01 of 10
If you want to see the 'big five' in one morning, Masai Mara in western Kenya is the place to be. During the dry season from July to October the wildlife spectacle is unparalleled. Nowhere else can you watch the annual migration of over a million wildebeest from a hot-air balloon. The 'Mara' is as close to "Out of Africa" as you can get.
02 of 10
Lamu is one of Kenya's oldest towns, settled by the Swahili about 700 years ago. More recently discovered by backpackers, Lamu is a great place to unwind and wash off the dirt and grime accumulated from some hard traveling. No matatus or mini-buses here, just donkeys and the sound of the ocean waves. You can take a Dhow and explore the islands or enjoy wandering the narrow alleys of Lamu's old town.
Where to Stay on Lamu: Shela Beach area: Lamu Retreats offer several houses for rent; the cheapest is probably the Banana House. More upscale is the Peponi Hotel.
Lamu Town Petley's Inn is the best place to stay. Cheaper options include Pole Pole Guest House and the Kipepeo Guest House.
Getting to Lamu: Fly from Nairobi.
03 of 10
Lake Nakuru is famous for its huge flocks of flamingos that enjoy the alkaline waters of this shallow soda lake. Other than 1 million flamingos and many more species of birds, the park is also home to white rhino, warthog, giraffe, hippo, ostrich, and lion. Lake Nakuru is slowly recovering from several environmental pressures that caused its flamingo population to decline in the 1990's.
04 of 10
Mount Kenya is Africa's second highest peak. While the highest peaks Batian (5200m) and Nelion (5188m) require some technical climbing, Lenana (4985m) is the peak trekkers head to. Mount Kenya's slopes are cloaked in forest and moorland which gives way to rock, ice and snow. The mountain is part of a larger reserve.
The best time to climb Mount Kenya is between January - February, and July - October. There are huts on the mountain, or you can camp. Expect to pay around $850 per person on up, depending on the route you take.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Amboseli is a popular park with breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro (in Tanzania). The park is centered around Observation Hill, which offers great views of the plains below. The Maasai live around the park and other than their cattle, Amboseli is home to more than 50 species of mammal and over 400 species of bird. You can see elephant, hippo, cheetah, leopard and more, see images of Amboseli.
Best Time To Go: June - October
Where to Stay: There are several lodges and campsites in the park.
Getting There: By road from Nairobi (4 hours) or a daily scheduled flight from Nairobi's Wilson Airport.
06 of 10
The lunar landscape around Lake Turkana, a northern Rift Valley lake in Kenya, is a true spectacle. Lake Turkana is the largest permanent desert lake in the world and it is jam packed with large Nile crocodiles. The desert landscape is a paleontologists dream come true, as early hominid remains continue to be unearthed by the Leakey family around Koobi Fora. The Lake itself is a shimmering entity that changes color with the wind. The area is home to various unique tribes and one of the main attractions for visitors. Turkana is off the beaten track.
Best Time To Go: June/July
Where to Stay: Lake Turkana Lodge; Desert Rose; and Oasis Lodge
Getting There: Charter flights, check with the lodges in the area.
07 of 10
Lewa is a private reserve set up primarily to protect black rhino, sitatunga, and the endangered Grevy's zebra. The park is excellently maintained, there are over 60 species of mammals and over 200 species of bird. You can even enjoy your game viewing on foot, on the back of a camel, or in a traditional safari vehicle.
Best Time To Go: January - April, and June - October
Where to Stay: There are several lodges in the park and on community land outside the park.
Getting There: By air from Nairobi on Safari Link.
08 of 10
Tsavo National Park is split into Tsavo East and Tsavo West. The Tsavo parks are vast and the landscape is wild. Tsavo East is less developed than Tsavo West but more accessible. In Tsavo West, you can watch elephants bathe among the hippos and the crocs from a unique vantage point of an underwater glass tank. The "Big Five" do live here, but you have to look carefully to spot them.
Best Time To Go: May to October
Where to Stay: Tsavo East has Voi Wildlife Lodge; Tsavo West has several lodges. Both parks have private campsites.
Getting There: By road from Mombasa (3-4 hours) or Nairobi (10 hours); Or charter flight.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Malindi is a small town, but the beaches that surround it make it one of Kenya's top attractions. Silversands lies just south of town and is lined with villas and small resorts. A Marine Park keeps the area free from fishing and therefore great for snorkeling. Farther south is Watamu, a National Park with two main lagoons, Turtle Bay and Blue Lagoon, with plenty resorts and hotels. Popular activities include sunset sails on a dhow (traditional sailboat), sunbathing, dolphin watching, diving and all kinds of water sports. Air Kenya and 540 Airlines both fly to Malindi from Nairobi or catch a matatu from Mombasa.
Check out the Gedi ruins while you're here, a deserted Swahili trading town.
AfricanMecca Safaris has more info about tours.
10 of 10
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs are 3 Reserves bordering one another in the dry landscape of North Central Kenya. The wildlife congregates around the Ewaso Ngiro River which runs through the Reserves. Besides the wildlife (elephant, giraffe, leopard, zebra, blue-legged ostriches), a highlight of any visit is to meet the Samburu people. Camel safaris are on offer at most of the lodges and if you're in the area, visit the Laikipia Plateau.