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Cultural experiences in Kenya
Cultural experiences in Kenya
Cultural experiences in Kenya
Cultural experiences in Kenya
Cultural experiences in Kenya
Cultural experiences in Kenya
Cultural experiences in Kenya
Cultural experiences in Kenya
Cultural experiences in Kenya

Kenyan cultural experiences

Best cultural experiences in Kenya

Kenya offers a rich variety of cultural experiences with plenty of involvement with local villages. Travellers often get the opportunity to learn about Maasai, Samburu, Turkana, Swahili and other communities and take part in activities. It's often possible to visit schools, do a village visit on market day or walk with the herds when going out to pasture in the morning.

Occasionally it's even possible to take part in traditional ceremonies. While nomadic lifestyles are circumscribed these days by the conventions of modern life, these communities are still rooted in traditions very different from those most visitors are used to.

There are more than forty different language groups or tribes in Kenya, of which three communities, the Maasai, Samburu and Turkana, have held onto traditional clothing and lifestyles in much of their range.

  • The Maasai are traditionally semi-nomadic and entirely dependent on their livestock. These days they tend to be fairly sedentary, occupying small settlements of 8-15 houses protected by thorn bushes or fencing. Livestock, including goats and sheep but especially cattle, are the primary source of income for the Maasai - when they can be persuaded to sell that is.
  • The Samburu are closely related to the Maasai. Both arrived in Kenya from the upper Nile region in present-day South Sudan in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and they speak a common language - Maa. The traditional Samburu diet consists of milk and blood extracted from their cows. Meat is only served on special occasions. Dancing plays a significant role in Samburu culture and is similar to that of the Maasai people with men dancing in a circle and jumping high from a standing position.
  • The Turkana are an important pastoral community in northern Kenya. Like other herders, they traditionally lived a nomadic life, always moving from one place to another depending on the availability of pasture and water for their animals. Although trading and employment are increasingly important (many Turkana men work in the security services or as guards and night watchmen), the old cattle culture is still vitally important. Fishing is also a major source of food for those living close to Lake Turkana.

Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge

Owned, managed and staffed by the Il Ngwesi Maasai community, this lodge in the remote bush of eastern Laikipia is one of Kenya’s best bases for a deeper cultural immersion than simply visiting a local village or compound.

Selenkay Adventure

Selenkay offers unique interaction with the Maasai warriors who staff the camp. The camp’s sincere involvement with the local community, providing employment and funds, creates a truly authentic relationship that is evident throughout your stay.


Basecamp Eagle View

The camp is closely linked to the community guiding school nearby, as well as a local school and women’s arts centre. A few hours spent learning about the lives of the Maasai people is a very worthwhile addition to your stay.


Selenkay Adventure

Selenkay offers unique interaction with the Maasai warriors who staff the camp. The camp’s sincere involvement with the local community, providing employment and funds, creates a truly authentic relationship that is evident throughout your stay.


Elephant Bedroom

Elephant Bedroom is managed by members of the Samburu community and offers local Samburu village visits. During these you’ll gain genuine insights into local daily life – an experience which benefits both the guests and community.


Saruni Samburu

This is a camp staffed by Samburu people who can take you to neighbouring villages to meet their community in an authentic, non-commercial manner. You can also visit the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, a remarkable community initiative.


Sarara

In a nearby seasonal river, Samburu people assemble in the dry season to form human chains, collecting water from deep wells for their livestock. Singing as they work, their tunes create a hypnotic experience known as the ‘singing wells’.


Mountain Gorilla View

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge has strong ties with the surrounding communities and supports a local 'Intore' dance troop who perform at the lodge each afternoon. The word 'Intore' means warrior and bands of sisal on headbands portray dancers as fearsome lions.


Mountain Gorilla View

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge has strong ties with the surrounding communities and supports a local 'Intore' dance troop who perform at the lodge each afternoon. The word 'Intore' means warrior and bands of sisal on headbands portray dancers as fearsome lions.

Best camps & lodges for Cultural experiences in Kenya


Tassia Lodge

Tassia Lodge

Tassia operates as a partnership between the local Maasai community and the managers – and so there is great involvement with the local villages. You'll have the opportunity to visit and learn as much as you like, in this exceptionally well integrated lodge.


100% (3 reviews)
Tamarind Village

Tamarind Village

Tamarind Village is a good base from which to explore the fascinating Swahili history, mosques and architecture of Mombasa. The old town, and the museum-monument of Fort Jesus are only a 15-minute drive away, and transport to these can be easily arranged.


No reviews yet
Porini Amboseli Camp

Porini Amboseli Camp

Most guests will visit a local Maasai village during their stay and you can interact with people and learn something about the Maasai way of life. With no fees charged and nothing sold, this provides genuine, brief insights into Maasai culture.


