Why you should visit Kenya in December 

Laura Birtles

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Laura Birtles reveals why you should travel to Kenya in December 

There are so many places to explore and memorable experiences to have in Kenya in December. Whether you’re interested in spending Christmas on safari in the Masai Mara and then bringing in the New Year on the Kenyan coast or retreating further off the beaten track to the Matthews Mountains Range for the festive season, we, at cazenove+loyd, know the best guides, owner-run camps and secret spots, and can design the perfect trip for you.  

Reteti Elephants Sanctuary view Matthews Range, Kenya

At this time of year, the weather in this picturesque and diverse country is temperate and not too hot; there is a certain freshness to the air and a sense of relief following the short rains in November and early December. Previously parched lands begin to burst with lush greenery at last, making it a photographer’s idea of heaven or anyone with an eye for beauty. The wildebeest migration may be elsewhere in December, but this means that you can enjoy Kenya’s highlights and plentiful wildlife without the crowds. In addition, many migratory birds can be spotted and you are likely to see a vast number of newborn animals frolicking on the plains.  

Wildebeest migration
Kenya in December
Migrating Flamingos

With a stunning backdrop of Mount Kenya, Laikipia is one of our favourite places in Kenya for a luxury family safari. Home to a surreal landscape of acacia-covered hills and vast plains, it is famous for its abounding biodiversity and conservation efforts, being home to half of the country’s black rhino and half of the world’s Grévy’s zebra. Here, we can arrange for you to tackle East Africa’s longest treetop canopy walk, swim in a natural rock pool in the Ngare Ndare Forest or plod along on a camel through the African bush. Another experience we love here is spending time with the local community and at a local school, allowing you to become fully immersed in Samburu culture.  

We also recommend a few days in the Matthews Mountains Range, in Kenya’s Northern Frontier, a wild, off-the-beaten-track area. The scenery is dramatic, with deep gorges, rugged peaks, seasonal streams and dense forests. The region is also home to diverse wildlife species, including oryx, elephants, lions, leopards, giant forest hogs and even wild dogs, which all share the land with Samburu cattle. The owner-run Kalepo and Sarara camps are reason alone to travel to this secluded spot, but the Samburu people are another big draw. We can arrange many memorable experiences in the Matthews Mountains, such as a bush walk – to spot all the smaller things you only notice on foot – or a visit to the Singing Wells, led by a Samburu guide. In times of drought, the Samburu men dig deep holes in the area’s dried riverbeds to provide water for their livestock. It is awe-inspiring to witness the Samburus chanting age-old family songs beside these ‘wells’ to lure their cattle, goats and donkeys to water with the sound of their voices. 

Comprising six individual hillside cottages, Lewa Wilderness, is an incredible retreat for families or group of friends. Home to one of East Africa’s healthiest black and white rhino populations, the 65,000-acre UNESCO World Heritage Site is a phenomenal place to explore, and our experts can arrange for the best guides to accompany you on unforgettable game drives, guided walks and camelback adventures to keep the whole family enthralled. 

For couples, one of our much-loved spots is the very romantic Angama Mara, situated on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. With staggering views of the Mara Triangle, this would be a comfortable and spoiling retreat to celebrate Christmas à deux. We can arrange for you to drift in a hot-air balloon as the sun goes down on another year or to enjoy a superb Shamba lunch on New Year’s Day. Alternatively, a private picnic on the spot where Meryl Streep and Robert Redford picnicked in the 1985 film, Out of Africa, is a wonderfully special experience.

Angama Mara

Following your luxury safari, what could be better than collapsing on a powdery, white beach on the Kenyan coast? We know a selection of the best villas and boutique hotels, and depending on what you are looking for, our experts will recommend a heavenly Indian Ocean bolthole for you and your family. A stay at Kinondo Kwetu, a fabulous beach lodge on an isolated, picture-perfect stretch of Diani Beach delivers the ultimate beachside bliss. Alternatively, we suggest Alfajiri, which comprises three idyllic private houses on Diani Beach, perfect for families or groups of friends who are looking for their own little slice of paradise. 

Diani beach

Wherever you end up going on your Christmas holiday in Kenya, December offers a plethora of incredible experiences often without the crowds. Hand over the reins and let our experts craft a tailor-made family holiday bursting with memories to last a lifetime.