Kenya is a beauty to behold and this makes it a top tourist destination in Africa. Aside from its scenic landscapes, stunning beaches and a playground for the most amazing wildlife, the people of Kenya are very welcoming to tourists. Are you planning a trip to Kenya to see the diverse wildlife reserves, the panoramic geography and want to experience their rich culture but only have 10 days to visit Kenya?
Then this is your ultimate Kenya itinerary for 10 days. In a little more than 1 week I will bring you to some off the beaten path tourist destinations in Kenya, but of course also show you the Kenya top sights.
Ready to go on an Africa Safari? Check these Safari Quotes for your next Instagram caption!
Best time to travel to Kenya
You have most probably already decided when you will travel to Kenya, but if you are still in doubt… you can visit Kenya year round! Different seasons attract different kind of tourists. The Kenya beaches can be visit year round, but January till March sees the least tourists and is dry season.
If you specifically travel to Kenya for the great migration of the Wildebeest, you want to be there in July and August as that is when they cross the Mara River. For hiking in Kenya I recommend you to plan your Kenya trip in the one of the dry seasons: January till March and July till October.
Travel to Kenya during Covid-19
Most asked is can I travel to Kenya nowadays and the answer is yes! Kenya is open for tourism and tourist as of August 1st. But there are some restrictions. International flights have resumed and travelers must carry a valid PCR test with them which is not older than 96 hours before arrival in Kenya.
For domestic flights there is no need to present a negative Covid-19 test. Just like in most countries, masks are obligated in public areas, airports and during flights. For more detailed information and tips about traveling to Kenya, click on the link for my lately updated article with everything you need to know.
Do I need to quarantine when I travel to Kenya?
As of September 2020 there is no need to quarantine for most European countries. However nationals from the USA and some other risk countries need to self quarantine for 14 days.
The Kenya travel restrictions and advice can change on a daily basis so therefore I recommend you to have a look here for more info about traveling to Kenya during Corona.
Is Kenya safe for tourists
Compared to most other Africa destinations Kenya is relatively safe for travelers. Of course always use common sense, dont be an ignorant tourists! Always be aware of petty theft, but in general no major incidents happen with tourists in Kenya. Don’t travel alone at night, stay in a group, take licensed taxi’s only, if you want to explore off the beaten path destinations take a guide… some general Kenya travel tips.
Some areas see a higher crime rate, but all the places that I am recommend you to visit on this Kenya itinerary are pretty much safe destinations in Kenya.
How to get around Kenya
Kenya has a great network of domestic flights and they are remarkably reliable for African standards. Kenya travel is pretty well developed and it is easy for tourists to go around.
Although you might be hesitating to drive in Kenya, one of the best ways to explore Kenya is to rent a car for this ultimate 10 day itinerary and do it all yourself. Rentals start already from $30 per day and gas in Kenya costs around $1,20 per Liter. Kenya traffic and road conditions can be challenging, but if you drive with care you will easily get through it.
To rent a car in Kenya you must be older than 23 years and be aware… in Kenya they drive on the left! ;)
Read all about how to get around kenya in my latest article in the link.
Kenya on a budget
Are you thinking about backpacking in Kenya but are not sure if that is possible. Here you go… you have my blessing, do it! There are many budget travelers in Kenya and it is very much possible. There are long distance busses and trains, connecting most of the most beautiful places to visit in Kenya.
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Route for 10 days in Kenya
If you are looking to travel to Kenya for 10 days you have a pretty limited amount of time to experience the hugely diverse country with pristine sandy beaches, world-class game parks, reserves, picturesque mountains and lakes. But don’t worry you are still able to see some of the most beautiful places to visit in Kenya on this 10 day itinerary.
Selection is the most important part when planning a trip to Kenya. To make the most out of your trip, you ought to combine several Kenya travel destinations. Do this in such a way that you don’t reroute through Nairobi constantly, Therefore I designed this itinerary for Kenya for you so you don’t end up spending too much time on the road.
Skip the tourist trail, go off the beaten path in Kenya! Most tourists flock to the same old places to visit in Kenya, especially those who only have limited amount of time. Visiting the Masai Mara is definitely a highlight and absolutely amazing, but there is more. Therefore in my Kenya itinerary I suggest you some much more authentic highlights of Kenya as well.
10-day Kenya itinerary map
Here is my ideal 10 day Kenya itinerary to see unique and authentic places. The itinerary makes you go on safari, see various national parks, hike or mountain bike through the mountains, wake up in the forest, explore Nairobi for a day and end up relaxing on pristine beaches!
