Kenya is the best location if you have a limited budget, time, and want to see an incredible slice of Africa. Kenya is the perfect destination to explore a lot of East Africa in two weeks, with alpine lakes, world-class national parks, and magnificent coastline.
It’s also a great country for budget travelers like me who want to see wonderful views and wildlife. Did I mention the friendly people? As you can expect, I adored Kenya and struggled to leave after 5 weeks! But, many travelers don’t have that kind of relaxed timetable (and who has tons of cash, right?). I’ve compiled my highlights into this budget-friendly 2-week Kenya itinerary. Discover my fave budget-friendly destinations to explore the finest of this amazing country.
- Airport transfers
- Park fees/charges
- Pick and drop Services
- Drinking water during the safari/tour
- Outdoor activities (as per the itenerary)
- Accommodation (as per the itenerary)
- A professional driver/guide
- Transportation; 4*4 jeep, van, or by air (as per the itenerary)
- All Taxes/VAT
- Meals; full board or half-board (as per the itenerary)
- ** Any other inclusion as indicated in the itenerary
- Insurance (where applicable)
- International flights charges and fares
- Tips and gifts to service providers
- Any personal item that you may need during the tour
- Additional government imposed taxes and/or park fees
- Drinks and meals outside the tour package
- Visa charges
- Additional accommodation (as you may choose)
- Any other charges that may arise in due time
If you are flying into Kenya, you should begin your trip in the country's capital. This is because Nairobi has direct flights to many major cities across the world. Get the lowest fares with Skyscanner; in my experience, Kenya Airways is the most cost-effective option. Despite the city's negative reputation (cue cries of Nairobery), Nairobi is a thriving metropolis with plenty to see and do to keep visitors busy for at least a day.
You can jump right into the wildlife action by booking a day excursion to one of Nairobi's animal attractions like the Giraffe Centre or the David Sheldrick Elephant Conservancy. If you're trying to save some cash, the National Museum is a fantastic alternative, as are the free Uhuru Gardens and City Markets.
Accommodation: Milimani Blackpackers
From Nairobi, you can take a matatu or local bus to Naivasha, a few hours west of the capital, and then to the lake. This lake, 1884m above sea level in the rift valley, is wonderful for a sunset sail. Photographers and wildlife enthusiasts love these nighttime expeditions for hippo sightings and bird-watching. The next day, most lakeside hotels can arrange an excursion to Hells Gate National Park, or you may take this top-rated one-day trip from Nairobi.
This spectacular reserve's geothermal scenery reminded me of Australia's Windjana Gorge, with towering sandstone cliffs and deep canyons. Hells Gate National Park is best explored on two wheels and two feet! Absolutely, cycling and hiking through Hells Gate National Park is unlike any other safari since you may get close to warthogs, giraffes, zebras, and more! This provides for a terrific meeting with some of Kenya's most iconic wildlife—an intimate experience you won't find elsewhere in Africa and a must on your Kenya itinerary. The riding and hiking here is straightforward, but I recommend starting this half-day excursion early in the morning when it's cooler and you'll likely have the spot to yourself!
Accommodation: Camp Carnelley’s
Continuing on the Rift Valley theme, the beautiful reserve of Lake Nakuru is only a few hours away from Lake Naivasha either bus or matatu. The first national park in Kenya, it is home to a wide variety of species, from buffaloes to flamingos, baboons to gazelles, and even the critically endangered rhino. On our daylong safari around Lake Nakuru, we spotted not one but seven rhinos—including a baby! We also saw one of the park's famous tree-climbing lions, for which the park is famous. Aaah!!
Although though it's not a very big park, there's a lot to see here, including a few breathtaking overlooks and a waterfall, so plan on spending at least a day here if you can.
Furthermore, the city of Nakuru can be seen in the distance, and the gorgeous salt lake can be found in the park's center, complete with flooded tree trunk beauty.
