Did you know that about 8% of Kenya’s land mass is protected area for wildlife conservation? Kenya is endowed with a myriad of wildlife and as such Game Safaris are very popular among tourists. The Kenya Wildlife Service is mandated to conserve and manage Kenya’s wildlife. A visit to any of the parks will leave you amazed at the immense biodiversity Kenya offers. Let’s explore them below:
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi is considered the world’s only wildlife capital courtesy of the Nairobi National Park which is only a short drive from the city’s Central Business District. The park is accessible all year round and is teeming with wildlife such as Lions, Giraffes, Antelopes, Black Rhinos, Leopards, Cheetahs, Hyenas, Buffaloes as well as numerous bird and reptile species. Close to 100 mammal species and 400 bird species can be spotted. The park has other facilities such as the Animal Orphanage, The Safari walk as well as picnic and camping sites. Boost your experience by enjoying a stay at the Nairobi Tented Camp, the only accommodation facility inside the Nairobi National Park.
Amboseli National Park
Considered one of Kenya’s most popular parks, Amboseli prides itself in providing the best backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. It is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Other attractions of the park include: dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulphur springs, the savannah and woodlands, contemporary Maasai culture and indigenous lifestyle as well as the Big Five.
Tsavo East National Park
This is the Largest National Park in Kenya. Vast herds of dust–red elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions, leopards, pods of hippso, crocodiles, waterbucks, Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk, Hirola and 500 recorded bird species make up some of the wildlife found there. The sight of dust-red elephant wallowing, rolling and spraying each other with the midnight blue waters of palm-shaded Galana River is one of the most evocative images at this Park. This, along with the 300-km long Yatta Plateau, the longest lava flow in the world, make for an adventure unlike any other in the Tsavo East.
Aberdare National Park
Huge canopies, forested gorges and massive open moorlands are characteristic of this park, making it an ideal location for mountain scenery photographers. The park is home to elephants, black rhinos, leopards, spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, buffalos, warthogs and bushbucks among others. Rare sightings include those of the Giant Forest hog, bongo, golden cat, serval cat, African wild cat, African civet cat and the blue duiker. Visitors can indulge in picnics, trout fishing in the rivers, bird viewing and camping in the moorlands. While in the Park you will catch beautiful sightings of the magnificent waterfalls with the main ones being Karuru falls, Magura falls and Chania waterfall.
Mt Kenya National Park and Reserve
The scenery surrounding Africa’s second tallest mountain is breath-taking. The lakes, glaciers, dense forest, mineral springs, a selection of rare and endangered species of animals, high altitude adapted plains game and unique montane and alpine vegetation make it a pristine wilderness. Visitors can enjoy mountain climbing, camping and cave exploration as well as game viewing. For more information on how to access the park, accommodation as well as Park entry fees, see link below:
Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West is a beautiful rugged wilderness. It offers some of the most magnificent game viewing in the world and attractions include elephant, rhino, Hippos, lions, cheetah, leopards, Buffalos, diverse plant and bird species including the threatened corncrake and near threatened Basra Reed Warbler. The Park is famous for the man-eating lions that waged intermittent warfare against the railway line builders in 1898. The Ngulia Sanctuary is home to the growing population of highly endangered black rhino. Lake Jipe which is found at the Kenya and Tanzania border is a popular attraction in the park. This together with the Mzima springs, a spectacular sight of fifty million gallons of crystal clear water gushing out of from the under-parched lava rocks.
Hell’s Gate National Park
It is one of the most atmospheric Parks in Africa thanks to the spectacular scenery of the towering cliffs, gorges, scrub clad volcanoes and intense geothermal activity within its boundaries. It is therefore not surprising to encounter the belching plumes of geothermal steam. Hell’s Gate is an ideal venue for a day trip from Nairobi. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing, mountain biking, rock climbing and a natural spa. Wildlife includes: African buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle and baboons. The park is also home to klipspringer antelope and Chandler’s mountain reedbuck. Over 100 species of birds are available in the park including vultures, Verreaux’s Eagles, augur buzzard and swifts.
Meru National Park
Little visited and utterly unspoilt, few places are comparable to the remote and rugged atmosphere found at the Meru National Park. Visitors can see Grevy’s zebras, elephants, Bohor reedbucks, hartebeests, pythons, puff adders, cobras, buffalos and more than 427 recorded species of birds. The park is the former home of Joy and George Adamson and Elsa the lioness. Other attractions include views of Mt Kenya, rivers and riverine habitats, Tana river as well as Adamson’s falls.
