Kenya has an impressive 24 national parks and 15 national reserves covering over a tenth of its total land area. The range of natural habitats is wide: vast flat savanna plains and deserts; high-altitude snow-capped mountains with wooded slopes; lowland equatorial forests; and a coastal zone with mangrove swamps and sandy beaches. It is no surprise that the land supports over 100 mammal species, 12 types of primates, a slew of reptiles and over 1 000 species of birds.
Some of the popular national game parks include:
Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara National Reserve is arguably the most famous wildlife reserve in the world. It lies on the southern border of Kenya, and forms part of Greater Serengeti-Mara ecosystem that spreads down into Tanzania to the south. It covers approximately 1 500km² and plays host to spectaular, dense wildlife viewing throughout the year including the Great Wildebeest Migration from July to November.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli is Kenya’s most popular park after the Maasai Mara. Located 257km from Nairobi, it offers a stunning view of both Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. In addition to the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, guests can enjoy an eclectic array of animals and wildlife habitats from atop Observation Hill.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is a major attraction for visitors to Nairobi, offering them a chance to enjoy Kenya’s wildlife from within the city. Located less than 25km from the city itself, the park is also a rhino sanctuary, and guests can enjoy buffalo, zebra and wildebeest sightings as well as a host of birdlife.
Tsavo East National Park
Now separated from the original Tsavo, Tsavo East is popular with tourists from Kenya’s coast. Less than 250km from Mombasa, it is served by several airstrips and guests can see the infamous ‘Man-eaters of Tsavo’ lion, as well as elephant, rhino and a variety of birds and other wildlife.
Tsavo West National Park
Occupying 30% of Kenya’s total park area, Tsavo West is one of the country’s largest parks. It is easily accessible from the Mombasa-Nairobi highway and borders Tanzania to the south. Tsavo West offers tremendous views of a landscape packed with diverse wildlife habitats: rocky ridges, acacia woodlands, isolated hills, semi- desert scrubs and mountain forest.
Mount Kenya National Park
Home to Mount Kenya, the country’s highest mountain, the park flourishes with pristine wilderness. It offers excellent hiking and mountain climbing alongside game viewing of some of Kenya’s rare and endangered animal species. Although it is not as high as Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro, those in the know consider Mount Kenya a more beautiful and challenging hike.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Nakuru, 150km 95 northwest of Nairobi, is famous for the pink flamingoes that inhabit the lake, as well as white rhino and over 400 bird species.
Samburu National Reserve
The Samburu Reserve is a rugged, semidesert park that has remained almost undisturbed by mankind. The former home to Elsa the Lioness, the reserve is full of birdlife, plains game and predators.