Kenya Travel Guide UK

Group of grant Gazelles

Amboseli National Park

Area   - 392 sq km
Distance from Nairobi   - 250 km - 3 hours by road

Amboseli is a small and very attractive park. It lies at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m), Africa’s highest mountain, whose snow-capped peak dominates the park.

At sunrise and sunset, the mountain is clearly seen.

Lake Amboseli floods in the rainy season. During dry season, wildlife concentrates around the lake making Amboseli a very popular tourist destination. Another significant attraction in this park is its large herds of elephant. Observation Hill allows an over all view of the whole park. The Masai people live next to the park, which makes it possible to experience their way of life.

Wildlife in the park: hundreds of African elephant, African buffalo, cheetah, Masai giraffe, fringe-eared oryx, gerenuk, zebra, wildebeest, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, leopard, bat-eared fox, spotted and stripped hyena. Among the reptiles seen here are python, black mamba, cobra and tortoise.
Amboseli National Park is located in Loitoktok District, Rift Valley Province of Kenya. The ecosystem mainly savannah grassland spread across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The park is famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants among other wildlife species. Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet the Maasai and spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

Masai Mara Game Reserve

Area - 1510 sq km

Distance from Nairobi   - 310 km - 5 hours by road
Distance from Nakuru    - 365 km - 5.5 hours by road 

Masai Mara is the best, the most beautiful and the most visited wildlife reserve in Kenya. The Mara is popular for hosting all the big five and has the highest concentration of animals.

Masai Mara is the extension of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Green grass in the Mara lures up to one and a half million wildebeests and zebras from the dry plains of Serengeti in the phenomenal Great Wildebeest Migration. The Migration arrives in Mara in July and returns to Serengeti in October. 

From Masai Mara, you can make a visit to Masai Village where you will learn more on how a Masai family lives. Hot air balloon safari is an unforgettable experience which should not be missed in Mara visit. This is a one-hour early morning adventure over the reserve, which begins at dawn. You have excellent game viewing and photographic opportunities. On landing, a champagne breakfast is served.

Wildlife in the reserve: lion, cheetah, leopards, black and white rhino, hippo, African elephant, Cape buffalo, Masai giraffe, topi, gnu (wildebeest), Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, warthog, spotted and stripped hyena, common zebra, baboon, black-faced vervet monkey.

Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is a unique ecosystem by being the only protected area in the world close to a capital city. The park is located only 7 km from Nairobi city centre. The savannah ecosystem comprise of different vegetation types. Open grass plains with scattered acacia bush are predominant. The western side has a highland dry forest and a permanent river with a riverine forest.  To the south are the Athi-Kapiti Plains and Kitengela migration corridor which are important wildlife dispersal areas during the rain season. Man-made dams within the park have added a further habitat, favourable to certain species of birds and other aquatic biome.
Major wildlife attractions are the Black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, buffaloes, Giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, elands and diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded.  Other attractions include the Ivory burning site Monument, Nairobi Safari Walk, the Orphanage and the walking trails at hippo pools.

Mt. Kenya National Park

Mt. Kenya National Park is located to the east of the Great Rift Valley, about 175km North-East of Nairobi.  The ecosystem lies in Central and Eastern provinces of Kenya.  At 5,199m the mountain is the second highest peak in Africa. Mt. Kenya is an important water tower in the country. It provides water for about 50% of the country’s population and produces 70% of Kenya’s hydroelectric power. 

UNESCO inscribed Mount Kenya as a World Heritage Site.  Its described as one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Africa with its rugged glacier-clad summits, Afro-alpine moorlands and diverse forests that illustrate outstanding ecological processes. 

Lake Nakuru National Park

Area:  - 188 sq km
Distance from Nairobi   - 160 km - 2 hours by road.

