Kenya is home to the “Big Five” and has incredibly beautiful national parks with savannah grasslands, forests and dessert plains all supporting a wide array of majestic animals, several bird species and unique Eco systems in each park you visit.
There are so many ways to enjoy the best wildlife parks in Kenya, including visiting national parks and game reserves to see animals in their natural habitats. Each of these national parks have a unique character and feel.
Maasai Mara is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya. It is home to the big five and also famous for the annual migration of the wildebeest. It covers an area of about 531m2 on the southern part of Kenya. This park is named in honor of the Maasai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area). Their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara,” which is Maasai language for “spotted,” an apt description for the circles of trees, scrubs, savanna, and cloud shadows that marking the area. The terrain of the reserve is primarily grassland with seasonal river lets. Being a grassland savannah it receives an average rainfall of 83mm/month, with an altitude of 1500-2180m and temperatures of 12-30℃. The animals found in Mara include the big five (lion, rhino, elephant, leopard and buffalo). Aside from the big five the other animals one can see in Maasai Mara include hippos, giraffes, hyenas and a high number of antelopes including the Topi a breed of antelope not common to other parks, the bush duiker, klipspringer, oribi, bohor reedbuck, bush babies, the Nile crocodiles, crested porcupine, springhare, pangolins etc. Approximately 1,500,000 Wildebeest and 200,000 Zebra seasonally move from Serengeti to Masai Mara. The migration will begin in June 2018 and will remain in Maasai Mara until the end of October, 2018 when then start the reverse journey back to Serengeti begins.
Mara Fig Tree Luxury Camp: www.sunafricahotels.com
Maasai Mara Sopa Lodge: www.sopalodges.com
Mara Leisure Camp: www.marasa.net
Mara Keekorok: www.sunafricahotels.coms
Mara Interpids : www.hhandr.com
Mara Simba: www.simbalodges.com
Mara Sentrim: www.sentrimmaasai.com
Mara AA Lodge: www.aalodges.com
Located at about 3 hour drive northwest of Nairobi, Lake Nakuru national Park is one of the two premium parks in Kenya. It is classified as dry sub-humid to semi-arid ecosystem. Lake Nakuru National Park boasts itself as bird lover’s paradise hosting over 400 species of birds, most common being the lesser and greater flamingoes as well as over 500 species of flora with Acacia being among the most dominant trees. Lake Nakuru is highly saline, therefore surrounded by grassland of highly adaptable alkaline grasses. This park also has many hills with established viewpoints from which the lake, the woodlands, and often times herds of buffalo can be seen. The most common wildlife parks in kenya that can be spotted in Nakuru include Black and White rhinos, waterbucks, lion, eland and high number of leopard sightings, and the rare Rothschild giraffe. Nakuru also is endowed with a high number of terrestrial birds including pelican, kingfishers, hawks and eagles, common ostrich, white faced whistling bird, cape teal, helmeted guinea fowl, hildebrandt’s francolin, marabou stork, yellow-billed stork, comorants, hammerkop, herons egrets, ibis bustards and cranes, baglafecht weaver, starlings, etc.
Lake Nakuru Lodge: www.lakenakurulodge.com
Sarova Lion Hill Lodge: www.sarovahotels.com
Lake Nakuru Sopa Lodge: www.sopalodges.com
Pelican Lodge: www.thepelicanlodge.com
The Ol Pajeta conservancy covers an area of 360 km2. It is a not-for-profit wildlife conservancy within Laikipia County. It is situated on the equator west of Nanyuki between the foothills of Aberdares and Mount Kenya. The Olpajeta sanctuary boasts the largest rhino sanctuary in East Africa. It is home to the black rhinos, southern white rhinos and the critically endangered northern white rhinos. The conservancy incorporates the sweet waters chimpanzee sanctuary which provides long life refuge for orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees. It hosts more than 10000 large mammals including the big five. Other wildlife within this conservancy include Grevy zebras, Jacksons hartebeest, Cheetah, African wild dog, giraffe, aardvark, black backed jackal, serval, caracal, bat eared fox, beisa Oryx, eland, both grants and Thompson gazelle, waterbuck, tree hyrax, Senegal bushbaby, African civet, small and large spotted genet etc.
