When you think of adventure, what comes to mind? Camping in the wild? Rock climbing? Windsurfing? Adventure means different things to different people. So, it’s exciting when you can find one destination that offers several options. Kenya is that place. If you have ever heard someone call it a land of contrasts, that’s because it is.
The East African nation prides itself in providing a wide variety of activities, thanks to the diverse landscapes. It boasts sprawling plains, lush highlands, dry arid areas, and everything in between. Even navigating through the capital is an adventure, but you probably have more fascinating ideas in mind.
Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or planning your first adventure safari, Kenya has something for everyone. From the stunning coastline offering azure waters and plenty of sun to the central highlands where you can climb the snow-capped Mt. Kenya, the alternatives are almost limitless.
For a tourist preparing an adventure safari in Kenya for the first time, having a bit of help eliminates some of the stress. Therefore, we put together this guide to walk you through Kenyan adventure tours. We cover other topics across several posts, but let’s get the basics out of the way first.
The Adventures You Can Have
The best location for your adventure travel in Kenya depends on what you plan to have in your itinerary. Hence, you should know this beforehand.
An enriching adventure for some people means sleeping in the wild, with the sounds of crickets lulling them to sleep and waking up to birds chirping outside their tents. A camping safari in Kenya can be an unforgettable experience.
Regardless of age, the country provides more than a few idyllic camping destinations. A camping tour is one of the best ways to see wildlife. It brings you up close. ‘What about safety? You ask. Kenyan camping tours are safe because the accommodations are in secure areas. So, even though you are near the animals, they are not a threat. Most camping sites also have trained guards.
Camping tours in Kenya can take you to popular parts like the Masai Mara, which offers a litany of things to do. Africa’s most prestigious reserve features rolling plains and grasslands with rich wildlife. The Great Migration might be the best time to camp at the Mara, but it also means fighting with thousands of other tourists for vantage points to see one of the biggest spectacles of the year.
Amboseli is another world-class camping safari location. Besides the varied wildlife that includes large elephant herds, the park affords visitors striking vistas of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Alternatively, you can plan a tour of Tsavo East and West for Big Five sightings, volcanic rock formations, and breathtaking views. Look up leading Kenyan camping trips for ideas.
If you get a kick out of sweating your way to the top of jagged boulders or towering cliffs, then you are in luck. Kenya has an impressive range of rock climbing locations. Although the local rock climbing scene is underdeveloped, tourists can expect vibrant experiences.
Hell’s Gate National Park is the premier rock-climbing destination in Kenya. It promises diverse offerings, ranging from intimidating gorges to soaring cliffs. From beginners to professionals, the park has suitable climbing opportunities for all skills.
If you are up for some fun climbing, then Fischer’s Tower is the safest bet. Are you feeling ambitious? Then the Main Wall, the biggest cliff close to Nairobi, should meet your needs. It’s suitable for multi-pitch climbing. The park also has the Entrance Wall for crack climbing. Enjoy majestic panoramas of the Kenyan countryside once you reach the top.
Mt. Kenya is the go-to for high-altitude climbing. Batian and Nelion peaks particularly appeal to avid rock climbers. A well-planned rock-climbing tour in Kenya covers a number of remote destinations. Thus, 4×4 drives are a big part of the itinerary.
Ensure you learn a few fundamentals of rock climbing in Kenya, especially if you are a beginner before your trip.
We can’t talk about adventures without bringing up mountain climbing. After all, it’s one of the most thrilling activities to do in Kenya, thanks to the presence of Africa’s second-highest mountain. Mount Kenya attracts mountaineers from all over. Although it might not be as famous as the neighboring Kilimanjaro, it has its charm.
With its jagged volcanic peaks, diverse vegetation, and wide valleys, Mt. Kenya offers more than a few interesting hiking and trekking routes. Climbers enjoy gorgeous views, thanks to the unique flora that changes as you climb.
Mt. Kenya climbing tours vary on a broad scale. The length of your journey depends on the chosen routes. For example, you can opt to hike from the west or northwest of the mountain, then descend from the southeast.
A guided tour can take anywhere from 4 to 8 days.
Organizing a mountain climbing tour takes a lot of work, particularly if it’s your first time. Therefore, familiarise yourself with all the essentials in advance. How many days should your trip last? What should you bring? How fit do you need to be? Such considerations will help you plan the adventure you want.
Kenya sells itself as a top game viewing destination, and with good justification. The country offers natural habitats for many large and small mammals. Buffaloes, elephants, lions, gazelles, warthogs, impalas, and zebra are examples of the animals to see here. Kenya is also home to several endangered species like the southern white rhino, Grevy zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle.
For that reason, wildlife and eco-adventure travel are prominent. From the coast to the capital to the north, every region has something for game viewers.
The Mara, Amboseli, and Tsavo might be the most talked-about destinations for spotting wildlife, but a customized game drive can include a lot of other locations. The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and Loisaba Conservancy are some exciting options to see what Kenya has in store.
If adventure to you means waiting patiently with your binoculars to spot a unique bird species, then Kenya offers that too. The country is one of the top destinations in Africa for birdwatchers, thanks to the incredible avifauna. Enthusiasts have over 1,000 species to enjoy.
Catch the Brown-Throated Wattle-eye in Kakamega. While in the arid and semi-arid parts of the country, watch out, or rather, listen for the Green-winged Pytilia, which has unmistakable high-pitched cheeps.
Birdwatchers are in for a treat because Kenya, and the whole of East Africa, is known for its unique endemism. So, expect to see some regionally-endemic species like the Taita Thrush, Aberdare Cisticola, and Clarke’s Weaver.
With perfect timing, you might also catch some species migrating within the Afro tropics.
A customized birdwatching safari can take you to top locations like Lake Nakuru, famous for flamingoes. Lake Baringo, the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, and Aberdares National Park are other places birdwatchers can have their fill of local and foreign species.
We didn’t forget the adventurers who get their adrenaline fix from being in the water. The Kenyan coast is just as inviting as the rest of the country, with dozens of things to do. With the Indian Ocean providing exquisite sandy beaches and deep blue waters, your imagination is your only limitation.
Lamu, Diani, and Malindi are the top destinations for water sports. Whether you prefer kitesurfing to windsurfing; snorkeling to scuba diving; wakeboarding to waterskiing, the region caters to all tastes. Thus, you can plan an exhilarating trip that ticks all your boxes.
Water sports are not restricted to the coast, though. Kenya has numerous rivers and lakes where thrill-seekers can have their fill. Go whitewater rafting in R. Tana, kayaking in Sagana or boating in L. Naivasha.
The adventures on this list are not the entirety of what is available in Kenya. Adventurers can get as creative as they wish. Simply dedicate enough time to preparing for an adventure safari to get the most fun out of it.