Have you always wanted to watch 1.7 million wildebeests thunder across the Maasai Mara? This is the year to realize your wildest dream— witnessing the Great Migration, shopping for elaborate beaded jewelry, and riding camels in the desert.
An hour by plane from Nairobi, you can be at the new Sanctuary Olonana, whose 14 glass-walled suites have wide decks facing the Mara River, or &Beyond’s recently rebuilt Bateleur Camp, where you can watch elephants graze while you bask in a crescent-shaped infinity pool. Or skip the savannah altogether and head for Kenya’s beaches, which are less developed than Zanzibar’s or Mozambique’s. Lamu—an island with a Unesco-protected, 14th century Swahili village and colorful sailboats lining its harbor—is an underrated favorite and well worth the extra (short) trip. Get there fast: Just like Nairobi, the beach destination is benefiting from increased and affordable air travel, and crowds are sure to follow.
When to go: September, after the crowds have gone but while the migration is still crossing the Mara. January and February also rank high as a time to spot newborn wildlife.
When not to go: April and May. Rain makes the roads hard to navigate. Also avoid overcrowded July and August.