Sweet Water Serena Camp: www.serenacamps.com
Ol’Pajeta House Serena: www.serenahotels.com
The Samburu National Reserve lies on the banks of the Ewaso Ngiro River which in local Maasai language means “brown waters” and covers an area of 165km 2. The habitat is composed of a mixture of riverine forest, thorn trees,acacia and some grassland vegetation. There is a wide variety of animal and bird life seen at Samburu National Reserve that is not commonly found in any other park in Kenya. Several large game species common to Kenya’s Northern plains can be found in abundance here, including the following dry-country fauna endemic to the Samburu ecosystem. Common wildlife spotting in Samburu include, the Gerenuk ( Impala Giraffe) , Grevy zebra, Beisa Oryx, Somalian Ostrich and Reticulated Giraffe, lions, buffalos, elephants leopard, Cheetah, both Striped Hyena and Spotted Hyena, etc. Samburu is also home to some of the largest crocodiles found in Kenya. Occasionally park permitting game drives can also be done in Shaba National Park and Buffalo Springs National Park
Samburu Serena Safari Lodge: www.serenahotels.com
Samburu Sopa: www.sopalodges.com
Samburu Interpids: www.hhandr.com
Elephant Bedroom: www.atua-enkop.com
Sarova Shaba Gama Lodge: www.sarovahotels.com
Ashnil Samburu Camp:www.ashnilhotels.com
Lying South East of Nairobi, Located in Kajiado County lies Amboseli National Park. It is formerly known as Maasai Amboseli National reserve. This is the second most popular park in Kenya after the Maasai Mara. It is governed by the Kenya wildlife services. It covers an area of about 392 km2. It is a low rainfall area with one of the best wildlife viewing experiences in the world as well as spectacular views of the Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world. It harbors 400 species of birds including the globally threatened Madagascar Pond-heron, lesser flamingo, lesser Kestrel, Africas most sought after shoebill, pelicans,crakes, hammerkops kingfishers, and 47 types of raptors. The park is famous for being the best place in the world to get close to free-ranging elephants. Normatior(observation hill), is an interesting section of this national park. This is the only area within the park where you can get out of your car and walk. This pyramid shaped hill provides an ideal lookout from which to orientate with the plains and roads below as well as the wildlife which are usually far off but the views here put them in their context. Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet Maasai and visit a Maasai village. It is also home to large Cape buffaloes, impala, lions, Cheetah, spotted hyenas, giraffes, zebras, bat eared fox, jackals and blue wildebeest etc.
Kibo Safari Camp: www.kibosafaricamp.com
Amboseli Sopa Lodge: www.sopalodges.com
Amboseli Sentrim: www.sentrimhotels.net
Kilima Safari Camp: www.kilimacamp.com
Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge: www.serenahotels.com
Ol’Tukai Lodge: www.oltukailodge.com
Tsavo west is located in the coast province covering an area of 9,065km2 and is operated by the Kenya wildlife service having been gazette as a National Park in the year 1948. Famously know for the Tsavo Man-Eating Lions. The two male lions cause havoc and terror during the construction of the railway and were responsible for the deaths of a number of construction workers on the Kenya-Uganda Railway from March through December 1898. of this pair of lions was their unusual behavior, such as the number of men killed and the manner of the attacks.
This park is a popular destination on account of its popular scenery including the Crystal Clear Waters of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mzima Springs where fish, crocodile and Hippo can be spotted swimming form the surface and the sunken glass observation tank, The Shetani lava flow, Chaimu creater, poachers outlook and the Tsavo river. The park has a variety of wildlife including the eastern black rhinoceros, hippopotamus, Cape buffalo Elephants, Lions, leopards, Cheetah , Hyena, bush baby, heart beast, Lesser Kudu and maasai giraffe can also be spotted in the park.
Kilaguni Serena Lodge: www.serenahotels.com
Finch Hattons: www.finchhattons.com
Ziwani Tented Camp: www.heritage-eastafrica.com
Severin Safari Camp: www.severincamp.com
Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya. It is located in the area formerly known as Taru desert and covers 13,747 km2. Named for the Tsavo river, which flows west to east through the national park it, borders the Chyulu hills national park and the Mkomazi game reserve. The reserve provides undeveloped wilderness homes to vast numbers of animals including hirola, yellow baboon, eland, gerenuk, cokes heart beast, Oryx black rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, pods of hippo, crocodile, waterbucks, lesser kudu and many others. However, most famous are the Tsavo lions a population of lions, where adult males often lack manes entirely. Separated by a railway, it borders the Tsavo West and together they form the Tsavo Conservation area.
