Africa is a vast and exciting continent with so much to offer, covering a multitude of amazing countries including Tanzania, South Africa, and Egypt. However, if you’re looking for an authentic wildlife safari experience and unique adventures, Kenya is definitely the best place to be. Here, you might not find Ice Hockey, Mooses, or Maple Syrup, but Kenya has a lot of other things to offer that would make Canadians want to go. So read on to find out more.
If you are looking to get in on a Kenya safari tour from Canada this year, this guide offers everything you need to know:
- Location and Landscape
- What Makes Kenya The Ideal Safari Destination for Canadians?
- A Typical Safari Day Tour
- Best Time to Visit
- Top Safari Parks
- Recommended Kenya Safari Tours
- Entry Requirements for Canadian Nationals
- Health and Safety Information
Location and Landscape
Located on the equator, this East African country is a year-round premier safari destination boasting over 40 National parks and reserves. It is a nation where nature and culture are in abundance, along with stunning landscapes that perfectly capture and define an African adventure. Kenya is surrounded on all sides by the wonders of nature — from the lofty heights of the snow-capped Mount Kenya to the inviting palm-fringed coastline of the Indian Ocean, and all the way to the steep escarpments of the Great Rift Valley.
There’s also a breathtaking array of glassy lakes teeming with birdlife scattered across the landscape, making for a complete outdoor experience unlike any other. Kenya also boasts some of the best wildlife populations on the planet today, some of which are unique to this location only. Simply put, this gloriously beautiful, wildlife-rich country offers the best of Africa.
What Makes Kenya The Ideal Safari Destination for Canadians?
There is a myriad of compelling reasons to choose Kenya for a safari adventure for everyone across the globe, but for Canadians, here’s 4 specific reasons why:
1. Tropical weather
Canada is known for its subzero temperatures and sometimes unpredictable weather. And even though summers can be great, it’s rather short. In contrast, Kenya’s weather is absolutely gorgeous throughout the year, which could well be a delightful change from all that constant cold and changing weather. Kenya is the ideal destination if you’re looking forward to basking in a tropical paradise where it is mostly sunny with just enough rainfall to keep the landscapes green and lush. It also boasts breathtaking sunrises and sunsets that will surely be a highlight of your trip.
2. Perfect Timing
Wildlife viewing is usually the crux of any safari adventure, and although this activity is mostly available year round, some events are just perfect at a particular time of the year. For instance, the Great Migration, which is best witnessed in Kenya between June and October, coincides perfectly with the summer season in Canada (June to early September). So rather than indulge in the usual summer trips, why not head to an exotic country and experience something new? Or if you are looking for a new getaway destination during the Canadian winter, Kenya has its second dry and warm season in January and February which shows a greener scenery and lots of newborns and plenty of wildlife as well.
3. Ease of Access
There are several flights from Canada to Kenya, including Air Canada and Kenya Airways. Flights take around 15 hours with mostly one stop along the way. When you arrive in Kenya, either thru the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi or the Moi International Airport in Mombasa, you will be greeted with the country’s efficient transport infrastructure. Local transport services include the famous “matatu” mini buses and UBER. For regional air travel, there are around 39 airports and airstrips across Kenya so every safari destination is easy to reach anytime.
4. Beach Holiday + Exotic Cuisine + Safari = The Perfect Bucket List Experience
Canadians are no strangers to the waterfront scene and basking in the sun near the shorelines. Kenya is home to some of the most astounding beaches in the world that can rival even those in the Caribbean. Combined with the original safari adventure, you can be sure of striking off that awesome holiday off your bucket list. There are also dozens of delicious, unique dishes that offer exotic flavors with an international taste, so your palates are able to embark on a scintillating adventure of their own.
When all is said and done, the one reason that stands out most is the innate need to reach out and explore the wild; to spend time under the stars and in the sun, coming face to face with Africa’s storybook wildlife, not behind bars like in zoos, but moving freely like the wind billowing across the savannah – most Canadians loves the outdoors and this is exactly what makes a safari holiday in Kenya an adventure like no other.