Lake Nakuru National Park is one of the smallest parks and the most beautiful park in the country. Lake Nakuru, a shallow, alkaline lake, occupies a third of the park. The blue-green algae flourish in the alkaline water of the lake forming the primary food source for the flamingo. The park is best known for its one and half million of greater and lesser flamingos, which is a third of the entire world population. Four hundred other species of birds have been recorded here. During winter in Europe, birds migrate to this park.

Vegetation in the park is mainly acacia forest. On the eastern side of the park is the attractive euphorbia forest. Baboon cliffs on the western side of the park give a panoramic view of the whole park.Several mammals have been introduced in Lake Nakuru and have proved to be very successful. Rothschild’s giraffe introduced from Kitale have increased to 60, black rhino from Solio Game Ranch have increased to 50 and white rhinos have increased to 23. To protect rhino from poachers, Lake Nakuru became the first park to be enclosed with an electric fence. Lions have also been introduced to control ever increasing number of waterbucks.

Other animals seen in the park: large herds of African buffalo, thousands of Defessa waterbuck, common zebra, Thomson’s and Grant gazelles, reedbuck, bushbuck, lion, baboon, genet, cheetah, black and white colobus monkey, eland, bat-eared fox, leopard, hippo, spotted hyena, black-faced vervet monkey.

Samburu, Shaba and Bufallo Springs Game Reserves

Area  - 833 sq km (the 3 reserves combined)
Distance from Nairobi   - 340 km - 5 hours by road.

These three reserves lie adjacent to each other, and are located in the hot, arid northern region of Kenya. The three reserves are in the beautiful and still unspoilt country of the Samburu people. Proud, happy, friendly, they defy the modern world to go about their traditional business and still cherish the customs and colorful ceremonies of their ancestors. Ewaso Nyiro River goes through the three reserves. In fact this river forms the boundary between Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. Each reserve is run separately.
As the area is so arid, game is concentrated along the banks of the river, making game viewing particularly good.The reserves are within the land of Samburu cousins of the Masai and contain wildlife species rarely found elsewhere including Grevy’s zebra, and the long necked gerenuk.

Other wildlife in the reserves: lion, herds of elephant, reticulated giraffe, leopard vervet and blue monkey, and Beisa oryx. The leopards are a very frequent sight in Samburu.

Bird life: Marshal eagle, pygny falcon, blue-legged Somali ostrich, hornbill and Egyptian geese.

Aberdare National Park

Area  - 767 sq km
Distance from Nairobi           - 180 km - 2.5 hours by road.

The park is in the Central Highlands on the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley. Currently, a 380 electric fence is being erected to arrest human-wildlife conflict.

This park was named after Lord Aberdare, then the president of the Royal Geographical Society. In February 1952, Princess Elizabeth while staying at Treetops within this park became the Queen of England after the death of her father King George VI.

Aberdare is most famous for its lodges that specialize in nighttime game viewing – Treetops and The Ark.

Aberdare Ranges have two main peaks, Ol Donyo Lesatima (4001m) and Kinangop (3906m). The Aberdare Ranges form an important catchment area providing water to Tana and Athi Rivers and part of Central Rift and northern drainage basin. Aberdare forest is predominantly indigenous and there is concerted effort to replant the forest after many years of wanton destruction. Heavy rainfall occurs through most of the year with as much as 3000mm.

Wildlife in the park: Bongo, buffalo, black and white colobus monkey, African elephant, spotted hyena, impala, black-backed jackal, leopard, lion, black faced monkey, black rhino, suni.
The Aberdare National Park covers the higher areas of the Aberdare Mountain Range of central Kenya. The topography is diverse with deep ravines that cut through the forested eastern and western slopes. Animals easily observed in the park include; the Black Rhino, leopard, baboon, black and white Colobus monkey and sykes monkey. Rarer sightings include those of lions, the golden cat and the bongo- an elusive forest antelope that lives in the bamboo forest. Animals like the eland and spotted and melanistic serval cats can be found higher up in the moorlands.
Visitors can also indulge in picnics, trout fishing in the rivers and camping in the moorlands. Bird viewing is rewarding, with over 250 species of birds in the park, including the Jackson's Francolin, sparry hawk, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.


