Kenya National Parks

Kenya National Parks

A main attraction to Kenya is to visit the National parks and Reserves. There are many and they are listed below. The list includes Government, local authority, private and community managed reserves. Some are very remote and not easily reached, others are very popular and busy and some world famous such as the Masai Mara which is an extension of the Serengetti Plains in Tanzania. The mountain national parks are listed in the Kenya mountains section of Kenya Eguide.

Kenya Tours, Tickets, Activities & Things To Do

Aberdares National Park
The Aberdares is northwest of Nyeri and about 100km from Nairobi. The Aberdares serves as Kenya’s main water catchment area. The eastern slopes are covered with forest and at the higher altitude changes to bamboo. Both the Ark and Treetops are in the Aberdares, Treetops gaining fame as the location where Queen Elizabeth became Queen during her stay in 1952. The Aberdares can be visited all year but during the rainy season the roads are difficult.

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park

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Amboseli National Park is at the foot of Kilimanjaro and 240 kms south-east of Nairobi .Amboseli borders Tanzania. Kilimanjaro forms a majestic backdrop. The best game drives are around the swamps and there is a good lookout on Observation Hill. Amboseli is a four hour drive from Nairobi. The nearest town is Namanga. Scheduled flights operate to Amboseli from both Nairobi and Mombassa. Accommodation is available both within the park and outside the park (Amboseli Lodge; Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge; Amboseli Sopa Lodge; Ol Kanjau; Ol Tukai Lodge; Porini Camp; Tortillis Camp). Good to visit after the long rains finish and before the short rains which means June to October.

Arabuko Sokoke National Park
A small pocket of tropical forest between Kilifi and Malindi on the coast.

Boni National Reserve
A reserve to protect the coastal vegetation north of Lamu and good for elephants.

Chyulu Hills National Park
South west of Nairobi and accessed from Mtito Andei an area of recent volcanic action. A few select camps operate: Campi ya Kanzi; Ol Donyo Wuas and Nyati Safari Camp.

Bisanadi National Reserve
Next to Meru National Park an extensive hot and dry reserve that is remote and rarely visited.

Dodori National Reserve
An area of woodland close to Lamu on the coast with a chance to see elephants, lion and leopard.

Hells Gate National Park
Hells Gate lies to the south of Lake Naivasha about 90 km from Nairobi and is small park with numerous animals. The main feature of the park is the high red- rock cliffs that from a wide gorge. In the hills overlooking the gorge are hot springs and steaming geysers which the reason for the name “Hell’s Gate” given to it by the German naturalist Dr Fischer. A good park to visit as part of a day trip that includes a stop at Lake Naivasha. The drive from Nairobi provides some good views of the rift Valley. It is possible to use the fast road one way and the old road now used for trucks in the other direction.

Laikipia lies in the northern part of Kenya and is a wild sparsely populated area with a number of large private ranches. The ranches manage the wildlife and have created their own private reserves under the umbrella of the Laikipia Wildlife forum. Laikipia has become a major wildlife conservation programme and breeding sanctuary for Rhinoceros. Laikipia hosts the highest diversity of large mammals in Kenya and the big five will be found. The area is vast, quiet and a contrast to the busier national parks with a number of luxury lodges to stay in.

Being privately managed there is more freedom for tourism operators to offer adventure based activities along with game viewing. The main entry towns are Nanyuki, Baringo, Eldoret or Isiolo but most guest fly direct into the ranches on private charters or on scheduled flights to Lewa Downs. Accommodation is available in Laikipia at the ranches and many luxurious lodges.

Kakamega Forest National Reserve
Kakamega is accessed via Kakamega which is reached from Kisumu. An equatorial forest with big trees and wet undergrowth provides a habitat for monkeys and bird life. Nighttime brings out the bats, frogs and forest squirrels. Kakamega has marked walking trails and local guides are available.

Kigio Wildlife Conservancy
A small conservation area located just off the main Naivasha to Nakuru road that is home to zebras, hippos, impalas and other animals. Day visitors are not allowed to enter and is only open to guests staying in the conservancy at one of the campsites or at Malewa River Lodge (050 2030312).

Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary
A community managed reserve just east of Amboseli and off the Amboseli to Tsavo West road. Accommodation is available. including camps operated by African Safari Club. Commercial flights to Amboseli do land close to the camps .

Kora National Park
A large remote wilderness next to Meru National park.

Malindi Marine National Park
The park lies between Chanoni Point and Leopard Point and protests the coral reefs that are easy to view.

Marsabit National park
An extinct volcano about 560 km from Nairobi. The mountain rises out of the desert with forests and lakes on the top. Lake Paradise, a volcanic crater attracts game and bird life.

Masai Mara National Reserve
This world famous game park is part of the Serengeti – Mara ecosystem in south western Kenya. On the expansive plains a full range of animals will be seen and makes for some of the easiest game visiting in Kenya. Crocodiles and hippos live in the Mara river. The most spectacular attraction is the migration of nearly 2 million wildebeest and zebra from July to early October and the busiest time in the park and the best.

The Mara is host to many lions and easily spotted in the grasslands. A visit to the Mara is likely to result in seeing the “Big Five”, the elephant, rhino,lion,buffalo and leopard.

Surrounding the park are Maasai villages many of which can be visited on tour programmes. The Maasai are likely to be seen close to the park boundary with large herds of cattle.

Lodges and camps are found all over the park and in the surrounding areas. The drive from Nairobi is three hours and nearest town is Narok. Flying is very easy with many regular flights to the lodges and camps in the Masai mara both within the reserve and out of the reserve.

The Masai Mara is held in trust by the local district council. A proportion of the fees paid as you enter the park go to the local Maasai communities.