Day 1: Nairobi
Day 2: Aberdares National Park - Wildlife (B)
Day 3: Mt. Kenya National Park and Samburu National Park - Hiking & Wildlife (C)
Day 4: Mathews Range - Off the beaten path Kenya Destination (D)
Day 5: Marsabit National Park and Lake Turkana - Wildlife (E) + (F)
Day 6: Rift Valley) - Lakes and amazing landscapes (G
Day 7: Maasai Mara - Iconic Kenya Travel Destination (H)
Day 8: Amboseli National Park - Wildlife (I)
Day 9 & 10: Wasini Islands - Amazing Kenya Beaches (J)
Day 1: Nairobi - The Bustling Capital
Most Kenya tours start in Nairobi as this is where almost all tourists start their trip to Kenya. Begin your Kenya itinerary in Nairobi by visiting the Nairobi National Park which was established back in 1946. This for sure is one of the best things to do in Nairobi as here you can see four of the big five against a backdrop of not-so-distant skyscrapers. Breathe in the fresh air with the bustling city in sight just kilometers away and listen to the incredible chirping of the countless birds. Entrance to the Nairobi National Park for tourists is usually $50 for adults and $25 for children.
Other top tourist attractions in Nairobi are The Giraffe Center which was established in the 1970s and is located in the neighboring suburbs of Lang’ata. After tracking down the endangered giraffes, head over to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage to spend time with orphaned elephants.
If you want something completely different then opt for one of the guided walking tours in the city itself and discover the craziness and bustling Nairobi by the hand of a local. I would actually suggest you do this at the end of your trip as then the contrast between fantastic landscapes and wonderful nature in one country is huge, but the crazy city life will still be captivating.
Where to stay in Nairobi?
Finding a hotel in Nairobi is pretty simple as there is a wide range of accommodation options available.
If you want to stay near the airport I can recommend you to check in to Crown Plaza Nairobi Airport, pricey but directly at the airport. But you can already find a 5 star hotel for a little over $100 per night so check out the prices of: The Concord or the Mövenpick.
For solo budget travelers there aren’t that many hostels but a good place to stay in Nairobi is: Khweza Bed & Breakfast has private rooms for $20.
Day 2: Aberdares National Park - Wildlife
At Aberdares National Park it’s time to get started with your Kenya safari. Heading south from the mountainside you get to this beautiful National Park. Unique thing about the Aberdares National Park is that it is located between 2,100 meters (7,000 ft) and 4,250 meters (14,000 ft) above sea level. It has more of an alpine feel with mountains, streams, and moorland.
Kenya travel tip for Aberdares national Park bring some warm clothes it can get really cold here. Even in June it can still drop to freezing level during the night.
There are so many organized activities in Aberdares National Park. You can go lion-tracking, simply cycling around, safaris of course, or just hike through the lush beautiful landscapes. If you love to go camping in Kenya, pick a camping spot from one of the countless options in Aberdares National Park. This will be one of the most rewarding adventures on your Kenya holiday.
Where to stay in Aberdares National Park
Spend the night in the two unusual lodges inside the park: the Ark Lodge which is built in the shape of Noah’s Ark and Treetops where Princess Elizabeth stayed in 1952 on the night her father died and she was crowned queen. Cool fact about Kenya, right?
For budget travelers there are a bunch of homestay’s a little drive away from the park entrance with good ratings. Some lodges I recommend are: Kuniville Guest House ($60), Anka Resort with outdoor pool ($100) and The Great Circle Lodge who has dorms for $15 per night.
If you want to splurge there is also the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, 5 stars ultra luxurious but also around $400 per night.
Alternative things to do around Aberdares National Park: if you have extra time on your hands, squeeze in a visit to Ol Pejeta Conservancy on Laikipia Plateau. The conservancy is home to the last remaining near-extinct northern white rhino.
Day 3: Mt. Kenya National Park & Samburu National Park - Hiking and Wildlife
The journey from Aberdares National Park to Mt. Kenya won’t take that long. This is your first stop on day 3 before heading further north towards Samburu National Park.
In case you aren’t the active or adventurous traveler, or you just like watching wild animals much more, I recommend you to skip Mt. Kenya National Park and head straight to Samburu National Park.
But before you decide to leave Kenya’s Central Highlands I would recommend you to immerse yourself in some relaxing or intense moutainbiking or hiking through the picturesque trails and valleys of Mt. Kenya National Park. The views are extremely rewarding and there are many adventurous things to do in in Mt. Kenya National Park.
This place is heaven for travelers who are looking to be active on their Kenya vacation. One of the amazing things to do in Mt. Kenya National Park is hiking to Lake Michaelson or Lake Ellis. There are also mountainbike trails around for daredevils.
Of course is climbing to the top of Mt. Kenya also an option. There are actually three peaks, the easiest and most popular peak to climb is Point Lenana, but there are many tours leading you to either Batian peak or Nelion peak.