Tsavo National Park (East & West)

Area  - 21,000 sq km
Distance from Nairobi   - 280 km - 3.5 hours by road
Distance form Mombasa   - 300 km - 3.5 hours by road 

Nairobi-Mombasa Highway divides Tsavo into West and East. The parks contain over 60 animal species and 400 bird species. The Joint mass of Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Parks forms one of the largest National parks in the world and covers a massive 4% of Kenya’s total land area. Tsavo East the larger of the two, lies to the east of the Nairobi –Mombasa road, equidistant between Nairobi and Mombasa, and offers a vast and untapped arena of arid bush which is washed by azure and emerald meandering of Galana River. Guarded by the limitless lava reaches of Yatta plateau and patrolled by some of the largest elephant herds in Kenya

Tsavo West

Tsavo West National Park covers an area of 9000 sq km and is on the western side of Mombasa Highway. 

Tsavo West is popular for its natural attractions of Mzima Springs, Shetani Lava Flows, Chaimu Crater and Roaring Rocks. 

Mzima Springs is the main attraction in the park. It consists of two crystal-clear water pools: upper long pool inhabited by hippos and the lower broader pool mainly inhabited by crocodiles. Hippos in the upper pool can be viewed underwater through underground glass windows.  Subterranean rivers from Chyulu Hills and Mount Kilimanjaro feed Mzima Springs Molten lava that forms the Shetani Lava Flow was spewed from the earth about 200 years ago. Local people believe this to be the work of the Devil. Shetani is a Swahili word for Satan. They believe many of their people were buried alive by hot lava flow and their cries are heard at night. They appease these ghosts by offering them food.

Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary is another attraction, set up to offer safety to rhino threatened by poaching.  A visit to the sanctuary, which has 50 rhinos, assures one of seeing one.

Wildlife in the park: leopard, cheetah, buffalo, black rhino, spectacled elephant, Masai giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, lion, rocky hyrax, tree hyrax, lesser kudu, stripped hyena, side-stripped jackal, black faced monkey

Birds: 600 species recorded with some on migration from Europe and Middle East.
The park is located on south eastern Kenya, 240km from Nairobi along the western side of Mombasa-Nairobi highway. The savannah ecosystem comprises of open grasslands, scrublands, and Acacia woodlands, belts of riverine vegetation and rocky ridges.
Major wildlife attractions include elephant, rhino, Hippos, lions, cheetah, leopards, Buffalos, diverse plant and bird species including the threatened corncrake and near threatened Basra Reed Warbler.

Tsavo East

Tsavo East National Park covers an area of 12000 square kilometer and is on the eastern side of Mombasa Highway. It enjoys the popular legend of “The Man Eaters of Tsavo”.

Daphne Sheldrick’s elephant orphans nurtured at Nairobi National Park are released to the natural environment here.

Mudana Rock, one of the major attractions in this park, is a rock outcrop 1.5 kilometer long and has a dam at its base. Animals can easily be seen as they come to drink water at the dam. Other attractions are Aruba Dam built in 1952 on seasonal Voi River and Lugard’s Falls on the Galana River, named after explorer Captain Lugard.

Tough anti-poaching measures have been successful and the number of rhinos and elephants has started rising.

Wildlife in the park: lion, Grant’s gazelle, large-spotted genet, gerenuk, Masai giraffe, East Africa hedgehog, rock hyrax, impala, lesser kudu, leopard, vervet monkey, fringe-eared oryx, black rhino, spectacled elephant, Grevy’s zebra.

Chyulu Hills National Park

A magical land of black frozen lava studded with blazing red-hot poker trees: of shoals of extinct volcanoes wreathed in dense forest abs hung with Spanish moss, the Chyulu hills coil a sleeping dragon on the lion-gold plains of his treasure. The pink haloed peak of Mount Kilimanjaro rises to the west and all around stretch the mirage miles of Maasai land, dusty, dry and stalked by scarlet cloaked herders and dust plumed cattle.

