Itinerary Kenya: 2 & 3 week itineraries for backpacking Kenya!

In this blog, you can read everything about different itineraries through Kenya. Depending on which destinations you choose, we have a 2 to 4-week backpacking itinerary through East Africa. Have fun planning your holiday and if you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you.

Itinerary Kenya

Creating an itinerary for Kenya can be quite difficult. This large country has so many different destinations to see and visit. How do you know which safari park to choose for a trip through Kenya? In addition, the travel distances between these highlights are often great. We have spent one-month backpacking Kenya and are happy to help plan your itinerary.

To help you get started we’ve mapped out 3 ultimate itineraries for Kenya. This way you can independently visit the destinations and highlights you want to visit in two to three weeks. Whether you want to climb Mount Kenya, visit many safari parks or enjoy the Kenyan coast, these itineraries will help you determine your perfect itinerary.

We have also written travel guides for many hotspots in Kenya. These travel guides are full of our experiences, photos, hotel tips and fun activities to do. In addition, we have written an extensive Kenya budget blog. This gives you a good idea of ​​how expensive backpacking through Kenya is and how you can save money on your trip.

Kenya Lakes

How to travel independently in Kenya?

Kenya, in general, has well-paved roads. Especially around popular destinations. There are also good bus connections to most cities and corners. This makes Kenya a great destination for independent travel. You do not need a travel agency. Instead, you plan and book your holiday yourselves. The easiest and most enjoyable way to explore Kenya is by car. For independent travellers, there are several transport options to travel through Kenya.

Taking the bus in Kenya | Itinerary by local and public buses

Kenya has a good network of bus connections. There are more than enough bus companies to choose from. These differ quite a bit in price and comfort. Reliable bus companies are Modern Coast Bus and Easy Coach bus. The large buses operate with fixed departure and arrival times. Backpacking in these large buses is (often) safe, relatively cheap and comfortable. Where the larger bus companies do not run, especially in the north of Kenya, you can use minibuses, also called matatus.

Low budget backpacking through Kenya: Take a matatu!

If you want to backpack Kenya on a budget, there are the so-called matatus. These local buses go to every corner and also run on fixed routes. Unfortunately not at fixed times. The matatus only leave when they are full. Officially there are 12 to 14 seats in the minivan. In reality, the bus is just packed with more people. After all, the more people, the more money the driver makes. This ‘adventurous’ way of travelling is the cheapest way of transport through Africa! This means of transport is therefore popular among locals and backpackers.

We ourselves travelled to the Masai Mara from Nairobi with matatu. Our experience with the matatu is very positive. Okay, sometimes you are very crammed together, and not every passenger smells fresh. The ride itself was effortless. In the end, the itinerary took us 5 hours, and that is fast!

Tip: Watch out for pickpockets and pay close attention to your luggage at all times.

Travel Kenya by plane

You can always fly to the larger destinations and hotspots in Kenya. This is often the fastest way to travel. Fly540, for example, offers cheap domestic flights. Nairobi is the hub for both domestic and international flights.

Special train itinerary Kenya

Looking for a special train journey? Then take the train from Nairobi to Mombasa. This is one of the few train itineraries in use. This train ride is therefore popular among tourists because this train passes through the Tsavo Parks. If you take the train early in the morning, you can get lucky and spot elephants. Most hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa can book a train ticket for you. Unlike the Netherlands, travelling by train in Kenya is not fast.

Itinerary Kenya | Travel Kenya by car

The easiest and finest way of travelling around Kenya is by jeep or car. In this way, you determine your own pace and you have complete flexibility to discover Kenya. Be aware that people drive on the left side of the road. And that you should not drive at night because of safety reasons. If you rent a jeep, you can also it for game-drives in safari parks.

Campinggrounds Kenya

Free travel guide: inspiration on how to organise a budget safari in Masai Mara!

Itinerary Kenya: Where to go in Kenya?

To help you choose the destinations you want to go to, we’ve briefly outlined the highlights of Kenya. We provide a hotel tip for each destination. We slept here ourselves or received these tips from friends. At the end of this blog, you will find the best itineraries for backpacking in Kenya.

Map of Kenya: Highlights and top attractions

Where are all the highlights located in Kenya? On the map below, you will find almost all the highlights and top safari parks of Kenya. A description of the hotspots of Kenya can be found below. This makes planning your itinerary through this African country a lot easier.

Map Kenya top attractions and national parks of Kenya

Which destinations do you pick for your Kenya itinerary?

Planning your itinerary through Kenya can be difficult. How do you know which safari parks to visit? There are more than 20 national parks and reserves where you can spot wildlife! The supply for jeep safaris is enormous. From our own experience, we can say that 2 to 3 safari parks are enough to visit. At some point, they become more or less similar.

