to know that the last two hours of the drive to Maasai Mara are over an extremely uncomfortable unpaved (and washboarded) road; people might want to consider flying from the local airstrip to their next destination if the costs of doing so aren't prohibitive.
Andrew Joncus reviewing 3 Day Budget Private Masai Mara Safari
Altogether a great trip. We were extremely well looked after by Tourdust, and Francis and his team from the moment we were picked up at our hotel in Nairobi to the moment we were dropped off at Lewa safari Park. Francis was an excellent ‘Leader’, bright and knowledgeable, and with very good judgement. We would very happily recommend both Francis and his team, and Tourdust. The final ascent to the non-technical peak of Mt Kenya, Lenana, was perfectly judged despite the foot of snow that had fallen overnight. A great trip.
Julian Winser reviewing Mount Kenya Sirimon Naro Moru Trek
Having Tourdust as our partner and being able to communicate with the British office gave us confidence (no offense to our African brothers and sisters, it is just an European thing - we think we can better understand each other having the same mindset and mentality, so easier to communicate). The communication as expected, went very well and smooth - both by e-mail and phone. We were told what can we expect for the price we agreed on, and there were only positive suprises during the trip: the 4WD Land Rover that came to pick us up was at the meeting point at the right time (which should not be a surprise, but we were far from Nairobi on Rusinga Island and the meeting was at 6 AM) and the driver even made the extra 2 km-s to pick us up from our mountain cabin. The car was very comfortable for 6 people (I would not recommend though to use it for 7 people plus bags - could be a little tight, but for 6 was great). We had an excellent driver - kind and knowledgable, ready to 'satisfy' the 'strange' requests of the tourist: 'check that bush on the right', 'lets look what is under that tree', etc. This was my first safari (out of 3 so far) where we saw the 'BIG 5': and much of the credit goes to our driver, who kept beleiving that we will find the animals, and kept looking for them. On the last day of our safari - which was a morning drive we still missed the rhino, having not seen any in the previous two days. We only had about one hour before we had to leave the park. the group was ready to give up, but our driver and guide - Samuel - kept saying, do not give up, we will find one. He was driving on roads where we were the only group/car, and suddenly we saw in the middle of the grass a beautiful black rhino, just waiting us to shoot - some pictures of course... We were the first ones, we found it! those who have been to safari know what I mean when I say, we found it! It feels special when you find an animal and not going there because you got through the radio the location of the animal found by somebody else. We of course announced it, and in 10 minutes there were like 12 cars and vans to see 'our' rhino. You can ask anybody: this was on February 22, 8.30 in the morning in Masai Mara, when Samuel with a group of 6 from Romania found THE RHINO…
Attila Daray reviewing 3 Day Budget Private Masai Mara Safari
We had a great time! We really appreciated that the trip was booked with a local tour operator, which we learned was one of the biggest and best in Kenya. Patrick was exceptionally helpful, and came to meet us 3 times to check in and make sure things were going well.
There was an unfortunate change to our flight to Lamu which happened 2 weeks before leaving, but were only told the morning of, and it meant waking early, somewhat unnecessarily, except that our flight was changed to the intl. airport instead, and it also meant stopping in another city on the way, which added time to our flight, and detracted from our time in Lamu.
Nevertheless, we had an amazing time, and are very pleased with the trip!
I would rate both customer service and our experience a 5. I would definitely recommend you to others, and am looking forward to saving up again so I can book my next trip.
Jaclyn Rubin reviewing 11 Day Mount Kenya Trek and Masai Mara Safari Combined