Kenya is renowned for its beautiful, vast expanses of wilderness and abundance of wildlife Below is 5 of the most highly recommended parks that feature the best wildlife viewing opportunities.
Top 5 Wildlife Destinations in Kenya
The Maasai Mara is one of the finest wildlife destinations in the world, offering spectacular scenery and superb wildlife viewing.
Mara, in the Maa language, means spotted, or dotted across the landscape. Located at the northern region of the Serengeti Ecosystem, the land is characterized by endless plains, expansive grasslands, and iconic lone acacia trees dotted across the savannah.
The premier reserve supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife, particularly the large cat predators such as the lion, cheetah and leopard and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities. There is an excellent chance of seeing elephant, buffalo, rhino, zebra, giraffe and other mammals and herbivores, as well a diverse range of birdlife, including large birds of prey that soar in the skies.
The Maasai Mara hosts one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles: the annual great migration of over 2 million animals with incredible and dramatic river crossings of wildebeest at the Mara River.
Located in Maasai land, in the scenic Great Rift Valley. This world-class reserve is rich with breathtaking scenery and beautiful panoramas, and has been made famous by many BBC and National Geographic documentaries, which also makes this park one of the top destinations in the world for wildlife viewing and photography.
One of the best places in the world to watch large herds of elephant, and arguably the landscape which offers the perfect iconic backdrop for any photograph in Africa with the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro towering over the land. The tallest mountain in Africa, and the highest solitary mountain in the world, lies in Tanzania just to the south of Amboseli, and its snow-capped mountain peak magically emerges to reveal a majestic giant when the clouds part- a memorable moment for anyone witnessing this mountain for the first time.
Amboseli means 'white dust' in Maa, and true to its description, the land is often covered by blankets of white dust created by the ash fall and erosion of the giant mountain. Often the wind will pick up and create small white dust storms as they glide effortless across the plains- a visual treat that compliments any scene.
The park houses a fascinatingly large variety of habitats, from desert to marshes and swamps, to savannah and grassland. The seasonal lake of Amboseli produces sits across from permanent, evergreen swamps, and attracts an abundance of wildlife including zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and gazelle.
Millions of years ago, in the wake of volcanic activity that tore up the land, beautiful depressions, highlands and valleys were created, forming what is the enormous Rift Valley today. This undulating terrain runs from Jordan River to Mozambique, and is so prominent that it is visible from space. The volcanic activity and resultant ash created a perfect place for fossilisation. It is in this region that some of the oldest human ancestor remains have been found, lending to Africa’s status as the Cradle of Humankind.
The volcanic activity left behind a chain of lakes- one of the most famous being Lake Nakuru. Today, the alkaline lake supports a wide ecological diversity of flora and fauna.
Surrounded by marshes and grasslands, acacia woodlands and hills covered with Euphorbia forest, Lake Nakuru is a picturesque reserve that is home to black and white rhino, antelopes, buffalo and giraffe, colobus monkeys, leopard and an abundance of birdlife.
Situated about 2 hours from Nairobi, the close proximity makes Lake Nakuru one of the most accessible wildlife reserves in the country.
The stunning scenery created by the lake, the undulating hills and the yellow fever acacia woodlands creates a spectacular environment to view wildlife in their natural habitats.
Samburu is a semi-arid savannah that is graced with the stunning Ewaso Nyiro river that runs through its core. The dry, desert-like terrain creates an atmosphere of remote wilderness.
Along the banks of the river are doum palms and acacia woodlands that attract a wealth of wildlife for water and shade, as well as being home to large populations of crocodile often seen lying on the sandbanks. Giant acacias, figs and duom palms create shade for the wildlife that comes to the water, including lion, elephant and hippo.
Home to large herds of elephant, lion, cheetah and leopard, a wealth of dry-country adapted species that can only be found in the northern parts of the country also provides fine game viewing, with commonly seen populations of Grevy’s Zebra, gerenuk, beisa oryx, Somali ostrich and the reticulated giraffe.
An abundance of diverse birdlife can be found throughout the park, with common sightings of barbets, hornbills, weavers and large raptors making for spectacular viewing and an abundance of photographic opportunities.
Tsavo East is the country’s largest park and its vast expanses and semi-arid plains creates an atmosphere of remote wilderness.
The semi-arid savannah is home to a large diversity of wildlife including lion, leopard, cheetah, zebra, giraffes, servals, crocodiles, hippo, antelopes, buffalo, and is famous for Kenya’s largest herds of elephants dusted in earthly-red murram soil. There is a good chance of seeing rarer species that are adapted to the dry country, including the fringe-eared oryx.
The dry and flat plains are dotted with acacia scrub, and the flowing Galana River that runs through the park, nourishes the land and gives life to the lush riverine forest along its banks.
The scattered doum palm trees and short vegetation makes for stunning scenery. The diverse terrain includes Mudanda Rock, which sits atop a watering hole and is a favourite dam for large herds of elephant, buffalo, and other mammals to drink from and wallow in. During the darker hours, leopards frequent the dam. The rocky banks and rapids of Lugard Falls are another natural attraction of the park; as well as the Yatta Plateau, an ancient lava flow and the largest in the world, with a 5-10kms wide stretch.
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