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The 5 Best Destinations for a Safari from Nairobi

Nairobi is Kenya’s capital and largest city in East Africa. It is surrounded by the stunning Ngong Hills to the west and the Kilimani-Muthangari Forest to the east. With a population of over 4.5 million people, the city is the main cultural, economic, and political hub in East Africa. The beautiful and vibrant city has sunny and pleasant weather between January to March and October to December. It is about 140 kilometers south of the equator. Because of the warm and sunny weather, Nairobi has become a popular safari destination for outdoor activities such as expeditions, hiking, and sightseeing.

What is the best time of the year to take safaris from Nairobi?

The best time to take safaris from Nairobi would be the dry months (January-March and June-October) since most of the inland roads aren’t tarmacked. The rainy season can be muddy and wet, and some game parks are often closed due to flooding. Also, you can see the wild animals lazing and grazing out in the open plains.

The best time to see lions would be at night as they come out to hunt. Most of them live and hunt in prides, so have your tour guide take you to the best spots for a fantastic view.

While there are plentiful activities for both day and night sightseeing, some favorite activities for your Kenya safari from Nairobi include:

Wildlife Viewing: The best time to go on a safari from Nairobi is from June to October. Visit The Maasai Mara and Amboseli National Parks to see the BIG FIVE, elegant giraffes and imposing herds of elephants majestically walking through the plains. The vegetation is a little dry at this time of year, and animals flock around water sources, making it easier for a perfect game view.

Calving season: January and February have a lot of new baby animals, so you can catch a glimpse of this beautiful scenery with young ones hovering around their mothers playfully.

Low season: To avoid huge tourist crowds in the game parks, the best time to visit would be between March to May and October to November. You get to enjoy vast plains with the animals sauntering or resting in plain sight as there is very little human activity in the parks.

Main Attractions for your Nairobi safari tour

Before embarking on your safari in the beautiful countryside, you can start with the attractions right in the heart of the city. They are all within a 5-mile radius of each other, making it relatively simple to navigate these great sites for your Nairobi Safari tour:

Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is the only national park in the world that is located within a city. It is home to the big cats of East Africa, giraffes, zebras, hyenas and black and white rhinos, hippos, and crocodiles lazing in the park’s waterways.

The Giraffe Centre

This unique center is located in Langata, Nairobi, about 12 miles from the main city. It is devoted to the conservation of the threatened Rothschild’s giraffe. Visitors interact and feed the giraffes from the main dining area. Most tour operators’ offer guided tours to the center as part of a larger itinerary of your Nairobi Safari Tour. If you are already in Nairobi, you can hire an uber and driver to the giraffe center. In most cases, cars such as Nissan note, Mazda Axela, Honda fit, and Toyota Vitz are used for uber in Nairobi.

The Best Destination for a Kenya Safari Near Nairobi

Outbound Safaris from Nairobi require prior planning with a tour guide and an experienced driver to tackle the arduous dusty roads outside the city. Once you have all your gears, prepare for takeoff to the best Kenya Safari from Nairobi. Here’s our list of must-see wildlife, scenery and the stunning hills and mountains engulfing the endless wildlife plains:

1. The Maasai Mara National Reserve

This is Kenya’s most popular safari destination. The Maasai Mara is best known for its large herds of wildebeest, big cats, zebras, and other wildlife. Visit this amazing game park to witness the Great Migration of wildebeests, between July and October. Tour operators offer an unforgettable aerial view of this spectacular experience from a helicopter that displays a plausible determination by the beasts to cross over the difficult terrain in herds, or suffer starvation.

Other animals in the reserve include a flourishing lion population. The park is a vast savannah with broad green horizons dotted by iconic acacia trees. A well-planned tour will take you around the plains for an up-close view of the variety of wildlife, as you soak in the romantic, remarkable view of the Mara Plains, and the Rift Valley escarpment. Ideally, plan a 3 day or 4 day Masai Mara safari from Nairobi. This will allow you enough time to soak in all the wonder of  the Mara.

2. Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the best parks to visit from Nairobi. Located right at the entrance of Nakuru city, it packs a stunning variety of exotic birds into a relatively small lake – about 180 square kilometers. The lake area is home to white and black rhinos, hippos, and numerous naughty baboons! And, a few lions, which like to hide in plain sight. You will see them propped up on trees, observing the terrain for prey or lazing off in the shades away from the unforgiving sun on hot days. You get a magnificent view of tens of thousands of flamingos, pelicans, and other birds covering the lake’s surface.

3. Ol Pejeta Wildlife Sanctuary

This is a unique sanctuary that protects the endangered rhinos in East Africa. It is located in Nanyuki, about 210 kilometers from Nairobi. It is the largest safety haven for endangered white and black rhinos in East Africa. You can watch black rhinos, and other integrated animals such as lions, elephants, buffalos, chimpanzees and many more animals in their natural habitat. The Ol Pejeta Wildlife Sanctuary is dedicated to protect and care for endangered white rhinos. Currently, they have two white rhinos under 24-hour guard and a heard of black rhinos which are constantly in danger of poaching hence the need to protect them.

Enjoy your Kenya safari from Nairobi with a drive to the famous Ol Pejeta Sanctuary where you get a perfect view of Mt Kenya in the open distance. You also get a spectacular view of vast coffee and tea plantations as you drive through the highlands of Central Kenya towards Nanyuki.

4. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is located about 240 kilometers from Nairobi, at the base of Mount Kenya. The conservancy is home to the endangered white (2) and black rhinos, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and other wildlife. The world-renowned Wildlife Conservancy offers scenic savannah grasslands and clumps of fever trees, which shade the numerous animals in this park. Plenty of rhinos, aggressive elephants, (may exhibit anger when agitated); lions, buffalos, leopards, and cheetahs can also be seen in the reserve. Lewa has some of the best cozy safari lodges, and an air of complete exclusiveness.

5. Amboseli National Park

The Amboseli National Park is about 230 kilometers from Nairobi, close to the Tanzanian border. The park is famous for its magnificent elephant herds and the stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa; a variety of wildlife, including the “Big Five” species –  African elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards (elusive, rarely seen but can be spotted in the early morning or late afternoon). Others include the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes, Grevy’s zebras, and wildebeest, mostly seen near water sources.

What you need to pack for a Safari from Nairobi

Packing for your trip depends on what time of the year you plan to visit for a Safari from Nairobi Kenya. It’s advisable to be prepared for various weather conditions and outdoor activities. Here are some essential items to pack for your trip in the wilderness:

  • Clothing: Pack lightweight, long-sleeved (protects you from the sun, dust and insects) clothing in neutral colors such as khaki, brown, or green to camouflage you with the surroundings. Pack comfy light boots, socks, and a light jacket for cooler mornings and evenings.
  • Insect Repellent containing DEET: for mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Backpack: A lightweight bag for carrying water, snacks, and extra clothing.
  • Binoculars: Recommended to see wildlife from a distance.
  • Cash and Documents: Carry your passport at all times, visas, and some cash for park entrance fees and tipping.
  • Camera: You’ll want to capture the wildlife and scenery.
  • Sun Protection: The sun is intense on most days, so carry a pair of sunglasses, a wide hat, and sunscreen with a high SPF.
  • Personal Items: A first aid tool kit, medications, toiletries, and personal items.
  • Power Bank: electricity may be limited or unavailable in some areas.

Always check with your travel agent for specific recommendations on each trip.

In conclusion, these exotic Safari destinations are easily accessible from Nairobi and offer an unforgettable safari experience.

James Gatheru