If you’re coming on a Safari in Kenya and considering wild camping, I have put together this article as a detailed guide for those looking to go camping in the wild. Having camped thrice over the past year in Kenya’s wild, I can assure you that it is a great experience.
What is wild camping?
Wild camping is a form of camping that involves setting up camp in a natural environment with no facilities. You will have to bring all your own supplies, including tents, cooking equipment, food and water. You will also need basic wilderness survival skills such as knowing how to build a fire and find food.
Unlike regular camping, wild camping is usually done without permission from anyone and without setting up a campground or other facilities. This means that you are responsible for your own safety and the environment around you.
Aside from top wild camping destinations written by a few sites, there is limited info on wild camping in Kenya. You can barely find any rules, where to go wild camping, prices, permits and so forth.
As such, I have put together this guide to help you better understand the wild camping experience in Kenya.
Pros and Cons of Wild Camping:
The Pros of wild camping in Kenya are the following:
1. It is a great way to explore and experience different parts of the country.
2. You can enjoy the beauty of nature without having to pay for high-priced accommodation or amenities.
3. It allows you to learn basic survival skills, as well as have a greater appreciation for nature.
The Cons of wild camping in Kenya are:
1. It can be dangerous due to the animals and terrain.
2. It is usually not allowed, and you may get fined or even arrested if authorities catch you doing it.
3. Depending on where you camp, it may be difficult to get access to water and electricity.
What should I take when going wild camping in Kenya:
When wild camping in Kenya, make sure to bring:
-Tent, sleeping bags and tarps.
-Clothing suitable for the weather and terrain you will be in.
-Food and water supplies.
-Cooking equipment such as a stove and utensils.
-Toiletries and hygiene products.
-First aid kit and medications
-Extra fuel for your stove or vehicle if you plan to drive to your campsite.
-A good quality map of the area you are camping in, so you can find your way around.
-Sun protection such as sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, etc.
-A good quality flashlight with extra batteries.
-Something to start fires such as a lighter or matches.
-A multi-tool that includes a knife, pliers, screwdriver, etc.
Safety tips for wild camping in Kenya:
When wild camping in Kenya, it is important to take the necessary precautions for your safety.
-Avoid camping in areas with large predators such as lions and leopards.
-Be aware of your surroundings at all times and do not make sudden movements or loud noises.
-Store food away from your campsite to avoid attracting wildlife.
-Avoid camping too close to water sources and rivers, as this can be dangerous.
-Be mindful of the local laws and regulations in regards to wild camping.
-Learn basic survival skills before going on a wild camping trip.
-Make sure you have a plan for how you will get back home in case of an emergency.
Top Wild Camping Destinations:
Camping at Lake Magadi used to be so popular back in the day but there seems to be decreasing interest in this campground. What makes this campsite so special is its close proximity to the lake, as well as the chance it gives you to spot some wildlife such as zebras, gazelles, ostriches and so on.
Lake Magadi is located in the southernmost point of Kenya, near Tanzania. To get here from Nairobi, you can hire a 4×4 self-drive vehicle or can use our campervans.
This area is full of wildlife, including lions, elephants and cheetahs. It also has beautiful scenery with stunning sunsets that you can enjoy while camping here. To get to The area is mostly inhabited by the Maasai people, and it is a very dry and barren place. However, there are hot springs throughout the land, as well as sulfurous lakes that ebb and flow with the tide. Throughout the day, when it’s incredibly hot outside, the only relief comes from seeing the sinuous lines of Kenya’s largest river- Ewaso Ngiro. This river provides life to both animals and humans alike who reside here in Lake Magadi.
Look at the image below – it shouts wilderness;
Magadi is the perfect place to escape the cold in July period, with temperatures constantly around 40 degrees. Though it may be tempting to take a dip in the river, make sure you pitch your tent under the shade of trees first! Wild camping here is both terrifying and thrilling, and you won’t find anything quite like it anywhere else.
My next favorite wild camping destination in Kenya is Ol Pejeta Conservancy which is located near Nanyuki in the Laikipia district. This stunning preserve covers an area of 90,000 acres and you can find numerous wild animals such as cheetahs, giraffes, elephants and over 350 species of birds. It’s a great place for wildlife viewing, as well as for camping. Here you will find several campsites which offer great views of the surrounding landscape and animals.
This reserve is home to the world-famous big five and it’s quite popular among tourists so make sure to come early if you want to snag a camping spot! One of the best things about this place is its commitment to protecting the environment; they have strict rules about not leaving any rubbish behind, and no fires are allowed outside of designated areas.
If you want to go on a desert wild camping trip, then Chalbi Desert is the place to go. Located in Northern Kenya, this desert stretches for miles and provides some of the most breathtaking landscapes you will ever see. This area is inhabited by nomadic tribes like the Boran, who travel with their herds of cattle and goats. It’s also home to a variety of wildlife species such as gazelles, cheetahs, and ostriches.
The Chalbi Desert is both beautiful and treacherous at the same time as there are no amenities or natural water sources here, so you must be well-prepared with plenty of water in order to survive your trip. Temperatures here can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius during the day and you should also be aware of the possibility of sandstorms.
Tsavo National park:
If you want to be lost in vast wilderness and some serious wildlife watching, then you should head to Tsavo National Park. It is the largest national park in Kenya and covers an area of over 22,000 sq km. This park has both savannah grasslands and also arid desert-like areas with lots of animals such as lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, gazelles, buffalos and so much more.
