Kenya is an incredible and diverse country, perfect for an introduction to African travel.
Kenya is one of those countries that really has it all – great safaris, excellent beaches, mountains, traditional culture and modern cities.
My ideal Kenya itinerary would involve some time on safari at the beginning of the trip, as well as time at the beach at the end of the trip. The options are endless, so here are a few ideas to get you started planning your own Kenya trip.
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A Magical Kenya Itinerary (Plus Things To See & Do)
Here are a few ideas for what your itinerary could look like for 1, 2 and 3-week trips. I’ve written about all the destinations in more detail below so that you can build your own itinerary. You might want a more safari-focused Kenya itinerary, or you could do a little bit of safari and lots of beaches! The options are endless!
Kenya Itinerary – 1 Week
- Day 1 – 2: Nairobi
- Day 3 – 5: The Masai Mara
- Day 6 – 7: Diani Beach, Kilifi, Mombasa or Lamu
Kenya Itinerary – 2 Weeks (Option A)
- Day 1 – 2: Nairobi
- Day 3 – 6: The Masai Mara
- Day 7 – 8: Amboseli National Park
- Day 9 – 10: Mombasa or Diani Beach
- Day 11 – 12: Kilifi
- Day 13 – 14: Lamu
Kenya Itinerary – 2 Weeks (Option B)
This is the itinerary for my Rock My Kenya Adventure – check it out here.
- Day 1: Nairobi
- Day 2 – 5: Samburu National Reserve
- Day 6 – 7: Ol Pejeta
- Day 8: Lake Nakuru
- Day 9 – 11: Masai Mara
- Day 12 – 14: Lamu
Kenya Itinerary – 3 Weeks
- Day 1: Nairobi
- Day 2 – 5: Samburu National Reserve
- Day 6 – 7: Ol Pejeta
- Day 8: Lake Nakuru
- Day 9 – 11: Masai Mara
- Day 12 – 13: Amboseli National Park
- Day 14 – 15: Tsavo National Park
- Day 16: Mombasa
- Day 17 – 18: Watamu or Malindi
- Day 19 – 21: Lamu Island
Other destinations you could add to your itinerary if you have more time include:
- Lake Turkana: 5 – 7 Days
- Mount Kenya National Park: 4 – 6 Days
- Lake Naivasha & Hell’s Gate National Park: 2 – 3 Days
Kenya Itinerary Map
Here’s a little visual guide to the places I mention above.
How to Get Around Kenya
One thing you need to consider when planning your Kenya itinerary is how you will get around.
Kenya is a relatively easy country to travel by public transport. There are good coaches between major cities, smaller minibuses known as matatus that go everywhere and even an excellent train network between Nairobi and Mombasa. There are also lots of taxis and in Nairobi, Uber is a popular way to get around.
However, if you are short on time, sometimes taking a Kenya group tour is a good option, saving you time (most importantly) and sometimes money, and you won’t waste precious time on your Kenya holiday trying to find groups to join.
I would try to avoid travelling by matatu for long journeys as they are not known for being the safest or most comfortable method of transport.
If you are heading up towards Lake Turkana, check the safety situation on the ground as you may need an armed escort to travel and between Malindi and Lamu, it is advisable to fly.
When To Visit Kenya
Kenya is best visited during the dry season from June to October. I would avoid the rainy season from mid-March to May. January and February can also be quite nice, although pretty hot in places.
If you’re hoping to see the Great Migration in the Masai Mara, July to September/October is usually the best time although sometimes the herds have arrived earlier, in June.
How Long To Spend in Kenya
On this Kenya itinerary, you’ll find a ton of different places to visit, as well as lots of things to do. Kenya has it all!
Kenya is a big country and it would be impossible to see it all in a one or two-week trip. But, in a couple of weeks, you can definitely get a good feel for the country.
Under each location, I’ve suggested the minimum amount of time I recommend you spend there. The full itinerary below would take around a month, but if you’re on a shorter trip, you can just miss certain places out.
For instance, Kenya is very safari heavy, so you could easily just pick 1 or 2 Kenya safari destinations and then spend the rest of your time soaking up the atmosphere in Nairobi or on the coast, near Mombasa.