Voi Safari Lodge: www.safari-hotels.com
The Aberdare mountain range is one of Africa’s flagship conservation areas. Its natural value lies in its plentiful water resources, abundant forests, and endemic biodiversity. Aberdare National Park is world renowned for its high concentration of mega fauna, which in turn has made it a prime target for conservation and ecotourism activities. Estimates suggest that the Aberdare range harbors over 50 mammal species, 270 species of birds, and over 770 species of vascular plants. The Aberdare Forest Reserve is located to the east of the Great Rift Valley and is a 3 hour drive from Nairobi. The Forest Reserve is situated within Central Kenya conoredby four (4) Counties. Rare animal sightings in the aberdare include those of the African golden cat and the bongo.
Covering an area of 2124 km2 is Mt. Kenya National Park. Being an ancient volcano, Mt. Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa .The scenery surrounding this designated world heritage site is breath taking. It is pristine wilderness with lakes, glaciers, dense forest, mineral springs and a selection of rare endangered species of animals. Among the wildlife found in Mount Kenya are the black and white colobus monkey, Sykes monkey, Olive baboon, Cape buffalo, elephants, tree hyrax, black fronted duiker, bongo, bushbucks, water bucks, leopard, giant forest hog, genet cat, bush pig and eland.
The Ark: www.marasa . net
Aberdare Country Club: www.marasa.net
Mt. Kenya Leisure Lodge: www.mountkenyaleisure lodge.co.ke
Mt. Kenya Safari Club: www.fairmont.com
Tree Tops: www.aberdaresafarihotels.com
Aberdare Safari Hotels: www.aberdaresafarihotels.com
Outspan AbardareSafari Hotel: www.abardaresafarihotels.com
Not far from Mount Kenya, lies the Meru national park. It has the excellent views of the snowcapped Mount Kenya and the parks beautiful landscape is a camper’s paradise. Straddling the equator and bisected by 13 rivers and numerous mountain-fed streams, it is an essentially beautiful area of Kenya. The diverse Scenery of woodlands at 3,400 feet on the slopes of Nyambeni Mountain range north east of Mt. Kenya to wide open plains with meandering riverbanks dotted with doum palms. It is situated right on the equator at an altitude of between 1000-3400 feet covering 870km2. It is home to some of the rare antelopes, the lesser Kudu and Duiker and Dik dik one of the smallest antelope in Africa. Fishing is permitted at campsites along the Tana river. There are 8 special campsites, two tented camps, one public campsite and one lodge with a capacity of 132 beds.
Kakamega Forest is a mid-altitude tropical rainforest. Its West African affinities are unique in Kenya, and the forest contains many species found nowhere else in the country. The forest lies in the Lake Victoria catchment, about 40 km north of Kisumu. It is to the east of the Nandi Escarpment that forms the edge of the central highlands. Kakamega forest was first gazetted as Trust Forest in 1933. The forest including reserves encloses about 238km2. Through the forest are a series of grassy glades. Kakamega forest is very wet in terms of climate with an average rainfall of 1200mm-1700mm per year, with a fairly constant temperature ranging between 20c-30c throughout the year. Flora found within the forest include Elgon teak, red and white stinkwood and several varieties of croton. The other plant and animal species have been estimated to be over 350 each. Wildlife occurrences in the park include the bush pig, African clawless otter giant African shrew, red tail monkey, de brazzas monkey and the occasional velvet monkey. Insect are in abundance and are quite spectacular such as the goliath beetles and green and pink flower mantis.
Kakamega Golf club: www.golfhotelkakamega.com
Lake Baringo national reserve
There are only two fresh water lakes in the Rift Valley Kenya. Lake Baringo is one of them and the other is Lake Naivasha. This fresh water lake has provided a very particular habitat for several fresh water lake fish species as well as over 500 species of flora and fauna. The water flowing into lake Baringo originates from the Mua Hills and Tugen hills.. Though it is a fresh water lake with slightly saline nature, there is nothing to bother much for the hippopotamus, crocodiles or the people who often swim in it. The climate in the lake region is mostly dry and hot. Though Lake Baringo is dry and hot often, it is a stunning fact that it serves as a comfortable habitat for the many bird species which include the migrating Flamingos. This lake holds the credit of looking after the wide range of birds with each one having adapted to its own lifestyle. The White faced Scops Owls, Paradise fly catcher, African fish eagles and many more are seen in large numbers here. For bird lovers, there is no other place equivalent to the Lake Baringo, this is the right choice to enjoy nature, but for the weather.
