They say, “You can’t please everyone.” Well, “they” surely haven’t been to the astonishing national parks of Kenya – for these parks truly offer something for everyone.
From your first glimpse of lions prowling the sweeping savannahs to antelope bounding through cool rainforests, from the birds and baboons filling the tropical jungle to the dolphins leaping about you in a dazzling marine reserve, these national parks are a life-sustaining marvel and a source of awe for all who visit.
From endangered rhinos to roaming big cats to vast herds of elephants, and teeming flocks of birdlife, just about every kind of wildlife can be found in Kenya’s rich array of national parks.
Nairobi National Park – Incredibly, within sight of downtown Nairobi you can spot lion, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, and so much more just minutes away from the big city.
Masai Mara National Reserve – the densest concentration of lions in the region, the Mara is home to the Great Migration. This is the largest movement of animals on the planet. Up to two million gazelle, wildebeest and zebra flow into the park in a yearly cycle of survival. Here is where the Maasai people live and practice their herding lifestyle.
Samburu National Park – home to close to a thousand great elephants plus the native Samburu people, this peaceful park presents opportunities to spot unusual species, birdlife, and African wild dogs.
Amboseli National Park – framed by towering Mt. Kilimanjaro at its southern border, the park’s dense concentration of elephants guarantees sightings of the noble creatures.
Lake Nakuru National Park – though they are endangered, you’re sure to see black rhinos in the park’s protected sanctuary. Birdlife abounds with sightings of fuchsia flamingoes.
At Ol Pejeta Wildlife Sanctuary the rhinos are shielded, safe from poaching so their numbers will increase. Located here as well, the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary takes in orphaned and wounded chimps. It’s the only place in Kenya where you can enjoy the antics of these intelligent creatures.
Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park – snorkel and dive with the dolphins and turtles by an immense coral barrier reef, sometimes called the rainforest of the sea.
Watamu Marine National Park – Brilliant lagoons and dazzling coral gardens hold sea turtles, hundreds of fish and manta rays.
Malindi Marine National Park – Africa’s first marine park offers fringing coral reefs with turtles, dolphins, innumerable fish, and shorebirds.
But if the sight of fish swimming in crystal cold lakes and streams is more to your liking, then a visit to Aberdare National Park is a must. This paradise of waterfalls, cool mountain breezes and thick rainforest is the opposite of what most people picture as the typical African park.
Not all the parks lend themselves to traditional safaris or wildlife viewing. For a different experience try hiking up the extinct volcano of Mt. Longonot National Park or taking in the glaciers and mountains lakes with a climb up Mt. Kenya National Park – the second highest mountain in Africa.
There are so many parks in Kenya that visitors tend to overlook some of the out-of-the-way reserves. But that would be a mistake for two reasons: These parks also feature a great bounty of wildlife and… they are virtually empty of other visitors. It’s just you and the wildlife.
Meru National Park is such a spot. There’s jungle, rivers, rolling green hills and all the wildlife they support in this untamed and beautiful park. This is where Joy Adamson, of “Born Free” fame released Elsa the lioness back into the wild.
Below we present the many parks of Kenya where you can book a once-in-a-lifetime Africa Holiday with Natural World Kenya Safaris.
Tsavo East lies to the east of the Nairobi – Mombasa highway, equi-distant between Nairobi and Mombasa
World famous Tsavo West National Park, with it’s Tsavo East neighbour, combine to form one of the largest national parks in the world.
Stepping into the dense, dark jungle of the Kakamega Forest Reserve is like being transported to the Africa of ancient times. Moving through the thick canopy of this tropical rainforest you’ll be met with the sounds of birdsong, chattering monkeys and croaking frogs. Butterflies fill the air as does a feeling of intimate beauty in this hidden gem of Kenya.
Amboseli National park lies immediately North West of Mt. Kilimanjaro, on the Kenya / Tanzania border.
Picture a high mountain lake in a volcanic region near the equator covered with an endless swarm of bright, pink flamingoes. Dotting this lake and surrounding areas, steamy hot springs enhance the already dreamlike atmosphere. Now add in the sight of numerous bubbling geysers erupting along the banks and from within the lake itself.
