This is one of the most important parts of your roadtrip preparation. A good start is half the battle! Roadtripping in Kenya is a different ball game to roadtripping in most countries in the world. It's also a completely different environment than Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, so don't think you can compare your experience in Southern Africa with a self-drive roadtrip in Kenya. Most tourists opt for an organised tour in Kenya and the self-drive industry is far less developed. That doesn't mean it's impossible. On the contrary! Being prepared and knowing what to expect is essential for a successful and satisfying trip. Here we share our most important itinerary planning tips with you:
- In general, plan your trip with an average of 50km/h distance covered outside the parks and 30km/h covered inside the parks. Consult the Driving in Kenya section of this website, to get a better understanding of navigation and how to map your route.
- Plan a minimum of two nights at each location to appreciate where you are. Being on the move all the time generally does not make your self drive holiday more fun. If you booked yourself a beautiful lodge, make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy! When you arrive late, go on a safari drive the next morning and continue further, you have literally only experienced the bed. Also, when staying at least 2 nights at a location, you have build in some flexibility to allow for the unexpected, as things will work out differently than planned. Don't plan a long driving day on the day you need to catch a flight, if something goes wrong, there's instant stress. You can rely on excellent road support form our end, but things take time to organise and cooperation form both sides.
- In line with the above, be careful with adopting tour operators' trip itineraries for your self-drive trip. Their driver-guides are experienced drivers, who know the cars their driving and every single tree along the road. This makes such long journeys less tiresome for Kenyan driver-guides. Having said so, we do not think that spending so many hours per day in the car will make anyones trip more fun, whether your on a guided tour with a driver-guide or a self drive.You can use our suggested itineraries as a starting point to develop your own route.
- Do not underestimate the game driving/viewing that you will undertake inside the national parks. This can also be challenging and tiresome for the driver as well as the the travel companions. Best is to alternate vehicle - based activities ( safari drives and getting form A to B), with activities to stretch your legs, such as walks/ hikes or cultural experiences.
- We are personally big fans of alternating camping with staying at a lodge, whereby we also like to combine camping on a public campsite inside a safari park (bush camping), with a stay at a commercially run campground outside a natural park, who often have great amenities, like an outdoor kitchen space or a swimming pool. Many upmarket lodges are foreign owned, but it can also be a great rewarding and authentic experience to stay at a more budget, locally owned small-scale hotels.
- When you fuel up your tank, always know where the next fuel stop is.
- 'Pole pole' (slowly slowly) is a lifestyle in Kenya. Expect that everything will take a while; from fuel stops to entering parks, ordering a meal etc.
- A roadtrip is best enjoyed when you believe that the adventure lies in the journey itself, and that the destination is not the end goal...