Combining Kenya & Tanzania
People often ask me which is better – Kenya or Tanzania? They can easily be combined in one trip, but again, these countries are huge, so you won’t be able to see everything in 2 weeks, but you’ll still be able to have an incredible trip either way.
My Kenya & Tanzania Adventure tour takes in the major highlights of both countries – so definitely consider that if you want to maximise your time and let someone else (me) sort out the logistics for you!
Detailed Kenya Itinerary
Nairobi may seem a bit intimidating for a first-timer to Africa, but it’s actually a great city. The first time I visited I wasn’t that impressed as it just seemed crowded, busy and congested.
But I’ve been back many times since then and now it feels like home. It’s still crowded and hectic, but it is also vibrant, exciting and full of adventure, I just didn’t see it the first time around.
Nairobi is the perfect place to begin or end your Kenya trip and you can either head straight out of Nairobi and come back later or spend a few days there first before you go on safari.
How Many Days to Spend in Nairobi
1 – 2 days. You could spend a night in Nairobi and then head straight out to other parts of the country, but there are lots of cool things to do in Nairobi too if you have time.
Things To Do in Nairobi
- Visit the Nairobi Giraffe Centre (they’re the same giraffes at Giraffe Manor).
- See the baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
- Learn about Kenya’s tribes at Bomas of Kenya.
- Visit the Maasai markets.
- Go on safari in Nairobi National Park.
- Do a walking tour of the city.
Where to Stay in Nairobi
- Wildebeest Eco Camp: I often stay at Wildebeest Eco Camp which is a great place for groups and families. They have dorm tents too so perfect for solo travellers.
- After 40: If you want to stay in the city centre, try After 40 for a mid-range option.
- Villa Rosa Kempinski: To treat yourself, stay in Villa Rosa Kempinski in the city centre.
Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve lies around 300km north of Nairobi on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River.
Believe it or not, Samburu Reserve in Kenya was the first safari I ever went on back in 2009. I cried when I saw an elephant in the wild for the first time. It was such a special moment in my life.
I also visited Umoja Women’s Village, an initiative set up by a lady called Rebecca Lolosoli. The project was set up to help women and girls from the Samburu tribe who are the victims of violence from their husbands or forced into marriage with older men from a very young age.
If you don’t fancy the drive, you can fly up to Samburu from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport.
How Many Days to Spend in Samburu National Reserve
2 – 3 Days. As it’s a bit of a drive from Nairobi, I would recommend spending at least 2 – 3 nights there. It’s also a great place to stop if you are exploring Northern Kenya. and can easily be combined with a safari to Ol Pejeta Conservancy too.
Things To Do in Samburu National Reserve
- Go on safari in Samburu National Reserve or Buffalo Springs National Reserve on the other side of the river. The daily park fee covers you for both places. You can see my guide to Samburu National Reserve here.
- Visit the Umoja Women’s Village (see a Youtube video about the village here). It costs 1000 KES per person to visit for the day.
Where to Stay in Samburu National Reserve
- Umoja Women’s Village: For a truly local experience, you can stay at the Umoja Women’s Village.
- Sabache Camp: Alternatively, I’d recommend Sabache Camp, a good mid-range option.
- Elephant Bedroom Camp: For a more high-end stay, have a look at the wonderful Elephant Bedroom Camp.
Remote Lake Turkana, also known as the ‘Jade Sea’, doesn’t find itself on many Kenya itineraries, but it can be an amazing adventure for the intrepid traveller, especially if you venture up there during the Lake Turkana Festival which takes place in June (usually – they have been known to move it).
The Lake Turkana Cultural Festival was created to help relations between the different tribes who live within the region and promote ‘cross-cultural interaction, harmony, cohesion, integration, cooperation and trading’.
At the festival, you will have the opportunity to observe and interact with people from around 14 remote Kenyan tribal groups, including the El Molo, Randille, Samburu and Turkana as well as learn about their way of life.
This is definitely something special if you can squeeze it into your Kenya itinerary. Just keep an eye on the safety warnings around the region and seek local advice before you drive up there.