Soi Safari Lodge : www.soisafarilodge-lkbaringo.com
Roberts Camp: www.robertscamp.com
Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya.The name Nairobi comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which translates to “cool water”. Established in 1946 Nairobi national park is the only national park that borders a city. It is located approximately 7 kilometers from the city center covering an area of 117.21 km2. The parks predominant environment is open grass plain with scattered acacia bushes. To the South of the Park there is a riverine forest along the permanent Nairoib river. park has a large and diverse wildlife population. Species found in the park include Cape buffaloes, baboons, eastern black rhinos, gazelles, zebras, Tanzanian cheetahs, Coke’s hartebeest, hippopotami, leopards, Masai lions, elands, impala, Masai giraffes, ostriches, vultures and waterbucks. The David Sheldrick Trust runs a sanctuary in the park that hand-rears orphaned elephant and rhinoceros calves, and later releases them back into secure sanctuaries.
The Panari Hotel: www.panarihotels.com
Sarova Stanley hotel: www.sarovahotels.com
Sentrim 680 Hotel: www.sentrim-hotels.com
Nairobi Serena Hotel: www.serenahotelskenya.com
Ole Sereni Hotel: www.ole-serenihotel.com
Sarova Panafric: www.sarovahotels.com
Crowne Hotel www.cpnairobi.com
Southern sun Mayfair: www.southernsun.co.ke
Fairmont Norfollk Hotel www.fairmont.co
Jacaranda Hotel: www.jacaaranda hotels.com
Meridian Hotel: www.meridianhotelkenya.com
Laico regency Hotel: www.laicoregencyhotel.co.ke
Nairobi Safari Club ww.nairobisafariclub.com
Tune Hotel: www.tunehotels.com
Clarion Hotel: www.theclarionhotel.co.ke
Oakwood Hotel: www.oakwoodhotelnairobi.com
Lamada hotel: www.madahotels.com
Hotel Intercontinental: www.ihg.com
Safari Park Hotel and Casino: www.safaripark-hotel.com
The name of this town was derived from the Maasai language. The word is “Nai posha” which means rough waters when translated. It was used to refer to the frequent storms that would frequent Lake Naivasha. The name ‘Naivasha’ therefore is colonial misinterpretation of ‘Nai’posha. Naivasha is also a popular tourist destination. Hell’s Gate National Park (the main locations for Lion King, including Pride Rock and the Gorge, are modeled after the park). Longonot National Park and Mount Longonot are nearby attractions. Tours also have included Lake Naivasha, to observe birdlife and hippopotamus behavior, as well as other wild animals. Naivasha is filled with many place of interest. It has a lot of attractions within its vicinity; there are numerous curio, gift and memorabilia shops in the town. Lake Naivasha which is a fresh water lake is popularly known for its beauty and it’s surrounded by a forest of yellow river trees.
Lake Naivasha Country club: www.sunafricahotels.com
Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort: www.sopalodges.com
Lake Naivasha Cresent Camp: www.cresentcamp.com
Fish Eagle Inn: www.fish-eagleinn.com
Fishermans Camp: www.fishermansbarandrestaurant.com
Carnelleys Camp: www.campcarnelleys.com
Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge: www.simbalodges.com
Lake Elementaita Sentrim: www.senrtim-hotels.com
Lake Elementaita Serena: www.serenahotelskenya.com
Elementaita Pelican: www.thepelicanlodge.com
Mombasa is a city on the coast of Kenya. After the capital Nairobi, Mombasa is the second largest city. Mombasa is a coastal town and is therefore characterized by a flat topography. Mombasa has a tropical wet and dry climate. The town of Mombasa is centered on Mombasa Island, but extends to the mainland. The island is separated from the mainland by two creeks, Port Reitz in the south and Tudor Creek in the north. Mombasa boasts of very large tourist numbers annually with most of them being holiday seekers who either come for the sandy beaches and the historic architectural old town. Some of the attractions within and around Mombasa include Diani Beach on the South coast, Haller Park, kisite Mpunguti and Watamu Marine.
