Kenya’s National Parks
Kenya is a world popular destination to many travelers coming to Africa. For anyone intending to visit Kenya, a visit to any of our National parks and reserves is a must. The country boasts of having national game parks and marine national parks all of whom are managed by the Kenya wildlife service. The Kenya wildlife service is a government funded and owned organization that is mandated with management of the various parks. Further, Kenya boasts of having several national reserves that are similarly managed by the Kenya wildlife service.
Highlight of various National parks within each region
The country is divided into eight major provinces that include:
3) Rift Valley
8) North Eastern
Each region boasts of a unique national park or reserve attraction each with a unique identity.
Nairobi is host to the world`s only national park that`s within a City. The park is approximately 15 minutes drive from the Jomokenyatta International airport. The Nairobi National park is a major attraction to many travelers that many not be in a position to transverse the beautiful landscapes of Kenya.
Close to the entrance, is the Nairobi orphanage that is home to the orphaned wildlife, the park is also used as an educational facility for most schools across the country over and above attracting tourists visiting Kenya. The park`s main attractions include wildlife that comprise of Lions, Buffalos, Rhinos, Leopards, hyenas, cheaters, and giraffes as well as zebras plus huge array of bird species that migrate from across the world.
Central Kenya Circuit
The region is renowned as the Mount Kenya region as is host to the famous mountain. Central region is close to the capital city with areas like Kiambu, Thika, Muranga, Nyeri, Nanyuki and Kirinyaga districts.
The region is host to the Aberadare National Park and Mount Kenya National park. Both parks are re-known for elephants among other wildlife. Mount Kenya is one of Kenya world heritage sites and in addition it is a water tower for Kenya. The region attracts a large number of tourists yearly a majority of whom are climber conquering Mount Kenya.
Rift Valley Circuit
Anyone traveling or even researching about Kenya will not miss out on Rift Valley`s diverse National parks. The region is rich in tourism attractions that include the most famous Kenyan attraction The Maasai Mara Game reserve. From the time one departs the capital city, travelers are spoilt for choices within this region.
The main attractions include:
a. Hells Gate National Park: – Located in Naivasha, the park is famous for hiking, camping as well rock climbing adventure. The park attracts lots of locals tourist mainly for picnics, biking and walking safaris.
b. Mount Longonot: – Host to Mount Longonot, the park is another attraction where light hikers and climbers can take up a hiking challenge. The park also has little wildlife and offers camping facility for those that would want to enjoy a night in the wild. Hikers can enjoy a view of Naivasha town at the top of the mountain. For more challenge, climbers can adventure by walking round the entire mountain rim.
c. Lake Nakuru National Park:- One of the most visited parks within the region, Lake Nakuru National park is host to Lake Nakuru re-known for the pink flamingoes. The park is a buzz with great wildlife that include, white and black rhinos, hippos, various bird species, the Columbus monkey, zebras, impalas, warthogs, buffaloes and not forgetting the Rothschild Giraffes. Right at the entrance of the park, travelers are ushered by grazing impalas and zebras. The park is a great attraction not only to foreign tourist but also the locals. Picnics can be held within the park at the baboon cliff that offers a lovely viewing point of Lake Nakuru as well as the lash grassland and lovely canopy of acacia trees.
d. Maasai Mara Game Reserve
Although this world famous destination is not managed by the Kenya wildlife service, one would not disentangle the reserve from the rift valley region. The reserve is well known for the wildebeest migration that takes place annually around August to October. Every year the reserve experiences an influx of visitors flocking the famous facility to experience the great migration.
The reserve spans through to Tanzania at the Serengeti. The facility is an all year round visit area. At the Maasai Mara travelers have extensive range of activities that include game drives, camping, walking safaris and in some occasions, culture interactions where visitors can get to learn about the Maasai culture.
e. Amboseli National Park
Located near the border of Tanzania, The Amboseli National Park christened the “Kilimajaro Royal Court” by the Kenya Wildlife Service who is the parks managers. The main attraction include the large elephants herds, a scenic view of Mount Kilimajaro, interaction with the local maasai community, and off-course all the other big five wildlife of Kenya can be found at this park.
