National Parks in Kenya

Kenya’s National Parks system is a beautiful mix of everything to ever desire in Africa- Mountains, savannah plains, wildlife, birds, and seclusion. While it is true that magical Kenya is an ultimate safari destination for unforgettable experiences, there is more to this stunning East African country than the Masai Mara Game Reserve that every traveler longs for. In no particular order, here are the best National Parks/Reserves in Kenya that ought to appear on your safari itinerary.

Masai Mara National Reserve

While Masai Mara is a National Reserve, it would be unfair to talk about Kenya’s top safari destinations and not mention it. At 580 square miles, it is the largest Reserve in the Narok region of Kenya and is contiguous with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Being one of the famous wildlife and wilderness areas, it is known for the wildebeest migration. Some of the wildlife species to look out for in this Protected Area are elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, Black and white Rhinos, Hippos, genets, Caracals, African civets, African wolves, African wild cats, honey badgers, Grant’s zebras, giant elands, wildebeests, mongoose and so much more. Here, you can undertake game drives, hot air balloon tours, bush walks, birding, village visits, and so much more.

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli is one of the most popular National Parks in Kenya and extends only 392 square kilometers. It is known for offering views of Mount Kilimanjaro in its background, in addition to offering the opportunity to get up close with free-ranging elephants. There are also blue wildebeests, Cape buffaloes, Masai giraffes, spotted hyenas, impalas, Grant’s zebras, lions, and cheetahs in this Park.

Lake Nakuru National Park

This National Park was gazetted in 1961 around the Lake Nakuru area and currently covers an area of 73 square miles. This Protected Area is popular for its numerous flamingos that wander around the shores of the Lake but is also home to the black and white Rhinos, Rothschild giraffes, cheetahs, Defassa waterbucks, and lots of birds, totaling over 350 species. Game drives, boat rides, and bush walks are some of the activities you can enjoy in this National Park.

Tsavo East and West National Parks

Tsavo West and East National Parks are found in the Coastal Province of Kenya but the former covers an area of 9065 square kilometers while the latter is over 13,747 square kilometers hence making it one of the largest National Parks in the country. Some of the wildlife species to expect in these Parks are Buffaloes, leopards, Black Rhinos, elephants, lions, yellow baboons, bushbucks, gerenuk, Masai giraffes, Kirk’s Dik-diks, Grant’s gazelles and so much more. Tsavo East boasts some of the most picturesque landscapes that include the Mudanda Rock, Lugard falls, Yatta Plateau, and so much more.

Hell’s Gate National Park

Situated in the southern end of Lake Naivasha and northwest of Nairobi is Hell’s Gate National Park established in 1984. This 26-square-mile Protected Area is known for its wide array of wildlife and breathtaking sceneries. Some of the wildlife species to sight in this stunning safari destination are leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, Klipspringers, African buffaloes, serval cats, zebras, elands, gazelles, hartebeests, mountain reedbucks, tree hyraxes and so much more. Activities to undertake here are game drives, cycling tours, nature walks, birding, and others.

Aberdare National Park

The spectacular Aberdare National Park is found on the Central side of Kenya and is on the Eastern border of the East African Rift Valley.  This Park was established in 1950 and covers an area of 296 square miles that also includes the Aberdare Mountain range peaks at 13,000 feet above sea level. Commonly-spotted wildlife species here are Sykes monkeys, side-stripped jackals, giant forest hogs, mountain reedbucks, African golden cats, buffaloes, Suni, the Eastern black Rhinos, common elands, duikers, Defassa waterbucks, and many others.

Mount Kenya National Park

Mount Kenya National Park was gazetted in 1949 to protect one of the country’s outstanding Mountains, its wildlife species, and its stunning natural surroundings. The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site is about 276 square miles with extraordinary wildlife species that include black and white colobus monkeys, Cape buffaloes, elephants, lions, and vervet monkeys among others.

Nairobi National Park

Gazetted in 1946, Nairobi National Park is only 7 kilometers from the Central Business District of Nairobi, Kenya’s Capital and covers an area of only 45 square miles. Three sides of this Protected Area are fenced while one side serves as a migrating corridor for animals moving between the adjacent Kitengela Plains. Being one of the most successful Rhino Sanctuaries, you can be able to track these big mammals while at the same time spot the towering giraffes, grant’s gazelles, black-backed jackals, Hippos, buffaloes, common ostriches, Thomson’s gazelles, spotted hyenas, common elands, blue wildebeests, to mention but a few.

Meru National Park

Meru National Park is another exciting safari destination in Kenya and extends for 340 square miles. It was gazetted in 1966 and offers shelter to the Grevy’s zebras, African bush elephants, Black Rhinos, lions, Hippos, leopards, southern white Rhinos, and cheetahs, but you will also love it for its breathtaking natural features that include the Adamson’s falls, views of Mount Kenya and River Tana among others.

Ruma National Park

Being the only terrestrial National Park in the Nyanza Province of Kenya, it attracts travelers interested in game viewing. This Park is the only place you will see indigenous populations of the Roan antelopes and was gazetted in 1983. This Park is only 46 square miles with significant populations of hyenas, Olive baboons, vervet monkeys, Cape buffaloes, Eastern black Rhinos, Honey badgers, leopards, Lelwel hartebeests, serval cats, and many others. There are also over 400 bird species in this National Park.

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