92% (12 reviews)
Selenkay Adventure Camp

Selenkay Adventure

Selenkay offers unique interaction with the Maasai warriors who staff the camp. The camp’s sincere involvement with the local community, providing employment and funds, creates a truly authentic relationship that is evident throughout your stay.


100% (6 reviews)
Basecamp Maasai Mara

Basecamp Maasai Mara

School visits are on the agenda here, and can be very worthwhile. The 2-hour walks around the Talek community area include background on the local economy. A group of women make souvenirs, and the proceeds of these go back to the community.


70% (2 reviews)
The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

This lodge is in the heartland of the Laikipiak Maasai - the northern branch of the Maasai people. Local village, school and market visits can be organised as part of your activities. Ideally, it's best to book these excursions in advance.


No reviews yet
Sarara

Sarara

In a nearby seasonal river, Samburu people assemble in the dry season to form human chains, collecting water from deep wells for their livestock. Singing as they work, their tunes create a hypnotic experience known as the ‘singing wells’.


98% (21 reviews)
Saruni Samburu

Saruni Samburu

This is a camp staffed by Samburu people who can take you to neighbouring villages to meet their community in an authentic, non-commercial manner. You can also visit the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, a remarkable community initiative.


96% (25 reviews)
Elephant Bedroom

Elephant Bedroom

Elephant Bedroom is managed by members of the Samburu community and offers local Samburu village visits. During these you’ll gain genuine insights into local daily life – an experience which benefits both the guests and community.


94% (35 reviews)
Basecamp Eagle View

Basecamp Eagle View

The camp is closely linked to the community guiding school nearby, as well as a local school and women’s arts centre. A few hours spent learning about the lives of the Maasai people is a very worthwhile addition to your stay.


96% (10 reviews)
Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge

Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge

Owned, managed and staffed by the Il Ngwesi Maasai community, this lodge in the remote bush of eastern Laikipia is one of Kenya’s best bases for a deeper cultural immersion than simply visiting a local village or compound.


98% (11 reviews)
Sarara Treehouses

Sarara Treehouses

Sarara Treehouses has strong ties with the local Samburu community. Visit a local village for an authentic cultural experience and stop by the ‘singing wells’ where people sing as they collect water for their livestock.


100% (7 reviews)

Best camps & lodges for Cultural experiences in Africa

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Where to see wildlife species in Kenya

Maximise the chances of seeing your favourite animals based on traveller sightings reports from the field.


Lion

Lion

Panthera leo

Lions are at the top of the food chain and also most safari wish-lists, but with their numbers falling fast, any encounter with these majestic apex predators always feels like a privilege.

81% SUCCESS

3,116 sightings from 3,847 observations

Where to see lion in Kenya

Leopard

Leopard

Panthera pardus

The most numerous of Africa’s big cats, leopard occur across many habitats, from wild tracts to populated areas. Their grace and their elusive nature make them a unique safari drawcard.

47% SUCCESS

2,000 sightings from 4,275 observations

Where to see leopard in Kenya

Cheetah

Cheetah

Acinonyx jubatus

The cheetah is the fastest land animal and the only cat that hunts by pure speed. Found largely in open grasslands, its slim, elegant form is today an increasingly rare sight.

33% SUCCESS

1,070 sightings from 3,276 observations

Where to see cheetah in Kenya

Buffalo

Buffalo

Syncerus caffer

One of the ‘Big Five’, buffalo earned a fearsome reputation in hunters’ tales. By contrast, big herds of these sociable bovids are placid, but mount formidable defences against predators.

83% SUCCESS

2,638 sightings from 3,185 observations

Where to see buffalo in Kenya

Wild dog

Wild dog

Lycaon pictus

African wild dogs are among the continent’s most compelling animals. Much misunderstood, these rare, tie-dyed canids are amazingly efficient hunters with a fascinating social life.

32% SUCCESS

903 sightings from 2,855 observations

Where to see wild dog in Kenya

Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyena

Crocuta crocuta

The spotted hyena may be thought of as ‘ugly’ and ‘cowardly’. In fact, this versatile and intelligent carnivore is one of Africa’s most fascinating and warrants attention on any safari.

55% SUCCESS

2,225 sightings from 4,067 observations

Where to see spotted hyena in Kenya

Striped Hyena

Striped Hyena

Hyaena hyaena

The striped hyena is the most widespread of the world’s hyenas, but absent from southern Africa. A rarely-seen nocturnal scavenger, it is shyer and more solitary than its spotted cousin.

14% SUCCESS

126 sightings from 916 observations

Where to see striped hyena in Kenya

Elephant

Elephant

Loxodonta africana

By far the biggest of the so-called Big Five – indeed, the largest land animal on the planet – the elephant shapes the very landscape it inhabits and is a defining presence on any safari.

