Tui’s brand-new Kenya safari & beach holiday review

Earlier this year I was one of the first travellers to experience a brand-new Kenya safari taster and beach holiday from Tui.

I’ve always dreamed of going on an African safari and everything about this experience in Kenya blew me away. From the wildlife encounters to the astonishing landscapes, delicious Indian-inspired cuisine and beaches that are straight out of a postcard for paradise.

For anyone considering a holiday to Kenya, I thought I would share some of the most memorable parts of my trip, plus some information on how straightforward and superb value it is to book a Kenya safari with Tui.

Disclosure: I travelled to Kenya as a guest of Tui but was under no obligation to write this post. All opinions are my own.

On safari in Kenya

Tui use Pollmans, one of Kenya’s oldest and most respected tour companies, to manage the safari experience for their guests in Kenya.

Under the expert guidance of Roger, we explored Tsavo East, Tsavo West, Taita Hills & Amboseli National Park, going on two bumpy game drives a day and discovering that each park has its own unique landscape and drawcards.

From marvelling at the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro that towers over Amboseli, to meeting the ochre-coloured elephants of Tsavo East, it’s possible to have several different safari experiences in just a few days in Kenya.

Tsavo East

Tsavo East is the largest and oldest national park in Kenya and is home to the African Big Five – lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants and rhinos.

What’s so unique about Tsavo East, though, is that the elephants here have a unique red colour due to the high levels of iron oxide in the soil that they coat themselves in.  

Within minutes of entering Tsavo East we came across the incredible sight of over 40 burgundy elephants making their way to a nearby watering hole.

It was such a spell-binding sight, not just because of the elephants’ red coats, but due to the sheer number of the elephants who just kept coming and coming. Incredibly, we also spotted a hippo in the middle of the watering hole who looked a bit angry about having to share it.

We also had another lucky encounter in Tsavo East because our guide was able to track down 2 lionesses that were on the move with 6 young cubs following behind them.  I felt like my heart was in my mouth as we made our way to where the group had been spotted and couldn’t believe it when we approached to find them strolling down the track towards us.

I was too awestruck to get any decent footage of the lions passing the jeep but I did get some pictures of their little tushes as they walked away!

I’ve never seen lions in the wild before, never mind ones this young. Being close enough to hear the sound of their little meows as they passed was amazing.

Tsavo West

The route we took through Tsavo West gave off pure Jurassic Park vibes. Our experience here felt more like an off-road adventure as we made our way across rivers and down untouched tracks where not a single other jeep passed us. The terrain here is very different to Tsavo East, featuring a lot more taller trees that are a perfect food source for the Masai giraffe population.

The Masai giraffe is the most abundant giraffe species in Kenya and they predominantly live in the south of the country near the border with Tanzania. What makes the Masai giraffe stand out from other giraffe subspecies are its spots, which have jagged edges and are irregular in shape. It is also the tallest of all giraffe subspecies, making it the tallest land animal.

Giraffe spotting quickly became my favourite safari activity as I loved the challenge of working out what was a long neck and what was just a tree! After a slow, eye-straining start we were lucky to spot a number of giraffes in Tsavo West; some with spot patterns that I never knew existed.

Inside the park, we stopped for lunch at Kilaguni Serena Lodge and had one of the most memorable dining experiences of the trip.

Kilaguni is perched on a promontory that has wide sweeping views of the savannah. As we sat down to eat it felt like someone had pressed play on a Disney movie as giraffes, elephants, zebras and impalas took turns to approach the watering hole in front of us to drink and play.

Taita Hills

Salt Lick Safari Lodge Kenya

Taita Hills is a privately owned wildlife sanctuary on the borders of Tsavo West where we stayed in the most unique safari lodge in Africa and I had the most memorable night’s stay of my life.

Taita Hills is home to Salt Lick Safari Lodge, which consists of 96 round rooms on stilts that offer incredible, unobstructed views of the wildlife that comes to drink from waterholes directly below the guest rooms.

The rooms, though round, are surprisingly generous & cosy, but it’s hard to pay attention to anything other than the picture windows, which during my stay framed two elephants having a stand-off over who got to drink from the waterhole first.

Salt Lick Safari Lodge also has an underground lookout right by the waterhole where you can get incredibly close to the wildlife in a safe environment. The views from here are particularly spectacular during dry season as large groups of elephants, buffaloes, zebras and various antelopes (sometime trailed by big cats) come for scarce water.

During the evening, we had a memorable sundowner experience at Kudu Point, a lookout in the centre of the sanctuary, where we enjoyed live music and cold drinks around an atmospheric fire pit. The views and the food, combined with the laughter as we tried to join in the traditional dancing, made it my favourite evening on safari.