How do you know which Kenyan coastal destinations suit you? Here again, you have many options to choose from. Is Nairobi worth a visit? Which lakes do you want to visit in Kenya? Lake Victoria, lake Naivasha, lake Nakuru or perhaps the remote Lake Turkana? Do you want to climb a mountain? Are you going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or rather the lesser-known Mount Kenya? Therefore, below a description per destination.

Travel Kenya | Top safari parks and game-drives in Kenya:

Like Tanzania, Kenya is a fantastic country for nature lovers. In Kenya, you may have the best nature parks in all of Africa. When you go on safari in Kenya you will be spoiled with all the different and many animal species you encounter. Below are some fantastic safari parks in Kenya.

1. Masai Mara | Big Five, and especially a lot of wild animals!

Maasai Mara safari budget

The Masai Mara Nature Reserve is one of the best and most wildlife-rich national parks in all of Africa. Every year in the months of July to October ‘the big migration‘ takes place, where 2,000,000 migrating wildebeest and zebras cross the Mara River. The Masai Mara is adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Together these two parks form a gigantic ecosystem. In the savannah plains, you can encounter hyenas, giraffes and antelopes in addition to the big 5.

Hotel tip: Camping Oseki Maasai Mara, Talek Bush Camp

Free travel guide: inspiration on how to organise a budget safari in Masai Mara!

2. Amboseli National Park | On a game-drive with a marvellous view of Mount Kilimanjaro!

Safari Kenya Mt Kilimanjaro

Located at the foot of Kilimanjaro (situated in Tanzania), Amboseli National Park is one of the most iconic and scenic safari areas on the African continent. The picture of large groups of elephants trekking across the savanna plains with the snow-capped peak of Africa’s highest mountain in the background is phenomenal. This park is the place to see the African elephant with its huge tusks. Other wild animals you will encounter are zebras, giraffes, wildebeests and buffaloes. In the middle of the Amboseli National park is the shallow Kioko lake where you can see many different bird species such as flamingos and pelicans.

Hotel tip Amboseli: Ol Tukai Lodge Amboseli
Safari tip Amboseli: check out this link for cool and affordable safaris ánd a budget way to sleep in Amboseli National Park.

3. Samburu National Park | Unique animal species, flora and fauna

Samburu National Reserve Kenya

Samburu National Reserve is located north of Mount Kenya. This area has unique flora, fauna and special animal species. It is the transition area from the fertile Mount Kenya soil to the desert-like north of Kenya. Here you can encounter the East African Spiesbok, the grevy’s zebra, the gerenuk and the Somali ostrich with its blue legs. You will also come across the Samburu tribe, nomadic population group, who have their own language and habits. Also, worth a visit.

Hotel tip: Lion’s Cave Camp

4. Hell’s Gate National Park | Cycling between zebras and buffaloes!

Hell gates National Park

Hell’s Gate National Park is one of three parks that you can explore on foot, by bike or by car. The park is near the dormant Mount Longonot volcano. During your bike ride through the park, you may encounter buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, impalas and wildebeests. This landscape is full of gorges. Perfect for hiking. A nice walking itinerary is the Njorowa Gorge. Read in this travel blog more about our experience of visiting Hell’s Gate National Park.

Hotel tip: Crescent Camp Naivasha

Read more: all about Lake Naivasha and Hell’s Gate National Park!

5. Mount Kenya | Climb the highest mountain in Kenya!

Hiking Mount Kenya Africa

With a height of 5199 meters, Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya. The mountain peak Lenana (4985 m) is the peak climbed by most tourists. The other summits are only suitable for experienced mountain climbers. Within 4 days it is already possible to climb Mount Kenya. Although Kilimanjaro (5895 m) is the highest mountain in Africa, it is a lot cheaper to climb Mount Kenya. Are you considering climbing Mount Kenya? Click here for more information for a multi-day trek. From €1026 per person.

Hotel tip: Bessotted Farm Stay

6. Nairobi | Shopping malls, museums and nightlife

Nairobi National Museum

With more than 4 million inhabitants, Nairobi is the 5th largest city in Africa. Nairobi is more than the flight hub of East Africa. Don’t be put off by ‘Nairobbery’. Yes, pickpockets are lurking. So do not show off with your belongings and travel safely by taxi as much as possible. Nairobi has positively surprised us and is a nice city to spend a few days. Nairobi has a vibrant nightlife, interesting museums, many shopping malls and good restaurants. Also take a look at the hip Westland District where you have a nice mix of locals, tourists and ex-pats.

Nairobi is a perfect base for visiting nature and wildlife in Kenya. From €58 per person you can already visit Nairobi National Park. This park is unique since you can spot wildlife while having skyline of Nairobi as a background. Book here your tickets easily online. Another fun daytime activity for the family is to visit Nairobi Elephant and Giraffe Sanctuary. Click here for more information about this fun day activity.