How Many Days to Spend in Lake Turkana
5 – 7 days. The festival lasts for 3 days and it will probably take you a good couple of days to get up there and a couple of days to back down (even without stops), so allow a week altogether, unless you fly. Samburu, Mount Kenya or Ol Pejeta are good places to stop en route.
Things To Do in Lake Turkana
- See the Teleki Volcano.
- Go fishing on the lake.
- Visit some prehistoric sites.
- Take a boat ride on the lake.
- Go bird watching.
- Visit a local tribe.
- Take part in the Lake Turkana Festival.
Where to Stay in Lake Turkana
- Camping by Lake Turkana: The festival takes place in Loiyangalani. If you’re on a budget, camping is usually the best option – there is very little infrastructure so it is best to be self-sufficient.
- Malabo Resort: Don’t fancy camping try Malabo Resort.
- Eliye Springs Resort: On the other side of the lake, the most reliable option is Eliye Springs Resort.
Mount Kenya National Park
Near to the Samburu National Reserve lies Mount Kenya, Kenya’s highest mountain at 5,199 metres – in fact, it’s the second-highest mountain in Africa.
Reaching the summit requires technical climbing, so most trekkers head to the 3rd highest peak, Point Lenana which usually takes between 4 and 6 days. Shorter treks are also available. Most trekkers start from the town of Naro Moru.
If you’re feeling less energetic you can take a helicopter ride over the summit. Flights usually depart from Nanyuki.
How Many Days to Spend in Mount Kenya National Park
4 – 6 days if climbing the mountain. More if you want to stay somewhere close the night before and after your trek or want to visit some of the other nearby areas, less if you are just passing through and doing a day hike.
Things To Do in Mount Kenya National Park
- Hike or climb Mount Kenya.
- Take a helicopter ride over the summit.
- Visit the Ngare Ndare waterfall.
- Visit nearby Meru National Park.
- Visit the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
- Visit Aberdare National Park.
Where to Stay in Mount Kenya National Park
- Noro Moru River Lodge: Some treks offer transfers from Nairobi but if you want to stay closer, try the Noro Moru River Lodge.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta is one of my favourite places in Kenya. This privately-owned wildlife conservancy to the west of Mount Kenya National Park houses the largest population of the endangered black rhino in East Africa so sightings are pretty much guaranteed.
There are so many great things to do in Ol Pejeta and it’s perfect for families. You can even go horse riding through the reserve, allowing you to get close to the animals without scaring them, that includes the rhinos.
The great thing about this conservancy is that you don’t have to be staying there to visit. You can just pay to visit for the day. One of the main highlights is the waterhole at Sweetwaters Serena Camp where you will often see rhinos coming to drink.
How Many Days to Spend in Ol Pejeta
1 – 2 days at the minimum. But I reckon you could easily spend longer! Plan your stay around the activities you want to do. You can read more about planning your trip in my Ol Pejeta travel guide.
Where to Stay in Ol Pejeta
- Ol Pejeta Campsites: There are a number of campsites available inside the park.
- Sweetwaters Serena Camp: Part of the Serena portfolio, Sweetwaters Serena Camp is an excellent choice.
- Olepangi Farm: For a luxurious stay, I would suggest the Olepangi Farm which is just outside the park.
Things To Do in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
- Go horse riding to see Fatu & Najin the last two Northern White Rhinos.
- Visit Baraka, the blind black rhino.
- Join the K9 dog tracking team.
- Go on a lion tracking game drive.
- Visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Lake Naivasha & Hell’s Gate National Park
The next stop on this Kenya itinerary is around Lake Naivasha and Hell’s Gate National Park.
On the way, you could stop at Thomson Falls, which lies between Ol Pejeta and Lake Naivasha, either for a picnic stop or an overnight stay if coming from further away.
Naivasha town lies close to Lake Naivasha. Nearby you’ll find the wonderful Hell’s Gate National Park, said to be the inspiration for the Lion King due to its dramatic landscape. What’s also special about Hell’s Gate, is that you can take cycling safaris allowing you to get a completely different safari perspective.
Naivasha is also close to the extinct Mount Longonot which can be climbed in a few hours and offers great views over Lake Naivasha, as well as Elsamere, home of Joy Adamson, the writer of Born Free.
