If you are planning an adventure in Kenya, the best way to experience this magical country is by visiting its rich National Parks and Reserves. For wildlife lovers, the 10 Best National Parks in Kenya are not an option but a must-visit for a classical wildlife viewing experience. Kenya is a safari insider boasting over 20 different National Parks and Game reserves. The most popular of all is the Masai Mara National Reserve which host the annual wildebeest migration and also home to the African Big Five animals. The 10 Best National Parks in Kenya are the best places to visit for wildlife viewing safaris in Kenya. Here is all you need to know about Kenya’s 10 Best National Parks in Kenya.
Masai Mara National Reserve is a world-renowned wildlife reserve situated in southwestern Kenya, along the border with Tanzania. The National Reserve is renowned for its diverse wildlife species, the annual wildebeest migrations, and the African Big Five Animals. The Mara covers approximately 1,510 square kilometers (583 square miles) and is part of the larger Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Masai Mara is one of the best places to visit in Kenya for Safaris especially for wildlife viewing safaris. Masai Mara Tops the list of the 10 Best National Parks in Kenya to Visit in 2024.
The annual wildebeest migration, which is also the second largest terrestrial mammal migration to occur on earth is one of the main attractions of Masai Mara National Reserve. Annually, millions of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in search of grass and water after a long round trek of drier lands in Tanzania. This spectacular event usually takes place every year and the best time to witness this natural phenomenon in Kenya is between July and October.
Besides the annual migration, Masai Mara is known for its diverse wildlife. It is home to the Big Five (elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, and rhinos) along with various other species including cheetahs, giraffes, hyenas, zebras, antelopes, and hippos. The reserve also boasts over 450 bird species, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers. Masai Mara National Park is one of the best national Parks in Africa to visit in 2024.
While in Masai Mara, one of the should n’t-miss spots is the Mara Triangle. The Mara Triangle is located along the Mara River, this area offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. It is known for its large lion prides, large concentration of mammal grazers, and crocodile-infested river (Mara River) that usually possess a great threat to migrating mammals. The Mara Triangle also offers stunning scenery of the Mara Landscapes.
The other place to visit within the mara is the Musiara Swamp. This marshy area provides essential water and grazing resources for wildlife, attracting large concentrations of animals, including elephants and buffalos. It is a great place for birdwatching as well.
Other places to visit in Masai Mara include the Talek River, Oloololo escarpment, and the Olare Motorogi Conservancy
Where to stay in Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve has various accommodations ranging from tented camps to luxury lodges, providing visitors with a choice of accommodation options to suit their preferences and budgets. Some of the top lodges in Masai Mara include the Naibor Camp, Governors’ Camp, Mara Plains, Naboisho Camp, and Ol Seki Hemingways Mara.
Amboseli National Park is a stunning wildlife reserve situated in southern Kenya, close to the Tanzania border. The National Park sits at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, providing a beautiful backdrop to the game reserve. The park covers an area of approximately 392 square kilometers (151 square miles) and is home to a diverse range of wildlife.
Amboseli National Park is known for its large herds of elephants, often seen walking majestically across the open plains. The park is also home to other members of the Big Five, including lions, leopards, buffalos, and rhinos. Other wildlife that can be spotted within the park include zebras, giraffes, hyenas, wildebeests, and various antelope species. If you are looking for the best Kenya National Parks, Amboseli National Park should surely make it to your list.
Amboseli National Park is also a popular destination for birdwatchers, with over 400 species of birds recorded in the park. Some notable bird species in the park include the African fish eagle, flamingos, Egyptian geese, and African spoonbills.
Tsavo National Parks are two neighboring wildlife reserves in Kenya: Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park. These parks together form one of the largest protected areas in Africa, covering a vast area of around 22,681 square kilometers (8,737 square miles). The Tsavo National Parks are located in the southeastern part of Kenya, bordering Tanzania. These two National Parks offer excellent game viewing experiences in Kenya and are surely among the Best places to visit in Kenya and are on the list of the 10 Best National Parks in Kenya.
