10 Best Places for A LUXURY Safari in Kenya and Tanzania

most luxurious places for safari in kenya and tanzania

“Everything in Africa bites,

but the Safari Bug is the Worst of All” 

– Old African Saying 😉 –

Hello beautiful people, and welcome to one more article about our beloved African continent! 🙂

After exploring Namibia on the Road, and mingling with locals while discovering the best experiences to witness in Cape Town (South Africa), today I would like to bring you one more time to the gorgeous national parks of Eastern Africa to explore with me the most epic national reserves and the most memorable African Safaris!

I have been researching deeply into the variety of parks and experiences in Kenya-Tanzania because my girlfriend Isa loves this corner of Africa so much, and I thought of making her a special getaway surprise! 😉

In this article, I thought of not letting all my research go to waste, and instead share with you all the national parks and reserves of Kenya and Tanzania worth considering for an epic holiday, all their differences, and potential reasons why somebody might choose one over the other (note: they are ALL awesome in their way!).

If you’re looking for a place to spend a week in the wilderness, gift a memorable trip to a special person, or spend your honeymoon among wildebeest and the big fives (lions, buffalos, elephants, rhinos and leopards), I think you will find in the article good ideas on where to start your research ;D

Let’s dive right in! 🙂

10 Best National Parks

for an Epic Safari Experience in Kenya and Tanzania

1. Amboseli National Park, Kenya

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: AT THE FEET OF THE KILIMANJARO (5985M TALL)

Photo of Ambuseli National Park in Kenya - with Zebras

Originally known as Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, the Amboseli National Park is a 151-square-mile ecotourism hotspot in Kenya’s Rift Valley overviewed by the Kilimanjaro mountain.

The site was first set aside for preservation in 1906, established as a national park in 1974, and declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1991.

Although primarily known as the best place in the world for viewing free-ranging elephant herds, the Amboseli National Park also offers opportunities for cultural interactions with the indigenous Maasai people, extraordinary views of Mount Kilimanjaro (5985m), and a vast array of wildlife ranging from the “Big 5” mammals to over 400 species of birds.

Located 150 miles southeast of Nairobi, Amboseli is Kenya’s second most popular national park, attracting around 120,000 visitors annually, and without a doubt one of the most sought-after destinations for budget and luxury safaris alike.

The name “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “salty dust”, which describes the terrain left by the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli. The park is mostly flat and green, alternated with dusty white terrains.

Along wetlands with sulphur springs, in the Amboseli National Park, you can expect to witness both savannah and woodlands. 

Why Should You Visit?

  • Elephant herds, Kilimanjaro Views, Big 5, meet the Masai Tribe, Incredible Nightsky
  • A lot of Choice in terms of Lodges/Accommodation
  • Competitive Prices for Lodges Year Round
  • Leopards, Cheetah, Wild dogs, Buffalos, Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Lions, Crocodiles, Mongooses, Hyrax, Dik-dik, Lesser Kudus, and Nocturnal Porcupines + a prolific birdlife featuring over 600 species of birds

2. Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: BEST PLACE TO WITNESS THE GREAT WILDEBEEST MIGRATION

Photo of Gnus in Masai Mara National Park, East Africa

Renowned for the awe-inspiring Great Wildebeest Migration, a staggering spectacle of millions of wildebeest and zebras bravely navigating crocodile-filled rivers in search of water and fresh grass, the Masai Mara stands as a testament to the raw beauty of nature.

In addition to being the best place in the world to witness Wildebeests and the Big 5, with its grasslands and beautiful plains, the Masai Mara National Reserve is also home to other wildlife species including hyenas, hippos, elands, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, jackals, and impalas.

A dream destination for practically every traveler with a passion for wildlife, the Maasai Mara is part of the massive Serengeti ecosystem, which covers approximately 12,000 square miles in northern Tanzania and southwestern Kenya.

The famous crossing at the Mara River, where hungry crocodiles lie in wait, is unlike any other safari spectacle you’re likely to see.

With an area of 1510km2 (more than 5 times the already huge area of the Amboseli), the Masai Mara National Park is also among the most sought-after places where you could spend a luxury safari: lodges are elegant, modern, and care in all details; the same goes for the tours.

With all the high pros, you can also imagine that prices of lodges/camps in the Masai Mara are high too: you can indeed expect to pay between 600-1200Euro/night for a suite in a local lodge, although good deals sometimes appear ;D

Why Should You Visit?

  • Witness the Great Migration
  • Zebras, Hippos, Cheetahs, Giraffes, Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Crocodiles, Buffalos, Monkeys, Rhinos, and many more!
  • Countless Herds of Animals crossing the Mara River among crocodiles
  • Meet the Masai Tribe
  • Lodges are exclusive and luxurious (although very pricey too!)

 

3. Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: RARE ANIMALS LIKE THE GREVY ZEBRA, OR THE RETICULATED GIRAFFE

samburu national reserve

Samburu National Reserve is a 165 km2 premier game reserve situated on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, in Northern Kenya.