A fenced elephant corridor connects the Shimba Hills with Mwaluganje Forest Reserve to the North.
Black and white rhinoceros; diverse birdlife; large predators such as lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah; large herbivores such as eland, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest; ivory burning site monument; walking trails at hippo pools; Nairobi safari walk and opharnage; spacious picnic sites.
Masai Mara Game reserve is located In the great Rift valley in southern Kenya bordering the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Rare Rothschild giraffe and endangered black and white rhino are common in the park, amidst large herds of Cape buffalo, ranging through the woodlands and grasslands.
Lake Naivasha is world’s famous for its amazing birdlife. Hippo, zebra, giraffe, colobus monkey, buffalo elands, impalas, waterbucks and other grazers can also be found in the shores of the lake.
The only national park in Kenya that allows you take a guided walking safari or ride a bike while enjoying sightings of Zebras, Giraffe, Gazelle.
Samburu national reserve is situated at the Southern Corner of Samburu District in the Rift Valley province of Kenya
Cool and misty. Year round rains average one thousand (1,000 mm) on the drier northwestern slopes and upto three thousand (3,000 mm) in the southwest.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 360sq km wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya’s Laikipia County.
Arabuko Sokoke lies a few kilometers inland, between the towns of Kilifi and Malindi, 110 km north of Mombasa.
The marine park is 6km from the Kenya Coast(at shimoni)and 8km north of the Tanzanian border.
Meru national Park is a savanna Park, 35km east of Maua town in the north eastern lowlands below the Nyambene hills.
Mt. Kenya is an imposing extinct volcano dominating the landscape of the Kenyan Highlands, East of the Rift Valley.
A picture postcard of flawless Africa – golden savannahs, perfect acacia trees dotting the horizon and lots of big cats. Lions and leopard sightings are common, as are masses of the other wildlife – this is the protected conservancy of Mara North.
The private wilderness of over 61,000 acres is a special zone created to protect this beautiful swath of land, the precious wildlife within its borders and its native inhabitants, the pastoral Maasai people. Going on a safari here is a unique experience of the land, the animals, and the culture as you will enjoy your time on these great plains with few other tourists and vehicles.
Here in the Mara eco-system, amongst river valleys, acacia forest, and natural gorges you’ll find the most successful of the conservancies – Olare Motorogi. A partnership between the landowning Maasai people and five tourism operators, this rich swath of territory at the border of the Maasai Mara National Reserve offers safari-goers one of the densest populations of lions in East Africa.
Here you’ll also find plenty of elephants, many other grazers and endangered species like rhino and the African wild dog. Over 50 species of raptors have been spotted. The only thing you won’t find here in Olare Motorogi is the herds of visitors found in many other parks.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is perhaps the most exciting game park in the world with its incredible density and numbers of wildlife. But suppose you could explore a nearby conservancy that featured as many animals but far fewer tourists? A protected area that had none of the limitations of a national park but offered even more activities and wildlife experiences? That is the promise of Mara Naboisho.
This private conservancy limits the number of tourists who can explore its 53,000 acres so you may find yourself coming upon lions and other wildlife with no one else around. This makes for a very personal safari experience with the flexibility to engage in activities not possible in the nearby national reserve.
Naboisho is home to lots of big cats – over 100, so the density of lions and their large prides is one of the highest on the continent. Traversing the land with your private guide you’ll also find
great herds of elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, and Kenya’s rare wild dog. Of special note: the conservancy is a corridor for the Great Migration when several hundred thousand animals pass through on their yearly trek through the Mara region.
Ol Kinyei was the first, the pioneer of the private conservancy movement in the Mara eco-system and a multiple award winner as well! The landscapes of this region are blessed with green rolling hills, springs, rivers, streams, and enough displays of wildlife to satisfy safari-goers of any age and experience. Sightings of big cats are common, and you are likely to see large numbers of giraffes, Cape buffalos, and elephants as well.