Bamburi Beach Hotel: www.bamburibeachkenya.com
Serena Beach Hotel and Spa: www.serenahotels.com
Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa: www.sarovahotels.com
Sentrim Castle Hotel: www.sentrim-hotels.com
Voyager Beach Resort: www.voyagerbeachresortmombasa.com
Mombasa Beach Hotel: www.safari-hotels.com
Southern Palms: www.southernpalmskenya.com
Kolekole Beach: www.africanspicessafaris.com
Diani Beach: www.dianibeachhotels.de
Lamu Homes Hotel: www.lamuhomes.com
Baobab Beach Resort and Spa: www.baobab-beach-resort.com
The Reef hotel Mombasa: www.reefkenyahotel.com
Hells gate national park is found North West of Nairobi and lies south of Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Hell’s Gate National Park is named after a narrow break in the cliffs, once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed early humans in the Rift Valley and it covers an area of 68.25 km2. Due to its close proximity to Nairobi and lowered park fees, the park is quite popular to tourists. Several activities are encouraged within the park. These include: Hiking, bicycling, and motorcycling and even camping. It is the only one of the two Kenyan national parks where this is allowed. There is a wide variety of wildlife in the national park, though they are not any in number. Examples of little seen wildlife include lions, leopards, and cheetahs. There are over 103 species of birds in the park, including vultures, Verreaux’s eagles, augur buzzard, and swifts. Hyraxes, African buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, hyena, and baboons are also common. The park is also home to several and small numbers of klipspringer antelope and Chanler’s mountain reedbuck.
Mount Longonot is a strato volcano located southeast of Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. It is thought to have last erupted in the 1860s. As many as other parks in Kenya, its name is derived from the Maasai word Oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges”. Mount Longonot is protected by Kenya Wildlife Service as part of Mount Longonot National Park. Mount Longonot is protected by Kenya Wildlife Service as part of Mount Longonot National Park. There is a 3.1 km trail that runs from the park entrance to the center rim, and continues in a 7.2 km stretch encircling the crater. Major wildlife attractions in this park include buffaloes, elands, leopards, bushbucks, common zebra, giraffe and Grant’s gazelle.
This reserve covers an area of 39km2 (Kisite Park 28km2 Mpunguti reserve 11km2. Unspoiled, beautiful and sun kissed, the Kisite Marine Park was established in the year 1978 to protect the scenic islands and special habitats of a wide range of endemic marine animals and breeding migratory birds. This park is about 100km from Mombasa town and is accessible by boat from Shimoni. It lies in the coral gardens south of Wasini Island and encompasses three small coral rag forest islands, each with considerable areas of fringing reef. Kisite is one of the most rewarding snorkeling locations at the coast. Visitors can also enjoy bird watching, diving and of course, sunbathing. There are many Sea- birds in large nesting colonies and internationally significant numbers of crab-plover and roseate tern.
Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve covers an area of 10km2 was established in 1968 with Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve. They were established by the Kenyan government and are now part of a UN recognized World Biosphere Reserve. This marine park occupies an area of 10km2. The parks coral reefs form the physical and biological backbone of the area. It has over 150 species of soft corals providing abundant nutrients for fish which are over 500 in specie numbers. There are also whale sharks, mantra rays octopus and barracuda as some of the largest species in the park. Watamu has a turtle’s watch program as it harbors different species of turtles including green, hawksbill and olive ridley turtles.
The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is located on the coast of Kenya, very close to Malindi and 110 km north of Mombasa. It is protected as a national Forest Reserve since its establishment in the year 1960. It covers a total area of 6km2. The Arabuko-Sokoke National Park is only a small portion of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, a few and is located on the north-western edge of the forest. The Reserve is jointly managed by the Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Forest Research Institute. The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest protects many endemic species. The Clarke’s weaver is completely endemic to the forest, while the anonymous Sokoke scops owl, Sokoke pipit, and the Amani sunbird and spotted ground thrush are found only here. The endearing golden-rumped elephant shrew is the most noticeable of the park’s endemic mammals. The Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose and Aders’ duiker (found only here and in Zanzibar) are more elusive. The forest also has savannah elephants, African civets, as well as sokokes, baboons and vervet monkeys. The park is also recognized as an outstanding center of amphibian diversity.