3 Weeks in Kenya Itinerary

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Kenya is located in East Africa. It is the 28th most populous country in the world. It should be included in your bucket list of places you want to visit because of the diversity of wildlife you can find here, such as the great wildebeest migration.

They have many reserves, parks, and private conservancies that you’ll always have places to visit during your 20 days in Kenya.

Aside from that, the country also offers cultural tours where you can interact with various tribes, including Swahili, Maasai, Pokot, El Molo, and more. Of course, who can ignore their turquoise beaches and white sand?

These are only the tip of the iceberg of what you can experience during your stay here. In this 3 weeks in Kenya itinerary, I will show you how I travelled around. I hope that this will give you some ideas on how to plan your own trip.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO KENYA

4 images - top left is a safari truck in a savannah land. top right are the tribes of Maasai Village. Bottom right is Turtle Beach in Watamu. Bottom left is the downtown Nairobi - 3 Weeks in Kenya Itinerary

Planning is a trip for Kenya can be a bit more challenging because there are not many updated information out there. Below, you will find information on when to go to Kenya, the cost, which cities to visit, what to pack, and more.

When is the best time to go to

The best time to go depends on what you like. Kenya’s summer season is from December to March, while the winter is from July to October. The rainy season comes in between these months, with the longer rainy season from April to June.

The peak season in Kenya is from June to September because that’s when you’ll see the big five animals: elephant, rhino, leopard, cape buffalo, and lion.

Shoulder seasons are April to June and October to December. These times are cool because there’s a good balance. It’s not too crowded, not too expensive, and you can still enjoy lots of activities and wildlife.

Are 3 weeks enough for Kenya

Kenya has so much to offer, so more than 3 weeks would be needed to go to all the must-visit places here. Still, it is enough to get a feel of what it’s like to live here, experience Kenya’s culture, and visit all the major tourist spots or locations that could be more well-known, depending on your preferences.

You could spend your three weeks in Kenya with 2 weeks of game viewing and then a week of lounging by the beach, or if you prefer a more traditional experience, you could visit the historical islands of Lamu.

What to pack

Regardless of when you plan to visit Kenya, you must bring a bug spray. It can also very hot during summer, so make sure you bring breathable clothing, sunscreen, hat, and even an umbrella.

We have a packing list for a 3-week trip and a summer packing list.

How to get around

Buses are the most common mode of public transportation in Kenya. You don’t have to worry about overcrowding because the government prohibits standing passengers. They also have trains and matatu, which are small vans that can fit 6 to 18 people, depending on the size of the truck.

Taxis and car rentals are also available if you prefer private transportation for privacy, convenience, and schedule flexibility. For car rentals, choose 4 x 4 types because of the state of the roads in this country.

Catching domestic flights in Kenya is a good idea, especially if you’re travelling long distances or tight on time. Kenya’s vast landscapes and wildlife reserves can be spread out, so flying saves a lot of time compared to driving on roads, sometimes in rough conditions. Airlines like Kenya Airways and smaller local carriers offer various options, making it easier to plan your trip around the country.

Language and currency

The most widely spoken languages in Kenya are Swahili and English. Aside from that, there are 66 other languages spoken here, though not as widely used as the first two. Their currency is called the Kenyan Shilling. When travelling around the country, bring cash with you because not all establishments accept debit or credit cards.

The most widely accepted cards are Visa, Mastercard/Cirrus/Maestro, and Amex, and these are usually accepted in tourist spots and large cities.

Average travel cost for 3 weeks in Kenya

What surprises me about Kenya is that it’s not as affordable as I thought it would be. However, it’s still more affordable than in Europe and North America.

A holiday in Kenya can fit any budget, from affordable to luxury. For an affordable trip, you might spend around $1,500 to $2,500. This covers simple accommodations, public transport, and some guided tours.

If you’re looking for something in the middle, expect to pay between $3,000 to $5,000. This gets you nicer hotels, some private tours, and maybe a few extra comforts like nicer meals and internal flights.

