Kenya National Parks & Game Reserves
The Aberdares National Park was created in 1950 to protect the forested slopes and moors of the Aberdare Mountains. While the park has elephant, lion, rhino, black leopard and the beautiful but elusive bongo antelope, it is rarely visited by safari companies and individual travellers. There are a number of reasons for this, one is that the high rainfall turns the roads to mudslides and you need a 4×4 to get anywhere, and as a result the park often closes in the wet season. Added to this is the dense forest, which makes game viewing tricky. Lastly, other than campsites with minimal facilities, the only accommodation is at two tree lodges.
Amboseli National Park lies immediately north-west of Mount Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. The park covers 392 square km, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 square km Amboseli ecosystem. Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season, making Amboseli a popular safari reserve.
Lake Nakuru National Park was first gazette as a bird sanctuary in 1960 and upgraded to National Park status in 1968. The lake was designated as a Ramsar site in 1990. The foundation of the park’s food chains is the cyanophyte spirulina plantensis which can support huge numbers of lesser flamingo. During peak season over one million flamingos congregate on the lake plus half a million pelicans. The park also contains Kenya’s largest population of rhinos.
Masai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s finest wildlife reserve. Everything about this reserve is outstanding. The wildlife is abundant and the gentle rolling grasslands ensure that animals are never out of sight. Birds, too, are prolific. Including migrants, well over 450 species have been recorded, among them, 57 species of birds of prey. The climate is gentle, rarely too hot and well-spread rainfall year round. Rain, when it falls almost always chooses the late afternoon or night. Between July and October, when the great wildebeest migration is in the Masai Mara National Reserve, the sensation is unparalleled.
Mount Kenya National Park was created around Africa’s second highest mountain. It is a favourite with trekkers and serious mountain climbers. The Forest and lower slopes abound with elephant, Cape Buffalo and fantastic bird life, as well as Giant Forest Hog.
Nairobi National Park was established in 1946, and is world famous for being the only National Park to be found within a capital city in the whole world. Being a mere 8 miles from the citys centre, the parks vegetation is primarily savannah and plains and has areas of highland forest, acacia and riverine environments.
It hosts over 100 animal species such as the rhino, lions, cheetahs (with an exception of the elephant) and an amazing 500 plus bird species including the helmeted guinea fowl, francolins, kori, white and black-bellied bustards, quelea turacos, mousebirds and ostriches among others. The park also hosts game birds and birds of prey .
Samburu National Reserve is one of the lesser-known national parks, but is nevertheless teeming with life. Situated alongside the Ewaso Nyiro River, there is plenty to attract wildlife from the surrounding savannah plains. The reserves within the ecological zone V – which is classified as arid and semi arid with a moisture index of 42 to 57, which indicates that evapo-transpiration is greater than available moisture.
The scenic Shimba Hills National Reserve was established in 1968 and is located in the Kwale region of Coast Province. The park features coastal bushland, riverine forests and grasslands and its main attraction is the sable antelope,which can only be seen here in the whole of Kenya.
Tsavo East National Park is huge. Over 11,747 square kilometers of bushy grasslands, open plains, and semi-arid acacia scrub make up Kenya’s oldest and largest Game Park. Tsavo is credited with one of the world’s leading biodiversity strongholds. From red brown rivers surrounded by green grass and doum palms, to the endless plains covered in red dust, with a single surviving acacia tree, the scenery is constantly changing.
Tsavo West National Park is a 9,000 sq km game park in southern Kenya, located about 200 km south-east of Nairobi. Separated only by the Mombasa/Nairobi road from Tsavo East, Tsavo West is part of the entire Tsavo eco-system. Famous for the Mzima Springs, with its unique underwater hippo observatory, and for the Shetani lava flows and Chaimu volcanic crater, the park offers plenty of opportunity to explore on foot. In addition the park has recorded over 600 species of birds.