We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Naivasha vs Nakuru

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
12 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Naivasha vs Nakuru

Hello all!

We are a family of three adults travelling to Kenya in January. Very excited about this trip and have been trawling through TA forums for the last few days for ideas/advice!

We have decided on a private safari itinerary as follows (not incl travel time)

Samburu – 1.5 days

Nakuru – half day

Navaisha – most of a day

Mara – 2.5 days

Serengeti – 1.5 days

Ngorongoro – 1 day

Amboseli – 2 days

This does not include travel time so when I say 2.5 days in the Mara it means 2.5 days of game drives there and does not include the drive to or from.

Are we rushing the Nakuru/Naivasha section? If we had to choose one or the other I’m leaning towards Naivasha. From what I gather (and I may be wrong!) Naivasha offers something different from the std safari experience (walking on Crescent Island, boat rides, nearby Hell’s Gate) and the scenery is unique. Whereas Nakuru may or may not give us a sight of those beautiful flamingos, is a much smaller/crowded park. Actually both are likely to be crowded during the Jan season.

Advice much appreciated!

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Nairobi, Kenya
Level Contributor
4,686 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

Both Nakuru & Naivasha are worth going & considering that it's only 1 hours apart of driving time. You're correct about Naivasha being a different experience. It's a beautiful, tranquil lakeside town.

As for Nakuru, you will need to spend a full day to make it worthwhile.

How about a brief 1 hour stopver @ Sunbird Lodge overlooking Elementeita ? It's 200 mts off the main rd.


Bungoma, Kenya
Level Contributor
2,798 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

Yes, I do think you are rushing the Nakuru/Naivasha section. Naivasha also includes Crater Lake. Hells Gate is another place which shouldn't be rushed. I particularly like the Geothermal wells - you can get very near to some of them.

Silver Spring...
Destination Expert
for Dominican Republic
Level Contributor
8,291 posts
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

You've picked the best of the best to visit. You will have some long drives to consider. We loved Samburu but the drive up and back and then down to Mara is long. Great itinerary, if you could add a day to Samburu and Nakuru you might cut out driving fatigue.

Level Contributor
14,921 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

While you have indicated the actual time/days spent at any one area, best you know the drive times to/from/between.

From NBO/Samburu - 5-6/hrs

Samburu/Nakuru - 5-6/hrs

Nakuru/Naivasha - 1/hr

Naivasha/Mara - 5+/hrs depending on where lodge/camp located

Mara/Serengeti (assuming Central) - a full day 9-10/hrs

Serengeti/Ngorongoro - 4/hrs, depending on quality of roads thru park

Ngorongoro/Amboseli - another full day, 4/hrs to Arusha + 1.5/hrs to Namanga border + 2/hrs if not longer into Amboseli

Amboseli/NBO - 4/hrs

Destination Expert
for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
Level Contributor
4,761 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

I really don't think there's any point going to Nakuru for half a day. You've got to spend the night, and be there for a late afternoon game drive, and especially one at dawn the next morning.

This is a very packed itinerary - anything less than 2 nights in one spot is too fast in my view - having done a lot of one-nighters in my time!


Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
12 posts
1 review
Save Reply
6. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

Thank you all for the quick/helpful replies. In my heart of hearts i knew we were rushing things but it is so tempting to try and visit all the places we've read about!

To give you a clearer picture of our itinerary:

Jan 15th - Drive NBO to Samburu.

Jan16th - Samburu

Jan 17th - Drive Samburu to Nakuru. Late afternoon game drive.

Jan 18th - Drive Nakuru to Naivasha late morning in time for lunch (so early morning game drive is possible).

Jan 19th - Drive Naivasha to Mara

Jan 20th - Mara

Jan 21st - Mara

Jan 22nd - Drive Mara to Serengeti

Jan 23rd - Serengeti

Jan 24th - Drive Serengeti to Ngorongoro

Jan 25th - Drive Ngorongoro to Amboseli (this is also where I feel the schedule gets a bit too tight)

Jan 26th - Amboseli

Jan 27th - Drive Amboseli to NBO for early afternoon flight.

If I cut out Nakuru I can have 1.5 days in Naivasha. I'm still worried the rest of the itinerary is too tight. The logical way to go about it would be to cut out one more park but which one? I know there is no 'correct' answer to this question. Any advice will be much appreciated!

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
12 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

Sorry, just to clarify - the revised plan (minus Nakuru) would be

Samburu - 2 nights

Naivasha - 2 nights

Mara - 3 nights

Serengeti - 2 nights

Ngorongoro - 1 night (too short?)

Maboseli - 2 nights

Naivasha - we have a definite mid-range budget more suited to the mass-tourism Sopa style lodges because we can't really afford some of the luxury/isolated camps we'd prefer. I've read that the south side of Naivasha has been subject to a lot of industrialisation though and so Kiangazi Lodge on the westernish side of the lake caught my eye as an alternative. I 'm still in the process of getting a quote but 'http://www.africatravelresource.com' suggests $150pp. Is this accurate? I might post this qn up on the naivasha forum if there is one. Many thanks again!

Level Contributor
14,921 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

Samburu and Amboseli are both 'elephant' parks in Kenya.

Samburu, with unique species not found elsewhere; Amboseli, with possible views of Kilimanjaro. Unless it's absolutely necessary to visit both, and as during January the wildebeest are 'calving' their young in the Serengeti and/or Ndutu areas (part of the Ngo Conservation area)... maybe slow down a bit.

Day 1 - 5-6/hrs to Samburu - o/n

Day 2 - Samburu - o/n

Day 3 - 6/hrs to Nakuru, in time for afternoon game drive - o/n

Day 4 - If you wish morning game drive Nakuru, then 1/hr south to Naivasha - o/n

Day 5 - 5-6/hrs to Mara - o/n (rather than Sopa, which is outside the Reserve, consider at least a price-comparable camp inside as Sarova Mara, Fig Tree or even the Keekorok Lodge

Days 6 & 7 - Mara - o/n

Day 8 - up to 10/hrs via Isebania border to Central Serengeti - o/n the Sopa here is lovely

Days 9 & 10 - Serengeti - o/n Sopa

Day 11 - 3-4/hrs to Ngo Crater; afternoon crater tour - o/n

Day 12 - Ngo - maybe a trek or rim walk (or crater tour first light morning, if arriving late day prior); drive (4/hrs) to Arusha - o/n

Day 13 - Shuttle Bus* 8am or 2pm to NBO airport for homebound.

*drive time is about 5-6/hrs traffic dependent and will take you right to the airport; fare is about $35/person.

Above has two 1/nighters close to one another; others are minimum 2-3/nts... easier for all.

Something to consider.

Langley, Canada
Level Contributor
1,339 posts
180 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

I see mention of a shuttle between Arusha and Nairobi airport. Does it also go the other way? Do you have a link to more info about the shuttle?

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
12 posts
1 review
Save Reply
10. Re: Naivasha vs Nakuru

Thanks 4Sandi. Especially for the accommodation tips. I like the extra time spent in the Serengeti. It's becoming apparent that we need to cut out one of the parks (Amboseli vs Samburu) to make sure we don't rush things. I had my heart set on seeing Kilimanjaro though! Now comes the difficult part - getting the whole family to agree on the same itinerary.