You can also easily book a visit to the Masai Mara from Nairobi online. Click here for more information about the 3 days / 2 nights group safari. From €375 per person.

Hotel Tips: Acacia Tree Lodge (budget option), Severine Cottages, Fairview Hotel 

7. Lake Naivasha | Hippos and birdwatching

African birds wildlife Kenya Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is the highest freshwater lake (1884 meters) in Kenya. Many hippos, crocodiles and many bird species live here, including the osprey and the African spoonbill. This lake is close located to Hell’s Gate and these two destinations are therefore easy to combine in an itinerary. Hell’s Gate National Park and Lake Naivasha can easily be visited in one day from Nairobi. This is possible from €155 per person. Click here for more information.

Hotel tip: Crescent Camp Naivasha

8. Lake Nakuru | Spotting flamingos and rhino’s

Rhino's in Africa

Lake Nakuru is known for its large concentration of pink flamingos. Like Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru has a rich birdlife with more than 400 different species. In the safari park, you can also encounter rhinos, giraffes, zebras, buffaloes and hippos. Close to Lake Nakuru National Park is the Menengai crater: the largest volcanic crater in the world! The Menengai crater is, just like Hell’s Gate National Park, ideal for hiking, because there are no dangerous animals.

Hotel tip: Hotel Kambi Amani

Travel Kenya | Kenya’s most beautiful coastal destinations

The coast of Kenya is a perfect way to unwind after a safari or hiking Mount Kenya. Many people, therefore, choose to spend the last days of their itinerary on the Kenyan coast. Some travellers, combine a holiday to Kenya with the pearly white beaches of Zanzibar. Good to know is that the coastal destinations of Kenya are quite different. So, make your choice carefully. Lovely and beautiful coastal destinations to consider are Lamu, Diani Beach, Watamu and Malindi.

1. Lamu | The Persian World of Kenya

Lamu Dowh

Once you arrive at Lamu, you feel like you are in another country. This island is completely different from the rest of Kenya. That makes a visit to this island so much fun. Lamu, especially Shela, is the perfect place to relax and get acquainted with the Swahili culture that originated here. We liked Lamu so much that we spent 9 days here.

Hotel Tip: Jua House

2. Diani Beach | Great beaches and blue oceans

Looking for snow-white beaches, graceful palm trees & crystal-clear waters? Located south of Mombasa, Diani Beach is a popular Kenyan coastal destination with many resorts and hotels. Various monkey species live around the forests of Diani Beach, so pay attention to your food and snacks! Diani Beach is a perfect destination for snorkelling and diving.

Hotel tip: Resort The Sands at Chale Island

Click here for a free travel guide for Lamu in Kenya!

Travel Kenya | The best itineraries for backpacking Kenya!

In this travel blog, you find multiple itineraries for visiting Kenya. These itineraries can be travelled by public bus or by a car (a so-called self-drive). You can follow these itineraries for a backpacking adventure in East-Africa or use them as inspiration for determining your own ultimate travel itinerary. After all, you decide how long you stay at a certain destination. Travel Kenya in 2-weeks or 3-weeks or combine a holiday in Kenya with other countries in East-Africa. Below, you find the best travel itineraries for backpacking Kenya.

Itinerary Kenya: 2 weeks | Travelling and backpacking Kenya on a budget

This 2-week itinerary takes you to various national parks of Kenya. Perfect for jeep safaris and wildlife photography. If you like a more active safari consider hiking or cycling through Hell’s Gate National Park. Other highlights of this itinerary of 2 weeks are visiting Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru. Both lakes are unique and have their own flora and fauna. You end your road trip on the Swahili coast of Kenya on the authentic island of Lamu. Don’t forget to take one or two days off to discover Nairobi! The 2-week itinerary is as follows:

Nairobi – Masai Mara – Lake Naivasha (Hell’s Gate) – Lake Nakuru – Nairobi – Lamu – Nairobi

Itinerary Kenya road trip

Itinerary Kenya: 3 weeks | Travel Kenya and chasing all the highlights

This 3-week itinerary includes almost all the highlights of Kenya. A perfect trip for backpacking and soaking up all the wildlife and the best beaches. You start with a visit to the Masai Mara, a beautiful game reserve full of wild animals (among others the Big 5). Afterwards, you take a boat trip at Lake Naivasha and maybe walk among the zebras in Hell’s Gate National Park. Before you start the multi-day trek to climb Mount Kenya, you will be in a luxury resort with a beautiful view of Samburu National Reserve. After literally experiencing the highlight of your holiday on Mount Kenya, you can relax in Kenya’s most beautiful coastal destinations. This 3-week itinerary looks as follows:

Nairobi – Masai Mara – Lake Naivasha – Hell’s Gate – Samburu National Reserve – Mount Kenya – Lamu or Diani Beach – Amboseli National Park – Nairobi

3 week itinerary Kenya

Travel tips: the ultimate Africa packing list! What to pack for a trip to Africa?

