Visitors to Kenya are either going on safari or taking a beach break, or looking to combine the two.
Most people arrive in Nairobi, where the majority of game parks and reserves are within a day's drive. Popular safari circuits include a couple of nights in the Masai Mara, combined with a night or two in Lake Nakuru National Park or Samburu National Reserve, or a combination of 1 or 2 nights in both Amboseli and Tsavo. Longer safaris combine the Kenyan parks with those in Tanzania's Northern Circuit. Adventure-seekers will want to explore the northern deserts or climb Mount Kenya. And just because you want to lounge on the beach in Mombasa doesn't mean you have to forgo your safari; a night or two can be spent at nearby parks such as Tsavo.
To see more than one park or game reserve in Kenya, you'll need at least a week, with a couple of nights at each to make the most out of early-morning and late-afternoon game drives, when animals are most active.
Tanzania is one of the greatest safari destinations in Africa, covering a diverse selection of landscapes. It's home to the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino), which were trophies for game hunters in the past but today are popular sights on a game drive. About 25% of Tanzania is occupied by parks and reserves, and ocean life is protected in a number of marine parks.
The country's most popular parks, known as the Northern Circuit -- Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, and Lake Manyara -- and the two big mountains, Kilimanjaro and Meru, are most easily accessed from the town of Arusha, dubbed the safari capital of Tanzania. Almost all Northern Circuit safaris start and finish here. Arusha is actually closer to Nairobi than Dar, so visitors going to only the Northern Circuit may want to consider flying into Nairobi instead, from where there are regular shuttle buses or flights to Tanzania.
Tanzania is also home to archaeological sites such as the Olduvai Gorge, where traces of early man were discovered, as well as historical coastal towns where the Swahili way of life can be experienced. The impossibly atmospheric island of Zanzibar is steeped in culture and history and has unpolluted beaches, and there is excellent diving on the reefs around the islands of Pemba and Mafia. Tanzania is also home to Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest in the world that can be walked up.
Home on the Range -- The Laikipia Plateau is a patchwork of spacious ranches to the north of Mount Kenya, owners of which in the early 1990s got together, took down fences, and turned from farming livestock to harboring free-roaming wildlife on the shared land. This has been Kenya's greatest conservation initiative in recent years, and today has the largest concentration of game outside the Masai Mara, with exceptionally healthy populations of rhino and elephant. Visitors to this region need to be well heeled, as most of the lodges are in original farm homesteads where you will experience personal hosting by the ranch owners. Allow at least a week in the region, and if you want to climb Mount Kenya, allow another 5 days.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.