The park is a great transit location to most tourists intending to visit both regions i.e. Kenya and Tanzania as it extends to the Tanzania side. Accommodation at the park includes various lodges, campsite that are private, public, self catering as well as Banda`s that are managed by the Kenya wildlife service.
The Coastal region is another highly visited location due to the white sandy beaches and the Indian Ocean`s coast line. The coastal region also boast of marine parks where travelers can enjoy watching dolphins, snorkeling, diving, sun bathing or just enjoying a sundowner around the various parks.
The diverse marine parks within the coastal region include: – The Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park located at the south coast, The Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve both of whom are located in Mombasa, Watamu Marine National Park and Malindi Marine Park.
Away from the beaches and Marine Parks are national parks that include the Tsavo East and West National parks in addition to Shimba Hill National Reserve.
a) Tsavo East & West National Parks: Believed to be home to the man eaters of Kenya, the Tsavo East and West national reserves have a large number of the cat family that include lions, leopards and cheaters. It is not a new thing, to frequent visitors here, and tour operators to experience a pride of lions lying right in the middle of the road. The parks also boast of large number of elephants.
b) Shimba hills National Reserve: Identified for the sable antelope, Shimba hills have the biggest elephant population. It is an ideal getaway from the white sandy beaches.
c) Kora National Park: Located in the Tana River district, Kora National Parks main activities include fishing at the Tana River, game drives, hiking among others. Visitors can also enjoy bird watching as the park has a diverse bird species.
Western and Nyanza Circuits
The Nyanza region is synonymous with Kisumu city home to Lake Victoria while the Western region hosts Kakamega forest. At the foot of Mount Elgon is Mt. Elgon National Park. The mountain is the second highest after Mt. Kenya. The park has vast forest, elephants plus other wildlife and caves that are a major attraction. While in the Western region a visit to the Kakamega Forest Reserve is a must for any traveler. The forest is distinctive in its beauty; it is the home to various birds species, butterflies along with snakes hence making it a great destination for bird and butterflies watching safaris.
Other parks within this region include:
Saiwa Swamp National park: Here visitors can enjoy walking around the park, a lovely viewing area as well as get to see the rare Sitatunga.
Rimoi National Park: Located within Kerio Valley, Rimoi National Park offers traveler an opportunity to learn about the culture of the communities living around this area. This includes Turkana, Luo, Kalenjin. Kerio is host to most Kenya athletics hence visitors can organize a visit to the different training camps within the region.
Ruma National Park: Located in Nyanza, the park is well known as the only park where the Roan antelope can be found. The parks other attractions include, Giraffes, baboons, monkeys, rhinos, leopards among other wildlife. Visitors can engage in camping, picnics and game drives. The park also has self catering accommodation.
Ndere Island National Park: The park is an ideal place to enjoy camping, walking safaris and learn the culture of the Luo community who live within the region.
Eastern and Northern Circuits
This circuit hosts Kenya remotest regions yet very exciting safaris that travelers may ever experience. The Eastern region comprises of Embu town, Meru region, Ukambani region that include Kitui, Machakos and their environs while the Northern Eastern regions comprises of Isiolo Marsabit plus the far northern regions of Wajir, Lodwar, Mandera and Garissa. These regions border Kenya with Ethiopia and Somalia from the North. Security in this region especially in the border towns is highly threatened by an influx of refugees coming to Kenya due to instability in their home countries.
Nonetheless, the region is a tourist destination with several National parks that include:
a) Meru National Park: This park is located in Meru, Eastern province. Meru National park is a treat to tourist within the eastern circuit. The park has the biggest population of buffalos and has several rivers that transverse through the park to pour into the Tana River.
b) Marsabit National Park and Reserve: As the name dictates, the park is located in Marsabit District. The park is a major attraction as its home to the African Elephant along immeasurable bird life and wildlife.
c) Malka Mari National Park: – Located along the border of Kenya and Ethiopia, at the far end of Kenya in Mandera town.
d) Sibiloi National Park: Located in the north region at Lake Turkana. Sibilio National Park has been branded “The Cradle of Mankind” by the Kenya wildlife service. The park is highly visited by researchers and archeologist apart from tourist. The climate within this region is very hot hence travelers are advised to ensure that they have plenty of water.
Finally a majority of Kenya`s National Parks can be visited all year round.