The Tsavo East National Park is the larger of the two parks and is known for its expansive savannahs, open plains, and the iconic Galana River. Some of the park’s top attractions include the Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow, as well as the Lugard Falls, a series of rapids formed by the Galana River. The park is renowned for its diverse wildlife, including large herds of elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, buffalos, and various antelope species. The park is also rich in predators as you will see cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas during your Kenya Game viewing drives through the park.
Tsavo West National Park is characterized by its volcanic landscapes, rugged hills, and diverse ecosystems. The park features the scenic Mzima Springs, a series of clear pools fed by underground streams that provide a home for hippos, crocodiles, and a rich diversity of birdlife. Another popular attraction in Tsavo West is the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, a protected area dedicated to the conservation of the endangered black rhino. You can also explore the Shetani Lava Flow, a black lava plain, and marvel at the magnificent views from the park’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.
Both Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks offer a plethora of opportunities for wildlife safari experiences, including game drives, guided walks, and birdwatching. There are various accommodation types within the parks ranging from luxurious lodges to basic campsites from where you can choose to stay during your safari.
Aberdare National Park is located in the central highlands of Kenya. The park covers an area of approximately 766 square kilometers (296 square miles), and its altitude ranges from 1,830 meters (6,000 feet) to 4,300 meters (14,100 feet). Aberdare National Park is situated about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of Nairobi and is accessible via Nyeri town or through the Naivasha-Nyahururu road.
Aberdare is a unique park with a diverse landscape that ranges from moorland to bamboo forests, rainforests, and alpine meadows. It is home to several wildlife species, including elephants, buffalos, hyenas, leopards, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, and various species of antelopes. Some of the best safari activities to do while in Aberdare include; game drives, guided walks, and birdwatching tours. If you are looking for the best places to visit in Kenya, Aberdare is surely one of them.
This National Park is renowned for its flocks of flamingoes that flood the shores of the Lake. This Park is located in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. It is situated near the town of Nakuru, about 160 kilometers (99 miles) northwest of Nairobi. The park covers an area of approximately 188 square kilometers (73 square miles), with its centerpiece being Lake Nakuru, a soda lake known for its rich concentration of flamingos and other bird species.
Although most safari goers here are interested in birding especially viewing the large flocks of flamingos, Lake Nakuru is also a superb destination for big game viewing. The Flamingos create a stunning spectacle when they gather in large flocks, often numbering in the thousands. Apart from flamingos, the park is also home to over 450 other bird species, making it a haven for birdwatchers. Some of the notable species that you will spot on top of the flamingos include; pelicans, cormorants, marabou storks, and hundreds of other waterbirds.
Lake Nakuru National Park is home to various animals, including rhinos, lions, leopards, buffalos, zebras, giraffes, and several antelope species. The park has been successful in rhino conservation efforts, boasting both black and white rhinos. Game drives in the park provide excellent opportunities to spot these animals in their natural habitat.
Lake Nakuru National Park also offers picturesque landscapes, with the lake’s shimmering waters surrounded by acacia woodlands and patches of savannah. The park has captivating viewpoints that provide stunning panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings. You can enjoy guided walks or game drives to explore the diverse ecosystems within the park, including the rocky cliffs and lush forests. If you are looking for a 10/10 safari park to visit in Kenya in 2024, Lake Nakuru National Park should surely be on your list. Lake Nakuru is one of Kenya’s top National Parks.
Mount Kenya National Park is located in central Kenya and covers an area of 715 square kilometers. It surrounds Mount Kenya, the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, standing at 5,199 meters above sea level. The park is located approximately 150 kilometers northeast of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. It is situated in the eastern branch of the East African Rift Valley.
Mount Kenya National Park is a haven for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. The park is known for its breathtaking alpine landscapes, pristine forests, and diverse flora and fauna. Within the park, there are different ecological zones, ranging from the lower slopes covered with dense forest to the bare rock and ice caps at the mountain’s summit.
The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, various antelope species, and several primate species such as black and white colobus monkeys. There are also over 130 bird species found in the park, making it a paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts.
