Don’t Just Imagine Kenya—Experience It

It’s much more than a safari when AAA and African Travel lead the way.

woman looking out a jeep window at a herd of elephants iStock

Will that dream African safari forever be something you talk about with family and friends or are you ready to make it happen?

The question shouldn’t be if but where do you begin to make your dream a reality. For those looking where to start or an amazing adventure, the luxury safari company, African Travel, Inc. often recommends Kenya, the birthplace of the traditional safari and a leader in conserving wildlife and cultures.

We’ve teamed up the Kenya Tourism Board and African Travel and created a list of some of the best and most sustainable experiences to discover the magic of Kenya.

Along with the list African Travel shares some invaluable advice in planning a safari to Kenya. 

Young elephants being fed by a game rancher African Travel

Immersive Wildlife Experiences

With opportunities for year-round wildlife viewing, an authentic big-game safari is a turnkey experience. Most journeys begin or end in Nairobi and include exploring two or three different parks or private conservancies.

“Kenya is special because of its sustainable tourism practices,” says African Travel President, Sherwin Banda. “The country has some of the most successful community-led wildlife conservancies and has made great strides in protecting the very different species you can see here. There is wildlife you won’t find anywhere else on the continent and visiting a private conservancy is a must.”

African Travel is a natural partner in this effort, leading the way in offering ethically responsible and engaging experiences. This includes curating trips with Make Travel Matter experiences that help preserve wildlife, support communities and enhance the United Nation’s Global Sustainability efforts.  

One must do Make Travel Matter Experience is found in their Captivating Kenya itinerary and is a behind the scenes tour at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in the Namunyak Conservancy. Protecting elephants is one of the vital tasks for conservancies across Africa, particularly Kenya’s first community-owned elephant orphanage. The center is run by the Samburu community, including women who are among the sanctuary’s keepers. As you join an elephant keeper, you’ll learn how the elephants gain skills so they may be re-introduced back into the wild. 

Located between the foothills of the Aberdare Mountain Range and the snowcapped Mount Kenya lies the nonprofit Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Featured in our AAA Vacations Magical Kenya small group journey, the  conservancy is home to the highest wildlife density outside the Maasai Mara ecosystem. A sanctuary for chimpanzees, Ol Pejeta also boasts the largest black rhino population in eastern Africa and is home to the only two remaining northern white rhinos in the world. After exciting night game drives, you can also participate in a lion training project. 

A family of zebras in Africa African Travel

The Samburu Special 5

You may have heard of the Big 5—lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, African bush elephant and the African buffalo- but have you heard about the Samburu Special 5? This collection of rare animals can be seen on African Travel’s Kenya Wildlife Safari during a visit in the Samburu National Reserve. The region has excellent year-round game viewing of the Grevy’s zebra, long-necked gerenuk (a type of antelope), reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich and the antelope-like Beisa oryx—can be found in the Samburu National Reserve.

A large herd of animals on the African plains African Travel

The magic of Maasai Mara

You’ll hear the name often while you’re in Kenya and the Maasai Mara needs to be included on any trip to Kenya. A protected wilderness area in the country’s southwest, Maasai Mara National Reserve is home to some of the continent’s most diverse wildlife. Stars of the show include lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras and hippos, and—for brief periods from July to November—vast herds of migrating wildebeest in the Great Migration. 

African Travel’s World’s Greatest Show and Safari is one of the best journeys for a chance to see the nearly 1 million wildebeest stampeding through the arid savanna, at one point crossing crocodile-filled waters. The itinerary also offers a nice contrast by visiting Amboseli National Park, one of Kenya’s most stunning parks and one of the best places in Africa to view—thanks to conservation efforts—the growing population of large-tusked elephants. 

An African tribe with a young family in a field African Travel

The Mara is the perfect escape for families with enticing experiences for all ages. African Travel’s Family Safari in Kenya combines interesting walks and game drives with visits with the local Maasai people including a visit to the Mara Training Centre to learn how communities live in harmony with wildlife. The safari also visits family-owned lodges across Africa and includes The Bush School for children in the heart of Laikipia. 

A young woman from an African tribe African Travel
A couple having lunch in an African field with baby elephants nearby African Travel

A local perspective

While most come for the wildlife, Kenyans will steal your heart. “One of my favorite parts of travel is meeting the locals,” Sherwin shares. “Kenya is a country that actively invites you to participate.” 

“You will experience this in the stories shared during conversations with your Maasai or Samburu guides, when you spend time with the proud members of the tracker dog units protecting wildlife from poaching or on privately guided city tours,” added Sherwin.  

Two rhinos grazing with a safari jeep in the background. African Travel

Green city in the sun 

One of the best places to see where the ancient and modern exists is in the bustling, multicultural capital, Nairobi. This beautiful city has flowering trees and a subtropical highland climate featuring warm, overcast summers and cool, dry winters.  You can even spot wildlife against the backdrop of the city’s skyline in the country’s oldest national park and adopt an elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Rust.  

The city has excellent museums and is a great place to source arts and gifts. Another empowering Make Travel Matter Experience featured  in the Kenya Wildlife Safari is a visit  to the Kazuri Bead Factory, which aims to employ disadvantaged members of Kenyan society, especially single mothers. Kazuri means “small and beautiful” in Swahili, and that’s exactly the kind of beads these artisans produce. The factory provides sustainable jobs and contributes to the fair-trade market. You’ll take away interesting gifts and stories.  

A hot air balloon at dusk about to take flight African Travel

Don’t just dream it—do it: Let AAA and African Travel help make it happen

Find the African safari that’s right for you. Working with a AAA Travel Advisor and African Travel specialist, customize your dream journey or join a AAA Vacations departure which is small and intimate with no more than 12 guests on a trip.   

You’ll enjoy exclusive rewards, such as double member benefit savings up to $500 on AAA Vacations and custom safaris of 7 nights or more, 24/7 Concierge, and a one-stop shop of planning services. Plus, every Kenyan safari gives back to wildlife conservation or a child’s education.

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