This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines now closed

User menu
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.


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.


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.


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.

Cultural experiences elsewhere in Africa

Our top ideas and inspiration for Cultural experiences in other countries.


Cultural experiences in Botswana

Botswana

Botswana has diverse ethnic groups living side by side in what has historically been a very peaceful ...

Cultural experiences in Malawi

Malawi

Almost any travelling in Malawi can offer insights into the country's culture and traditions - ...

Cultural experiences in Mozambique

Mozambique

Mozambique can offer really unique African cultural experiences - which have their roots in its ...

Cultural experiences in Namibia

Namibia

Namibia is one of our favourite places for cultural experiences in Africa. Despite having one of ...

Cultural experiences in Rwanda

Rwanda

Rwanda has a rich and well documented cultural history. Far from being clearly distinct tribes, ...

Cultural experiences in Tanzania

Tanzania

Tanzania offers many contrasting African cultural experiences. With a population of around 50 million, ...

Cultural experiences in Zambia

Zambia

Zambia's safari camps are notable for their small scale and often excellent community ties, leading ...

Cultural experiences in Zanzibar

Zanzibar

Simply staying on Zanzibar is a cultural experience in itself. The exotic, vibrant atmosphere of ...

Cultural experiences in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Despite its troubled recent history, Zimbabwe is a vibrant and beautiful country, with some excellent ...

Where to see wildlife species in Africa

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


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

1,116 sightings from 1,339 observations

Where to see buffalo in Africa

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.

29% SUCCESS

420 sightings from 1,455 observations

Where to see cheetah in Africa

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

1,595 sightings from 1,755 observations

Where to see elephant in Africa

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.

70% SUCCESS

644 sightings from 924 observations

Where to see oryx in Africa

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.

76% SUCCESS

37 sightings from 49 observations

Where to see gerenuk in Africa

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.

83% SUCCESS

1,527 sightings from 1,837 observations

Where to see giraffe in Africa

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

1,172 sightings from 1,315 observations

Where to see hippo in Africa

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.

50% SUCCESS

908 sightings from 1,804 observations

Where to see spotted hyena in Africa

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.

16% SUCCESS

55 sightings from 348 observations

Where to see striped hyena in Africa

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.

45% SUCCESS

844 sightings from 1,878 observations

Where to see leopard in Africa

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.

80% SUCCESS

1,318 sightings from 1,651 observations

Where to see lion in Africa

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.

29% SUCCESS

262 sightings from 900 observations

Where to see black rhino in Africa

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

219 sightings from 509 observations

Where to see white rhino in Africa

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.

31% SUCCESS

376 sightings from 1,216 observations

Where to see wild dog in Africa

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.

63% SUCCESS

1,061 sightings from 1,671 observations

Where to see wildebeest in Africa

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

27 sightings from 1,489 observations

Where to see pangolin in Africa

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.

3% SUCCESS

44 sightings from 1,575 observations

Where to see aardvark in Africa

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.

45% SUCCESS

615 sightings from 1,364 observations

Where to see eland in Africa

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

1,729 sightings from 2,062 observations

Where to see zebra in Africa

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.

21% SUCCESS

199 sightings from 955 observations

Where to see sable antelope in Africa

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link


New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Order a brochure
  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team