Are you having too much fun in Mt. Kenya National Park and want to stay there I can totally recommend you to stay at Besotted Farmstay. Im sure their friendliness helped a lot getting a great rating of 9.1 out of 10. The Besotted Farmstay only costs about $60 per night.
Do you decide to travel onwards after your adventures in Mt. Kenya then head north towards Samburu National Park which is about 3 hours away.
Another full game-drive around Samburu National Park awaits you in the late afternoon or even opt for a night safari. This park sits on the Ewaso Nyiro River and offers a different kind of safari game drive because the animals gravitate towards the river. Some animals to look out for include giraffes, elephants, lions, leopards, cheetah, hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, hyenas, Somali ostrich, Greyy’s zebras. Haha pretty much everything I would say. A cool travel tip for Samburu National Park is that here you can spot the Gerenuk, which is a special antelope that can reach up into trees. Also there are more than 365 bird species.
Visiting Samburu National Park is not on many standard Kenya itineraries and therefore a little more off the beaten path. Much less touristy and that is why Im recommending you to go.
Beyond seeing the animals along the river banks, you’ll also see them among the acacia, and river forests. There’s also a high likelihood of spotting the red-robbed Samburu tribesmen grazing their cattle.
Where to stay in Samburu National Park
Inside the national park there are two luxury accommodation options which are both amazing but also expensive: Elephant Bedroom Camp & Ashnil Samburu Camp. A little South you can find the city of Isiolo where you can find much more affordable accommodation like Bomen Hotel for $70. Also check out the boutique Sabache Camp north of Samburu National Park for $150 per night with great ratings.
Day 4: Matthews Range / Lenkiyio Hills - Off the beaten path Kenya travel destination
I am sending you even more off the beaten track on day 4 of your Kenya holiday. Continue the adventure trail leading to the desert frontiers in the Northern areas. But before you get there first make your way north past Samburu National Park and you will get to the Matthews Range.
There is excellent hiking in the Mathews Range and great for those looking for unique things to do in Kenya. There is no phone signal and walking safaris and guided hikes deep into lush green mountain range is what you will be doing here. There is wildlife around and you will for sure hear the sounds of the jungle, but spotting animals is hard in this thick vegetation. Guides can take you up to natural rock pools with rope swings, viewpoints, etc.
There is only one place to stay in Mathews Range: Kitich Forest Camp. This luxury tent camp will surely live up to your off the beaten path adventure in Kenya.
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Day 5: Marsabit National Park and Lake Turkana - Wildlife and Lakeside
The road leads further through the barren but beguiling landscape North towards the Ethiopian border. Marsabit is a dusty tribal center and is also home to the Marsabit National Park & Reserve. The main tourist attractions here are extinct volcanic craters, Lake Paradise and of course its wildlife.
Marsabit National Park was once known as the place where you could find the elephants with the longest tusks in the world. Besides elephants you can also spot huge zebra populations and with more than 300 bird species Marsabit National Park is a real bird sanctuary.
Lake Turkana is not a usual Kenya travel destination, but even more so I included this place in the ultimate itinerary. For more secret Kenya travel tips, read my article with 33 things to know before you travel to Kenya.
After visiting Marsabit National Park take the western loop towards the Turkana Lake. From here, the trail leads south again passing all kinds of scenic landscapes and the lovely stopover towns like for example South Horr.
The other side of Turkana Lake has the lovely Eliye Springs where you will find lakeshore beaches. IT is a pristine place and one of the places often found on a list of tourists destinations in Kenya. Unfortunately the drive is too long (more than 10 hours) from South Horr to Eliye Springs and in my opinion therefore not worth it.
You can decide to overnight around South Horr. There are two amazing but also expensive lodges: Desert Rose Kenya and Samburu Lodge. More South towards your next day adventure you will find the much cheaper Ngari Hill Guesthouse & Campsite.
Day 6: The Rift Valley - Lakes, Waterfalls, Rock Formations
This is one of Africa’s most defining geological marvels and there are so many places to visit in the Rift Valley that I have to be included in anyone’s Kenya itinerary. Gorges, hot water springs, craters and waterfalls, you will find it all in Rift Valley.
Mount Longonot is one of Rift Valley’s prettiest vantage points. Afterwards, walk amid the dramatic rock formation and gorges of Hell’s Gate National Park. These two national parks are next to each other and can be visited on the same day. Lake Naivasha is also nearby.
More things to do in Rift Valley are the lakes of Baringo, Bogoria, as well as the Lake Nakuru National park. This national park is located just a stone throw away from the town and is one of Kenya’s compact and excellent parks. It is home to many pink flamingos and hippos. Other species that are found here are buffalos, antelopes, giraffes, zebras, lions, rhinos, and leopards.
Where to stay in Rift Valley
There are plenty accommodation options near Lake Nakuru. A great mid range option with very good reviews is Empolos Hotel Nakuru for $85 per night. The Ziwa Bush Lodge is about $150 per night but has meals included for 2 persons.