The Park comprises the eastern flanks of Chyulu Hills including about half the forest area. The park boundary runs down the centre of the hills along the lines of the peaks. The remaining western portion of the hills is part of the west Chyulu Game Conservation Area and owned by several Maasai Group ranches

Tana River Primate Reserve

The primate reserve is located 350km east of Nairobi and 240km north of Mombasa in Tana River district of coast province. The ecosystem consists of riparian forests, dry woodlands and savannah habitats on the east and west of the lower Tana River. The reserve was established to protect the Tana riverine forest and the two endangered primates, Mangabey and the red colobus monkey. The two primate species are the major wildlife attraction in the reserve. 

The ecosystem is also a stronghold for birdlife with over 200 species recorded in the area.  These include the White-winged Apalis, African Open-bill Stork, Martial Eagle, Bat Hawk, African Pygmy-falcon, African Barred Owlet, Scaly Babbler, Black-bellied Glossy-starling, and the Golden Pipit.

Shimba Hills National Reserve

The national reserve lies approximately 33km south of Mombasa town, in Kwale district of coast province. The coastal ecosystem comprise of a heterogeneous habitat including forestlands, exotic plantations, scrublands and grasslands. The ecosystem holds one of the largest coastal forests in East Africa after Arabuko-Sokoke forest.
The reserve is rich in flora and fauna and hosts the highest density of African elephant in Kenya. Other animal species found in the area are Sable antelope, black and rufous elephant shrew, bushy tailed mongoose and other small mammals like fruit bat. The forest is an important bird area and is endowed with forest birdlife while the grasslands hold localized species such as red-necked-Spurfowl, Croaking Cisticola and Zanzibar Red Bishop.

Kakamega Forest National Reserve

The Kakamega Forest National Reserve is situated in the Lake Victoria basin, about 50km north of Kisumu city. Being the only remnant in Kenya of the unique Guineo-Congolian forest ecosystem, the park offers unique wildlife and scenic beauty. For bird and butterfly watchers, this is the place to visit.  The forest is home to over 400 species of butterflies, about 300 bird species and 27 species of snakes. The park also supports more than 350 species of trees and 7 primate species including the endangered DeBrazza monkey, black and white colobus monkey and vervet monkey. The Potto (the world's slowest mammal on earth), duikers and Dik diks are also found in Kakamega Forest National

Kisumu Impala Sanctuary

The Sanctuary, grassland and woodlands ecosystem is located about 3km from Kisumu city. The ecosystem hosts leopards, hyena, olive baboons and vervet monkeys. It also provides grazing lands for Hippos, habitat for numerous small mammals including the threatened Sitatunga, and supports a variety of reptiles and birds species.

Ndere Island National Park

Ndere Island, National park covers  an area of 4.2 km2 is an island just off the northern shore of Lake Victoria and was opened in November 1986. Ndere means "meeting place" in the language of the local Luo tribe. According to the Luo folklore, Kit Mikayi, mother of the tribe, rested up near Ndere after her long journey south down the Nile valley. She found the lush shorelines so pleasing that she and her people stayed.

Kora National Park

The Kora National Park was gazetted in 1973 as a reserve and gazetted as a park in 1990. It comprises of an area of a little over 1700 km2. This triangle of dense woodland and scrub is limited along its 65 km northern boundary by the Tana River, which rises in the highlands between Aberdares and Mount Kenya, before commencing its 700 km passage to the Indian Ocean. The western boundary follows a straight line from Tana River which a joint boundary with the adjacent Mwingi N. Reserve, while the eastern boundry runs along Mwitamyisi River.
The land surface slopes gently from an altitude of 490m in the south-west and about 270m in the north-east. Central areas comprise of an undulating peneplain through which Basement ridges protrude above the surface as rocky inselbergs the highest of which are Mansumbi 488 m, Kumbulanwa 450m and Kora Rock 442m. The park also has several seasonal rivers.