Accommodation: Punda Millias Camp
The bare minimum amount of time to spend in the world-famous Masai Mara is 2 nights, but if you're on a tight budget (and timetable), you'll have to cut your stay short. Yet, I never recommend a trip to Africa without first experiencing what I consider to be the best safari in Kenya. There is nowhere quite like the Mara, with its breathtaking scenery, diverse fauna, and rich indigenous culture.
Herds of wildebeest, towers of giraffes, dazzles of zebras, pods of hippos, a mound of elephants, baboons, warthogs, hyenas, elands, topis, mongooses, and so much more were among the many animals we saw in just one day. A lot more manageable than the Serengeti, these verdant, rolling hills seem straight out of a photo shoot. From Nakuru, the Masai Mara can be reached by taking a bus or matatu for a few hours. You can then try to have your lodging pick you up from there, but be warned that the route is horrible!
In any case, if you're on a tight budget, you might do best to join a pre-arranged tour to Nairobi's Masai Mara in order to split the expense with a group.
Accommodation: Mara camp or Acacia Camp
Once you've gotten your fill of the safari, it's time to visit the shore of Kenya to fully take in the country's stunning variety. We recommend starting in the fantastic city of Lamu, which can be found in the very north of the country. It is not advised to make the trip here by vehicle; instead, take a quick aircraft from Nairobi to Lamu. Both FLY540 and Safarilink are affordable options, and their fares can be compared in a flash on Skyscanner. Getting to Lamu from Manda Island requires a one-way ticket to Manda and a short ferry ride.
The sultry, Swahili coast will slowly creep into your soul when you arrive in town and settle into the tantalizing languid pace of life here. Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town where the call to prayer rings out from mosques and the aroma of samosas sizzling in oil fills the air, but there are no cars here. With its narrow, twisting lanes and ornate entrances, this is the kind of venue where experiencing the spirit of the area is more appealing than seeing any of the typical tourist sights. Many travelers consider Lamu to be the pinnacle of their time in Kenya.
Accommodation: Amu House
Go from Lamu to Malindi, farther south along Kenya's coast, and from there take a matatu to the city of Kilifi. Beautiful and laid-back, the locals here are welcoming, and the expat community is largely composed of creative types who hang out with the Distant Relatives bunch. Kilifi, located on the banks of a stream, is a bustling town with plenty to see and do, such as day trips to the nearby beach resort of Watamu, shopping at the local markets, and swimming in the nighttime bioluminescence.
While there are many things to do in Kenya, if you just want to kick back with a book and enjoy the sun, this is the ideal spot to do so.
Accommodation: Distant relatives
Diani Beach is Kenya's premier resort, and no trip to the nation should be planned without at least a few relaxing days there. Diani is a dream beach for many because of the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean lapping at its picture-perfect white sand. Despite the fact that the beach is largely occupied by all-inclusive resorts, it is still a public space, so even those of us on a tighter budget can still enjoy this heavenly location. Those in search of adventure can partake in activities like skydiving, scuba diving, and kitesurfing, as well as snorkeling tours and boat rides.
It's fine to lounge in a hammock and watch the waves roll in if you're too taken aback by the beauty of the setting to do anything else. Let your hair down at Forty Thieves and mix with locals and travelers from all around the world.
Accommodation: Diani Backpackers
On your last day in Kenya, take a tuk-tuk, a matatu, and a ferry to the historic city of Mombasa. Once you get in Mombasa, take some time to walk about the old city on the Swahili coast and check out Fort Jesus, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You can catch one of several international flights leaving from Mombasa airport, or you can take a short flight or long bus ride to Nairobi and then catch an international flight from there.
It's important to note that a new, faster train runs daily between Nairobi and Mombasa, slashing the old route's famed overnight duration to only four hours. Although though one-way tickets only cost $7 USD, they must be reserved at least 5 days in advance, either through MPesa (a local mobile phone-based means of payment) or at the station itself.
Accommodation: Tulia House Backpackers