The sight of prowling predators is guaranteed to produce a frisson of excitement, and it’s the big cats – lions, leopards and cheetahs – that most visitors come to see.
Masai Mara National Reserve The best place to spot all three cats, often on a kill from July to October.
Naboisho & Olare-Orok Conservancies Fabulous Mara conservancies with high big-cat densities.
Tsavo East National Park A good spot for relatively easy sightings of lions and cheetahs.
Amboseli National Park Good for lions and cheetahs in the dry season (May to October and January to March).
Ol Pejeta Conservancy Go lion-tracking after dark.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Good for all three big cats without the crowds.
Meru National Park Lions regularly sighted.
Lake Nakuru National Park Resident leopards and lions.
Nairobi National Park All three present within sight of the capital.
Elephants & Rhinos
The African elephant and the rhinoceros (black and white) are enduring icons of a continent. Both are in peril, but both are also relatively easy to track down in Kenya.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Get up close and personal with elephants and more than 100 rhinos.
Tsavo West National Park An important sanctuary for black rhinos; also ‘red’ elephants.
Aberdare National Park Elephants and black rhinos on the Central Highlands’ forested slopes.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy East Africa's largest population of the endangered black rhino.
Lake Nakuru National Park One of the best places in Kenya to see the highly endangered black rhino.
Nairobi National Park Rhinos in abundance with skyscrapers nearby.
Amboseli National Park As close as you’ll ever get to a big-tusked elephant with Mt Kilimanjaro in the background.
Samburu National Reserve Elephants set against one of Kenya's most beautiful regions.
Tsavo East National Park Kenya’s largest elephant population of over 11,000 elephants.
Marsabit National Park Kenya’s northernmost elephants.
Kenya is one of Africa’s premier destinations for twitchers, with around 1100 bird species recorded. Northern migrant species escaping Europe’s winter begin arriving in November.
Lake Nakuru National Park Flamingos (maybe), pelicans and 400 other species.
Amboseli National Park Over 370 bird species, including raptors and the grey-crowned crane.
Lake Bogoria National Reserve A flamingo spectacular when conditions are right, with internationally recognised wetlands.
Kakamega Forest Reserve Rainforest habitat and over 330 recorded species.
Tsavo West National Park The Ngulia Hills are an important flyway for migratory species.
Saiwa Swamp National Park Over 370 bird species in just over 15 sq km.
Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve Prolific birdlife in a wonderful stand of indigenous forest.
Lake Baringo Over one-third of Kenya’s species have been recorded here.
Kenya’s coastline is utterly gorgeous, home to some heaving resorts but many more quiet and idyllic beaches – the places you’ll always remember as your own slice of paradise.
Shela Beach With 12km of white sand and one of Lamu’s most beautiful beaches.
Watamu Enjoy 7km of unspoiled beach with a lovely fishing village nearby.
Manda Island The land time forgot, with sand dunes, mangroves and quiet beaches.
Tiwi Beach The alter ego to Diani Beach and its equal in beauty.
Diani Beach A crowded but still stunning beach.
Travelling the East African coast in a dhow (ancient Arab sailing vessel) carries echoes of ancient civilisations and trade winds past from the days of the spice trade. Their slow rhythm is perfectly suited to this tropical coast.
Mkwiro There’s no other way to reach this quieter-than-quiet village.
Matondoni Watch dhows being built, then sail around the Lamu archipelago for a day.
Lamu Find yourself a good captain and sail between Lamu and Manda Island for the day.
Takwa The pick of the Lamu archipelago trips.
Diving & Snorkelling
Reefs proliferate all along Kenya’s coastline and the diving and snorkelling here rank among the best in East Africa. There are top-notch dive schools, or snorkel off the back of a dhow.
Malindi Marine National Park Excellent diving from July to February.
Manda Toto Island The snorkelling here is highly favoured among devotees of the Lamu archipelago.
Kisite Marine National Park Snorkel with the dolphins, with diving also possible.
