Arid northern Kenya, captured here at dawn, has a unique beauty.

Luxury Safaris in Northern Kenya

Rocky and rugged, northern Kenya has a completely different feel to the lush, green plains of the south. It’s generally drier, hotter and – dare we say – wilder, offering a more off-the-beaten-track experience.

There are several regions to explore in this fascinating hinterland, each with their own delights. I’d suggest you start with a helicopter excursion as it’ll give you a great overview of the region. You can fly to the slopes of Mount Kenya and other inaccessible places and fish for trout in mountain lakes.

You can also take to the air in Laikipia in the very same biplane that was used in the filming of Out of Africa. While you’re in the area, you simply must spend a night sleeping on a star bed – it’s an experience like no other.

Back on the ground, explore the region using the best local transport available: the camel! Or if you prefer bumps to humps, ride quad bikes instead.

Game drives in Samburu, along the doum-palm-lined lifeline that is the Ngiro River, give you a chance to find the Samburu Special Five, and more.

You can also spend a day with elephant there. The Douglas-Hamiltons have devoted their lives to protecting the Samburu pachyderms, and they’ve shared decades of research with local guides via their Save the Elephant foundation.

If homo sapiens interest you too, go on a cultural visit with the Samburu people – you’ll get to appreciate their traditional clothing in eye-popping red and white, and their intricate beadwork. You can even learn the ways of the Samburu warrior.

Alternatively, fancy some royal romance? Take a game drive in Meru National Park – it was close to here that Prince William proposed to the then-Catherine Middleton. It’s also where Elsa the lioness, of Born Free fame, grew up.

Finally, don’t forget to visit the rhino in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a Unesco World Heritage Site that provides a haven for these threatened creatures.

 

When to Go

This is prime time for a luxury safari in northern Kenya. The weather is dry and cool, making conditions perfect in this arid part of the country. It’s just after the long rains, so while the bush is initially lush it gets progressively sparser, making wildlife easier to spot. A trip to northern Kenya at this time of year is best combined with a visit to the Masai Mara, where you’ll be able to see the Great Wildebeest Migration from July to September.

In this period following the short rains, the dry season takes hold and the vegetation thins out completely. The animals congregate near water sources – particularly the Ngiro River, which makes its way from the Laikipia highlands to Samburu and beyond – so the game viewing is excellent, plus there are fewer people around to share your sightings with. To round off your safari experience, visit Tanzania now too, where you’ll catch the southern Serengeti leg of the Great Wildebeest Migration, as well as the wildebeest’s dramatic birthing season.

Kenya’s long rains, which fall steadily throughout April and May, are followed by short rains in November – generally quick afternoon bursts. While muddy roads can make getting around a bit tricky, the drier north is the best place to be in Kenya at this time of year. It’s a quiet time for tourism, so wildlife experiences are exclusive, and as the vegetation is in a growth period, game sightings are plentiful. All in all visitors get good-value holidays now, provided they pack their sense of humour (and their gum boots!).

Looking for inspiration?

Sign up for our occasional newsletter and we’ll feed your imagination with exciting safari ideas.

Ready to start planning?

Let us help you curate your perfect experience.

Plan My Trip

Ready to start planning your trip?​​​​​​​

Plan My Trip

Want to get in touch?

Contact Us

Creating your canvas!

By clicking on the heart, you’ve just added your first safari item to your canvas, which is where you can curate your personal collection of luxury safari inspiration. View and save your canvas by clicking here, and you'll be able to access it at any time by tapping on the heart icon in the menu bar.

Got it