Skip to content

Short on time? A one-day safari in Kenya’s Lake Nakuru

May 08, 2022
5 min read
Short on time? A one-day safari in Kenya’s Lake Nakuru
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Two common misconceptions about taking an African safari are that you need to have a lot of money and a lot of time. When I was a broke backpacker, I spent time in Nairobi, Kenya, and found a $100 one-day trip to Lake Nakuru where I was able to enjoy a safari without committing to a multi-day excursion.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for TPG daily newsletter.

If you are stationed in Nairobi and are short on time, Lake Nakuru is a perfect way to spend a day out of the city. On tour day, expect to be picked up before the sun has risen, likely sometime between 4 and 5 a.m. Luckily, Kenya has some of the best coffee in the entire world thanks to its high altitude and ever-high presence of fertile soil.

A driver will meet you in your Nairobi hotel lobby. From there, you will begin your two-and-a-half hour journey from the city journey to Lake Nakuru. Along the way, you'll likely stop for a coffee or a quick bite to fuel up for a long day. You might also stop at a shop where safari-goers can purchase locally crafted souvenirs. I remember seeing a necklace that I wanted badly, but as mentioned, I was traveling on a budget. Oh, the regret you’ll have for the things you didn’t buy!

Related: Everything you need to know about going on safari in Africa with renowned expert Marlon du Toit

Once you arrive to Lake Nakuru, each person must pay an entry fee of $35, but, depending on what type of tour you booked, this fee might already be included in your tour cost. Upon payment, you’ll receive your ticket and be granted entry into a world that feels far from anything you've seen before. Tip: Bring a good camera on any African safari. A GoPro or even an iPhone simply won’t do the trick.

(Photo by Kaitlyn Rosati for The Points Guy)

Be prepared to move slowly and be utterly quiet. The animals don't like to be disturbed, and in Lake Nakuru, animals’ needs reign higher than people’s needs. Though everyone’s experience will be different, you can expect to see gazelle, zebra, monkeys and even some rare rhinos thanks to the on-site sanctuary.

If you keep your eyes peeled, you may also spot lions, leopards, African bush elephants and African buffalo. I was fortunate enough to see black rhinoceros and African buffalo on my one day in Lake Nakuru, further proving that you don’t need a lot of time and/or money to enjoy a proper African safari.

Lake Nakuru is particularly known for its excessive flamingo population, which is what drew me to book this day-trip in the first place. However, as we pulled up to the actual lake, I was astounded to see there were hardly any flamingos at all.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Climate change has caused the water to dramatically flood over the past several years, making the flamingo population at the shore sparse. Don’t let those Google images fool you: It's unlikely you will see the flocks of flamingos Lake Nakuru is so famous for.

As you drive past the lake and circle back toward the exit, be prepared to see giraffes slowly grazing and crossing the pathways. Watching these majestic creatures in their natural habitat will make you wonder how big-game hunters have the heart to do what they do.

(Photo by Kaitlyn Rosati for The Points Guy)

Related: How to ensure your safari is ethical

As you finally exit Lake Nakuru, your tour guide will likely offer you an option to stop at Lake Naivasha on the ride back to Nairobi, where you can take a boat safari to see hippos and more birds. If you're too tired or decide to opt out, you can instead stop for a traditional Kenyan meal of ugali and samaki. Don’t forget to try the local beer, Tusker.

(Photo by Kaitlyn Rosati for The Points Guy)

While this one-day African safari means an early morning and a packed travel schedule, it's a perfect option for those who are short on time, finances, or both when traveling through Kenya. Flights from New York - John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Nairobi start at 44,000 miles + $5.60 with United MileagePlus.

Related: Deal Alert: Marriott will open a luxury safari lodge in Masai Mara Reserve

Featured image by (Photo by Kaitlyn Rosati for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.