Kenyan officials recently passed aggressive legislation, the Wildlife Bill and Policy, which will boost conservation efforts, streamline wildlife management, and create tougher laws and consequences for poaching. Over the past 15 years, scores of landowners have volunteered over 6 million acres to conservation efforts, building a refuge for endangered animals. Not only does this protect the wildlife, it protects a crucial industry in Kenyan: tourism. The most exhilarating way to view this country and its special inhabitants is through a safari, and thanks to Kenya’s efforts, visitors will be able to spot awe-inspiring animals in natural habitats.
If you are lucky, if you are paying attention, and if you have a knowledgeable guide and a great location, you may be able to see the world’s most magnificent animals. Lion, cheetah, rhino, wildebeest, eland, cape buffalo, elephant, giraffe, hippo, leopard, hyena, crocodile, and an impressive list of bird species roam Kenyan preserves.
A key consideration is when to go to Kenya. A prime time would, of course, be during the annual migration on the Serengeti. Millions of zebra and wildebeest travel across the plains, following the lush vegetation that springs up after the rains. And, following these hungry herbivores, are equally veracious predators, including the big cats. July to October is the best time to witness the show.
Weather is important because you don’t want to get caught in torrential rains; as well, many roads and areas will become inaccessible. Most people visit during the hot, dry months: December and January; or the cool, dry months, June through August. The silver lining of visiting during the rainy months, March through May, is that prices are lower, and crowds are sparse. You can find lodges and attractions that remain open and enjoy them without feeling as though you are in a tourist trap!
When you are there, plan your day around the movement of the animals. Game drives are best in early morning, mid-morning, and late afternoon. For night owls, an after-dark safari offers an exciting opportunity to spot some nocturnal animals. These are not allowed everywhere, so be sure to check if that is a “must” on your itinerary.
To make the most of your trip to Kenya, bring a camera, field guide so you can explore the flora and fauna, a pair of binoculars, and sunscreen! From there, just keep your eyes and ears open. Half the fun is in learning to spot animals – catching a splash in the water or hearing a change in the birds. The other half, of course, is seeing your efforts pay off as you spot a giraffe, hippo, or big cat in its natural surroundings.