Community & Conservation: Kenya
Highlights: The Masai Mara National Reserve, home to the Great Migration; the private game reserves of the Laikipia region; the vibrant capital, Nairobi.
Traditionally the most romantic of safari destinations, Kenya lost much of its luster over the past three decades because of congestion in its parks and rampant political corruption. But there’s a fresh energy in the countryside, evident in a new breed of lodges—and lodge owners—that emphasize community and preservation. Proceeds from the eight-cottage Olarro, on the Mara’s eastern perimeter, go to build local schools, clinics, and wells. The seven-tent Mara Plains Camp operates game-viewing trips in a conservancy run in partnership with the Masai. Segera Retreat, meanwhile, is set to open eight solar-powered villas on a reclaimed Laikipia cattle ranch in July. Family-owned properties are also playing up the personalities of their owners. In Laikipia, Lemarti’s Camp is owned by Nairobi fashion designer Anna Trzebinski and her Samburu husband. Near Amboseli National Park, Ol Donyo Lodge is the revamped lodge of legendary conservationist Richard Bonham.
Big Five Tours & Expeditions 7 days from $6,000.
Cottars Safari Service 7 days from $5,950.
Extraordinary Journeys 7 days from $3,500.
Journeys by Design 8 days from $7,395.
Micato Safaris 7 days from $11,200.
Safari & Conservation Company 9 days from $4,997.
When to Go: Jan.–March, July–Oct.
Safety Note: The U.S. State Department currently has a travel warning issued for Kenya. Check with your tour operator and hotels on what security precautions they take.
Safari Expert Douglas Nagi
Company: Cottars Safari Service
First-Time Safari: “The Mara is as close to Out of Africa as you can get, and perfect for novice safari-goers. Nowhere else can you see all of the Big Five in a matter of hours and watch the annual migration of more than a million wildebeests.”