Congratulations – if you’re reading this, then you’ve made ( or almost made ) the big decision to head over to Kenya for your once-in-a-lifetime safari experience! If you are still not sure, see this post on the best time to visit East Africa for a Safari. It will help you make a decision by giving some detailed information on what you can expect at different times of the year.
Kenya, the home of the safari, offers you the exclusive chance to get a closer look at the Big 5: lions, leopards, elephants, black rhinoceros and African buffalos, which are indeed truly big. If you plan accordingly, you might even get a glimpse of the Great Migration, a wondrous event that revolves around the wildebeest migration. The truth is, Kenya will never cease to amaze you!
However, accommodation plays a big part during your safari trip. You’d want to be fully rested and relaxed before heading out to chase those lions with a camera. Well, that’s exactly why Kenya is so great – you can get great value for your money! With campsites, lodges, and resorts expanding on both sides of the price range, the best part is that you’ll be able to find some great locations even if you’re traveling on a budget.
Here are the top camps in Kenya, sorted by the budget tyoe, that are guaranteed to make your experience as pleasant as possible, rated in the budget, mid-tier, or the luxury category.
Wildebeest Eco Camp in Kenya
The Wildebeest Eco Camp is one of the highest rated campsites in Kenya on TripAdvisor, with more than 400 ratings grading it with 4 stars or more. It’s located in Lang’ata, which is very close to Nairobi but still far enough so you could experience the African savannah in its full glory.
Even though the camp also has some lodging on the spot that can be seen as more luxurious, it really excels in offering budget-friendly camping. For prices lower than $20 per night, you could easily spend your safari vacation camping under the stars. If you feel like tents might not be your thing, then check their shared dormitories or safari tents – those won’t let your budget down as well!
While you might be compromising on the price, you sure won’t be on the basic amenities – there are some easily accessible shared toilets and hot showers at your disposal at any time. Oh, and there’s free WiFi – don’t forget to post some awesome pictures from your trip! Bonus points: you don’t even have to bring your own camping gear, as the Wildebeest Eco Camp would be more than happy to offer you their own.
Camp Carnelley’s Safari Camp in Kenya
Located on the coast of Lake Naivasha, this camp is run by the Carnelley family – and what’s better than a family to make you feel like home? Camp Carnelley’s has more than 200 TripAdvisor reviews with an average 4-star rating and visitors often describe it as “the best budget camping site in the area”.
Again, you could do your pick from a variety of accommodation spots on the campsite. The budget-friendly options are either pitching a tent or staying in one of the 6-beds dormitories. No matter your decision, you can be rest assured that you won’t be lacking any hot showers nor flushing toilets – which is considered a very important amenity in Kenya!
If being close to water is your thing, then this is the place to be as the Lake Naivasha can be seen from every single spot on camp. Before leaving, don’t forget to pay a visit to Lazybones, an on-spot bar and restaurant of which the owners are particularly proud of – and they should be, considering the authenticity of the place!
Mara Serena Safari Lodge
This lodge is located in the heart of Maasai Mara National Reserve – you won’t be short on the real safari experience considering the actual proximity to animals! The Mara Serena Safari Lodge is the ideal fit for those looking for a compromise between comfort and budget.
The hotel has 75 rooms though note that all of those are non-smoking ones. As it features a pool and a sundeck, it might be the place to be for families with kids – in case your children aren’t wowed with the big kitties, the pool will definitely cheer them up. Another good point is that the lodge offers different tours and activities regarding the safari experience, making it easier for you to the planning point.
Probably one of the best parts of staying here is that you’ll be able to get a really close look at the wildebeest migration, something that would make your safari trip definitely memorable. With more than 60% of guests rating it as ‘Excellent’, you can be certain that you’d be getting the best value for the price!
Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge in Kenya
This lodging gem is positioned in the Amboseli National Park, with the glorious Mount Kilimanjaro in the back. Photography lovers will love this place, as it depicts the perfect safari picture: Mount Kilimanjaro in the back with elephants strolling leisurely in front of it. Alongside other typical safari animals, this spot is known for its rare views of whole elephant families, making for a truly one-of-a-kind place.
As far as the actual hotel goes, it has more than 90 comfortable rooms of different sizes that are, again, nonsmoking. All guests get free access to a decent pool and sundeck – to get the perfect body tan while you’re there!
For all of those caring for the environment, you’ll be thrilled to learn that you’ll actually help preserve the Amboseli National Park by staying here. The hotel takes active participation in the reforestation act – you’ll get to plant a seed and give something back to the place that managed to amaze you!
Sanctuary Olonana Tented Camp in Kenya
If you came to Kenya seeking luxury, then this is the spot where you’ll find it – the Sanctuary Olonana Tented Camp is, hands down, one of the best camp places in Kenya! Set on a private property on the shore of the Mara River, it’s located in the most famous game reserve in Kenya, the Maasai Mara. This means that you’ll get to witness the wildebeest migration ‘on your doorstep’ – though make sure to plan accordingly and be there as it happens!
The camp is made out of fourteen large and spacious tents and there’s one main tent that serves as a guest lodge. But don’t let the word tent fool you; each tent is considered en-suite and has a veranda overlooking the river. You’ll be able to enjoy top-notch luxury for the price while exploring traditional Maasai culture due to the decoration of the tents.
It goes without saying that you’ll be able to savor real delicacies while staying at this exquisite resort – make sure to try the traditional foods that are offered. The place also features a spa, a pool, a sundeck and a library, alongside a bunch of cool activities organized for visitors – but that’s rather expected from a high-end place like this, right?
This place is a leader in the responsible tourism with a range of activities and projects aimed to help the local environment – as a matter of fact, it’s helped so much that it’s been rated as “Gold Eco-Rated” by Ecotourism Kenya.
Mahali Mzuri Safari Camp in Kenya
Mahali Mzuri is located in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy, which belongs to the Maasai Mari area. If your safari budget can be stretched, then this is the place to stay while on a Kenyan Safari. As a matter of fact, its TripAdvisor rating is through the roof – more than 90% of those who’d stayed there rated the camp as ‘Excellent’!
The camp is actually owned by Sir Richard Branson, which kind of says a lot about the luxurious amenities offered on the campsite. There are 12 luxuriously decorated tents on the site, each of them able to host two people. The maximum capacity of the camp is 24 guests, meaning you won’t be kicking elbows at the buffet table in there.
Apart from the magnificent views of the animals, this place excels in the service it provides to its guests – they even have a Maasai tribesman standing guard in front of your tent! You could also take part in various tours offered by the camp and according to what visitors say on TripAdvisor, ‘all of the guides are quite knowledgeable’ of things. Considering the hot African weather, I’d say that the large pool and bar are also a nice addition to the place.
A fun fact: The camp’s name is in Swahili; the English translation is very suitable for this mesmerizing location – it means a ‘beautiful place’.
Honorable mentions for other Safari Camps in Kenya
These camps didn’t make our top list but considering they are perfect for some of our readers, it would be just too bad to not list them here.
Canvas Cottage Malewa Bush Ventures (Budget)
Sarova Mara Game Camp (Mid-tier)
Shimba Hills Lodge Hotel (Mid-tier)
Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp (Luxury)
Karen Blixen Camp (Luxury)
So, feel free to get your hopes up – no matter which of these camps you choose to stay at, chances are, you won’t be leaving without a smile on your face! We also recommend that before making a decision, bring yourself upto speed about vaccinations you'll need and things you'll need to pack. We also suggest that you go over this article on how to plan a Safari to Kenya and it's follow up on Getting to and around in Kenya.