There are many places to visit but none beats Kenya when it comes to magical wilderness experiences. Ever thought of an authentic African wilderness experience and you aren’t sure of where to go to? Kenya definitely has you covered- think of the big 5 game- Leopards, Elephants, Lions, Cape Buffaloes, Rhinos, and above all the Great Wildebeest Migration to unique cultures.
Over 40 National Parks and Reserves make Kenya a preferred African safari destination and each of the protected areas has something distinct for tourists to explore and experience. National Parks form part of Kenya’s tourist attractions and they hold a diversity of wildlife, water bodies, scenic vegetation, thrilling activities/adventure experiences, and more. Below are top 5 parks to visit on a Kenya safari in Africa;
Top 5 Visited National Parks in Kenya
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park- Land of Giants is a compact Kenya safari park known to offer amazing wildlife viewing against the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro. Located in Kajiado South constituency, Loitoktok district in Kenya, Amboseli is accessible 260kms from Nairobi city.
Amboseli National Park sprawls on a land area of 392sq.kms and its landscape is characterized by magical savanna grassland, undulating terrain, shady trees, swamps and offers a breathtaking view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The park is known for large herds of elephants plus a range of other wildlife, birds, unique flora, and more.
Founded in 1974, Amboseli is one of the oldest parks and in 1991, it was officially declared to UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve. The different wildlife to expect to explore while at Amboseli National Park include zebras, cheetahs, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, rhinos, nocturnal porcupines, lions.
Other Amboseli wildlife species include waterbucks, civets, spotted hyenas, jackals, impalas. There are also several primates to see including olive baboons, yellow baboons, black face vervet monkeys, and more.
Additionally, the park inhabits over 425 bird species including grey crowned cranes, red and yellow bishops, hamerkop, pelicans, steel blue whydah, Secretary birds, buffalo weaver birds, superb starling, African skimmers, sunbirds, nut vultures, and more. While on Amboseli safari in Kenya, the key tourist activities to expect to engage in include game/wildlife viewing or game drive, birding, photography, Maasai cultural encounter, photography.
Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Parks is composed of Tsavo East and Tsavo West- two parks that are just separated by the A109 road and railway. Sprawling over 22000sq.kms, about 10sq.kms for Tsavo West and 12sq.kms Tsavo East; Tsavo National Park stands out as Kenya’s largest park.
Tsavo National Park takes its name from River Tsavo that flows via the two parks from West to East. The Tsavo West NP boasts of its breathtaking sceneries, lava flow, springs, caves, rock climbing, guided walks along River Tsavo. Tsavo West N/Park’s main wildlife species include rhinos, elephants, leopards, buffaloes, cheetahs, birds, and more.
Tsavo East; a home to over 500 bird species plus diverse wildlife including elephants, gerenuk, crocodiles, lions, leopards and more. Other attractions include Lugard falls, Mudanda rock, Aruba dam and others.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the top 5 visited national parks in Kenya. Situated in Central Kenya, 140kms North-west of Nairobi lies Nakuru National Park an amazing birding destination. Nakuru National Park was founded in 1961 and occupies only 188sq.kms of land area.
Lake Nakuru National Park is an important birding destination known to protect over 450 and inhabits birds such as pelicans, lesser and greater flamingoes, black-tailed godwit, sooty falcons. Others include cormorants, great blue eared, arrow marked babblers, ostriches, Abyssinian thrush, and more.
Nakuru National Park is also a stronghold of wildlife including leopards, lions, rhinos, buffaloes, cheetahs, gazelles, zebras making it an ideal game viewing destination. The park’s interesting activities to indulge in range from wildlife viewing, birding, and walking safaris.
Maasai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara also famous as the Mara Reserve is a renowned nature reserve and most locals refer to it as National Park. Masai Mara is located in Narok County of Kenya, officially gazetted in 1961. It sits on a land area of 1510sq.kms of land area, protecting the world’s sought for wildlife like wildebeests, leopards, lions, elephants, hippos, hyenas, Maasai giraffes.
Other species of animals living within Masai Mara National Reserve include elands, Thompson’s gazelles, rhinos, impalas, hartebeests, bat-eared foxes, servals, jackals, and a lot more. Wildebeest migration in the Mara Reserve is best enjoyed from July to October.
There are also over 500 bird species to identify while on Mara safari and they include 60 migratory bird species. The Masai Mara National Reserve birds include ostriches, long-crested eagles, African quail finch, banded martin, Jackson’s bustards, white-bellied, red-throated tit, African pygmy falcons.
Others include Madagascar squacco, Pel’s fishing owls, secretary birds, cinnamon-breasted rock bunting, bare-faced go-away, yellow-bellied hyliota, turkey-sized ground hornbills, kori bustards, and others. The key activities include game drive, wildebeest migration experience, cultural tours, birding, nature walks and more.
Mount Kenya National Park
If you are an avid hiker or climber, Mount Kenya National Park is one of the best places you should consider for all your hiking safaris in Kenya. The second highest mountain peak in Africa- Mount Kenya is located right in Mount Kenya National Park. This park lies in the Northeastern part of Nairobi, 175kms, and has distinct natural features such as forested slopes, U-shaped valleys, glaciers, and a lot more.
Mount Kenya National Park is 1420sq.kms and protects wildlife species ranging from suni antelopes, rock hyrax, black rhinos, leopards. Other wildlife to see here include waterbucks, elephants, elands, bushbucks, white-tailed mongoose, black-fronted duikers, giant forest hogs, black and white colobus monkeys.
Birds total up to 130 species and they include African emerald cuckoo, red-billed duck, bronze napped pigeon, bearded vultures, buff-spotted fluff tail, African barbet, reed warblers, African scoops owl. Others include yellow-bellied waxbill, African fire finch, golden breasted bunting, rosy throated long claw, red-cheeked cordon bleu, orange ground thrush, violet backed starling, fairy flycatchers, oriole finch, brimstone canary and many more.
Other National Parks to explore in Kenya include Meru National Park, Aberdare National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Longonot National Park, Arabuko-Sokoke National Park, Marine National Parks on the coast, and others.