Top Ten National Parks and Reserves in Kenya
Kenya is the most popular safari destination in Africa. Its beautiful and unspoiled national parks and reserves provide a home to thousands of animals, even for the most critically endangered ones. With that being said, here is our list of the top 10 national parks and reserves in Kenya for all those wildlife lovers out there!
Masai Mara National Park
Masai Mara National Park, which is more commonly known as ‘The Maara’ is one of the greatest national parks in Kenya, located 5 hours away from Nairobi city. It is home to more than 100 mammals and 570 bird species. The Maara is visited by people from all over the world to see the ‘Big Five’ and the Great Migration. The Big Five which is otherwise known as lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos are frequently seen within the Masai Mara National Park. The Great Migration is when millions of wildebeest, antelopes, zebras, etc. migrate from Serengeti National Park to the Mara in search of water and food. This amazing sighting of animals occurs from July to September and therefore, it is the best time to visit this national park.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park, which is also known as the Royal Court of Kilimanjaro, is one of the most popular national parks in Kenya for elephant sightings. It is recommended to at least spend a day or two here as you can see incredible sunrise views over Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. You can easily reach here by a 3-hour drive from Nairobi city. Apart from the elephants, you can see predators like lions and leopards if you arrange your safari in the early morning. The best time to visit Amboseli National Park is from July to September.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Visiting Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the best things to do if you are a bird lover. Lake Nakuru National Park is located in the Southern Rift Valley region of Kenya, and a 20-minute ride from Nakuru town centre. There are more than 400 species of birds in here, but the most rewarding sight is that of pink flamingos, and believe it or not there are more than 2 million flamingos in here! You can also spot birds like Yellow-billed Pelicans, Fish Eagles and other animals like lions, leopards, rhinos, Rothschild giraffes, zebras, hyenas. The best time to visit is during the bird migratory season that falls from June to March.
Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Park is one of the oldest national parks in Kenya and it is not one of those must-stop safari destinations to fall into one’s itinerary. That reason alone makes it the perfect place to see Kenya’s wildlife is a more unspoiled way, away from the crowds and the sounds of other jeeps. It has two distinct parts; Tsavo West is popular for its lush green vegetation, rocky ecosystems while Tsavo East is popular for herds of red elephants; they are not red colored elephants but dust their bodies with red-oxide soil to make them look red. The best time to visit the Tsavo National Park is from June to October and January to February during the dry season.
Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya National Park is one of the natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kenya. It was originally established as a forest reserve to protect the flora and fauna of Mount Kenya. Mount Kenya is the second tallest mountain in Africa and it has glacial ecosystems, much to the surprise of its visitors and is also considered a holy site by Kenyan tribes. It is home to rare species of animals including the Mountain Bongos that are near extinct. In addition to that, you can see elephants, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes in here. There are about 150 bird species and it proudly holds the threatened Abbott’s Starling. The best time to visit the Mount Kenya National Park is in months December to March.
Aberdare National Park
Aberdare National Park protects the flora and fauna of the mountain range that exists by the same name in the Central Highlands of Kenya. Compared to the other parks in Kenya, the Aberdare National Park is small but it offers sightings of the Big Five and also of the rare black leopard and bongo antelope. It is also home to the second-largest herd of black rhinos in Kenya and if you are interested in seeing hundreds of these amazing creatures don’t forget to arrange a safari here. You can easily reach here from a 3-hour ride from Nairobi city and the best time to visit Aberdare National Park is from June to September.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park, which is also named as the wildlife capital of the world because of the proximity to a city, is located 8 km away from Nairobi’s city centre. It is impressive to see such an establishment among the city’s skyscrapers. Nairobi National Park was the was national park established in Kenya in 1946. Today, it provides a home to 100 mammals and more than 450 bird species. You can see lions, leopards, cheetahs, wildebeests, black rhinos, giraffes and zebras in here. The best time to visit is in the evening hours during months June to September.
Samburu National Park
Samburu National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Kenya and it is located in the Rift Valley Province, 6 hours away from the Nairobi city. It was named after the Samburu tribe that lived in an around the national park a long time. Samburu National Park has it’s own ‘Special Six’, that is Grevy’s zebra, the Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, the long-necked gerenuk, Guenther’s dik-dik and the beisa oryx. You can also see big cats like lions, cheetah and leopards. This is also home to more than 450 bird species and therefore is great for birdwatching expeditions. The best time to visit the national park is from December to March or July to October.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a private reserve, located in the town of Isiolo and you can reach by a 4-hour drive from Nairobi city. It provides a home to over 50 mammal species and 200 bird species. The main purpose of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is to protect its white and black rhino population along with the endangered Grevy’s zebras. The best time to visit is in the months June to October.
Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve
Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve is a different kind of safari experience for everyone because it is located in the waters of Southern Kenya. It has many islands and offers its visitors outstanding snorkeling experiences. This marine national park is home to over 250 species of fish, 200 turtles and about 70 dolphins! Therefore, you can see frequent sightings of dolphins, humpback whales, manta rays, angelfish, hawksbill turtle, parrotfish and puff fish. The best time to visit the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve is during the months October to January.