If you want to splurge the Enashipai Resort & Spa near Lake Naivasha is totally worth check out.
Day 7: Maasai Mara - Most Iconic Kenya Travel Destination
On your second day here, take a loop down to Kenya’s far southwest into the Maasai Mara National Reserve which is 5 hours away from Nakuru by road. Between July and October, the Mara hosts one of the greatest wildlife concentrations on earth: the annual wildebeest migration. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and a few zebras and antelopes arrive from Tanzania in search of fresh grazing.
No need to introduce the Maasai Mara even more or tell you what to do. Though the ultimate thing to do in the Maasai Mara Reserve is a hot air balloon ride. It gives you a magnificent view of the animals and the best opportunity to witness plenty of animal action.
Where to stay in the Maasai Mara
There are plenty Maasai Mara hotels, guesthouses and lodges to chose from. You can find incredibly luxurious lodges that charge close to $1,000 per night. Places for the more ordinary traveler I can recommend are: Oseki Maasai Mara Camp as well as Maji Moto Eco Camp both for around $130 per night.
Day 8: Amboseli National Park - Wildlife
Catch a glimpse of Africa’s highest mountain peak in Amboseli National Park. Home to lions, cheetahs, elephants, and more than 600 bird species in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.
If at this time you still haven’t gotten enough from the spotting wildlife (this is why you traveled to Kenya, right?) then from Amboseli head southeast and make stops at the Tsavo West National Park which is home to all the big five as well as the outstanding Tsavo East National Park to get closer to elephants.
The driving time directly from Amboseli to Mombasa is 6 hours, from Amboseli to Tsavo is 4 hours while from Tsavo to Mombasa is 2 hours. Therefore Tsavo West National Park is worth another stop on your roadtrip through Kenya.
This day I would actually recommend you to drive to Mombassa already. It will be a little bit of an adventure during to drive in Kenya at night but nothing better than have 2 full days at one of the best Kenya beaches, right?
Day 9 & 10: Wasini Islands - Kenya Beaches
There are so many things to do at the Kenyan coast (check out my things to do in Kenya travel blog) which is very diverse and you are guaranteed to have lots of fun as you experience the beauty there. If you’re keen on diving or snorkeling, visit in October, November, or March for the clearest waters. Local marine includes crabs, starfish, turtles, and a variety of colorful corals. A trip in a traditional dhow should be top on your bucket list.
You can go fishing, surfing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, kite-surfing, or skydiving at Diani Beach. Make sure that you try some of the delicious Swahili food like pilau, biryani, mahamri, and madafu.
Learn everything there is to learn about Mombasa, a city with historical and cultural significance. From there you can either head to the fabulous beaches in Lamu or head over to Watamu to watch some majestic whales. In the Watamu Protected Area, tourists get to watch whales and dolphins jumping out of the water with their calves.
Heading south there’s Tiwi Beach which is a tranquil white-sand paradise that’s quite popular with independent travelers. Just down the road, make another stop at the perfect holiday destination of Diani Beach. Further south near the Tanzanian border are the Wasini Islands which provide a dose of unspoiled coastal life. These Islands offer easy access to the excellent Kisite Marine National Park where you’ll see lots of crocodiles along the mangrove-lined rivers.
A couple more amazing places to visit in Kenya can be found if you head north along the coastal trail. You’ll get to the charming town of Kilifi before pressing on to the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve which is one of the largest remaining tracts of indigenous coastal forest in East Africa with prolific birdlife, forest elephants, and the golden-rumped elephant shrew. Further north is the Gede Ruins which is an ancient Swahili city that dates back to the 13th century. Another historic destination along the coast is Malindi which is one of Kenya’s leading beach destinations, especially for Italian holidaymakers.
From here you can either fly straight back home from Mombasa International Airport or go back to Nairobi to catch your flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Enjoy your trip to Kenya!
Don't forget to check out this blog with ideas for Instagram captions about Safari, in total 45 famous Safari Quotes!
Kenya is a vast country and as mentioned earlier on, there’s so much to do and see there. This means that you need at least a month to cover everything satisfactorily and still you’ll be left wishing you could stay longer. But if time is not on your side I hope that this piece helps you manage your time well and make the most out of it for an unforgettable trip.
If you’re looking to explore the beautiful country on a budget, it’s best that you avoid visiting during the peak season which is dictated by the weather. This slight compromise means cheaper rates for Kenya tours and accommodation.
If you have any more questions please leave me a comment below.
This Kenya travel blog is created with the help of Kim Paffen, one of the Traveltomtom team members. Her outstanding photography skills and multiple trips to Kenya contributed a lot creating this ultimate itinerary for Kenya.