How Many Days to Spend in Naivasha & Hell’s Gate National Park
2 – 3 days. If you were in a rush, 1 night could be ok if you’re not travelling to or from too far.
Where to Stay in Naivasha & Hell’s Gate National Park
- Camp Carnellys: The most popular budget option is Camp Carnellys.
- Elsamere Lodge: This is the lodge on the site of Elsamere, of Born Free fame, where Joy Adamson lived.
- Enashaipai Resort & Spa: The name of this lodge means ‘state of happiness’ in the Maasai language.
Things To Do in Naivasha & Hell’s Gate National Park
- Go cycling or do a safari at Hell’s Gate National Park.
- Take a dip in the Ol Karia Geothermal spa.
- See the flamingos at Lake Oloiden.
- Take a boat out on Lake Naivasha.
- Go walking on Crescent Island.
- Visit Elsamere.
- Climb Mount Longonot.
Lake Nakuru National Park
At one time, I would have definitely said to go to Lake Nakuru, which used to be famous for its flamingos, however, rising water levels have forced the flamingos to move to Lake Bogoria (around 4 hours north) and pollution from the nearby town has also had a negative effect – it’s very sad.
Saying that it’s still a good place to see rhinos, there are a couple of wonderful viewpoints and it’s a good stopover between the Mara and Ol Pejeta – but I probably wouldn’t include it as a main destination on your Kenya itinerary. Read more here.
How Many Days to Spend in Lake Nakuru National Park
1 day, for the reasons I mentioned above.
Things To Do in Lake Nakuru National Park
- Go on safari to see the white rhinos.
- Visit Baboon Cliff Viewpoint.
Where to Stay in Lake Nakuru National Park
- Lake Nakuru Lodge: This is a great mid-range option in the park.
Masai Mara National Reserve
The next stop on our Kenya itinerary is the incredible Masai Mara, home to the ‘Big Five’ and arguably the most famous safari destination in the world.
As well as game drives through the park, you can take a balloon ride to see it all from above (with a champagne breakfast at the end), which is especially cool if you time it when the Great Migration is passing through ”“ this varies slightly from year to year, but usually happens around July, August & September.
If you want an amazing and varied Masai Mara safari, I’d definitely recommend coming along on my Rock My Kenya & Tanzania Adventure. It’s a really special and awesome trip (if I do say so myself)!
How Many Days to Spend in the Masai Mara National Reserve
3 – 4 days. It takes at least half a day to get to and from the Masai Mara by road (from Nairobi), so I would suggest spending at least 3 nights here. You can save a bit of time by flying into Keekorok Airstrip and I believe they are considering making this an international airport – watch this space.
Things To Do in the Masai Mara National Reserve
- Go on a Masai Mara safari.
- See the wildebeest & zabra migration (usually July – October).
- Spend time with the Maasai people.
- Go hot-air ballooning.
- Go on a horse riding safari.
- Visit the Sekenani township.
Where to Stay in the Masai Mara National Reserve
- Kobi Farm: My favourite place to stay is Kobi Farm, run by my friends who used to own Mara Explorers Camp.
- Governor’s Camp: Beautiful tented camp in the heart of the Mara.
- Mara Explorer Camp: Beautiful luxury camp, not to be confused with the old Mara Explorers Camp.
- Angama Mara: One of the best, Angama Mara is the place to go if you’re looking for somewhere really special with an ‘Out of Africa’ romantic vibe.
Amboseli National Park
When planning your Kenya itinerary, you should definitely consider Amboseli National Park, one of Kenya’s most iconic yet not that widely known travel destinations.
Amboseli is special for a couple of reasons, firstly for having one of the densest elephant populations in the world, and secondly for the fact that it lies at the base of Kilimanjaro, which provides an incredible backdrop for all of your photos. Simply magical!
Unless you fly between the Mara and Amboseli, you’ll probably need to stop over in Nairobi, otherwise, it would be a very long travel day.
Alternatively, you could also visit Tsavo National Park which is a little bit further on towards Mombasa.
