Top 5 Road Trips to Take in Kenya
Road trips are memory-making machines, the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of your ordinary life. Indeed, nothing beats the feeling of spending hours in a luxury safari vehicle, traveling all over Kenya, taking in the breathtaking sites, and meeting amazing people along the way.
With a suitable camera, you can immortalize the glorious moments as you commit some of the memories to your diary for future reference. When it comes to thrill-inspiring road trips and super-friendly safari guides, Kenya boasts an abundance of those. Read on to uncover the top five road trips in Kenya that you should consider before hitting 50.
1. Nairobi to Voyager Ziwani in Tsavo National Park
- Distance: 280 kilometers
- Duration: 4 ½ hours
- Routes: Nairobi – Emali – Tsavo
Tour companies in Kenya often recommend the Nairobi to Voyager Ziwani safari. The trip involves passing through the bustling Nairobi streets before joining the famous Mombasa road, which will lead you all the way to Emali.
You can choose to begin your sightseeing tours right in Nairobi or drive directly to Voyager Ziwani for the full experience. As you drive out of Nairobi along Mombasa Road, some of the highlights include the Maasai Market at Uchumi Capital Center and the Ice Rink at the Panari Resort. You can also glimpse the Nairobi National Park, albeit from a distance.
As you drive into Voyager Ziwani, you’ll be greeted by the picturesque views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The location of this bush camp in Tsavo makes the road trip ideal for travelers seeking to experience the wild side of nature. The Sante River, which flows through the camp, is an excellent spot to sight water dwellers, such as hippos, crocodiles, and turtles.
To experience all the magic on this road trip, you can consider working with a local tour operator that offers all-inclusive holiday packages in Kenya.
2. Nairobi to the Mara Intrepids in Maasai Mara
- Distance: 260 kilometers
- Duration: 5 Hours
- Routes: Nairobi – Mai Mahiu – Narok – Masai Mara
As you drive from Nairobi to Masai Mara game reserve, your first stopover destination will likely be at the Mai Mahiu viewpoint, where you’ll behold the majestic sight of the Great Rift Valley. The viewpoint is located amidst the Mau Escarpments, which makes the area a perfect spot for photography.
After the short excursion, proceed to Narok Town, from where you’ll exit the main highway and drive through the Narok-Sekenani road. Upon entering the park, you can easily navigate your way to the Mara Intrepids that are located close to the Mara River, along the Great Migration route. If you take the road trip between July and October, there will be plenty of wildebeest herds to sight along the way.
About Masai Mara Game Reserve
Masai Mara is Kenya’s iconic game park. The park is tucked away in the southwestern plains of Kenya, in the expansive Narok County.
In 2017, it was voted the leading game park in Africa. That was all thanks to the wildlife conservation efforts by the Kenyan government and the commitment by Masai Mara tour agencies to deliver surreal holiday experiences to their quests.
Masai Mara also enjoys the prestigious title as the world’s game park with the highest concentration of wildlife, with over 1000 animal species and about 450 bird species. Africa’s Big 5 are all spread throughout the Mara plains.
3. Nairobi to the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary in Kisumu
- Distance: 350 kilometers
- Duration: 6Hrs
- Routes: Nairobi – Naivasha – Nakuru – Kericho – Kisumu
A road trip between two cities is always a thrill-filled one, especially if the cities are located so far away from each other. If you’re thinking about taking this road trip, pot for the Nairobi – Kisumu road trip.
As you drive along the Nairobi – Naivasha highway, you’ll be welcomed by the picturesque views of the Great Rift Valley, which teems with numerous attractions besides its sheer grandeur.
You’ll hardly miss Lake Naivasha as you drive past the little but bustling town of Naivasha.
Lake Elementaita is another special highlight here. The lake is a bird’s paradise. If you have some time to spare, you might consider making a stopover by the lake to marvel at its wide collection of exotic and indigenous birds, as well as its shaggy landscape. The Lake lies in between Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru.
But Lake Nakuru is undeniably the most spectacular lake of these three. The lake is famous for its vast number of beautiful pink flamingos. From a distance, the pink color of the birds makes a striking contrast with the lake’s waters, creating one of the most spectacular scenes on the floor of the Rift Valley.
Besides Lake Nakaru National Park, Nakuru is also home to another unmissable landscape – the Menengai Crater. Your trip will proceed west to Kericho, a town famous for its expansive tea plantations.
The rest of the journey is a gentle descent to the lakeside city of Kisumu. You can decide to experience other areas of this beautiful city and then wind up your trip at the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, which is a haven for impalas and other animals.
4. Nairobi to the Aberdare Ranges in Nyandarua
- Distance: 200 kilometers
- Duration: 4 Hours
- Routes: Nairobi – Thika -Nyeri – Aberdares
From Nairobi, you’ll drive along Kenya’s most iconic highway – the Thika Superhighway. The road passes through a few small towns before you get to Thika. Though there are not many landscapes to see in this short drive, it will introduce you to some of Kenya’s prestigious institutions of higher learning, including Kenyatta University and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
From Thika, the road trip proceeds straight to Nyeri, where you can view the Aberdare Ranges from a distance. But for a more up-close experience, drive on to the Aberdare Ranges.
Aberdare Ranges tower to a height of 4,000 meters above sea level. The ranges are densely forested, making them a paradise for endemic plants and indigenous wildlife. Examples of animals include elephants, buffalos, leopards, the black rhino, and the white colobus monkey. However, game drives through the Aberdares are challenging, so ensure you go on this road trip in a 4WD.
From a vantage point, you can view the Kinangop Plateau, Lake Naivasha, and the Mau Escarpments. Not to mention the iconic Mount Kenya that lies east of the Aberdare.
5. Nairobi to Samburu National Reserve in Samburu
- Distance: 355 kilometers
- Duration: 5 Hours
- Routes: Nairobi – Nyeri – Nanyuki – Isiolo – Samburu
If you’re considering exploring Kenya’s northern frontiers, this is the road trip to take. You’ll drive along Thika Road and get to Thika town. From here, you’ll take the Kenol – Sagana – Karatina road and drive to Nyeri town, then proceed to Nanyuki, a town famous for its numerous ranches and wildlife sanctuaries.
Now, drive on to Isiolo, a trip that’s roughly one hour. Isiolo is approximately 50 kilometers to Samburu, but this section of the trip is largely off-road.
The Ewaso Nyiro River bounds Samburu National Reserve to the south, a river that gives life to an otherwise arid landscape. Some of the wild animals in this park include the reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, gravy zebra, and the Beisa Oryx.
Ewaso Nyiro River separates Samburu National Reserve from another point of interest, the Buffalo Springs National Reserve.
There are other bush road trip ideas in Kenya. However, these are some of the most scenic and adventure-filled ones. Our only parting shot would be that you insist on a 4WD.