Watamu Marine National Park Fabulous reefs, fish and sea turtles.
Diani Beach Professional dive schools and even a purpose-sunk shipwreck.
Luxury Lodges & Tented Camps
Kenya does luxury extremely well, and nothing quite beats the experience of returning from a day’s safari to be pampered with luxury accommodation, spa and massage packages and impeccable standards of personal service.
Ol Donyo, Around Amboseli The sort of lodge and location that safari dreams are made of.
Segera Retreat, Segera Ranch, Laikipia Peerless cottages that take you back to Out of Africa.
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi Top-end luxury wedded to world-class service, and a Rothschild’s giraffe looking in your window.
Sasaab Lodge, Samburu Northern Kenya's finest with river views near Samburu National Reserve.
Cottar's 1920s Camp, Masai Mara Safari nostalgia in overdrive with peerless levels of comfort.
Campi ya Kanzi, Around Amboseli Supremely comfortable tents, gorgeous setting and Kili views.
Finch Hatton’s Safari Camp, Tsavo West National Park Dress for dinner and eat from bone china deep in the African wilds.
Mara Plains, Masai Mara Palatial tents with details no-one else has thought of.
Asilia Naboisho Camp, Naboisho Conservancy One of the best camps for big cats and guided walks in the Mara.
Elsa's Kopje, Meru National Park Stunning lodge and a real sense of oneness with the African wilderness.
Escaping the Crowds
The wildebeest migration is not the only mass migration in Kenya from July to October – visitors also arrive in the millions. Avoiding them is easier than you think.
Meru National Park A match for the more famous parks of Kenya’s south, but without the crowds.
Shompole Conservancy One of Kenya's more remote tented camp experiences with with good wildlife encounters and a chance to get to know the Maasai.
Segera Ranch One of Laikipia's premier properties with excellent wildlife viewing for an elite few.
Il Ngwesi Group Ranch Immerse yourself in the Maasai wilderness close to Lewa and Laikipia.
Ruma National Park You'll have wild Africa all to yourself, with rhinos and fascinating antelope species.
Loyangalani The essence of remote northern Kenya, with fascinating cultures and Lake Turkana.
Paté Island Leave the modern world behind on this enchanted island in the Lamu archipelago.
Olare-Orok Conservancy The Mara's high concentrations of predators, but just one tent for every 280 hectares.
Mfangano Island Blissfully quiet Lake Victoria islands with rock paintings.
Culture & Wildlife Immersion
Community-run projects now run hand in hand with conservation and can offer travellers opportunities that will live long in the memory.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Visit local schools and Maasai communities as part of the new conservation model.
Ewangan Catch a glimpse of Maasai life on relatively equal terms with the Masai Mara just outside your manyatta.
Campi ya Kanzi Explore Maasailand with the Maasai, then visit a Maasai village.
Saruni Mara Experience local Maasai communities with market visits and other encounters in Mara North.
The Maa Trust Watch the Maasai benefit from the conservancy model in the Mara.
Kibera Explore a Nairobi shanty town with all its complications and dynamism.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy Track lions, pat a blind rhino and draw near to critically endangered wildlife.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Encounter orphaned elephants en route to freedom.
They may not let you get out of your vehicle in national parks, but Kenya is a fabulous hiking destination whether you're keen to climb a mountain or stay within sight of your lodge.
Mt Kenya Climb Africa's second-highest mountain and gaze out upon Kenya in all its glory.
Mt Elgon Uncrowded trails lead to the top of this stirring mountain on the cusp of Uganda.
Mt Longonot Accessible Rift Valley volcano with views down into the crater's lost world.
Hell's Gate National Park One of few national parks where you're encouraged to explore on foot.
Aberdare National Park Unusual alpine flora and fauna and quiet walking trails.
Mbulia Conservancy Hike through thick woodland to viewpoints out over the immensity of Tsavo.
Matthews Range Trek these spectacular highlands in the heart of Samburu country.
Loita Hills Hike across the remote south like a Maasai.