Kenya National Parks and Reserves

The Kenya national parks are the places where the safaris take place - and Kenya has some of the finest safari parks in the whole world. A safari is an integral part of the Kenya experience that you don't want to miss!

However, choosing one of the many Kenya national parks and reserves isn't easy, as they are widely regarded as being among Africa’s best, with stunning beautiful scenery and an amazing diversity of wild animals.

The difference between National Parks and Reserves, by the way, is that the former are managed by the national Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) while the latter are managed by local councils and tribes. But unless stated otherwise, everything on this page refers to both of them.
A park for each taste

There are considerable difference between the individual Kenya national parks and reserves. If you have little time, then Nairobi National Park is a good option. Within 30 minutes from Nairobi city centre, you’ll be in the middle of Kenya’s wild nature with a surprising variety of wildlife.

According to many, Masai Mara National Reserve is the most spectacular and you’ll have a big chance there to encounter all of the ‘Big Five’ animals (rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards and buffaloes). Lions, which are probably the hardest of these to spot, are almost common in Masai Mara and the famous Wildebeest Migration takes place here every year. But, together with Amboseli National Park it also draws literally herds of tourists, also because they are relatively close to Nairobi. Especially in the high season (January-February) small traffic jams of white Nissan minibuses gather around each group of lions… Saiwa Swamp National Park draws little to no tourists, but it’s small and only accessible by foot. Aberdare and Mount Elgon national parks also draw few tourists, despite magnificent landscapes and good opportunities for wildlife viewing.

If you are into elephants, then you want to go to Amboseli or Tsavo East. Lake Nakuru National Park is known for it’s enormous herds of pink flamingos and waterbucks. Take into account that nice scenery (forests, rugged terrain) often means less animal spotting, as they hide in the bush. This is the case, for example, in Aberdare and Meru National Park. Parks with many open planes, such as Tsavo East or Masai Mara, give the best opportunities for wildlife viewing though the landscape can become boring after days of game driving.

Great for walking and trekking are Aberdare and Mount Elgon National Park , home of the country's second biggest mountain. The area around the country’s biggest mountain, Mount Kenya has a park named after it too and some peaks of Mount Kenya can also be reached by regular hikers without technical climbing skills. Bird watching can be done best in Samburu, Lake Nakuru or Mount Elgon National Park. Some Kenya national parks also have their own airstrips, suitable for small airplanes. If you can afford a plane ticket, you can skip the long drives between the parks.

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