This park, being smaller than the previous ones, often flies under the radar of mass tourism and it’s considered a more “premium” experience, often chosen as a destination for African Safaris and Holidays in Kenya by those who have already seen the Amboseli and Masai Mara at least once.

The Samburu National Reserve is famous for the rare wild animal species that live here: the Grevy Zebra, the Somali Ostrich, the Reticulated Giraffe, and the Beisa Oryx to name a few 🙂

The lodges within the park are mostly placed near the Ewaso Ng’iro River, an ideal place to watch the wildlife come to the river to find water.

Here indeed, you won’t even need to drive long hours every day, as it’s easy to spot animals by simply standing still at the lodges and waiting for them to come to drink.

Why Should You Visit?

  • Rare Species: Grevy Zebra, Somali Ostrich, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, and the Beisa Oryx.
  • Around 900 Elephants
  • Walking and Horseback Safaris are offered as alternatives to Jeep Safaris

4. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: YELLOW SAVANNAH, GREAT WILDEBEEST MIGRATION AND HOT AIR BALLOONS!

Three Giraffes in the Serengeti National Park, Kenya, East-Africa

The Serengeti National Park is the oldest national park in Tanzania and probably the most worldwide famous African park of all (it’s even quoted in the famous hit “Africa” from Toto 😉 ).

With the Masai Mara, Serengeti is the other destination where you can witness the Great Migration, the movement of thousands of wildebeests and zebras into the Maasai Mara, which takes place from July to September.

Note: they’re essentially part of the grand same park, but the Serengeti part is in Tanzania, while the Masai Mara is in Kenya. Of course, the frontiers are established by humans, but animals keep crossing the border during the year as they like 😉

An especially premium activity that it’s offered in Serengeti are the Hot Air balloon safaris tour, a new way of exploring the Savannah and the wild fauna from a new perspective (we also inserted the Serengeti in our Top best Places around the world where to fly with a Hot-Air Balloon!).

In a bid to maximize the tourist experience, luxury lodges and camps in the Serengeti present fantastic features among the best in Eastern Africa (some even offer infinity pools on top of waterholes!) and can be found in or next to the park. 

All in all, the Serengeti is the most popular and world-wide famous destination for Tanzania safaris and holidays 🙂

 

Why Should You Visit?

  • Witness the Great Migration
  • Countless Herds of Animals crossing the Mara River,
  • Hot Air Balloon Experience over the Savannah
  • Developed Lodges, Night Game Drives
  • Zebras, Hippos, Cheetahs, Giraffes, Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Crocodiles, Buffalos, Monkeys, Rhinos, and many more!

 

5. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: FOREST, WATERFALL AND RHINOCEROS

lewa wildlife conservancy

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (also know simply as “Lewa Downs”) is a protected area in Northern Kenya which stands as a pioneering bastion of conservation, unwavering in its dedication to safeguarding the majestic rhinoceros.

Formed in 1995, with an area of 250km2, the Conservancy includes within its borders the Ngare Ndare Forest (one of the few places where you can see waterfalls in Kenya/Tanzania!) and is home to rare and endangered species such as the black rhinos and the sitatungas.

Embrace the opportunity to align with this noble cause, knowing that your stay in the lavish lodges not only grants you exclusivity and luxury but also infuses your experience with a profound sense of purpose, as each moment spent within its borders directly contributes to the vital preservation of these magnificent creatures.

Although smaller than other parks, in the Lewa Downs is possible to find all of the Big 5 (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffaloes!) and over 350 individuals of the rare Grevy’s zebras.

 

Why Should You Visit?

  • Ngare ndare Forest and Waterfalls
  • Big 5 (Lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes)
  • Black Rhinos and sitatungas (rare species)
  • Most money spent within the park is raised for the conservation of the area!

 

6. Tsavo National Park, Kenya

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: DESERT, DIFFERENT LANDSCAPES AND LESS TOURISTS!

tsavo national park kenya

The Tsavo National Park, with an impressive area of 13,474km2, is the largest park in Kenya (10 times larger than the Masai Mara!) and also home of the big 5!

The sprawling wilderness of this enormous park, partitioned into its East and West sections, is a haven for the iconic “Big Five” and boasts a rich tapestry of diverse landscapes for all tastes.

In addition to the savannah and grasslands, in the Tsavo National Park a major area is composed by the semi-arid Taru Desert (an endless expanse of orange sand, stillness and nothingness).

 

Why Should You Visit?

  • The Big 5 and
  • Enormous variety of different landscapes
  • The Semi-Arid Taru Desert offers plenty of Activities
  • Cheaper and more under-developed than the other Kenyan Parks

 

7. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: THE LARGEST CALDERA IN THE WORLD AND PINK FLAMINGOES!

ngorongoro crater tanzania

2200 meters above sea level, and 16km in diameter are the gigantic dimensions that make the protected area of Ngorongoro Crater the largest intact caldera in the world!

