10 DAYS IN KENYA: THE ULTIMATE ITINERARY
This post contains some affiliate links to tours that I genuinely recommend
Best known for it’s incredible safaris and beautiful coast line, it would be easy to spend 10 days in Kenya exploring the tourist hot spots alone. But Kenya has a lot more to offer that is a little further off the tourist trail if you are prepared to do a little research. It is a country perfectly suited to travellers who want to get away from the crowds and experience Kenya’s vibrant and fascinating culture and history. It really is a country for everyone.
This 10 days in Kenya itinerary will pack in the best of all Kenya has to offer, from incredible safari experiences, to rain forests and high altitude views. This really a country that has it all, and we don’t want you to miss out on a single bit of the fun!
Getting Around During Your 10 Days In Kenya
The best way to see Kenya has to be by car. Now, I’m a pretty nervous driver, and I have to say that driving in Kenya would have probably given me a nervous breakdown. This is not the way to travel if you aren’t a confident driver, or with someone that is. Luckily my friend doesn’t mind the hectic roads and slightly erratic driving, and seeing the country with the freedom of a car was incredible and I can’t recommend it enough if you have the confidence.
There are all the usual car hire companies in Nairobi, but my vote goes to Roadtrip Kenya. They offer sturdy, reliable 4x4s that are perfect for Kenya’s back roads. They have 24 hr roadside assistance and can offer a whole load of helpful add ons such as fridges and tents, to help maximise your trip.
The next best way to see Kenya would be by tour, and preferably a private one so that you can make your own itinerary and go to the places you really want to see, without others getting in the way.
Buses and Matatus
Buses and Matatus have a bad safety record in Kenya, and you should be a little cautious when travelling by either. Matatus are often crammed full and drive at incredible speeds. Don’t be afraid to ask to get off if you feel unsafe! The great thing about them is that they are cheap, and it is possible to travel the length of the country in them (though be prepared for an uncomfortable ride!)
Buses cover almost the whole country. The easiest procedure is to mention your destination to a few people at the bus park (known as “stage” or “stand” in Kenya) and then check out the variety of offers, though the large companies have proper ticket offices at or near the bus stations where they list their routes and prices. Once you’ve reserved a seat, the wait can be an adventure in itself, as the hustle and bustle of street vendors selling their wares through the windows of the buses is an interesting experience.
Matatus (colourful mini buses) can be fast and are sometimes dangerous. They also give you a real taste of local life, and can be great fun. Always try to choose one that is close to full or you’ll have to wait inside until they’re ready to go, sometimes for hours. Don’t pay until you’ve left town, as they often drive around town to try and pick up more customers before heading back to the exact same spot they picked you up from!
The trouble with both of these modes of transport is that they stick to certain main routes, and you will struggle to get to some of the lesser known places on this itinerary.
The Ultimate 10 Days In Kenya
I’ve based this itinerary on what I feel are the must visit locations if you have 10 days in Kenya to travel and sight-see. They aren’t necessarily the most popular, and they certainly aren’t all safari destinations, but I think these destinations give a great taste of the diversity and culture you will find in Kenya. It isn’t all just elephants and lions!
I’ve included places to stay at each destination. I bought a tent and camped where it was allowed which worked perfectly. You could bring your own lightweight tent if you’re making your way by bus or public transport, or you could hire a tent from the car hire company I recommended above. The great thing about having a tent with you is that you’ll save a bit on accommodation costs, but then you’ll also potentially miss out on some really awesome accommodation!
Days 1 and 2-Nairobi, a must visit on your 10 days in Kenya
Chances are you flew into Kenya’s vibrant and busy capital, Nairobi. Depending on what time you arrive here we would recommend spending 1-2 days in the city, There is so much to see and do here that you could easily spend all 10 days of your time wondering the urban streets, dining in fancy restaurants and soaking up the Kenyan city life. But with so much else to see it seems a shame to spend all your time in the city, so try to limit your time to just a few days.
