Luxury safaris in Kenya

Upgrading to a luxury Kenya safari buys you solitude. It means that when an elephant clumps into view, your jeep isn’t jostling for space with several others. It means that the nervous gazelle wandering around near your private veranda, while you watch from a hammock, is not going to be startled off by the sound of half-a-dozen jeeps starting their engines at once. It means that on a bush walk you can have long and involved chats with your Maasai guide, really getting to know them and about their ways of life rather than having to wait your turn to ask a question.

Kenya has decades of tourism experience. There is a staggering range of safaris and they run super smoothly. But the downside of that is you can expect crowds in the most popular wildlife viewing areas such as Amboseli National Park and the Maasai Mara, famed for the spectacular wildebeest migration.

Luxury safaris will often stay outside these highly sought-after protected areas in one of some 140-plus conservancies that are in many cases jointly owned by foreign investors, conservation charities and local communities.

These conservancies are dedicated to preserving the natural environment within them and the wildlife that depends on it, while ensuring that profits from safaris benefit local people. There’s much less of the overcrowding that affects some areas such as the Mara, where the expectations of some guests as to sightings are leading to the welfare of the animals being put at risk. Too many vehicles, too much noise, and getting too close, can cause stress to the wildlife, which affects their natural behaviours and can even lead to them having fewer young.

Accommodation is limited in conservancies, and game drives and other safari activities are only available to those staying in the camps based within their boundaries. By staying in a private conservancy on a Kenya luxury safari, you’re automatically travelling responsibly, and you’re also going to enjoy a much more peaceful experience.

Why take a Kenya luxury safari?

Almost all our luxury safaris in Kenya are tailor made trips. One of the most obvious benefits is the freedom to adjust the itinerary to your preferences, with no set departure dates and a huge range of activities that take your trip beyond the memorable to absolutely unforgettable. In fact, some of our partners will even have a dedicated travel designer within camp, there to help you select suitable activities once you’ve arrived.

Luxury Kenya safaris frequently stay in privately or community owned conservancies which are not subject to the same restrictions as national parks and game reserves. Top-flight activities that may not be on the menu elsewhere – night-time game drives, hot air balloon voyages, fly camping and private meals out in the bush – are all regular features of these holidays.

“Another key factor to consider is the quality of the guiding you will experience,” says Tom Blakey from our partner Wayfairer Travel. “As a general rule, it is the top luxury camps and lodges in Kenya which attract and retain the top guiding talents in the country. In my opinion, there really is nothing better than a knowledgeable and enthusiastic local guide to teach you about the wonders of their country.”

Bringing that full circle, some luxury accommodations will help fund students through guide school as part of their community outreach programmes. Others may invite their guests to take part in hands-on conservation efforts such as lion behaviour research, helping with ‘leopard mirror’ projects (the mirrors fascinate the big cats and make them paws pause, allowing for better photo identification), or reforestation.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Luxury safaris or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Types of luxury safaris in Kenya

Family safaris

Kenya is superb for luxury family safaris. There’s loads to do for kids of all ages, they’re well-priced and it’s just... easy. Parents can jump guilt-free into full-day game drives safe in the knowledge that not only will their younger children be well looked-after, but they’ll also be kept busy themselves with a raft of exciting experiences such as mini bush walks with guides used to talking downwards, but not talking down, to their littler guests.

Honeymoons

Kenya is a popular choice for luxury safari honeymoons. Exquisitely comfortable travel can be arranged and there are many ways in which you can make the experience romantic, like private dinners in the bush, sleep-outs on a deck, or spray-painting a big pink love heart onto the flank of a passing pachyderm.

Safari & beach breaks

It’s very easy to tie on a few days on a gorgeous beach to the end of a Kenya safari. Kenya’s south coast and islands are (ssh) relatively little-visited, and they promise magnificent white-sand beaches. You may rub shoulders with the odd celebrity too, in eco-conscious coastal resorts that employ local people, locally sourced materials and furnishings, and low energy initiatives.

Kenya & Tanzania

You can also find Kenya safaris that cross over the border into neighbouring Tanzania and the Serengeti, which is slightly less developed for tourism, but means an even greater range of amazing safari experiences become available.

Getting around Kenya in style

“Time is a precious commodity on a holiday,” says Tom. “On a luxury itinerary, we focus on taking advantage of Kenya’s excellent light aircraft network and the occasional charter flight or helicopter transfer to avoid long days in the car, when you’re driving what feels like the length and breadth of the country.”

Internal flights can whizz you between Nairobi and popular Kenya safari locations including the Masai Mara, Amboseli National Park and Samburu National Reserve in a matter of hours – far quicker than it would take to drive, and a lot more comfortable too. When there’s so much to see, saving time is a significant advantage of upgrading to a more expensive trip.

Some accommodations will even boast their own private airstrips, enabling you to travel between parks and conservancies conveniently and speedily.

Luxury lodges & camping in Kenya

Our responsible safari holidays use accommodation that works alongside local communities to provide satisfying tourism experiences that aid conservation. Many lodges and camps employ significant numbers of people from surrounding villages, which ensures that safari tourism is viewed favourably.

In terms of what to expect from the amenities, Kenya safari accommodation have had decades to develop, so there is plenty of variety to suit every budget. While there is certainly glitz and glamour if that’s what you’re after, our partners typically look for properties that wear their luxury with a lighter touch. Expect simple, rustic but high-quality furnishings that are comfortable without being showy.

Luxury camps and lodges in Kenya will often aim to differentiate themselves with the level of service they can provide. That might mean a private vehicle and guide, rather than sharing their expertise with other guests. It might mean gourmet dining experiences with guest chefs, or experiential dining such as bush breakfasts and cocktails brought to you at a spectacular sunset viewpoint. Communal dining and sharing stories of sightings is one of the great safari traditions, but if you want a private meal that can often be arranged.

“Amenities such as Wi-Fi access in your tent and infinity pools are all achievable – even in some unusual and remote locations,” says Tom. “Furthermore, you will find that levels of service and culinary expertise are right up there with any five-star hotel you’ve experienced.”
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Make it Kenya] [Intro: Make it Kenya] [Safari & beach breaks: Make it Kenya] [Private vehicles guides: Make it Kenya]