Ruma National Park

Ruma National Park is the only Terestial Park in the entire Nyanza Province. It was initially established as the Lambwe Valley Game Reserve in 1966 to protect its indigenous population of rare roan antelopes which exist nowhere else in Kenya. In 1983 it was gazetted as a National Park. Namely Ruma N. Park
It was renamed “Ruma” upon request of the local community. The area had been so named by one of Kenya’s most powerful wizard, the much feared Gor Mahia who lived around the park. The park is largely of black cotton soil with surrounding area settled with a mix of small scale cultivation and grassy pasture land.
The Park lies in Western Kenya close to the shores of Africa’s largest inland lake, Lake Victoria. It is situated in Lambwe Valley in South Nyanza, 140 km from Kisumu, 10 km east of Lake Victoria and South West of Homa Bay and 425 km west of Nairobi.
It lies on the flat floor of the Lambwe Valley, bordered by the kanyamwa escarpment to the south east, Gwassi Hills, Sumba hill and ruri hills to the north.
The Park covers an area of 120 square kilometers.

Marsabit National Park & Reserve

The Marsabit National park lies in northern Kenya, about 560km north of Nairobi in Marsabit district. The park comprises of densely forested mountain and three crater lakes that are the only permanent surface of water in the region and that provide habitat for a variety of birdlife. Major wildlife attractions include the African elephant, the endangered Grevy’s zebra, lion, leopard, buffalo, bushbuck, large herds of greater and lesser kudus, common zebra, grant's gazelles and many other small antelopes. The park is famous for its elephant named Ahmed that was provided with 24hr security surveillance by presidential decree in the 70's, to demonstrate Kenya's commitment to wildlife conservation.

Mt. Longonot National Park

The savannah ecosystem lies about 90km from Nairobi. The ecosystem mainly comprises of the mountain rising to 2,776m above sea level. On the sides of the mountain are V-shaped valleys and ridges with little vegetation; however a thick forest occurs within the crater.   Major wildlife attractions include buffaloes, elands, lion, leopard, Bushbucks, common zebra, giraffe, grant gazelles, Thomson gazelles and many other antelopes. Other attractions include the extinct volcano and the crater forest, views of Lake Naivasha and the Great Rift Valley.

Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park

The Ol Donyo Sabuk national park is located about 85km north-east of Nairobi in Machakos district of Eastern province. The ecosystem constitutes a mountain which is entirely covered with dense montane forest except for a small area at the top. 

Buffalo are the dominant animals in the ecosystem. Other wildlife include bushbuck, leopard, olive baboon, colobus monkey, vervet monkey, Sykes' monkey, Kirk's dik-dik, bush pig, common duiker, reedbuck, rock hyrax, bush-baby, tree and ground squirrel, aardvark,  porcupine, mongoose, python and monitor lizard. 

The park is home to 45 species of birds and the easily spotted ones include; white-browed sparrow weaver, grey- headed sparrow weaver, African pied wagtail, mourning dove, augur buzzard, African hawk eagle, purple-breasted sunbird, yellow-vented bulbul, speckled mousebird, helmeted guinea fowl, black-headed oriole, grey tit, ring-necked dove, bateleur, great sparrow- hawk, bronze sunbird, superb starling and Mackinnon grey shrike.