Established in 2005 as a partnership between 171 Maasai landowners and Porini Safari Camps, just 8,000 acres were designated as cattle-free zones to encourage wildlife conservation and to further recovery and protection of the land. The venture was a success and many indigenous animals have returned including a pride of over 30 lions, plus leopards, cheetahs and over 300 types of birdlife.
Ol Kinyei has also expanded to its now 17,500 acres, attracting many new local landowning partners. Its success serves as a model and inspiration for newer conservancies in the Mara eco-system and has even garnered several awards. It was honored with the “Community Conservancy of the Year 2011 and 2012” by Ecotourism Kenya’s Eco-Warrior Awards.
Mara Triangle was one of the first in the region created to benefit the local Maasai community and to protect an area that was being decimated by poachers. Experiencing the wealth of wildlife now roaming this spectacular landscape, visitors will gladly confirm the success of this great conservation project.
The Mara Triangle is immense, about one third the total area of the Masai Mara Reserve and is blessed with an abundance of game. It is possible, in just one day, to view all the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino in an area of just 2 km (1.2 mi). Visitors will also find plenty of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, cheetah, and many others.
Visitors will find a wonderful array of grazers here – buffaloes, giraffes, gazelles, zebras, topis, dik-diks, elands, and so many others. And in the grand scheme of nature, right behind those grazers look for several resident prides of lions, plus leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and hyenas.
The conservancy is a migration corridor for elephant herds, and some are truly impressive with over 200 individuals in a family.
Wildebeests also hold a special place in Siana’s eco-system. During the Great Migration from July through October, great masses of these creatures pass through the conservancy, creating an unrivaled spectacle of herding wildlife.
However, prior to the migration during January and February, visitors can also witness the unique wonder of innumerable wildebeests calving in the Loita Hills area.
Being more compact in size, it offers good wildlife viewing with fewer visitors and picturesque landscapes for a more natural safari experience. The game spotting is active throughout the year on its wide rolling savannahs bordering the Mara River. And the abundance of trees lining the river is a draw for big cats like leopards who perch above, scanning for their prey.
Visitors to Lemek will also find lions from the resident pride as well as cheetahs and sometimes large herds of elephants. During the annual Great Migration, the numbers of wildlife greatly expand, thrilling those lucky enough to visit this exciting conservancy.
A big attraction of the conservancy type of safari is that guests can partake of activities not allowed in the nearby Masai Mara National Reserve.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 360sq km wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya’s Laikipia County.
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Home to about 40 rescued chimps, the sanctuary has 24-hour veterinary care to support and nurse the chimps back to good health. When they are ready, the chimps are brought into one of two large groups, living in large, natural enclosures. From an elevated observation post, keepers are happy to share with you each chimp’s story.
Endangered Species Enclosure
This large drive-through area is the protected home to the last two remaining northern white rhinos. Other endangered species, Grevy’s zebra and Jackon’s hartebeest are here as well.
Morani Information Center
named for Morani, a favorite black rhino who lived here for years, this center is a hands-on museum for visitors to touch such artifacts as a leopard skin and antelope horns to get a closer understanding of the park’s wildlife.
The most famous region of Laikipia is undoubtedly the Lewa Conservancy, or ‘Lewa’ as it is known. Like much of Laikipia, Lewa was originally a cattle ranch but one that was later established by the Craig/Douglas family as a black rhino sanctuary. Today, Lewa is Kenya’s greatest conservation success story with the conservancy officially running as a Non-Profit Organisation and a game density second only to the Masai Mara. As with many of the Northern reserves, Lewa hosts a variety of rare species ranging from the Grevy’s zebra, Sitatunga, Oryx as well a great diversity of big game found in East Africa especially the rhino and cheetah. There are also a number of ranches outside Lewa itself, from Borana in the south to Loisaba, Sabuk and Ol Malo in the north – all of these offer a wide range of exclusive safari experiences with camels, horse riding, helicopters and normal safaris in 4×4 wheel drive vehicles
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