For a luxury experience, the sky’s the limit, but generally, it starts from $6,000 and can go way up, depending on how fancy you want to get. Luxury trips include top hotels, exclusive safaris, private guides, and gourmet meals.

Visa

I love that Kenya has such an amazing visa policy. Everyone can pretty much go here without going through the tedious visa application through an Embassy or Consulate. Instead, all you need to do is apply for an eTA/evisa online.

Its neighbouring countries such as Burundi, DR Congo, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Rwanda don’t need an ETA. At the same time, nationalities of Comoros, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Africa, San Marino, and Mozambique don’t need to pay the eTA fee and only need to submit an application online.

Other travel tips

PINNED MAP OF MUST-SEE PLACES IN KENYA

Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google

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3 WEEKS IN KENYA ITINERARY

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the country Kenya is safari, as it is abundant with those. I really enjoyed seeing wild animals so up close. It’s honestly magnificent, but I don’t think there are enough words to describe the feeling.

My friend and I visited Kenya together and we rented a car. It was a great way to go on safaris, but booking a guided tour is also a great choice, which means you can focus on spotting animals and not thinking about driving.

We will be exploring the cities of Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, and Mombasa during your 3 weeks in Kenya, and to maximize your vacation experience, I even added Tsavo National Park to the mix.

Let’s start with Nairobi, the gateway to some of Africa’s best adventures. This is a city where history, modern structures, and wildlife all coexist. You can check out the skyscrapers and museums all around the city in one moment, then drink coffee by the hills in the next.

After Nairobi is Nakuru, where you’ll also get to see diverse wildlife species. Followed by Kisumu, where you can have a sunset cruise, and lastly, Mombasa, where you can find miles upon miles of beach coast and experience various activities like dolphin spotting, diving, and snorkelling, among others.

Nairobi for 5 days

Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. Its name is derived from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which means a place of cool waters and is a reference to the Nairobi River.

It has the perfect balance of historical establishments, nature, and places for leisure. Nairobi is well-known for its museums, shopping malls, nightlife, and restaurants.

Nature lovers can visit Nairobi National Park. They also have various sanctuaries. This is a good starting point as it’s a tourist hub since the airport here accommodates both domestic and international flights. Aside from that, you can even take various day trips from here, such as to Mount Kenya.

Most international flights will arrive in Nairobi. So, from here, you can easily get to other cities in Kenya.

Things to do in Nairobi

Accommodations in Nairobi

Nakuru for 3 days

Nakuru is a city located in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. It is the third largest urban area in Kenya. This city is the face of all Kenyan tribes because it houses the majority, if not all, of the 44 tribes. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is well-known because of the abundance of flamingos at Lake Nakuru National Park.

The distance between Nairobi and Nakuru is 161.3 km (100 mi). There are 2 ways to get to Nakuru from Nairobi. One is by public transport, which includes riding a matatu and then taking a bus.

It is less expensive than driving, which is the private option, but you’ll reach your destination faster via private transportation, having a travel time of almost 3 hours.

Things to do in Nakuru

  • Hyrax Hill Museum
  • Menengai Crater
  • Egerton Castle
  • Sosyambu Conservancy
  • Mogotio Equator Curio Center
  • Lake Bogoria
  • Lake Elementia

Accommodations in Nakuru

Kisumu for 3 days

If you’re going to stay for 3 weeks in Kenya, I advise that you stay in Kisumu for at least 3 days. It is the third largest city in Kenya and is well-known for its lakeside views, vibrant music, and dance culture. It is also a melting pot for various cultures, so you’ll get to try out multiple cuisines aside from learning about the said cultures.

The distance between Kisumu and Nakuru is 184.9 km (115 mi). You can only reach Kisumu if you’re coming from Nakuru by bus or by car.

There isn’t much difference in the travel duration as riding the bus takes more than 3 hours while driving takes almost 3 hours, though riding the bus is a cheaper mode of transport.

