From the never ending plains of the Masai Mara, to the cosmopolitan city of Nairobi, to the perfect white sand beaches of the Swahili coast, Kenya really does have it all! It’s a great place to start or end an African odyssey, as it’s pretty easy to get to from other parts of the world and to other destinations in the surrounding countries.
Finding the perfect place to stay isn’t always easy, so I’ve pulled together of some suggestions for you! Here you’ll find a list of the best backpacker hostels and campsites in Kenya. I’m taking into account price, atmosphere, likelihood of meeting other solo travellers, ease of getting to and the facilities.
Nairobi – Milimani Backpackers
Why is it great? Really friendly hostel in a big Kenyan style mansion house, my Nairobi home from home. It’s great for meeting other travellers who might become your travel companions or friends for life. The staff were really nice, helping me find a safari last minute and sewing up my pants! I love this place and met some really cool people here.
- Accommodation: – They have dorms, private rooms or you can camp (not sure whether they provide tents, so best to check). Some rooms have their own bathrooms, some are shared. Hot water.
- Bar/Restaurant: There’s a bar and a small kitchen that serves meals. They offer B&B.
- Price: From 1,500 ksh ($15) per person, per night for a dorm bed and 1,000 ksh ($10) per person, per night for camping ( I think you have to bring your own tent, but best to check).
- Food/Drink: There’s a bar and a small kitchen that serves meals. They offer B&B.
- Getting There: It’s a bit out of town (not in the Milimani area which is the old site, it’s in Karen), but easy to get to either by public bus or taxi. They can also arrange transfers. Taxis to town (for restaurants etc) aren’t cheap (around $20 return) but if you can split it, it’s not so bad. Public buses are extremely cheap, although I wouldn’t recommend to use them at night. It’s near to the Galleria Shopping Centre which has some restaurants and shops.
Nairobi – Wildebeest Camp
Why is it great? This is an absolutely beautiful eco camp on the outskirts of Nairobi. They offer camping and glamping, so something for all budgets. It isn’t a party place but if you’re looking for a place to chill and a little bit of luxury, this is where you’ll find it!
- Accommodation: They have dorm tents, private tents, you can bring your own tent, or they can provide you with small safari tents. They also have luxury tents and cottages. Some rooms have their own, some are shared. Solar power hot water too!
- Price: Around 1,500 ksh ($15) per person, per night for a dorm tent and from 1,250 ksh ($12.50) per person, per night for camping. All rates B&B, half and full board available.
- Food/Drink: There is a nice bar and restaurant which serves really nice food. Each evening is a buffet dinner or you can go into town and sample one of the many restaurants.
- Getting There: This one is also out of town too, quite near to Milimani Backpackers, so same as above applies. But for me this isn’t a massive problem in Nairobi as I prefer to be away from the traffic and crowds. Plus being on this side of town is better to avoid the traffic when you head out towards the Mai Mara.
Masai Mara – Mara Explorers
Why is it great? Really lovely budget camp just outside the Masai Mara gate near the town of Sekenani, run by my friends Moses and Laura. One of (if not the only) backpacker camps in the whole of the Mara. The camp is an eco camp, so very environmentally friendly, they work closely with the local Maasai and also run some great community projects. They can take you out on game drives in the Masai Mara and they know how to throw a good party too! In busy season there will always be other travellers and groups there to chat to, if not the owners and staff are great fun and will always be up for a drink or game of Scrabble!
Read More: The Magical Masai Mara
- Accommodation: They have big static tents with en suite, static tents with shared bathrooms, small tents or you can bring your own. Some of the big safari tents have their own, some have shared facilities. Nice toilets. Hot water.
- Price: From 700 ksh ($7) per person, per night for camping with your own tent or from 1,500 ksh ($15) per person per night in their tents.
- Food/Drink: They have a cosy, sociable bar and a good drink selection. For full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner) it’s approximately an additional 3,000 ksh ($30) per person, per day. The food here is some of the best you’ll eat in Kenya. They also have a self-catering kitchen for self-drives.
- Getting There: You can either get public transport to Sekenani via the town of Narok or Moses and Laura can help you arrange a private transfer from where you are. If you’re coming from Nairobi prepare to see amazing views over the Great Rift Valley and you might spot animals as you drive along the road to the camp.
Lake Naivasha – Camp Carnelly’s
Why is it great? Camp Carnelly’s is the best budget accommodation in the area, situated right on Lake Naivasha and they have dorms, so great for solo travellers.
- Accommodation: Dorms, camping and private rooms. Shared bathrooms for dorms/camping, en suite for all other rooms. Hot water.