Amboseli National Park

Our last game drives of the trip were in the park I was most excited to visit. Arguably the most iconic of Kenya’s national parks, Amboseli National Park is famed for having incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest freestanding mountain.

For me, Amboseli felt like a photographer’s dream. The wide-open plains made it easy to spot elephants and when the clouds parted you’d often catch a glimpse of the snow-capped peaks on the humongous mountain behind them.

We also saw a huge number of hippos – who looked quite sweet but are in fact the most dangerous land mammal in Africa – and more flamingos than I thought possible grouped together in the water.

We stayed in the heart of the national park at Amboseli Serena Lodge, which through its décor and staff felt fully ingrained in local culture. The lodge hires predominantly from the Maasai community and they wear traditional dress instead of a uniform, which is something we hadn’t seen at any of the other lodges.

Amboseli Serena Lodge also treated us to a bush dinner experience, where not only was there an abundance of delicious bbq food but a performance by Maasai dancers to end the evening.

I loved watching a demonstration of adamu, the traditional jumping dance the Maasai are known for, and learned it’s a type of mating ritual. The young Maasai warriors jump to demonstrate their strength and attract a bride. The higher they jump, the better their prospects. Some of the men in our group were cajoled into having a go and it was clear they were going to need a little more practise!

Beach holidays in Kenya

It’s easy to pair your safari holiday in Kenya with a few days relaxing on the beach. We stayed in two different beachfront hotels to get a taste of the options and I loved both of them for different reasons.

Southern Palms Beach Resort, Diani Beach

The first beach resort we stayed at was Southern Palms on Diani Beach and, wow, I did not know beaches like this existed in Kenya.

Located approx. 1hr30 south of Mombasa Airport, Diani Beach is located on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya and its pure white sands and warm shallow waters can definitely rival the Maldives.

My room at Southern Palms looked out directly onto the beach, where not only could I watch spellbinding sunrises over the ocean but often traditional dhow boats and camels would pass by too.

The hotel features Swahili-influenced architecture and between its arches and curves and swaying palms you get a real sense of being somewhere quite unique.

We stayed at Southern Palms on an all-inclusive basis and while buffets are not usually my preferred choice for evening meals they did them really well here. Kenyan cuisine features a lot of Indian and Arabic influences and I loved how the hotel leaned into that. There was always a generous selection of dishes I recognised (like curries, daal and freshly baked roti) alongside Kenyan specialities I enjoyed trying.

In fact, the food at every place we stayed on this trip was impressively good. I have been known to go hungry at buffet restaurants because I am fussy if the food is not freshly cooked and boiling hot, but that was always the case in all the properties mentioned here, with most restaurants having several live cooking stations to choose from.

While we didn’t have time for a boat excursion on our trip, it’s definitely something I’d recommend doing in Diani. The southern coast of Kenya is known for its richly diverse marine life and while on a dhow cruise you’re likely to see turtles, mantas, barracuda and, if you are lucky, maybe even whale sharks.

Serena Beach Resort, Mombasa

Our second beach holiday experience in Kenya was at the Serena Beach Resort & Spa. While not small, this hotel’s layout and design gave it more of a boutique feel. The traditional architecture of the main building paired with bright pink bougainvillea was absolutely beautiful.

The rooms also had lots of rustic Africa decor as well as giant terraces, although I was warned to not leave my door open in case the monkeys came in!

We only had 1 night here but it was enough to appreciate the beach bar and evening entertainment. The hotel had a wonderful atmosphere as well as a convenient location close to Mombasa, so is a great option if you want to avoid the longer drive to Diani.

How to book

Tui are making it easy for people, like me, who wouldn’t know where to start planning a safari holiday. Their Taster Safari and Beach Holiday packages include all your flights, transfers, accommodation, half or full board meal options and game drives.

To give you an idea of prices, a 14-night Kenya Taster Safari and Stay with five-night safari and nine-night beach break including British Airways flights, 23kg luggage and transfers, starts from £3,309pp, which is a fraction of the price of safari holidays in other parts of Africa.

Tui also offer beach breaks to 16 resorts on the Mombasa coast, which you can explore here.

If you’d like help tailor-making your perfect safari holiday, pop into your nearest Tui store to speak to their Travel Experts.

This really was an absolutely incredible experience and I’m so grateful to Tui for making my safari dreams a reality. If you’d like to know more about this trip head to my Instagram and check out my ‘Tui Kenya’ highlights.   

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About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

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