Things to do in Kisumu

  • Kiboko Bay
  • Kisumu Impala Sanctuary
  • Dunga Hill Camp
  • Hippo Point
  • The Kisumu Museum
  • Art Markets
  • Kit Mikayi
  • Flea Market

Accommodations in Kisumu

Mombasa for 5 days

Mombasa is a coastal city with a distinct old-world coexisting with a new-world Swahili vibe. This city is brimming with history as it is among the oldest and busiest ports in the African continent. Aside from historical sites, it is also well-known for its beaches.

Kisumu is quite far from Mombasa, so you can fly there if you like. It has a travel time of almost 2 hours. Other modes of transportation are by bus and by driving. Riding the bus will take you more than 15 hours to reach your destination, while driving takes a little more than 12 hours.

Things to do in Mombasa

Accommodations in Mombasa

Tsavo National Park for 4 days

Tsavo National Park is the largest national park in Kenya and among the largest in the whole world. It is famous for having tons of elephants and lions and is split into two sections, Tsavo East and Tsavo West. In fact, you can read more about this national park in the book Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story.

Tsavo West is also known as the Land of Lava, Springs, Man-eaters, and Magical Sunsets. It has scenic beauty and a wide range of vegetation. Here, you can also find the African Big Five, as well as other wildlife animals and bird species.

Tsavo East, on the other hand, is also known as the Theater of the Wild and is filled with large herds of red-dusted elephants. Aside from that, you’ll also see the ethereal blue Galana River here.

As the national parks are immensely huge, 4 days actually wouldn’t be enough to fully explore them, so it would be better to choose one place to explore.

There are 3 ways to reach Tsavo National Park if you’re coming from Mombasa, including train then taxi, bus then taxi, and driving, the fastest of which is taking the train then taxi, with more than 3 and a half hours of travel time.

Things to do in Tsavo East

Things to do in Tsavo West

  • Cave exploration
  • Game viewing
  • Underwater hippo and fish watching

Accommodations in Tsavo West

Accommodations in Tsavo East

MUST-TRY KENYAN DISHES AND DRINKS

Kenyan food is really interesting because it mixes different tastes and textures, showing off the country’s many cultures. Here are some dishes and drinks from Kenya that you have to try during your visit:

  • Ugali – A staple made from maize flour, often served with vegetables or meat.
  • Sukuma Wiki – A hearty dish of sautéed greens, commonly kale or collard greens, often eaten with ugali.
  • Nyama Choma – Kenya’s famous grilled meat, usually goat or beef, seasoned and barbecued to perfection.
  • Chapati – A type of flatbread that’s soft, layered, and goes well with just about any dish.
  • Githeri – A traditional mix of boiled corn and beans, sometimes enhanced with meat and vegetables.
  • Matoke – Cooked and mashed green bananas, often prepared with onions, tomatoes, and spices.
  • Kachumbari – A fresh tomato and onion salad, seasoned with chilli, cilantro, and lime juice, perfect alongside grilled meats.
  • Samaki – Fish is cooked in various ways, with a popular method being frying and serving it with a side of vegetables.
  • Chai – Kenyan tea is milky and often spiced with ginger or cardamom, a daily essential.
  • Dawa – A refreshing cocktail made with vodka, lime, honey, and crushed ice, akin to a Kenyan mojito.
  • Uji – A traditional porridge made from millet or sorghum flour, sweetened and sometimes flavoured with spices.
  • Mandazi – East African doughnuts, slightly sweet and cardamom-flavored, perfect for snacking.
  • Halwa – A sweet, dense treat made from nuts, butter, and sugar, often spiced with cardamom or cinnamon.
  • Kaimati – Sweet dumplings that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, coated in a syrupy glaze.

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN KENYA ITINERARY

Kenya is topographically stunning as it is surrounded by calderas and mountain ranges. It also has numerous caves, geysers, hot springs, and national parks, which makes it a haven for nature lovers.

It has ample museums and historical sites for history buffs, shopping malls, flea markets, and spice markets for those who love to shop.

So, whatever your travel preferences, you’ll always have something to do in Kenya. Aside from the places mentioned above, you can also explore these locations: Samburu National Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Lamu, and Northern and Southern Beaches, among others.

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