Mwea National Reserve

The Mwea National Reserve is located within Mbeere District, in Eastern Province, a distance of about 200km from Nairobi.  The savannah ecosystem comprises of small hills with bushy vegetation and scattered large trees. Other areas are open grasslands while along the main rivers, large trees with thick undergrowth are found. Trees mainly found within the ecosystem are the different Acacia species and baobab trees.  The ecosystem’s main features are the meeting point of rivers Tana and Thiba, Kaburu and Masinga hydro-electric dams, which harbour variety of biodiversity.
Major wildlife attractions include the  elephants, Rothschild giraffes, Common zebras, Lesser kudu, Buffalo, Water Buck, Bush buck, Impala, Vervet Monkeys, Aardvark, Yellow baboons, Grants gazelle, Dik dik, Cape hare, Warthog,  Black backed jackal, Duiker, Sykes monkeys, Genet cat, Slender mongoose, Stripped ground squirrel, Dwarf mongoose, Crested porcupine, Rock Hyrax, Tree Hyrax and tortoise. Hippos and crocodiles are also found in the dams and rivers. Different birds and reptile species have been recorded in the reserve.

Saiwa Swamp National Park

The park is located at 385km from Nairobi and 27 km from Kitale town in Trans-Nzoia District of Rift Valley Province. The park ecosystem comprises of forest and swamp vegetation. The swamp is dominated by tall bull-rushes and sedges and is bordered by open grasslands and riverine forests.
The park was established to protect the endangered Sitatunga, a semi-aquatic antelope. Other wildlife species commonly found in the swamp include the Otter, Genet cat, Serval cat, mongoose, bushbuck and monkeys.  The ecosystem is also rich in birdlife, harbouring about 372 species. 

Sibiloi National Park

The park lies on the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, about 800km from Nairobi. The semi desert ecosystem was established to protect wildlife and the unique prehistoric and archaeological sites some of which are linked to the origin of man.  

The park is waterless except for the alkaline waters of the lake; it however harbours variety of wildlife including common zebra, giraffe, hippos, crocodile and numerous bird species such as flamingos, pelicans and ducks.  Other attractions are the preserved wildlife fossils which include the Giant Tortoise and the 18-20 ft long Crocodile.

Watamu Marine National Reserve

Watamu National Park Is Part Of A Complex Of Marine And Tidal Habitats Along The Kenya’s North Coast.  It Is Enclosed By The Malindi Marine National Reserve Which Also Encloses Malindi Marine National Park. Habitats Include Intertidal Rock, Sand And Mud, Fringing Reefs And Coral Gardens, Coral Cliffs, Sandy Beaches And The Mida Creek Mangrove Forest. Marine Life Attractions Include Fish, Turtles, Dugongs And Crabs. The Mida Creek Forest Has A High Diversity Of Mangrove Species Including Ceriops Tagal, Rhizophora Mucronata, Bruguiera Gymnorrhiza, Avicennia Marina And Sonneratia Alba. These Provide Refuge To A Variety Of Both Resident And Migrant Bird Species.

Central Island National Park

The park is within Lake Turkana. Central Island is only 5 km2. Central Island has three scenic crater lakes i.e. Crocodile, Flamingo and Tilapia.
The climate is hot and dry.

Hells Gate National Park

Hell's Gate National Park lies to the south of Lake Naivasha in Kenya, North West of Nairobi.  The park which is mainly comprised of savannah ecosystem habours a wide variety of wildlife. Some of the frequently observed animal species include lions, leopards, and cheetahs. There are over 100 species of birds in the park, including vultures, Verreaux's Eagles, augur buzzard, and swifts. African buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest, Thomson's gazelle, and baboons are also common. The park is also home to klipspringer antelope and Chanler's mountain reedbuck.

Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park

The marine park is located on the south coast, 40km from Ukunda town in Msambeni District of coast province.  The ecosystem covers a marine area with four small islands surrounded by coral-reef. Kisite island is covered in low grass and herbs while Mpunguti Islands have dense coastal equatorial forest. Sea grasses Cymodocea serrulata and Syringodium isoetifolium cover a large area of the sub-littoral zone of the reef. Marine algae include Padina commersonii, Dictyota bartayresiana, Bostrychia binderi, Ulva lactuca, Dictyosphaora sp., Udotea indica, and Halimeda opuntia. Major attractions include the Dolphins, coral gardens and it is an important site for snorkelling, diving and bird watching. The beautiful sandy beach is good for  enviromental friendly recreational activities.
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