Kenya luxury travel guide

Kenya luxury travel guide


2 MINUTE SUMMARY

Kenya has been welcoming tourists for longer than virtually any other African country, and remains a firm favourite thanks to its superb service, tried and tested itineraries that include both safari and beach, and the understanding that its people are as important as its wildlife. Budget travelers are catered for here, but anyone looking for luxury won’t be disappointed. Kenya’s south coast and islands are little visited and blessed with white sand beaches, turquoise waters and stylish accommodation. Inland, Kenya’s trump card is its 140 or so private and community conservancies, which specialise in small, luxury camps and lodges, offering a tempting and exclusive range of wildlife experiences, from bush walks to nighttime game drives. Families are also welcome in Kenya, and its Maasai people are widely employed as guides and spokespeople for this beautiful country, making a big dose of culture a fascinating ingredient of any luxury Kenya experience.

Find out more in our Kenya luxury travel guide.

Best time to visit Kenya


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

Luxury, tailor made trips run year round in Kenya. Inland, the rains from Mar-May can make traveling harder, although prices are often lower and those stormy skies and lush landscapes are really dramatic. From Jul-Oct you can catch the wildebeest migration, with Jul-Aug super busy, but wildlife can be seen all year, with babies born towards the end of the year, and migratory birds Sep-Apr. The short rains in Nov-Dec aren’t too disruptive but do refresh the vegetation. On the coast, Mar remains hot with sea temperatures at a luxurious 30°C, but May is wet, while Dec has the most sunshine hours, at nine a day.

Why choose a luxury trip to Kenya?


Responsible Travel recommends

Everyone knows you get what you pay for, but does it apply to travel in Kenya? Luxury vacations here can cost several thousand pounds more than budget trips, so how do they compare?
Kenya has a long history in the luxury travel sector – the first luxury safari camp was established in the Masai Mara back in 1972 – and there’s no shortage of beautiful places to stay. While Botswana, South Africa and Tanzania boast accommodation that crops up in lists of the top 10 most luxurious places to stay in Africa, Kenya’s high end accommodation is a little more understated. Many of the more exclusive lodges wear their luxury with a light touch, boasting rustic, simple schemes and not the showy, glitzy décor of exclusive lodges elsewhere. So you may not get grand pianos and crystal chandeliers, but you will get lovely, five-star elements, such as quality bed linen, private bathrooms, wonderful cuisine and great service.
In addition, Kenya has over 140 conservancies, often jointly owned by foreign investors, conservation charities and local communities. These are specifically dedicated to preserving the natural environment and ensuring that the profits reach the local people. Game drives in conservancies are only available to those staying in the camps based within its boundaries, so there won’t be crowds of vehicles clustered around the wildlife, and it’s often possible to book exclusive-use game drives for your party.
Accommodation is limited in conservancies, and the camps and lodges are often small, with rooms or tents well spaced out to provide privacy. You may even have views of wildlife roaming the plains from your own private verandah or hammock – surely the ultimate luxury Kenyan experience! On the coast and Lamu Island, beautiful hotels and lodges opening onto quiet, pristine beaches keep the comfort levels peak.

Responsible tourism


Nearly all luxury camps now are very ethically minded when it comes to both the environment and the local populations. The majority of camps within national parks and private conservancies utilise very up to date waste management systems, have installed solar and wind power and collect rainwater. Many camps are also semi-permanent, so during certain months each year, the camp is taken down to let the fauna and vegetation recover.

If you choose to stay in a conservancy, you’re immediately traveling responsibly. Conservancies have much fewer visitors – and beds – per km2 than somewhere like the Masai Mara National Reserve. This creates a much more personalised experience for you, and avoids the overexploitation that is happening in some other protected areas, where lodges and camps are springing up at an alarming rate.
In addition, conservancies offer a working balance of income from tourism for the local community landowners and sustainable conservation management. A large part of your fee is channelled back into protecting the local community and improving access to vital services. This income often also funds important initiatives such as training local people to become guides, supporting schools, improving access to healthcare and clean water and empowering women.

Options


One of the most obvious benefits of a luxury trip is the freedom to tailor it to your preferences, with no set departure dates and a huge range of options, which take your trip from memorable to absolutely unforgettable. When it comes to safari adventures, some luxury vacation companies even have a dedicated travel designer within camp, who will help you pick options once you’ve arrived. Additionally, conservancies are subject to fewer restrictions than national parks and game reserves, so they can offer treats like nighttime game drives, hot air balloon rides, Maasai village visits, bush walks, fly camping, private bush dinners or breakfasts, and black rhino tracking experiences, all of which might not be on the menu elsewhere.
Photo credits: [Top box: McKay Savage] [Temperature chart: Wajahatmr ] [Accommodation: Gabby Canonizado] [Conservancies: Regina Hart] [Responsible tourism: Christopher Michel ] [Help Desk: Ninara]

Written by: Joanna Simmons
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