It’s hard to describe the Ngorongoro crater with words (pictures surely do a better job!): it’s simply a natural amphitheater where the most diverse wildlife meets around an out-of-the-world lake.

On the Southern crown of the crater runs the only road of the whole area, and is also where the luxurious lodges are gracefully perched on the rim.

Useless to say, that the views of the crater from the edges are breathtaking.

At the center of the caldera, the salty Lake Magadi is a place where lives a huge group of pink flamingoes that feeds on dead algae.

The lesser flamingoes of Ngorongoro are extremely social creatures, which usually live in flocks of thousands: an incredible show of nature and every photographer’s dream!

Overall, Ngorongoro is one of the most humid and rainy places in Tanzania, and the landscape is full of tiny rivers and lakes. In the night, mist is very common, and its presence generates impactful sunsets and dawns.

 

Why Should You Visit?

  • Pink Flamingoes in Flocks
  • Swamps, Savannah, Lakes and Rivers
  • The Largest impact Caldera in the World
  • Wonderfully nested lodges with incredible views

 

8. Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: GIANT BAOBABS, BIRDS AND MANY LIONS!

tarangire national park tanzania

The Tarangire National Park in Tanzania is an iconic landscape adorned with baobab trees which sets an unforgettable stage for luxury  african safaris and unforgettable holidays!

The distinctive traits of this incredible park belong to both its unique flora and fauna!

On the animal side, in the Tarangire it’s easy to witness the colossal elephant herds, and lions (here lives a group of roughly 700 lions – about 8% of all African lions!

On the plants side, in this park we can find enormous and scenic Baobab trees that are believed to date to over 8000 years old (!!!).

These trees are also the breeding nest for more species of birds than anywhere else on planet Earth: between those, the most common to meet during a safari are  hoopoes, hornbills, brown parrots, lilac breasted rollers, barbets, mouse birds, striped swallows, starlings, swifts, hammerkops, bee-eaters and plovers (a large list!) 🙂

Why Should You Visit?

  • 8000 years old Baobabs
  • The most impressive variety of Birds on Earth
  • Colossal Elephant herds
  • Lions!

 

9. Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

DISTINCTIVE TRAIT: LARGEST PARK, FEW PEOPLE AND GOOD PRICES!

selous game reserve

The remote Selous (today partially renamed as “Nyerere National Park”) is the largest park in Tanzania with a total area of 50.000km2!

The site was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to its wildlife diversity and undisturbed nature.

Some of the diverse wildlife of this enormous park include the African bush elephant, south-central black rhinoceros, hippopotamus, lion, African wild dog, African buffalo, Masai giraffe, plains zebra and Nile crocodile.

On a side note, permanent human habitation is not permitted within the reserve, but it’s easy to find modern and luxurious lodges just outside the border.

In addition to that, all human entry and exit is controlled by the Wildlife Division of the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

Because of the strict regulations, the Selous National Park has never lived an explosive wave of tourism and it remains today one of those places perfect for who wants to enjoy a safari alone, away from other groups of people (it’s the least visited park in Tanzania!). 

Fun fact: the giraffe population of Selous has become so large that the reserve has earned a punny nickname: “Giraffic Park.

Why Should You Visit?

  • It’s nicknamed “Giraffic Park” for the number of giraffes
  • Largest and Least Visited Site in Tanzania
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Lodges are cheaper than other places!

 

10. Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

ruaha national park tanzania

The Ruaha National Park in Tanzania is a 20,000 km2 area dominated by the Great Ruaha River (from which it takes its name).

“Ruvaha” is a word that for the Hehe tribe living there, simply means “River”.

The peculiarity of Ruaha is precisely the river, which flows through the Rift Valley on the eastern part of the National Park, creating spectacular gorges and slopes until joining the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve.

Despite 10% of the world’s lion population living here, these place like the previous remains somewhat under-developed and is neither so known nor visited as the first places seen on this list.

All in all, this offers a great opportunity to live more unique, wild, and uncharted experiences.

Why Should You Visit?

  • 10% of Lions of the World
  • Gorges and Slopes created by a River
  • Very few Tourists

 

Conclusion and Advice

giraffes

And here we are at the end of the article!

In this article, we’ve seen the Best 10 National Parks and National Reserves in Eastern Africa for an unforgettable safari experience.

After a long research, wondering and wondering, my choice for the best one was the Serengeti Park (but of course, this is just my personal opinion, every park is gorgeous and has distinctive traits of its own!).

That’s why, before going, I would like to ask you:

  • What do you think about the article? Was it useful to you?
  • Have you already had the chance to spend time in a Safari in Kenya or Tanzania before?
  • How did you like your experience? Do you have any tips for future travelers?

If you’d like to share your thoughts, we would be happy to hear them! 🙂

So please, let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, and as always…

See you in the next article! 🙂

Discover More:

 

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