Kenya Travel: Best National Parks, Reserves, and Safaris

Written by Collins Obara |
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Incredible wildlife in their natural habitat and beautiful landscapes are but a few of the top attractions in Kenya's best national parks, reserves, and safaris. In this country on the east coast of Africa and the tropical Indian Ocean, there are countless things to experience; from going on a safari, to exploring the capital city of Nairobi, to hanging out on Lake Victoria, to visiting one of the many national parks in the country. How many national parks are there in Kenya? There are 54 national parks in this exciting and beautiful country. This article will detail some of the best nature-oriented things to do in Kenya.

Wild Safari on Maasai Mara

Maasai Mara is known as a wildlife-filled savanna habitat located next to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.  On a Safari, you will have the opportunity to see a fantastic variety of animals. Some of the animals you will find during your safari include elephants at the waterholes, giraffes walking the plains, rhinos standing their grounds, crocodiles and hippos in waterways, lions resting in the shade, and hyenas scouting for food.  The above-listed animals are joined once a year by millions of wildebeest which are accompanied by antelopes and zebras crossing from the dry grass in Tanzania to Maasai Mara's lush green savanna.

Hot Air Balloon Ride over the Mara

During a visit to Kenya, you can opt to enjoy hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara to help you experience a different perspective of wildlife; from an aerial view. The hot air balloon flight at the Mara will last for around 60 minutes, and the balloon will always drift where the wind is taking you. In case you love taking photographs, you will have several opportunities for filming and taking photographs at unique angles.  As a tradition, when ending your flight, you will enjoy a champagne breakfast that will be cooked where you land and before being driven back to your Mara Camp.

Amboseli National Park

Located in Rift Valley, Amboseli National Park is the second most popular area after Maasai Mara National Reserve. Amboseli National Park is one of the best places to watch wild elephants.

Located across the Kenya-Tanzania border, Amboseli National Park covers 39,206 hectares of land. Apart from the wild African elephants, one will always have an opportunity to see wild dogs, impalas, buffaloes, kudus, wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, cheetahs, and lions. This park is also home to over 400 different species of birds including pelicans, raptors, and kingfishers.

Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park

These two parks form the largest national park in Kenya. Tsavo East National Park is the oldest in the country. Named after the Tsavo River that flows through the protected area, this park is split into two by a railway line linking Nairobi with Mombasa. This railway provides train travelers with fantastic views and incredible opportunities for seeing different wild animals.

Although the main attraction in the park is wildlife, one will get a chance to see many attractions such as the famous Tsavo lions, Yatta Plateau, and the Lugard Falls.

Take a Tour to Lake Victoria

The world’s largest tropical lake and the jewel of the Great Rift Valley region, Lake Victoria, feed the world’s longest and most ancient river; the Nile. Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya share this lake with Kenya receiving the smallest share. The area around the lake is home to different bird species, and it contains over 200 different fish species.

Lake Victoria is considered a perfect place for relaxation as it consists of great islands where one can enjoy tours around the lake.

Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru is considered among the most popular lakes in the Great Rift Valley. Here you can take a tour to the Lake from Loldia House which is just a two-hour drive from Nairobi. Its proximity from Nairobi makes to be easily accessible and a great place to start your Kenyan Safari.  This lake, together with Nakuru National Park, is known to be a fantastic place for any tourist to watch the abundant flamingoes, rhinos, and the magnificent scenery. Despite being Kenya’s smallest parks, most visitors consider it to be among the most attractive places to visit in Kenya.

Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is the main tourist attraction in Nairobi. Known as the only national park within a city boundary. When one is at the edge of Nairobi city, they can easily see giraffes at a distance. The buildings in the city back the national park's wide open grasslands and one can see a wide variety of wildlife such as hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes, cheetah, lions and different types of birds.

Despite being a small park measuring 117 square kilometers, the Nairobi National park was Kenya’s first-ever national park.

Lake Bogoria

Lake Bogoria is a very scenic and attractive place to visit. It is a salt lake located in the volcanic region of Kenya in the Southern part of Rift Valley.  The lake's water attracts flamingos which create an incredible visual image.  You can come across one of world’s largest population of lesser flamingos at Lake Bogoria which will enhance your trip.

This lake is a bit shallow and is famous for its hot springs and the geysers due to its proximity to the volcanic area.

Mount Kenya

The mountain named after the country is the highest mountain in Kenya and second largest in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro.  It is 150 kilometers from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.

Up to 10,000 people visit the mountain every year to enjoy the environment. The number of climbers to Mount Kenya has been on the increase since Mount Kilimanjaro is increasingly becoming crowded.  Tour to Mount Kenya will help you avoid the crowd experienced at Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mombasa and Mombasa Island

Mombasa Island is located along Kenya’s coast east from Nairobi through to the Tsavo National park. Mombasa City is the second largest in Kenya after Nairobi.  While in Mombasa, you will have access to Kenya’s coastal areas and great beaches.  Mombasa's world-famous coastline is full of palm trees dotted with comfortable accommodations. It offers a great place for any person to relax after enjoying the Kenya Safari.   During your visit to Mombasa Island, you will get to enjoy great scenery, beautiful beaches, historical attractions, and diverse coral reefs.

Mombasa is one of the oldest towns in East Africa and makes a great place to get to understand the continent's history. Although there are not many tourist attractions in Mombasa, visitors will not get bored visiting Fort Jesus and the Old Town.

Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves

Located north of Mount Kenya, all the three natural reserves of Shaba, Samburu and Buffalo Springs all border each other.  Made up of woodland and grassland, they are home to most African icons such as bush elephants, zebra, buffalo, leopards, hyena, cheetah, oryx, giraffe, Masaai lions, and leopards. The rivers in these reserves are home to crocodiles and hippos. There are over 400 different bird species in these reserves and a great place for any birder. There are also ostriches found in these reserves.

Shaba reserve is good for fantastic scenery that surrounds Shaba Hill Volcano and consists of woodlands and grasslands. Zebras visit the waterholes in Shaba on a frequent basis. Shaba is greener than Samburu, and there are not so many Grant Zebras or giraffes. You will also encounter kudu, oryx, warthogs, gazelles and larger prides of Mmasaai lions in this reserve.

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