5 Best National Parks in Kenya
If you haven’t been to Africa, it’s about time you pulled out your world map and planned a trip. Birthplace of the human race, it’s home to extraordinarily welcoming people, impressive storybook animals, and an unforgettable sense of heritage and power.
And where better to kick off your African adventure than a safari holiday in Kenya? Considered home to some of the best – if not the best – safari parks in the world, Kenyan safaris offer some incredible adventures with the world’s most impressive animals.
And while many people head straight to the Masai Mara for its comprehensive range of big game, there’s much more to see if you head further afield.
Best time to go:
Late June to October. This is the dry season, plus the wildebeest migration generally reaches the Masai Mara in July and won’t move on until October, when they will return to the Serengeti, Tanzania. Check out below which parks you want to visit and plan accordingly.
What to pack:
Wear greens, khakis, sensible walking shoes, a warm jacket and a scarf. Long sleeves and pants are best, and avoid military camouflage and bright colours alike, including whites. And don’t forget to take your binoculars, camera, sunscreen and head torch.
Starts at AU$450 for a three-day safari in the Masai Mara National Park.
1. Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara is the most renowned safari park in Kenya. Famous for its great herds of plains’ game – including its exceptional population of Masai lions, African leopards and Tanzanian cheetahs – it’s also the best place to see the Great Migration: the annual movement of zebra, gazelle and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti in Tanzania. It contains many elephants and virtually every other type of wildlife found in Kenya. This park is also known for having the most approachable animals.
When to go: June to October.
How to get there: Local airlines offer a 40-minute flight from Nairobi, or your tour guide can organize a five-hour drive from the capital.
Cost: A three-day safari starts at AU$450.
2. Lake Nakuru National Park
Flamingoes. More than a million pink flamingoes flock on the shores of Lake Nakuru, along with white rhinos, warthogs, giraffes, zebra, hippos, ostriches and lions. Quintessentially African, Lake Nakuru National Park is only 170 kilometres north-west of Nairobi.
When to go: Year-round.
How to get there: The park is a three-hour drive from Nairobi.
Cost: A full-day tour starts from AU$235.
3. Amboseli National Park
The majestic Mount Kilimanjaro is a Kenyan safari must-see. She comes out from the mist in the early morning, while some of the largest tuskers you’ll ever see graze at her feet, and will spoil you with huge herds drinking water from surface springs. The park is home to as many as 370 species of birds and you can expect to see zebras, wildebeest, spotted hyenas, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, buffalo, warthogs, impalas, jackals and leopards.
When to go: June to October
How to get there: It’s a four-hour drive or a short flight from Nairobi.
Costs: A three-day tour starts from AU$849.
4. Tsavo National Parks
Together, Tsavo’s two national parks create the largest protected wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. More remote than Kenya’s other safari parks, the massive area offers vast landscapes to explore. The sight of elephants spraying the blue waters of the Galana River on themselves is one you’ll cherish for life. You can also spot the giraffe, cheetah, lion, serval cat, leopard, oryx, gazelle, buffalo, antelope, stripped hyena, impala and approximately 500 species of birds. Tsavo East is also home to two iconic trees, the baobab and the doum palm.
When to go: May to October
How to get there: Both parks are approximately 10 hours’ drive from Nairobi and are also accessible by charter flight.
Costs: A four-day East and West Tsavo tour starts from AU$1,275.
5. Samburu Game Reserve
The literal meaning of the word ‘safari’ is ‘journey’, and Samburu is the perfect place to start an adventure. With game drives offering hundreds of elephants, lions, buffalos and leopards, you will see Samburu’s own ‘Special Five’: the Beisa Oryx, Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, gerenuk and reticulated giraffe. You can also opt for a camel safari – an iconic African adventure you’ll never forget.
When to go: June to October
How to get there: Daily flights from Nairobi or a full-day drive.
Costs: A three-day safari starts from AU$959.
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