One of the main attractions of the park is, of course, Mount Kenya itself. The mountain offers climbing and hiking adventures in Kenya with several climbing routes. Some of the most popular routes are the Sirimon and Chogoria routes. The stunning scenery, challenging terrains, and the chance to reach the magnificent peak attract many adventurous visitors to the park.
Hell’s Gate National Park is a unique and breathtaking park located in Kenya, approximately 90 kilometers northwest of Nairobi. It lies south of Lake Naivasha and covers an area of about 68.25 square kilometers.
One of the most striking features of Hell’s Gate National Park is its dramatic landscape, characterized by towering cliffs, deep gorges, and volcanic formations. It is the only national park in Kenya where visitors are allowed to explore on foot or by bicycle. This allows for a more intimate and immersive experience with the park’s natural wonders.
The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including herbivores like zebras, giraffes, buffalos, and antelopes. It is also a sanctuary for various bird species, making it a paradise for ornithologists and bird watchers. Additionally, Hell’s Gate is famous for its population of African cheetahs and rare lammergeyers, which are scavenging vultures.
One of the major attractions within Hell’s Gate National Park is the Olkaria Geothermal Station, which harnesses the area’s geothermal energy. Visitors can take a guided tour to learn about renewable energy sources and witness the impressive power generation process.
Another popular attraction is the Fischer’s Tower, a volcanic plug that stands tall within the park. It offers a thrilling challenge for rock climbers and rewards them with stunning views from the summit. For those seeking adventure, Hell’s Gate National Park provides opportunities for activities such as hiking, walking safaris, camping, and natural spa experiences at the Hell’s Gate Gorge.
Nairobi National Park is a prominent wildlife attraction located in the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi. Despite being situated just outside the bustling urban area, the park covers an expansive area of approximately 117 square kilometers (45 square miles), making it one of the largest national parks in the world located within a capital city. The park’s close proximity to Nairobi makes it easily accessible for both locals and tourists seeking an authentic wildlife experience. Its strategic location offers a unique blend of wildlife encounters against the backdrop of a city skyline, giving visitors a truly exceptional experience. Moreover, the park’s establishment in 1946 makes it one of the oldest national parks in Kenya.
Nairobi National Park is known for its diverse range of habitats, which support a wide variety of wildlife. From vast grassy plains to dense forests, the park offers a home to over 100 mammal species including iconic African animals such as lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinoceros, and giraffes. Additionally, the park boasts more than 400 species of birds, making it a paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts.
Samburu National Reserve is located in the northeastern region of Kenya. It covers an area of 165 square kilometers and is situated along the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The reserve is named after the Samburu people, a local ethnic group that inhabits the area. Samburu National Reserve is part of a larger ecosystem that includes the neighboring Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves. Together, they form a diverse and unique landscape that is known for its rugged terrains, acacia woodlands, and open grasslands interspersed with rocky outcrops.
The reserve is located approximately 350 kilometers from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, making it relatively accessible for tourists. It lies within the Rift Valley Province, specifically in Samburu County.
Samburu is home to a variety of species, including several rare and endemic ones. Visitors have the opportunity to spot the “Samburu Five,” which consists of the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk (a long-necked antelope), and Beisa oryx. These species are unique to the region and are not commonly found in other parts of Kenya.
Other notable wildlife that can be encountered in the reserve includes elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, buffaloes, and hippos. The Ewaso Ng’iro River also attracts a rich birdlife, and birdwatchers can spot over 350 recorded bird species in the area.
Shimba Hills National Reserve is located in the coastal region of southeastern Kenya. It covers approximately 300 square kilometers and is about 33 kilometers south of Mombasa, a popular coastal city in Kenya. The reserve is part of the larger Shimba Hills ecosystem, which includes the nearby Shimba Hills National Reserve and the Kwale Forest Reserve. The entire ecosystem constitutes an important biodiversity hotspot, with the reserve being a key component in preserving and protecting the region’s unique flora and fauna.
This reserve is characterized by its lush green landscapes, rolling hills, and dense forests. The reserve is known for its rich biodiversity, with over 700 plant species recorded. It is also home to several endangered species, including the Sable Antelope, which is only found within the reserve.