Kenya is a beautiful country that is best known for its wildlife, huge national parks, rich culture, various landscapes, scenic views, and adventure activities. For a traveler seeking adventure and loves the open road, road-tripping through Kenya is one amazing way to experience all it has to offer. Hitting the open road, you see much more of the country, you set your own itinerary, and are bound to stumble upon some hidden gems off the beaten tourist tracks.
In this article, we will share with you some of the best places for road trips in Kenya, starting from Nairobi, the capital city. Whether you are a local Kenyan or an international traveler, you are bound to find some inspiration for your next road trip adventure.
From Nairobi to Lake Naivasha and back
Best day-trip drive from Nairobi
Nairobi–Naivasha; 95km (60 miles); allow 1 day
If you want to take a short road trip out of the capital, this day drive takes in sweeping views over the Great Rift Valley from spots such as Mathore Viewpoint. From here, you can get an eyeful of this vast system of ridges or escarpments that forms one of Kenya’s most spectacular sights, the valley floor broken up by a series of lakes and volcanoes, active and dormant.
Around 50km (30 miles) along the road from Nairobi, stop off at the Traveler’s Chapel, known locally as the Mai Mahiu Church. This small stone Catholic church built by Italian prisoners of war in 1942 is one of the world’s tiniest churches. Look out for the colorful “Welcome to Nakuru County” sign soon after the church: with its map of Africa and distance markers, it’s a popular photo option.
Depending on time and whether you decide to overnight near Naivasha, the extinct volcano Mt Longonot and the thick forest inside its crater makes for a good stop for the views from the crater rim across the Great Rift Valley before heading to Lake Naivasha, where wildlife and birdlife gather around the freshwater lake.
Head into the Western Highlands to Kisumu
Best road trip for Great Rift Valley views
Nairobi–Kisumu; 360km (225 miles); allow 7–10 days
The drive from Nairobi northwest to Lake Nakuru and then toward the lake city of Kisumu makes a beautiful journey through western Kenya, with views of the northern Great Rift Valley en route. The Nairobi–Naivasha Highway passes through the town of Kericho, where you can stock up on snacks and drinks and absorb everyday life outside of the capital, beaches, and safari lodges. Around Kericho are several tea farms and the Mau Forest, prime road-trip territory with just the right amount of winding routes for driving pleasure, before you reach Kisumu on the northeastern shore of Lake Victoria.
Kisumu is the third-largest city in Kenya and a vibrant cultural hub. You can visit the Kisumu Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the Luo people, the Impala Sanctuary, which is home to impalas, zebras, giraffes, and hippos, the Dunga Hill Camp, which offers a scenic view of the lake and the city, and the Kiboko Bay Resort, which is a great place to relax and enjoy the sunset.
Set Your Sights On Samburu
Best road trip for wildlife and culture
Nairobi–Samburu; 350km (220 miles); allow 5–7 days
A road trip from Nairobi to Samburu is an unforgettable experience that should be on every tourist’s wishlist. This drive takes eight to ten hours, and travelers can stop at Nyeri, Nanyuki, and Isiolo on the way. The hilly area is serene and attractive, and the area is free from crowds.
At Samburu, tourists can visit Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo Springs National Reserve, which are famous for their unique wildlife, such as the Grevy’s zebra, the reticulated giraffe, the Somali ostrich, the gerenuk, and the beisa oryx. These animals are known as the Samburu Special Five and can only be found in this region. You can also spot lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, and crocodiles in the reserves.
Another highlight of visiting Samburu is the opportunity to interact with the Samburu people, who are closely related to the Maasai. The Samburu are known for their colorful attire, elaborate jewelry, and distinctive dances. You can learn about their culture, traditions, and way of life by visiting a local village or joining a cultural tour.
Joyride to Maasai Mara
Best road trip for the ultimate safari experience
Nairobi–Maasai Mara; 280km (175 miles); allow 5–7 days
The Maasai Mara is the most spectacular location in all of Kenya, with a rich culture, friendly locals, beautiful landscapes, and wonderful wildlife. Driving from Nairobi to Mai Mahiu to Narok to Maasai Mara takes 5 hours, and should be done on a 4×4 vehicle. Travelers could rent a suitable vehicle at a reasonable price for the journey.
At the Maasai Mara, you can enjoy the ultimate safari experience by witnessing the Great Migration, which is the annual movement of millions of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. This is one of the most amazing natural phenomena in the world and a must-see for any wildlife lover. You can also observe the magnificent Big Five, which are the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo, as well as other animals such as giraffes, hyenas, cheetahs, and jackals.
Besides the wildlife, the Maasai Mara also offers a chance to learn about the Maasai people, who are the custodians of the land and the wildlife. The Maasai are known for their distinctive red attire, their warrior skills, and their harmonious coexistence with nature. You can visit a Maasai village, participate in a traditional ceremony, or join a walking safari with a Maasai guide.
Quick Drive To Naivasha
Best road trip for a relaxing weekend getaway
Nairobi–Naivasha; 90km (55 miles); allow 2–3 days
This comparatively shorter road trip from Nairobi to Naivasha takes only two hours and is the perfect experience for every tourist. Naivasha is a popular destination for its serene lake, lush greenery, and abundant birdlife. You can enjoy a boat ride on the lake, spot hippos, flamingos, pelicans, and fish eagles, or visit the Crescent Island, which is a private sanctuary where you can walk among giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and waterbucks.
Naivasha also offers a variety of activities for the adventurous traveler, such as hiking, biking, camping, fishing, and horse riding. You can explore the Hell’s Gate National Park, which is a dramatic landscape of cliffs, gorges, and geothermal features. You can also visit the Olkaria Geothermal Spa, which is the largest natural spa in Africa, where you can soak in the mineral-rich waters and enjoy the views of the Rift Valley.
Naivasha has a range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference, from luxury lodges and hotels to budget campsites and cottages. You can also find some great restaurants and cafes that serve delicious local and international cuisine.
Kenya is a country that offers endless possibilities for road trips. Whether you want to see the wildlife, the culture, the scenery, or the adventure, you can find it all in Kenya. Road-tripping through Kenya is a great way to discover the country at your own pace and make memories that will last a lifetime. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your keys, and hit the road with Holidays Hub, the best travel and tours company for long vacations and weekend getaways as well!