Sibiloi National Park
Sibiloi is located on the rugged shores of Lake Turkana, the world’s largest permanent desert lake and world largest alkaline lake. This world Heritage Site brags as being the “Cradle of Mankind”. Its archeological significance comes from the discovery of hominid fossils as well as those of a 1.6 million year old giant tortoise. It is home to important archaeological sites such as Koobi Fora Museum. The park yielded its most striking treasure in 1972 when a 2 million year old fossilized skull was discovered by eminent paleontologist Dr Richard Leaky and his team. This park comes as a real surprise after a long desert journey. There is plenty of open green, grassland and plenty of game. The park harbours a great deal of wildlife such as the Zebra, Topi, Giraffe, Ostrich, Hippo and the occasional Lion and Cheetah. The park also offers great birding safari as there are flamingoes, pelicans, herons, ducks, skimmers and many more to be spotted. The area is also a breeding ground for the Nile crocodile. Sibiloi is surrounded by the Turkana, the Gabra and the Dassanach who are communities with very rich and unpolluted traditional cultures.
Samburu National Reserve
A few kilometers from Archer’s post is this home to the grevy zebras, reticulated giraffes , somali ostrich, gerenuk and the beisa oryx (Samburu Special Five). A visit to the reserve will leave you gobsmacked by the great herds of Elephants there. Kamunyak, the miracle lioness that adopted the baby oryx was as a resident in the reserve. The Reserve also cuts through the Ewaso Ngiro River, which provides water to the animals within. Be sure to visit our top luxury spots in and around Samburu
Shimba Hills National Reserve
Shimba Hills National Reserve is Kenya’s home to the endangered sable antelope that inhabits the wooded savanna in East and Southern Africa. There are few animals in the game reserve hence the main attraction is the Sheldrick Waterfall and Nature Trail. The dense Mwaluganje Forest is also found here along with four campsites.
Ruma National Park
Ruma National Park lies in Western Kenya, close to the shores of Lake Victoria. It is Kenya’s last remaining sanctuary for the endangered roan antelope. One of Africas’ rarest antelopes and the third largest of Kenya’s antelopes, the roan is a large, grey to rufous antelope with a distinctive black and white face. Ruma’s birdlife is exceptional. The park is also the only protected area in Kenya where the globally threatened blue swallow, a scarce intra-African migrant, is regularly recorded. Blue swallows, which depend upon moist grassland for both feeding and roosting, arrive in Kenya from their breeding grounds in Southern Tanzania around April and depart again in September. Ruma offers visitors an opportunity to see various wildlife species including the Rothschild’s giraffe, serval cat, hyena, impala, vervet monkey, roan antelope, oribi, bohor reedbuck, leopard, buffalo, snakes and Jackson’s hartebeest.
Central Island National Park
The island is named as a Unesco World Heritage site and is comprised of hills that conceal three active volcano crater lakes. The lakes belch sulphurous smoke and steam. The island is a great place to spend a day exploring. Overnight fly camps to the island are provided and one is able to hike the hills while also marvelling at the breeding ground for the world’s largest population on the Nile Crocodile. The three crater lakes, Crocodile Lake, Flamingo Lake and Tilapia Lake, provide breeding grounds for the world’s largest concentration of Nile crocodiles. The estimated 12,000 crocodiles have not changed in 130 million years. Despite their monstrous size and formidable appearance they are generally inoffensive creatures living in perfect harmony with their environment and feeding on the lake’s prolific fish. Central Island has a campsite where visitors can enjoy.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park lies on the floor of the Great Rift Valley. It is surrounded by grasslands and picturesque ridges. The park is ideal for bird watching, hiking, picnic and game drives. The wildlife includes: Flamingos, 56 different mammal species including white rhinos, waterbuck etc. , water birds as well as a variety of terrestrial birds. Some notable View-points include Lion hill, Baboon cliff and Out of Africa. Makalia Waterfall, Enasoit hills and Lion Hill ridge are also an attraction.
Mt Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon, situated in western Kenya is the eighth highest mountain in Africa. Visitors can explore the forest, see the elephant caves and also enjoy biking and hiking. Mt. Elgon is dotted with caves formed from ancient lava tubes namely Kitum, Making’eny, Chepnyalil ,Ngwarisha and many others some of which are outside protected areas. Kitum Cave is regularly visited by herds of elephants, dubbed the troglodyte tuskers, as well as bushbuck, Red Duiker, Grey Duiker and buffalo, all in search of the salts that abound in the mineral-rich earth of the caves. Making’eny Cave, located 1.5km from Kitum, has a spectacular waterfall over its mouth.
Also read: Hiking up Mt Elgon