91% SUCCESS

3,739 sightings from 4,119 observations

Where to see elephant in Kenya

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

Diceros bicornis

The black rhino is the smaller and rarer of Africa’s two rhino species but has the more fearsome reputation. Shy and heavily persecuted, it tends to stick to cover.

30% SUCCESS

635 sightings from 2,104 observations

Where to see black rhino in Kenya

White Rhino

White Rhino

Ceratotherium simum

The white rhino is the largest and most numerous of the world’s five rhinoceros species. They are larger, easier to see and generally more approachable than the black rhino.

43% SUCCESS

510 sightings from 1,174 observations

Where to see white rhino in Kenya

Eland

Eland

Taurotragus oryx

Africa’s largest antelope, eland are culturally important from prehistoric rock art to modern game farms. Though widespread, they are also shy so sightings are uncommon and often fleeting.

49% SUCCESS

1,493 sightings from 3,059 observations

Where to see eland in Kenya

Gerenuk

Gerenuk

Litocranius walleri

With its slender frame and extraordinarily long neck, this unmistakable East African antelope resembles an attenuated impala and often stands on its back legs browse high shrubs.

75% SUCCESS

89 sightings from 118 observations

Where to see gerenuk in Kenya

Giraffe

Giraffe

Giraffa camelopardalis

The world’s tallest land mammal, giraffes are herbivores which have evolved many unique adaptations. Their iconic outlines tower above the bush in many of Africa’s wildlife areas.

86% SUCCESS

3,607 sightings from 4,199 observations

Where to see giraffe in Kenya

Oryx

Oryx

Oryx sp.

Oryx are impressive antelopes, with a powerful physique and elegant markings set off by rapier-like horns. They cut a distinctive dash in some of Africa’s harshest landscapes.

69% SUCCESS

1,366 sightings from 1,968 observations

Where to see oryx in Kenya

Hippo

Hippo

Hippopotamus amphibius

The territorial calls of the hippo create a signature soundtrack to Africa’s rivers & wetlands. Despite an endearing smile, this aquatic herbivore has a notoriously aggressive disposition.

89% SUCCESS

2,733 sightings from 3,061 observations

Where to see hippo in Kenya

Sable antelope

Sable antelope

Hippotragus niger

Perhaps Africa’s most beautiful antelope, sable are renowned for their combative nature, even holding off lions. Shy and restricted in range, sightings of sable are always special.

23% SUCCESS

474 sightings from 2,102 observations

Where to see sable antelope in Kenya

Wildebeest

Wildebeest

Connochaetes sp.

Superficially bovine in appearance, wildebeests are known for their spectacular migrations sometimes in huge numbers. These resilient animals are some of Africa’s most successful herbivores.

68% SUCCESS

2,554 sightings from 3,779 observations

Where to see wildebeest in Kenya

Zebra

Zebra

Equus sp.

The zebra is a quintessential African animal: the horse in stripy pyjamas at the end of every child’s A–Z. There are three species, of which the plains zebra is much the most common.

84% SUCCESS

3,942 sightings from 4,691 observations

Where to see zebra in Kenya

Aardvark

Aardvark

Orycteropus afer

The aardvark is one of Africa’s most bizarre and enigmatic animals. A shy, nocturnal termite-eater, signs of its presence may be scattered about the bush whilst sightings remain elusive.

2% SUCCESS

73 sightings from 3,421 observations

Where to see aardvark in Kenya

Pangolin

Pangolin

Smutsia sp.

Pangolins appear to be more pine cone than animal in their unique armoury of scales. These nocturnal, ant-eating oddities are not only highly elusive but also increasingly rare.

2% SUCCESS

57 sightings from 3,432 observations

Where to see pangolin in Kenya

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Other styles of holiday in Kenya

Discover all that Kenya has to offer


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Discover Africa's coast and tropical islands.

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Diverse habitats, discreet hides and superb guiding.

Cultural experiences

Cultural experiences

Get an insight into Africa's cultures and history.

Family holidays

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Hand-picked camps for an incredible family safari.

Honeymoons

Honeymoons

Romantic safaris and castaway island retreats.

Luxury

Luxury

First-class service, scenic vistas and unparalleled comfort await you during these carefully selected luxury holidays. 

Photography holidays

Photography holidays

Great holidays to suit the keen photographer.

Private villas & houses

Private villas & houses

Enjoy Africa with just your friends & family

Riding holidays

Riding holidays

Explore Africa's wilderness on horseback.

Solo Travel

Solo Travel

Trip ideas ideally suited for a solo traveller.

Walking

Walking

Explore Africa's most scenic trails on foot.

Walking safaris

Walking safaris

Explore Africa's untouched wildernesses on foot.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing

Wellness escapes in stunning locations

Wildlife safaris

Wildlife safaris

These trips include hard-hitting game and fascinatingly elusive species alike, as well as superb guiding and a variety of diverse ecosystems.

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