A Typical Safari Itinerary
There is no shortage of activities when it comes to seeing Kenya up close. While there are several variations, depending on your preferences and the tour company you hire, this is what a typical day in the wild entails:
WAKE-UP CALL/GAME VIEWING
You will get your wake-up call at the onset of dawn, usually around 6 AM. After a quick bite and some coffee or tea, you will be accompanied by a skilled Maasai guide as you head out into the bush since wildlife is most active in the early mornings.
After about 3 to 4 hours of wildlife viewing, you’ll head back into camp for a hearty breakfast. You can then spend the rest of the morning relaxing or taking photos of the surrounding areas, or even go for a leisurely walk around camp.
12:30 to 2:30 is the usual lunch time, but the schedule can be easily adjusted to suit your personal preferences. It consists of freshly prepared culinary delights made from local recipes. The rest of the early noon is free or you can fill it with some other available camp activities.
AFTERNOON GAME DRIVE/SUNDOWNER
When you are full and well rested, you and your guide will drive back into the bush to witness the wildlife in their natural habitat and explore the vast savannah further. As the evening sets in, the scenery begins to change as the sun sinks lower in the sky, transforming into the world famous vivid African sunset. Gather round the ancient acacia trees in the area, taking in the view and sipping some selected drinks. You are here to relax, after all.
Unless you’re on a private conservancy, night time safari is not allowed, so you’ll largely spend your evenings at your camp or lodge. You can use this period to explore and enjoy the amenities of your accommodation, as well as engage in some pre/post dinner activities like relaxing by the bonfire and even getting a personal massage. Dinner is usually served as a buffet or as a set meal with an assortment of savory options both for meat lovers and vegetarians. The rest of the night is really up to you, but it is a good idea to get a good night’s sleep as you will most often have an early start the next day.
Best Time to Visit
Kenya is a year-round destination, so safari adventurers can come in at any time. Based on most travel experts’ recommendation, however, the best time of year to visit is from June to October. This is because this period marks the dry season, the catalyst driving the Great Migration, and it also means game viewing is a lot easier since there’s less vegetation to hide them. Here’s what to expect as the season changes throughout the year:
- January to February: Generally dry and hot weather with little rainfall, though you may experience some rain at times. You can easily enjoy your safari tour during this period and you will experience greener parks and see more newborn animals at this time of the year.
- March to May: These are the rainy months, where you can expect showers pretty much every other day. This is also the cheapest time to visit Kenya since game viewing and safari activities are at their lowest. You will still see plenty of wildlife though, and the benefit of going this time of the year is that you will see much less tourists and at times almost feel you are alone in the parks.
- June to October: This “Dry Season” means there is little to no rainfall, and the skies are sunny all the time. This means perfect game viewing and beach activities across the country. Naturally, this is also the most expensive time to visit.
- November to December: Sparse rainfall, sometimes heavy and sometimes just a little shower. However, these rains mostly fall during the night or late in the afternoon, so safari tours are still mostly active.
Top Safari Parks in Kenya
Safari parks in Kenya always aim to leave you richer in experience and grateful for daring to make the journey in the first place. There really is nothing quite like observing your favourite predators up close, coming across thousands of animals and become one with the untouched wild expanses of jungle and stunning lakes. Here’s our top five picks:
The Masai Mara National Reserve
“The Jewel of Kenya” is one of the most visited national parks in Kenya, thanks to its size, natural appeal, and the sheer variety of wildlife. Here, visitors can witness the largest mammal migration on earth — the incredible annual migration of millions of wildebeest, zebra, and elands. The Masai Mara Reserve is also home to also big families of lions, elephants, hippos, and buffaloes among many more.
Lake Nakuru National Park
If birdlife is on your list of must-see things during your stay in Kenya, then Lake Nakuru is the place to go. Here, thousands of flamingos create a beautiful pink sight in the landscape thanks to their plumage. This national park also has other bird species and animals like warthogs, white rhinos, hippos and zebras, along with some of the best cliffs and waterfalls in the country. A true natural wonder.
Amboseli National Park
Sustaining hundreds of big-tusked elephants below the mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, the Amboseli National Park takes you on a thrilling journey back to a time when giants roamed the earth. There are also sightings of Wild dogs, lions, giraffes, cheetah, crocodiles, lesser kudu, buffalo, hydrax, and dik-dik. The scene is made even more enchanting with the alluring reef-fringed coastline close to the Tanzanian border.