Meru National Park
Meru national park is 85 km east of Meru. It is a low lying semi arid park and has a good road system which makes for easy game drives. Meru is a quieter park than the others. The Tana river is home to hippo crocodile and a variety of animals. This is one of the best Parks to see cheetah and lion. Elsa of “born free” was returned to the wild in Meru. Access to the park is from Meru town or by regular flight from Nairobi. The ecosystem is open plains with rocky outcrops and reverie forest. Accommodation in Meru is available at Leopard Rock Lodge and Elsa’s Lodge.

Mombassa Marine National Park
A small marine park 13 km from the city.

Mwea National Reserve
A small reserve 200 km south of Nairobi where the Tana and Thiba rivers meet. Accommodation at the Masinga Dam Lodge (020 341781).

Nairobi National Park
Just 8 kms south of Nairobi. Both migratory and resident animals are observed but no elephants. Near the main gate is the Animal Orphanage. The main point of entrance to the National Park is through Main Gate where there is animal orphanage and Safari Walk which offers visitors an educational boardwalk. The park covers 117 sq km and has recorded over 100 species of mammals and 400 species of birds.

Ol Doinyo Sabuk National Park
Close to Thika and about 60km from Nairobi, Ol Doinyo Sabuk National Park is a forested hill that rises to 2146 metre. Driving to the summit is possible and on clear days good views of Mt Kenya will be seen.

Rahole National Reserve
North west of Garissa, very remote, very wild hot dry bush country.

Ruma National Park
In the west of Kenya 190 km from Kisumu and 30 km from the shores of Lake Victoria a reserve created to protect the roan antelope.

Saiwa Swamp National Park
Just north of Kitale an area of grasslands and woodlands with antelope and giraffe.

Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserve
Samburu and Buffalo Springs are two reserves that are linked together and about 300 km north of Nairobi. It is the river Ewaso Nyiro that brings the wildlife to escape the arid landscapes. Unique to this arid landscape are gerenuk, Somali ostrich and the reticulated giraffe, and dik-dik. Crocodile are found on the banks of the Uaso Nyiro River. Elephant can be sighted, as well as leopard, lion, oryx and cheetah. The forest that line the river provide habitats for many birds including the local Palm Nut Vulture and Vinaceous Dove. Road access is from Isiolo or by scheduled flight from Nairobi. Samburu and Shaba have a number of lodges and camps (Samburu Intrepids; Elephant Watch Camp;Samburu Lodge; Samburu Serena Safari Lodge and more..)

Shaba National Reserve
Shaba is in the north of Kenya close to Samburu and is a dry arid landscape. Game viewing is harder than inmost parks but there are several species that are only found in the north. Shaba is where Joy Adamson who wrote Born free lived and was also the home for the reality show Survivor Africa. Access is by road from Isiolo which is about 6 hours drive from Nairobi.

Shimba Hills National Reserve
This reserve is 40km south of Mombassa and inland from Diani Beach. It consists of rolling hills and grasslands and was established to protect the Sable antelope. Good bird viewing and large concentration of Paleartic migrants. There is a good chance that you will see leopards and almost certainly elephants. Forest walks are organised by KWS starting at the Sheldrick Falls KWS office. Accommodation is available at Shimba Rainforest Lodge (040 4077).

Sibiloi National Park
Nearly 1000 km from Nairobi on the Eastern shore of lake Turkana makes this a very remote National Park.Good for crocodile viewing in the lake and site of remains of homo erectus estimated to be 3,000,000 years old makes this area the “Cradle of Mankind”.

Solio Game Reserve
A private reserve just north of Nyeri that has been successful at breeding the black rhino.

South Turkana National Reserve
This is a very remote reserve in the north of Kenya.

Taita Hills Game Reserve
A private game reserve off the Voi to Taveta road with accommodation available at the Salt Lick Safari Lodge (020 30270) or the Taita Hills Safari Lodge. Being privately owned night drives are allowed and a feature of this reserve as in other private game reserves in Kenya.

Tana River National Primate Reserve
Located 250km north of Mombassa on the Malindi to Garissa road, a forested area alongside the Tana river and a conservation area for the Red Colobus monkey and other monkeys.

Thomson’s Falls
A 70 metre high waterfall just outside the town of Nyahuru with good walks beneath he waterfalls.

Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo East National Park is large with11,747 sq kms and located in South-east Kenya, and 200 km inland from Mombassa. Only a small area is open to the public. Within Tsavo East, one of the largest lava flows in the world, the Yatta Plateau, is to be found. Another attraction is the River Athi which near the Manyani Gate forms the Lugard Falls. The main Mombassa – Nairobi highway splits the parks into the east and west Tsavo park. The main access town in Voi. Tsavo east has a number of lodges and camps (Crocodile Camp; Galdessa Camp; Kilalinda Lodge; Ngutuni Lodge, Satao Camp and more..)

Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park is a very large park of 9000 sq km and 200km form both Mombassa and Nairobi. A diversity of plants and animals and well maintained all weather roads makes it a popular park. The Mzima Springs attracts many animals and an underwater observatory to view hippos. Mtito Andei is the headquarters town for Tsavo West. Tsavo West is more visited that Tsavo East. Tsavo West has both camps and lodges (Finch-Hattons’s;Lion Rock Safari Camp; Voyager Safari Camp, Severin Safari Camp and more..)

Watamu Marine National Park
The park is 24 kms south of Malindi and 130km north of Mombassa. A main attraction are the tree caves at the entrance to Mida Creek. The rock pools at low tide are an easy way to view the marine life in the ocean. Snorkeling and glass bottom boats are available to view the coral reefs.

Private Game Parks
There are a number of private game parks around Mt Kenya with some excellent lodges and well protected wildlife.

Date posted: 6th November, 2018

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