5 Best Destinations in Kenya for Backpacking Safaris

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Kenya is one of the cheapest countries to backpack. Backpacking lets you explore the depths of the world through exciting day or week-long expeditions. The best destinations in Kenya for backpacking tours are:

1. Naivasha

Naivasha is the best destination for backpacking tours in the Great Rift Valley. It serves more like a central point from which you can hop to towns like Nakuru, Baringo, Bogoria and Eldoret. Naivasha has a number of attractions too. Start your expedition in the awe-inspiring Hell’s Gate National Park. Later, visit the scenic Lake Naivasha, from where you can ride a boat to Crescent Island.

Naivasha is every backpacker’s heaven for its variety of accommodation options. If you crave for a traditional backpacking safari complete with a tent pitched on the lake’s shores, this town has tented camps in spades. Naivasha provides both budget and luxury camps. Such properties include Lake Naivasha Crescent Camp, Kiboko Luxury Camp and Crater Lake Tented Camp.

2. Nanyuki

If your ideal adventure includes climbing a mountain, Nanyuki is one of the best destinations in Kenya for mountain climbers. This town is situated on the foothills of Mount Kenya. From Nanyuki, you can climb Mount Kenya, visit Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and proceed to Samburu, Meru and Isiolo. This town is the gateway to the northern destinations in Kenya.

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3. Mombasa

The white beaches of Kenya’s coastline have dozens of attractions to explore. Mombasa is the main town at the coast, and there are other exciting destinations like Malindi, Watamu, Diani and Ukunda. For an unforgettable backpacking tour, ride a bus from Nairobi to Mombasa. For an even greater experience, ride the train from Nairobi on a Friday evening and arrive in Mombasa the following morning. A day or two in Mombasa are enough to visit places of interest like Fort Jesus. Satisfied with your tour of this city, head to the inviting southern shoreline of Diani Beach or afar north in Malindi and Watamu. The beaches, the spicy cuisine and the region’s distinct culture will have you spend about a week at the coast.

backpacking kenya Mombasa

View of Reef Hotel Mombasa from the Indian Ocean.

4. Samburu

Samburu’s most popular places of interest are Samburu National Reserve, Shaba National Reserve and Buffalo Springs National Reserve. When backpacking in the rugged plains of Samburu, you will also experience the culture of the Samburu people. The best hiking tours in Samburu take place on the trails of Mt Ololokwe.

5. Kisumu

One of the most interesting things to do in Kenya is exploring Lake Victoria. This lake, shared by three countries in East Africa, is the main attraction in the western part of Kenya. Head to Kisumu, by air or by road, and explore this city’s game sanctuaries and archaeological sites. Island hopping will take you to Rusinga Island, Ndere Island and Mfangano Island among others.

Most people associate backpacking with days without a bath, living off a backpack and eating wild berries in the middle of nowhere. Well, you can do all that in Kenya. But, you can also enjoy luxurious accommodation along your backpacking route.

backpacking kenya


  1. Morgan

    August 12, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Planning a backpacking trip to northern Kenya to Mount Ololokwe…..nice to see it on the list.

  2. Leah Wang'ondu

    August 12, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Morgan. Yes Samburu is a must-visit place. Don’t forget your camera; enchanting landscapes await.

  3. Kenyan Backpacker

    January 7, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Good article!
    Kilifi is the best backpacking destination in Kenya. It is the ultimate backpacker’s haven in Kenya. Machakos, Lake Turkana, Nyeri, and Kajiado are great too.

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