Take a day to visit some of the tourist attractions. Nairobi’s metropolitan area and outskirts are full of things to see and experience – all within easy walking distance or a short taxi ride away. You can find out all about Nairobi in our ultimate guide, including ideas on where to stay, places to eat and a huge variety of things to do.
An absolute must do while you’re in Nairobi is a visit to the elephant orphanage. Find out all about they incredible work they do here, opening times and prices in our guide to Nairobi’s famous elephant orphanage.
If you would rather the hard work was done for you then why not consider one of these fantastic tours.
Places To Stay In Nairobi
Fairview Hotel is quiet and peaceful but still has a central location. It’s a very pretty place to stay and unusual for a city centre hotel!
If you’re like us and prefer the freedom to cook if you choose then consider a stay at Prime Living Apartments. Great views, central location and fitted out with home comforts too.
Day 3 -Lake Naivasha, home to crocs and hippos!
Leave early and head straight to Lake Naivasha (you may even want to head there the evening before so you have a whole day here, especially if you’re more of a fan of rural areas!)
Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake just a few hours drive from Nairobi. It is full of crocodiles and hippo’s, and you may well spot them coming out of the water if you’re lucky. This lake is a recreational area to many Kenyans, so there are a lot of activities in and around Lake Naivasha.
To be honest, I would be more than happy just taking a day to relax beside the beautiful lake and get used to the relaxed Kenyan way of life after a hectic few days in the city. But there is also plenty to do here if you like to make the most of your time.
Why not take a boat safari trip and spot an incredible variety of bird species.
You can also take a trip to Hell’s Gate National Park where you can go on a walking or horseback riding safari and spot wildlife like giraffes, buffalo, Colombus monkeys, wildebeest and more.
If you can afford to spend longer here then an easy day trip from Lake Naivasha would be to climb Mt. Longonot. It’s an adventurous 4-5 hour hike into the crater of Mt. Longonot, with stunning views and the chance to spot buffalo, antelopes and maybe even leopards if you get really lucky.
Another favourite thing to do here is to visit Elsamere and learn more about The Joy Adamson Story-the woman who raised the lion cub, Elsa, and successfully reared her and released her into the wild many years later. You can visit the beautiful lodge she lived in, with an amazing view over Lake Naivasha and enjoy a nice cup of Kenya tea. Her best-selling book, ‘Born Free’, is definitely something you want to read while you travel through Kenya.
Where To Stay
Camp Carnelley’s offers a wide range of different accommodation including traditional camping, twin rooms, bandas and dormitories. They are all located right at the edge of the lake, so you really feel as though you are out in the wild. They offer accommodation for every budget and serve amazing food at the “Lazybones” Bar and Restaurant. I can thoroughly recommend it here, it really is idyllic for people who love character and a ‘camping’ experience!
Day 4-Lake Victoria, off the beaten track
Settle in for a 5 hour drive, preferably through Kericho’s charming tea plantations. This would be a great place to stop and break up the drive if you have time. You can head to Kisumu, a town on Lake Victoria’s Eastern side, where there are plenty of options for accommodation overlooking the lake. Or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous then stay overnight on Rusinga Island, and take the car ferry across the lake to continue your journey.
Lake Victoria is completely off the beaten track, and an amazing place to visit. I felt like I was seeing the real Kenya on my visit here, and loved doing something a little different to the usual Kenyan safaris. If you have time to spare then you could take a boat trip out onto the lake and search for hippos. I was content to watch the beautiful sunset, and was pleased I got up early to watch the sunrise over the lake. It was one of the most magical moments I had on my 10 days in Kenya.
Where To Stay
I stayed on Rusinga Island, in a beautiful Eco lodge overlooking Lake Victoria. Situated in Mbita, 5 miles from Tom Mboya Museum, Wayando Beach Eco Lodge has little hut accommodation and space for camping, with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a garden. The huts have a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries. There is also free WiFi. It’s garden is a lovely space to relax in, with hammocks and a large communal area.