How Many Days to Spend in Amboseli National Park
1 – 2 days. Allow yourself at least 1 full day to really enjoy your safari. Just be aware that the weather can affect the view of Kilimanjaro, so the longer you spend here, the more chance you will have for good views.
Things To Do in Amboseli National Park
- Spot elephants and other animals on safari.
- Admire Kilimanjaro.
- Visit the Maasai people.
Where to Stay in Amboseli National Park
- Kibo Safari Camp: My favourite place to stay in Amboseli is Kibo Safari Camp which has great views of Kili from the rooms.
- Amboseli Eco Camp: If you’re a fan of eco-camps, you might like to stay here.
Tsavo National Park
I first read about Tsavo National Park in one of my favourite books, Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick, founder of The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Tsavo is famous for having lots and lots of elephants and is split into two sections, Tsavo West and Tsavo East.
How Many Days to Spend in Tsavo National Park
2 – 3 days. You could spend more if you hadn’t been on too many other safaris during your trip.
Mombasa is a fantastic coastal city, with a very different feel to Nairobi. Whereas Nairobi is a very cosmopolitan, Mombasa has a distinct old-world, meets new-world Swahili flavour.
Mombasa is steeped in history, being one of the oldest and busiest ports on the African continent and is a great place to immerse yourself in Swahili culture.
Take a tour of the city and enjoy some of the great restaurants and bars too.
If you don’t go through Amboseli or Tsavo, you can easily get the train from Nairobi to Mombasa. Alternatively, you can also jump on the train at various different towns, including Voi, near to Tsavo National park. Booking in advance is advisable as the train almost always books up.
How Many Days to Spend in Mombasa
1 – 2 days. Mombasa is a great and important historical city, however, it’s not my favourite place in Kenya so a day or two is enough for me.
Things To Do in Mombasa
- Take a city tour.
- See the Mombasa tusks.
- Visit Uhuru Park.
- Explore the spice markets.
- Visit Fort Jesus and the Old Town.
- Shop for souvenirs.
- Visit Haller Park and visit the Nguuni Wildlife Sanctuary.
Where to Stay in Mombasa
- Tulia House: The main backpacker hangout in Mombasa is Tulia House. The bathrooms aren’t great, and the rooms are ok, but they have a pool and sociable bar, great for meeting new friends.
- Best Western Plus Creekside: If you want somewhere reasonably priced, with nice views and close to town, check out this place.
You can end your Kenya holiday in Diani, one of those picture-perfect locations, known for beautiful blue seas and white, sandy beaches. Diani is a popular honeymoon spot, as well as a backpacker favourite, so it’s a great place to add to your Kenya itinerary.
Whether you’re looking to relax, get adventurous or party – there’s something for everyone.
The trade winds make Diani a popular spot for kite surfing and it’s also one of the best places for sky diving in Africa.
At night, the backpackers tend to gather at Forty Thieves (although I believe it’s closed at the moment) which is always fun, especially on the weekend.
How Many Days to Spend in Diani Beach
2 – 3 days. Diani Beach is a great place to relax!
Things To Do in Diani Beach
- Go skydiving over the Swahili coast.
- Explore Shimba Hills National Reserve.
- Take a dhow trip to Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park.
- Relax on the beach and party the night away.
Where to Stay in Diani Beach
- Stilts: Stilts is a backpacker place, set back from the beach in a jungle setting. It’s one of my favourites and you also get to use the facilities at their sister hotel, Flamboyant.
- Flamboyant: Owned by the same people as Stilts, for mid-range, try Flamboyant is a nice choice, with a pool and lying directly on the beach.
- AfroChic: For a more luxurious stay, check out AfroChic, part of the Elewana Collection.
- Diani Villa: If you have a big group, I would suggest Diani Villa.
Kilifi, a town north of Mombasa, is one of my favourite places in Kenya.
I think a lot of this has to do with the incredible backpackers there, which is called Distant Relatives. It is truly is backpacker’s paradise and I’ve known many a person to go there for a couple of days and leave weeks, even months later.
The friendly, laid back-vibe tends to attract a lot of cool people including locals, independent travellers, so there’s always something going on and someone to hang out with.
