Wildlife sightings in Kenya are plentiful year-round. In August and September, the Great Migration arrives in the south from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Northern Kenya offers arid landscapes of astounding grandeur, inhabited by the colorful Samburu and Maasai people.
Witness the Great Migration
The Maasai Mara National Reserve has a unique concentration of wildlife because, unlike much of the Serengeti to the south, it has a year-round supply of water. The Mara River never runs dry, and the grazing supports a huge resident population of herbivores and the predators that feed on them, as well as attracting the Great Migration from August to October.
Conserving the Maasai Mara
The Maasai Mara is not a national park, and the land still belongs to the Maasai. Visitors pay an entry fee, so there is an incentive to maximize their numbers, with dire environmental consequences. Fortunately, there has been a growth of “conservancies,” areas of land contiguous to the reserve that their owners have elected to devote to wildlife tourism. Combined, they are already nearly as extensive as the Maasai Mara itself. Conservancies can channel profits into schools and clinics and enforce responsible rules about the number of visitors.
Surveying the Maasai Mara from the top of the dramatic Siria Escarpment that defines its western boundary — a setting that devotees of the movie “Out of Africa” will recall as the place where the lions come to visit the grave of Denys Finch Hatton — it really can appear that the Ark has just opened its doors.
Mount Kenya Conservancy
Lewa Downs is a 100-square-mile conservancy that lies beneath snowcapped 17,057-foot Mount Kenya. In 1995, owner David Craig decided to abandon cattle ranching and dedicate the property to conservation. Today, there are more than 150 rhinos, protected by 100 or more rangers equipped with planes, helicopters and drones. No rhinos have been lost since 2017, although lions and elephants tend to be killed as soon as they leave the reserve. Guests at the Lewa properties can visit the rhino sanctuary and walk in the bush with baby rhinos and their handlers.
The times to avoid in Kenya are the long rains in April and May and the short rains in November. The rest of the year typically brings cool nights and warm, sunny days broken by occasional afternoon and evening showers.
To phone hotels in Kenya, dial 011 (international access) + 254 (Kenya code) + city code and local numbers in listings.
Eight hours ahead of New York (EST).
Shilling (KES). Fluctuating rate valued at KES100.57 = US$1.00 as of April 2020. Note: All of our suggested hotels quote rates in US$.
Nairobi, Tel. (254) 20-363-6451.