- Price: From €9 (approx 1,000 ksh) per person, per night camping using your own tent and €12 (1,350 ksh) per person, per night in the dorms (you need to bring own bedding/sleeping bag – but I’d suggest that for Africa anyway). They also have rooms from €39 per room, per night per night.
- Food/Drink: They have the Lazy Bones Bar & Restaurant which has a good selection of drinks and pizza!
- Getting There: You can easily get to Naivasha on public transport from Narok, Nairobi or Eldoret. You’ll then need to get a matatu along the Moi South Lake Road to the camp. They may also offer transfers, contact them for details.
Top Tip: Another suggestion I would make is to book a safari tour that takes in Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru (to see the flamingoes and rhinos). You could head to each of the towns individually, but a safari trip from Nairobi might be a better option. If you were heading onwards (ie. you started a tour in Nairobi and if after your safari you wanted to go to Uganda), you could leave the tour early at Nakuru town and get public transport onwards to Eldoret, then on to Uganda, rather than having to head back to Nairobi and go back on yourself.
Eldoret – Naiberi River Campsite & Resort
Why is it great? This is a lovely camp in a beautiful location just outside the town of Eldoret, which is a good place to stop on the way from Kenya to Uganda. They also have a pool which gives it a big thumbs up from me! This is a popular stop over and the bar was really busy when I was there and with them having dorms, you’ll likely meet other travellers or find someone to talk to. If not perch yourself at the bar and the staff will be happy to chat!
- Accommodation: They have camping facilities, dorms and private rooms. Shared bathrooms for dorms/camping, en suite for all other rooms. Hot water.
- Price: Dorms from around (2,000 KSH) $20 per person, per night and camping from 450 ksh (£4.50) per night. Private rooms from around 4,850 ksh ($48).
- Food/Drink: The unusual Stone Cave bar and restaurant is absolutely gorgeous and a good place to meet your fellow travellers.
- Getting There: You can easily get to Eldoret on public transport from Narok, Nairobi or Naivasha. You’ll then need to get a matatu or taxi B54 to the camp. They may also offer transfers, contact them for details.
Why is it great? This is aone of my FAVOURITE hostels in the whole world, a real home away from home on the Swahili Coast with a lovely pool and it’s really close to the beach – and don’t tell anyone I told you, but there’s phosphorescence in the waters of the creek. The place has a relaxed vibe and lots of communal spaces. They also offer tons and tons of activities and to top it all of it’s an ecolodge so has minimal impact on the environment. You’ll definitely meet other travellers here. High season is July, August, December, January and Easter.
- Accommodation & Prices: Camping, dorms, private safari tents, bandas and rooms. Camping, safari tents and dorms have shared bathrooms (in a bamboo forest no less) and all others are en suite.
- Price: Camping is from 500 ksh per person per night, dorms are from 1000 ksh per person, per night and private safari tents, bandas and rooms start from 1,250 ksh per person, per night (this is based on 2 people sharing a safari tent – check website for further details).
- Food/Drink: They have a lovely bar and restaurant, but there’s also a kitchen where you can make your own food.
- Getting There: You can get the bigger buses or train from Nairobi to Mombasa, and then get local transport to Kalifi, jumping off at Tuskey’s supermarket on the main highway. From there you can grab a piki-piki (motorbike) or tuk tuk to take you to the hostel. Or they can organise a pick up from Mombasa or Malindi.
Mombasa – Tulia House Backpackers
Why is it great? Tulia Backpackers is outside of the busy city of Mombasa in the Nyali suberb, close to the beach where you can do kite surfing, wake boarding and scuba diving. They have a popular bar with a great atmosphere, where they host all you can eat bbq’s, beer pong, volleyball competitions and movie nights. There’s also pool and a shisha lounge and a range of accommodation options. Vincent the manager is also super super helpful!
- Accommodation: They offer African Funzi hammocks, dorms and private rooms. En suite for rooms and some dorms, the rest are shared bathrooms.
- Price: Camping from 600 ksh per person ($6), per night, Funzi Hammock from 1,000 ksh ($10) per person, per night and rooms from 3,000 ksh ($30) for single occupancy, 5,000 ksh for double occupancy and 7,000 ksh for a family room.
- Food/Drink: They have a well stocked bar where you can always make a new friend or two and it’s just round the corner from the famous Bob’s Bar! The food is ok too.
- Getting There: You can get the bigger buses or train from Nairobi to Mombasa and public transport or taxis/tuk tuks are pretty easy to come by. A taxi from the airport should be around 2000 ksh. The website has pretty comprehensive instructions or you can contact them direct.
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