Day 5 and 6-Kakamega Rainforest, a 10 days in Kenya highlight
Kakamega Rainforest was the biggest surprise for me on my 10 days in Kenya. I just never imagined so much green in a place that I thought was all about the sandy, bristly landscapes of the safari scene. Kakamega is a lush, deep green jungle just teeming with wildlife and moody atmosphere. You will feel in the middle of no where here-we didn’t see another tourist the whole time we were here.
Take a ferry across Lake Victoria (an experience in itself) and drive through little villages where the children run out onto the road to wave you past. The entrance to the rainforest centre is a little hard to find. Ask for directions if you get lost!
There are many different areas to explore, so enlist the help of a knowledgeable guide who will show you all the best spots and will know all about the local wildlife and the best places to spot it. You will be walking, so make sure you have decent walking shoes. The humid paths are very likely to be muddy!
The best place to stay, in my opinion, is in a tent amongst the wildlife. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for fireflies as you walk to your tent at night, and keep your food well locked away or the local monkeys will have it for sure!
To find out all about Kakamega rainforest, including accommodation options, then check out this detailed post.
Day 7 and 8-Ol Pejeta, safari with a difference
Leave Kakamega Rainforest early because today is a long drive through some beautiful scenery. I promise it’s worth it!
Ol Pejeta is the safari park with a difference. This incredible place is home to the last two Northern White Rhinos left on Earth, and does amazing conservation work for endangered rhinos and elephants.
As well as their pioneering efforts to save animals, this conservation park offers you the chance to see all the safari big five, and the ultimate experience of camping in the bush. I can’t rave about this place enough-watching wild elephants walk past my tent in the moonlight is definitely one of my all time top travel experiences.
And don’t worry if you can’t get hold of a tent, they offer a wide range of different lodges, all with their own unique features. You can self drive yourself around the park if you hired a car, or take a jeep tour of you would prefer.
To find out all you need to know about this amazing place, including where to stay, check out my Ol Pejeta safari guide here.
Day 9-Mount Kenya day hike, one to squeeze into your 10 days in Kenya
Rather than taking most of your holiday to climb all the way to the top of Mount Kenya why not just do a day trek. This way you will get a taste of the incredible mountain scenery and still get to experience some of the other Kenyan highlights during your 10 days.
There are several different routes you can take, each one slightly different, but all of them only last a day. Make sure you take a guide-not only is it a huge area but it is also full of wildlife that may be dangerous if not treated or approached in the right way. A knowledgeable guide will be able to show you all the best places to go and keep you safe. You’ll also be supporting local businesses, so it’s good all round!
Alternatively, you could head back to Nairobi and see Mount Kenya as a day trip, like this popular trip here. Or if you have time, why not see a little more of this incredibly mountain with an overnight stay.
Day 10-Home time
Time to head back to Nairobi for your flight home. If you have time, why not stop at the Nairobi National Park to fit in a last minute safari in a park that’s right next to a city! Or perhaps you have longer to spend in Kenya? The perfect end to such a busy holiday would be to head to the beach for some rest and relaxation!
Things to consider before heading off on your 10 days in Kenya:
The Kenyan shilling (KES) is the official currency of Kenya. Credits cards are commonly accepted in most mid-range to high-end restaurants and hotels. ATMs are plentiful within all main towns throughout the country, where money can be withdrawn. Make sure you check your banks transaction fees before you go to avoid being stung too hard, or sign up for a Revolut card (get it free through this link) and never worry about being overcharged when you travel again!
Proof of yellow fever vaccination needs to be presented, and they do check this on arrival! Check with your medical centre for advice on any other vaccinations needed before you visit, and make sure you get malaria tablets if you are visiting malaria affected areas.
Hopefully you have some ideas about the most beautiful places to visit on your 10 days in Kenya. Obviously, as it is such a huge country, there are a lot more places to explore, but this guide should give you a feel for the incredible wildlife, culture and scenery that makes Kenya so unique and special. Next time you’ll want more than just 10 days in Kenya!
Leave a comment below if you’ve been to any of the places on the list, it’s always great to hear from you!