Tsavo National Park is an ideal spot for wild camping in Kenya because of its stunning scenery and abundance of wildlife. However, be aware that the park does charge a fee for entry, so make sure to budget accordingly. Also remember to bring your own supplies as there are no shops or restaurants in the park. The best time to go is during the dry season when wildlife sightings are easier and there’s less chance of rain.
If you’re looking for a more secluded and remote wild camping experience, then Kimana Sanctuary is the place to go. This sanctuary covers an area of around 5,400 hectares and is home to over 500 species of birds, as well as mammals such as elephants, zebras, giraffes and buffalos.
This sanctuary also offers some of the best views in Kenya, with its vast savannahs and rolling hills providing a stunning backdrop for your wild camping adventure. The area is mostly flat and you can find plenty of spots suitable for pitching a tent.
One camper who did wild camping at this sanctuary close to Amboseli said that they pitched their tents near the river and were constantly joined by animals: zebra, giraffe, impala, eland and monkeys. She explains that the elephants who would often stroll through the area leisurely or uproot a tree in the dead of night close to camp. At nighttime, she describes that you could hear hyenas laughing and bush babies crying throughout the campground.
In July 2023, we launched the Kambu Mara Camp in Masai Mara, Kenya and are excited to have hosted more than 5 wild campers who have had the chance to explore this unique and wild side of Kenya. Our campground is a great place to stay for those who want to experience the beauty and adventure of camping in the wild.
While we are in the process of building Kambu Mara Camp, all our guests that visit our camp can expect to find a safe and secure environment without any facilities. You are just surrounded by the shrubs that cover the expansive 50-acre that our Kambu Camp is located. We are in the process of fencing an acre of the land, which will provide a secure area for our campers.
We provide security for our campers with a well-lit area outside of the camp. You can also expect a firepit and we provide firewood and kitchen supplies. We are also in the process of building a permanent shelter for our campers to enjoy while they explore the area.
If you are interested to camp at Kambu Mara Camp, please reach out on the sidebar form here.
List of More Wild Campsites:
- Mara Triangle – One of the most famous wild camping spots in Kenya, this region is home to the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve. Here you can find some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities available.
- Lake Baringo – This lake is in the Rift Valley Province and offers wonderful fishing, birdwatching and wildlife spotting.
- Mount Kenya – This is the highest mountain in Kenya and camping around its slopes can be a great way to take in the stunning views.
- Sibiloi National Park – Located on Lake Turkana, this park is home to some of the most diverse wildlife populations in Africa. An ideal spot for wild camping.
- Mount Ololokwe, near Isiolo – This mountain is the home of the Rendille people and one of the most beautiful places in Kenya. Campers here can take part in activities such as night game drives and camel riding.
- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Isiolo – This conservancy is a vast area full of wildlife and campers can explore by day or night with a good chance of spotting the resident animals such as rhinos, elephants and ostriches.
KWS Campsites to go Wild Camping:
If you don’t want to venture too far away from civilization, then KWS campsites are the perfect place for wild camping in Kenya. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) operates a number of campsites around protected areas and national parks throughout the country. These campsites offer basic amenities such as restrooms, showers, and areas suitable for pitching a tent or parking an RV.
The campsites are generally well-maintained and offer stunning views of the surrounding area. Some of the most popular KWS campsites in Kenya include Mt. Kenya National Park, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo East National Park, and Masai Mara National Reserve.
On the map of the campsite here, you can choose KWS campsites by clicking on the campgrounds you would like to visit. Please note that camping fees may be applicable, so make sure to check with the KWS before you depart.
How much is Wild Camping in Kenya?
Wild camping in Kenya is generally very affordable. You can usually rent a tent for around 500 – 1000 Kenyan shillings per night, and the fee may include other amenities such as firewood and water refill. If you are planning to stay in KWS campsites, then you should also factor in fees for entry into the park as well as camping fees.
Expect to spend around $200 per day to rent a vehicle, purchase food, rent camping gear, pay entrance fees and other smaller items.
Check out this PDF document with details of what you’ll need when going wild camping trip.
What is the best wild camping destination in Kenya?
In my opinion, I found Lake Magadi to be the best wild camping destination in Kenya. It’s a remote area with stunning scenery and plenty of wildlife, like lions, cheetahs and elephants. To really get the wild experience, hike up Ewaso Ngiro River and try to pay keen attention to the acacia woodlands and signs of wildlife.
What gear do I need for wild camping in Kenya?
The basic equipment you need for wild camping in Kenya include a tent, sleeping bags, mattress pads, cooking supplies (stove + fuel), water container, first-aid kit and flashlights. Depending on the area you are visiting, you may need additional items such as mosquito netting and insect repellent.
Do I need a guide for wild camping in Kenya?
It is always recommended to have a guide when exploring remote areas of Kenya. A knowledgeable guide will be able to provide you with invaluable information about the area and can even help spot wildlife that you may otherwise miss. If you are camping in a KWS campsite, then there should be staff onsite that can provide assistance if needed.
What should I do if I encounter a wild animal while camping?
If you encounter a wild animal while camping, it is best to remain still and quiet until the animal moves away. Do not make eye contact, as this could be interpreted as a challenge or threat by the animal. If you are in your car, stay inside and drive away slowly when it is safe to do so. Lastly, if you feel threatened or unsafe, call for help immediately.
Is wild camping safe in Kenya?
Wild camping in Kenya is generally considered safe, however it is important to be aware of your surroundings and follow basic safety guidelines. Make sure to camp in areas that are designated for wild camping and avoid setting up camp close to roads or populated areas. Additionally, make sure you have a reliable source of communication such as a mobile phone or satellite phone in case of an emergency. Read our guide where I explain why Kenya is considered safe tourist destination.