Maasai Mara Game Reserve
The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is arguably Kenya’s most popular game sanctuary. It is the most famous and most visited game reserve in Kenya. The film ‘Out of Africa’ was made to a great extent in this reserve. Virtually every type of wildlife can be seen at the Mara. A spectacle worth seeing is the annual migration of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle from Serengeti plains across the Tanzania border and the Mara River to reach Masai Mara grazing fields from late June. The dramatic crossing of the river and the preying on the migrants by predators can be viewed from early July to August. The reserve abounds with birdlife since dose to about 452 species have been recorded. Hot air balloon safaris are readily available in this park. Accommodation is plentiful in Masai Mara and ranges from five star lodges to luxury tented camps and campsites within the reserve.
Lake Nakuru National Park
The park lies in Central Kenya, 140km north-west of Nairobi, in Nakuru district of the Nakuru county.
It is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos nesting along the shores.
The ecosystem comprises of the lake, surrounded by mainly wooded and bushy grasslands. The park supports a wide ecological diversity with Flamingos (Greater and Lesser) and other water birds being the major attractions of the area. The ecosystem provides for about 56 different species of mammals including the white rhino and buffaloes and a variety of terrestrial birds numbering nearly 450 species.
Hells Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park lies to the south of Lake Naivasha in Kenya, North West of Nairobi. The park which is mainly comprised of savannah ecosystem habours a wide variety of wildlife. There are over 100 species of birds in the park, including vultures, Verreaux’s Eagles, augur buzzard, and swifts. African buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, and baboons are also common. The park is also home to klipspringer antelope and Chanler’s mountain reedbuck.
The 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. It was established in 1984. A small national park, it is known for its wide variety of wildlife and for its scenery.This includes the Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower columns and Hell’s Gate Gorge. The national park is also home to three geothermal power stations at Olkaria.
Aberdare National Park
The Aberdare National Park, with an area of 767 Km2 covers the higher areas of the Aberdare Mountain Ranges of Central Kenya, from altitude of 1829M to 4001M above sea level. It’s located 100 km north from Nairobi.
Animals easily observed include the leopard, african elephant, african hunting dog, giant forest hog, bushbuck, mountain reedbuck, waterbuck, cape buffalo, suni, side-striped jackal, eland, duikers olive baboon, black and white Colobus monkey, and sykes monkey.
Rarer sightings include those of the golden cat and the bongo – an elusive forest antelope that lives in the bamboo forest. Animals like the eland and spotted and melanistic serval cats can be found higher up in the moorlands.
The Aberdare National Park also contains a large population of the black rhino. Visitors can also indulge in walking, picnics, in the rivers and camping in the moorlands. Even the bird viewing is rewarding, with over 250 species of birds in the park, including the endangered Aberdare Cisticola, Jackson’s Francolin, sparry hawk, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs Reserves
The highlights of these reserves are the spectacular scenic beauty, rivers and forests. It is an area where the local people have a rich and colourful heritage. The reserves have numerous permanent springs and a wealth of wildlife which includes leopard, hippo, elephant, lion, reticulated giraffe, grevy’s zebra and crocodile in the Ewaso Nyiro river. Over 365 species of birds have been identified in the sanctuaries. There are lodges and campsites managed by mobile tented camp operators.
Shaba National Reserve is home to the monument of Joy Adamson who, together with her husband George, contributed greatly to Kenya’s wildlife as an author, conservationist and artist. The film ‘Born Free’ is based on Joy’s book of the same title. Shaba was the setting for the film ‘Sheena Queen of the Jungle’. Shaba reserve is home to the rare blue-shanked Somali Ostrich.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is the oldest of Kenya’s National Parks and Game Reserves. It was gazetted in 1946. This game sanctuary is a stretch of Savannah that is set against the dramatic skyline of Nairobi. Its main entrances are merely a stone’s throw away from the city’s outskirts, making Nairobi the only city in the world that borders a natural game protection area. The park contains over 100 species of mammals, mainly plains game. The big five are also found here except the elephant. The park’s advantage is that visitors do not have to travel far to view game in its natural habitat. The Animal Orphanage and Safari walk at the main gate should not be missed. The orphanage is home to injured and orphaned animals. Here they are nursed back to health before being released to the wild. The park is also ideal for ornithological safaris.
Amboseli National Park
The Might Kilimanjaro forms a beautiful backdrop. Amboseli Game Sanctuary is famous for elephants, buffalos and birds.
Tsavo National Park
One of the largest game parks in the world surrounded by the beautiful Chyulu hills and the Pare Mountains. Mzima springs; a natural and clear watering point is great for game viewing. Tsavo is also famous for its large number of elephants among other species of the animal kingdom.
An Ornithologist’s paradise – here you can find about three hundred species of birds, some of which are unique to this part of the country. A natural and ancient forest excellent for game or botanical walks.
Mount Elgon National Park
This unspoiled national park is famous for caves, game viewing and hiking. Situated on Kenya /Uganda border, the highest peak on Kenyan side (Koitobos) is about 4,200 meters high. Kitum cave (place of ceremonies) extents 200 meters into the mountain. At night animals go in to feed on the rich salt deposits. An unforgettable sight is of the elephants licking away at the salt walls in these caves.
Ndere Island National Park (Meeting Place)
This place is where Mikaye (the mother of Luo) rested after her long journey, before she found shelter on this island close to the rock that goes by her name. Ndere Island is also home to a large population of crocodiles, swamp antelopes and birds. Fishing can also be done nearby. Situated in northern part of Lake Victoria near Kisumu, Ndere Island National Park can only be accessed by boat.
Ruma National Park
This rarely visited national park is home to a number of Kenyan animals and birds. Famous for Roan antelopes (hippopotamus equines ) which are an endangered species of antelopes.
Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya National Park is surrounded by 130,000 acres of forest reserve. Visible from the mountain top on a clear day are Mount Kilimanjaro to the south, Mount Elgon to the west, Marissa Mountain to the north and the Indian ocean to the east. Hiking, climbing and game viewing for rare mountain wildlife can be done here.
Lake Turkana National Park
Lake Turkana National Park is situated on the Ethiopia /Kenya border. Africa’s longest Rift Valley Lake. The Great Rift Valley is a symbolic relic of the massive upheavals in the earth’s crust some 10 million years ago which opened the world’s largest geological divide stretching over 3,500 miles from Danilil depression at Ethiopia’s northern Red Sea coast line to Mozambique. Turkana has the largest number of crocodiles in the world – more then 10,000. A number of pre-historic human fossils have been found here including the Australopithecus.