Travel East-Africa | Best backpacking experience ever!

A holiday to Africa is an unforgettable experience. Game drives, safari’s, beaches, mountains and friendly local people. Africa has it all. Choosing just one country to visit can be hard. Why not combine countries when visiting East-Africa? In this way, you see and discover more parts of Africa. Crossing borders in East-Africa is not difficult. Are you ready for your best backpacking experience while visiting multiple African countries?

A 4-week itinerary for backpacking Uganda, Rwanda & Kenya on a budget

A trip to Kenya is easy to combine with Uganda and Rwanda. The East-Africa visa makes this possible. With this visa, you can easily visit all three countries with just one visa. In this way, you save on visa costs. Besides, you can decide to pick the cheaper wildlife parks for safaris. In general, game drives in Uganda are cheaper than in Kenya. This is a budget-friendly way to save money. Possible 4-week itinerary backpacking through East Africa is as follows:

Nairobi – Lamu – Masai Mara – Lake Naivasha or Lake Nakuru – Kisumo – Jinja – Kampala – Lake Bunyonyi – Kigali -Nyungwe Forrest National Park – Gisenyi of Kibuye – Volcanoes National Park or Bwindi National Park – Queen Elisabeth National Park – Fort Portal – Murchison Falls National Park – Rhino Sanctuary – Kampala

Itinerary East Africa Best road trip of Kenya Uganda and Rwanda

Travel blogs on KenyaClick here for all Kenya blogs.

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The Ultimate three and two week itinerary for Kenya

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  1. by John on 26 July 2020  10:59 Reply

    Hi .I find it comprehensive..however how can I join for my Mountaineering services in kenya..Thanks in advance.

    UIAA Mountaineering guide/leader and conservationist


    What's up cell phone number

    +254 720 247 457

  2. by akilitravel on 26 November 2020  12:22 Reply

    We are those people behind the scenes who are keen to help you, we are an African-based company that wants to change the perception of African hotels.

  3. by Akilitravel on 8 December 2020  14:28 Reply

    What a great article. This is very useful info. Thanks!

  4. by Thilani Rajarathna on 28 January 2021  21:43 Reply

    Did you do your game drives as part of a Safari (4-5 days) it kind of seems like you did it on your own? Very confusing.

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 10 February 2021  08:47 Reply

      Hi Thilani,
      We did the game drives on our own. Meaning, we went with public transportation to the location of park and there booked a game-drive. We did not book a multi-day safari and therefor arranged everything like food, hotel, transport ourselves. Read more about how we did this for Masai Mara in this blog:

      Good to know, when we would have traveled with a slightly bigger budget (like we did in Uganda), we would have rented a car and still would have done the game-drives ourselves. But this time even with our own car. This is also perfectly doable, but you do need to love adventure for this!

      Hopefully this helps, I am sorry I didn't see your response earlier!
      Kind regards,

  5. by Phil on 13 May 2022  22:17 Reply

    For any of the intineraries (but interested in the 4 week), how would you recommend traveling between destinations? Would you rent a car or take mini buses between places?


    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 23 May 2022  10:15 Reply

      Hi Phil
      We traveled often with mini busses, which was purely a budget choice. For convenience I would highly recommend renting a car! So much easier!
      Kind regards,

  6. by Upa on 26 May 2022  09:34 Reply

    Hi Charlotte, thanks for writing these very informative posts!
    I have a few questions. I am planning to go there in August this year. I am wondering:

    Do I need to come back to Nairobi from each of the locations? My plan is: Nairobi> Masai Mara> Lake Naivasha> Nakuru> Ambesoli>Diani beach> lamu island> Nairobi

    I am not sure how to reach Ambesoli from Lake Naivasha also Ambesoli to Diani Beach.
    Also I have 15 days. is this too much?

    I am traveling on budget, so public transport as much as possible. I am looking for airlines as well within the country but haven't had much luck.

    Again, thanks a ton for sharing your experiences!


    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 13 June 2022  09:56 Reply

      Hi Upa,
      Yes you often need to come back to Nairobi, especially if you are traveling with Public Transport. Most airlines are pretty expensive and there aren't that many destination within Kenya which have a public airport. So unless you decide to travel by private helicopter, you will have to go back to Nairobi from: Nakuru, Amboselli and Diani Beach. Lamu you will only reach by flight.

      To be honest, I do think this is way to much for just 15 days. Especially since you will need at least 6 intense travel days. If I were you I would visit: Nairobi, Masai Mara, Lake Naivasha, perhaps Amboselli and then Dianai/Lamu. That is already an intense itinerary but probably doable.
      Good luck!
      kind regards, Charlotte

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