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Plan your gap year to Kenya with this ultimate travel itinerary

Written by Milly Whitehead on 28 / 04 / 2023

Gap Year Advice

Ok gappers, this is where you close your eyes and imagine your gap year in Kenya...vast savannas, mind boggling sunsets, acacia trees, herds of elephants stampeding through dusty desert land, and the warm waves of the Indian Ocean – this is Kenya.

Step forth into a cultural melting pot of over forty different tribes and experience their rich cultural history - so much more than just the backdrop for the lion king or a luxury safari - taking a gap year in Kenya is becoming increasingly popular as it offers a more gritty, challenging yet satisfying experience as you navigate the big distances, tribal life, and contrasting environments.

We have an amazing network of Leap VIP contacts across Kenya, to help create a dynamic gap year itinerary across this country but first we need to inspire you, so here goes...

Gap Year Itinerary Highlights

1. Starting in Nairobi…the bustling capital of Kenya

This is your gateway to Kenya and we recommend you to stay in the districts of Karen or Langata where you can recover from your flight and experience:

  • Masai markets, full of all sorts of wonderful handicrafts
  • Out of Africa…visit the Karen Blixen Museum
  • Nairobi National Park, wide variety of animals with Nairobi’s skyline as backdrop
  • Giraffe Centre and Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, get up close to these amazing endangered species.

Where to stay: AirBnB and get Ubers to whizz around.

2. Great Rift Valley Lakes of Kenya

One of our favourite places - the drive from Nairobi alone is breathtaking. A great place to start your itinerary, starting with Naivasha, the highest freshwater lake which is abundant with hippo and beautiful tropical birds. While you are here it is also possible to climb the nearby volcano, Mt Longonot and Hells Gate National Park - hire a bicycle and explore the spectacular scenery and geothermal geysers.

Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria further north are where you can spot the flamingos. An amazing spectacle - trust us.

You can bus to the lakes and lots of camp sites.

3. Masai Mara - Western Kenya

This has to be Kenya’s main highlight. Ok - expensive but you have to do this .... rhino, leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, all here in the world famous national park, renowned for their rolling hills and grassy plains. If you are there at the right time you can witness the great migration of wildebeest.

You need a local tour operator to take you - get in touch for more information.

4. Amboseli National Park - Southern Kenya

A bit of a dog leg to go down BUT if elephants are your thing then this will deliver...as this place is renowned for its large elephant herds and views of immense Mount Kilimanjaro, across the border in Tanzania.

You need a local tour operator to take you - get in touch for more information.

6. Mt Kenya - Northern Kenya

Kenya’s highest and Africa’s second highest snow-capped mountain. A great challenge and needs to be tackled with respect ( i.e no hangover and a good level of fitness). Beautiful and variable scenery as you climb for 4-5 days up to Point Lenana (16000 ft). You must go with an organised tour who will arrange your guides and porters.

You need a local tour operator to take you - get in touch for more information.

7. The Coast: Mombasa / Malindi / Watamu

After all your adventures you need to head to the coast to wash away the dust - think long white, white beaches, crystal sea, all water sports, including kite surfing, diving, snorkelling. And a good social life … what’s not to love…This is where our team programme is located so we definitely think it's a must-visit spot on your gap year.

Lots of places to stay - AirBnB is also good for here.

8. The Coast: Lamu

This is one of our favourite places - think narrow streets, stunning shabby, chic Swahili style houses, donkeys (everywhere) and fresh coconut cocktails (everywhere). The food is amazing and it has an oh so cool vibe… Don’t miss...

  • A sunset Dhow trip in the archipelago
  • A walking tour of Lamu town, see the Swahili architecture, after the hustle and bustle of Lamu, don’t miss the quieter, more quaint Shela, full of funky boutiques, a long walk or a quick dhow trip from Lamu.
  • Pop into the famous Peponi’s for a cocktail.
  • Shop for kangas and kikoys, silver jewellery and beautiful carved items in the various little shop
  • Snorkelling (best between November and March), boat trips, fishing, diving
  • Visit the historic sites on Manda Island
  • Visit Lamu Fort and Lamu Museum

Lots of places to stay - AirBnb is also good for here.

Let us help you plan your itinerary

We have lots of contacts in Kenya who can deliver an amazing itinerary for you in Kenya. All you need to do is join Leap VIP and our black book of contacts is available to you.

Tell me more

So how are you going be a gap year traveller in Kenya?

There are two options for navigating your gap year travels around Kenya. You can either do it independently (or with your mates) using our network of hosts and our extensive travel knowledge through our service called Leap VIP. The alternative is you can join our Leap Kenya team programme where you travel with a group of like-minded Leapers and join our team experience - we take charge of all the logistics and itinerary so you can focus on enjoying yourself.

Join a Kenya Leap team programme

  • We arrange all the logistics for you allowing you to focus on enjoying yourself
  • It's a great springboard to being an independent gap year traveller - find your feet and off you fly
  • You will automatically be granted Leap VIP membership once you pay your deposit meaning you can plan your onward travels as well
  • You have 24/7 support
  • Meet new people who are like-minded

Join Leap VIP

  • Have access to our network of hosts across Kenya who you can stay with/volunteer with if you wish
  • Rinse our extensive knowledge on Kenya
  • Great for those who want to travel solo or with their mates on their gap year rather than a team of individuals
  • A year's membership so you can use VIP for your global travels not just for Kenya

Kenya FAQs:

  • When do your team programmes depart? We have departures throughout the year, click here to find out more and see when the next departure is.
  • Would I need a visa for Kenya? Yes, you do need a visa to enter Kenya. These usually take about a week to get back so don't leave it too last minute!
  • When's the best time to go? Kenya's dry seasons are December - March and July - October, but even in the wet season the rainfall is often short and sharp and followed by the sun coming back out.
  • What's the currency in Kenya? Kenya use the Kenyan shilling (KES). ATMs are widely available in the main towns and cities, and credit cards are widely accepted.
  • How easy is it to link Kenya with other parts of Africa? Very doable! There's lots of cheap internal flights around Africa, making it easy to link different countries together.

So, gappers - put Kenya (and Africa) back on your gap year travel wish list as it really does deliver a gritty and magical experience. Get in touch and we can link you up with contacts over there.

Let us help you plan your itinerary

We have lots of contacts in Kenya who can deliver an amazing itinerary for you in Kenya. All you need to do is join Leap VIP and our black book of contacts is available to you.

Tell me more

Need inspiration and direction?

Get in contact with the gap year travel specialists.

Here at The Leap we can help both team traveller through our programmes and/or the backpacker.

Jot a message below or call us on +44 1672 519 9222

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Yes please, let's keep life simple.