You can spend your time relaxing in a hammock, swimming in the creek or the pool or taking a day trip out somewhere. There are lots of things to do in Kilifi.
Again, you could stay in Kilifi and easily explore Watamu and Malindi from there, but I guess your Kenya itinerary will depend on how much time you have – but the options are there!
How Many Days to Spend in Kilifi
How long is a piece of string? On a serious note, at least 2 full days.
Things To Do in Kilifi
- See the bioluminescence in the waters of Kilifi Creek.
- Relax on the white sands of Bofa Beach.
- Sail on a traditional dhow boat.
- Visit Vuma Cliffs.
- Go snorkelling or scuba diving.
- Take a village tour.
Where to Stay in Kilifi
- Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers: I love Distant Relatives. It’s one of those places that people either really love or they don’t and lots of people get ‘stuck’ there. It’s got a strong hippy/eco/permaculture vibe if you’re into that!
Watamu & Malindi
North of Kilifi, you’ll find Watamu and Malindi, two beautiful beach towns and popular Kenya holiday destinations, both with plenty of activities, hotels and restaurants to keep you busy for a good few days, if not longer.
I’m putting these two together because they are so close to each other (approx 30 mins) – so you could stay in one place and enjoy both. Kilifi is also nearby, but Kilifi holds a special place in my heart, so Kilifi gets a section of its own.
You can fly to Malindi from Lamu or Nairobi, or you can get a local minibus (matatu) from Mombasa.
How Many Days to Spend in Watamu & Malindi
2 days + (more if you can) – is there such a thing as too much beach time?
Things To Do in Watumu & Malindi
- Visit Arabuko Sokoke Forest.
- Go scuba diving or snorkelling at Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve.
- Explore the Gedi Ruins.
- Relax on Golden Beach.
- Hang out at Osteria Beach Restaurant.
- Visit the Marafa Depression.
- Do some watersports (SUP, surfing, kite surfing).
Where to Stay in Watamu & Malindi
Lamu, in northern Kenya, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and possibly the best place in the world to experience the traditional Swahili culture – even more so than Mombasa or Stone Town in Zanzibar.
Visitors to this sleepy island often spend much longer here than they intend to, sucked in by the laidback way of life. Spend your days getting lost in the alleyways, relaxing on the beaches and immersing yourself in this intoxicating place.
I absolutely love Lamu and wrote a whole Lamu travel guide to help you plan your own trip.
The road to Lamu is not known for being very safe, so it is advisable to fly. You can catch a flight from Nairobi, Mombasa or Malindi. Once you arrive, it’s a short ferry ride to Lamu from Manda Island.
How Many Days to Spend in Lamu
3 days at least. I spent 4 nights there and that was great, but I could have stayed longer.
Things To Do in Lamu
- Wander through Lamu town.
- Visit the market, fort and the museum.
- Take a trip on a dhow boat.
- Go to a festival.
- Go sunrise swimming and relax on Shela Beach.
- Visit the donkey sanctuary.
Where to Stay in Lamu
- Banana House & Wellness Centre: Check out this lovely Swahili house which also hosts retreats. This is where I stayed and I loved it!
- Manda Bay: Manda Bay is a beautiful, boutique beach lodge.
I hope this helps you plan an amazing Kenya itinerary! Got any questions? Leave them in the comments below!
Other Kenya posts you might enjoy…
- 25 Awesome Things to Do in Nairobi, Kenya
- The Perfect 2-Week Kenya & Tanzania Itinerary (Plus Map, Tips & Things To Do)
- A Little Guide to Lamu Island in Kenya
- Planning a Trip to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya – Everything You Need to Know
- Kenya vs Tanzania – Which is the Best Country to Visit?
- The Best Hostels, Guesthouses & Campsites in Kenya
- How To Get Visas for Kenya & Entry Requirements Explained
- 10 Unique Places To Visit in Northern Kenya
- How to Travel to the Masai Mara on a Budget (Under $500)
- A Guide to Visiting Samburu National Reserve in Kenya
- Visiting the Umoja Women’s Village in Kenya
- A Guide to Amboseli National Park – Kenya’s Most Iconic Unknown Safari Destination