Tsavo East and West National Parks
When combined together, these two parks offer some of the most exhilarating sights in Kenya. However, they cover such a huge area that it is almost impossible to enjoy the best of both in a single itinerary. The parks are home to the “big five”, among scores of other animal species. There are also crystal-clear lakes full of crocodiles, hippos, and fish, swimming lazily about.
Mount Kenya National Park
Standing tall and proud at 17,057 feet and holding the title of Africa’s second highest peak, Mount Kenya is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the seat of the Kikuyu God, Ngai. It hosts vivid lakes and mineral springs, which provides water for more than half of Kenya’s population and produces 70% of the country’s hydroelectric power. It is a hiker’s paradise as it offers panoramic views of lush forests and snow, as well as some rare animal species.
Recommended Kenya Safari Tours
One of the best things about a Kenyan safari tour is that there are boundless options at your disposal and you can easily customize your itinerary to suit your style and budget. Here are some samples to consider:
The Honeymoon Safari
Just married and looking for the perfect setting to celebrate your honeymoon? Kenya has got you covered. A simple combination of bush and beach in exotic locations strikes the perfect balance between adventure and intimacy. So how about you lovebirds start off with a couple of exciting safari game drives to experience the wild and then cap off with a remarkable r&r at some of the world’s most stunning beaches?
The Family Safari
Bringing your family along for the experience, book a simple 6-day tour that covers Lake Nakuru and the Maasai Mara reserve for a full-on adventure. Accommodation in these locations are top notch and the activities are engaging enough such that no family member feels left out.
The Adventure Safari
For those looking to test their limits and go all out in the wild, Kenya does not disappoint. From the highest peaks of Mount Kenya and the neighboring Mount Kilimanjaro to the lowest depths below shimmering waters, memories of this safari will remain etched for a lifetime.
The Solo Safari
Some experiences are best enjoyed in solitude, so if you prefer to go on this amazing journey alone, the tour operators are happy customize your itinerary.
Other exciting safari tours to consider include:
- 13 DAYS KENYA EXTENSIVE SAFARI
- 6 DAYS BEST OF KENYA PARKS LUXURY SAFARI
- 9 DAYS CLASSIC KENYA FAMILY SAFARI
- 7 DAYS MASAI MARA, LAKE NAIVASHA, AMBOSELI SAFARI, AND LAKE NAKURU
Entry Requirements for Canadian Nationals
Please note that the information provided here is only provisional and subject to change at any time, so you should check in with the Kenyan High Commission, located at 415 Laurier Avenue East in Ottawa before embarking on your trip. Like any other international travel, you’ll need to adhere to the following immigration rules and regulations if you are a Canadian passport holder:
- Valid Canadian passport for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Kenya with at least two (2) blank pages
- One passport-size photo taken on white background and within the last six months
- C$65.00 (non-refundable) Money Order/Bankers Draft/Certified cheque payable to Kenya High Commission if you’re applying for visa there
- Valid tourist visa, which may be obtained online. You can also apply for a visa on arrival at Kenya. Tourist visas are valid for up to three months, but you can contact the Immigration authorities if you’d like an extension
- The Kenyan Government has waived visa fees for children under 16 years of age who are accompanying their parents to Kenya
Canadian passport holders can also enter Kenya through the East African tourist visa. This allows for multiple entries to Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda and is valid for 90 days only with no option to extend. Simply obtain this visa from the appropriate authorities of the country that is your first point of entry. For instance, if you plan to begin your trip in Uganda for some amazing gorilla trekking activities before capping off your trip in Kenya, then you’ll need to get the East African tourist visa online or on arrival at Uganda. Once approved, that’s all the visa you’ll need.
Health and Safety Information
All travelers are encouraged to have up-to-date routine immunizations, including Yellow Fever, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), tetanus, diphtheria, and influenza. While you should get these before leaving Canada, there are also several topnotch medical facilities across the country, but mostly in Nairobi, the capital city.
In terms of safety, National parks, safaris and reserves have remained incident free. However, areas near the borders of Somalia and South Sudan are not ideal at this time due to the threat of regional, tribal or clan-based conflicts.
For more travel advice, visit the Canadian Government website under teh Travel and Tourism section. Here is a link to Travel Advice on Kenya which gets updated regularly.