Tsavo National Park is the largest park in Kenya, established in April 1948. It was divided into East and West for administrative purposes. The parks are intersected by the Nairobi to Mombasa
railway and road. The park has an interesting and diverse history. The Waliangulu and Kamba tribes previously used the area as a hunting ground. The first European to see Mount Kenya, the Rev Dr L. Krapf, journeyed on foot through this area in 1848. During construction of a railway bridge over the Tsavo River in 1898 the famed man-eating lions of Tsavo terrorised the workers, killing over 130 people before being killed by Col J.H. Patterson. During the First World War, the British built fortresses along the Tsavo River to counter threats from invading German soldiers from Tanganyika (now Tanzania). The European explorer Capt Lugards passed through the area on his way to Uganda.
Tsavo East is an easily accessible and popular park, attracting large numbers of tourists. Its scenic features include its large herds of elephant and other wildlife and its striking natural landscapes and structures. Large herds of elephants and other wildlife. Park is a catchment for visitors from coast resorts. Yatta plateau, about 300 km in length, is one of the world’s longest lava flows. Lugards Falls on the Galana River.
Wildlife - Elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, crocodile, waterbuck, kudu, gerenuk, zebra and Hunter’s hartebeest. Birds: Prolific birdlife featuring 500 recorded bird species.
Kenya - Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park represents about 30 per cent of Kenya’s park area and contains a diversity of habitats, wildlife and scenic mountain landscape. The park is a vast expanse of savannah stretching from Mtito Andei along the Mombasa-Nairobi road and south to the Tanzanian border. The north-eastern boundary along the highway adjoins Tsavo East National Park; but Tsavo West has a more varied topography and a more diverse array of habitats than its neighbour.
The park’s habitats include open plains alternating with savannah bush and semi-desert scrub and acacia woodlands; rocky ridges and outcrops; more extensive ranges and isolated hills; belts of riverine vegetation; palm thickets; and, on the Chyulu Hills, mountain forest.
There are numerous rocky outcrops and ridges. Part of the park, towards the Chyulu Hills, is of recent volcanic origin, with lava flows and ash cones including the Shetani lava flow, an example of a recent volcano. In the far south-west corner, on the Kenya Tanzania border, is Lake Jipe, part of which is in the park. This attractive lake is fed by run-off from Mount Kilimanjaro and the North Pare Mountains. At Mzima Springs, in the north of the park, water that has filtered underground from the Chyulu Hills gushes from below a lava ridge into a series of clear pools.
Major attractions: Recent volcanoes, lava flows and caves with potential for geological and cave exploration and hiking; Mzima Springs and underwater hippo and fish watching; Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary; Lake Jipe; Mount Kilimanjaro; elephant; diverse bird and plant species.
Wildlife: Leopard, cheetah, wilddog, buffalo, rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra, lion, plains game, crocodile, mongoose, hyrax, dik-dik, lesser kudu and porcupine. Prolific birdlife with 600 recorded species
Kenya - Kakamega Forest National Reserve
Kakamega Forest was established to protect the only mid-altitude tropical rainforest in Kenya, a remnant and eastern limit of the rainforests of Zaire and West Africa. This forest is unique in Kenya because it contains many species not found elsewhere. The forest lies in the Lake Victoria catchment, about 50 km north of Kisumu and just west of the Nandi Escarpment, on the edge of the central highlands. It was declared a trust forest in 1933. Two small nature reserves, Yala and lsecheno, were established within the forest in 1967.
In 1985 nearly 4,400 hectares of the northern portion of the forest, together with the adjacent Kisere Forest, were gazetted as Kakamega Forest National Reserve. The forest is a water catchment area, with the lsiukhu and Yala rivers flowing through it. The terrain is undulating, with often steep-sided river valleys.
Kenya - Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is Kenya’s second highest mountain. It lies 140 km north-east of Lake Victoria and is bisected by the Kenya-Uganda border. It is an ancient eroded volcano with a huge caldera and, on its summit, the spectacular flat-topped basalt column known as Koitobos. Another unique feature of the mountain is the lava tube caves, some over 60 metres wide and frequented by elephants and other animals digging for salt. The mountain soils are red laterite. Mount Elgon is an important water catchment for the Nzoia River, which flows into Lake Victoria, and for the Turkwel River, which flows into Lake Turkana.
Mount Elgon National Park was established in 1968 and covers a narrow transect up the north-eastern slopes of the mountain, from lower montane forest to the caldera edge. The remaining forest and moorland is part of the Mount Elgon Forest Reserve. The Ugandan side of the mountain is protected within Uganda’s Mount Elgon National Park.
Together with the fauna and flora, the park contains a variety of breathtaking scenery, with cliffs, caves, waterfalls, gorges, mesas, calderas and hot springs as well as the mountain peaks. Wildlife: Elephant, leopard, giant forest hog, bushbuck, buffalo, duiker, black and white colobus, blue monkey and golden cat, among others. Birds: 340 bird species including the African crowned eagle, Ross’s turaco and red-fronted parrot.
Kenya - Chyulu Hills National Park
The Chyulu Hills are situated 190 km south-east of Nairobi and 30 km south-west of Kibwezi. They are of relatively recent volcanic origin and the range is composed of ash cones and craters. The hills hold no permanent surface water but rainfall percolating through the porous rock feeds many permanent fresh water sources in the surrounding plains, notably Mzima springs and the Tsavo and Galana rivers.
The hills are relatively undisturbed and shelter indigenous vegetation and wildlife. The park comprises the eastern flank of the hills including about half of the forest area. The park boundary runs down the centre of the hills along the line of the peaks. The western half is part of the West Chyulu Game Conservation area, owned by several Maasai group ranches.
Wildlife: Reptiles: Black mamba, puff adder, rock python, gecko, tortoise, lizard. Insects/arthropods: Dung beetles, butterflies, tsetse fly.Common Animals: Buffalo, bushbuck, eland, elephant, leopard; forest bush pig, mountain reedbuck, steinbok, wild dogs.
Kenya - Amboseli National Park
Amboseli lies immediately north-west of Mount Kilimanjaro on the border with Tanzania. Amboseli was established as a reserve in 1968 and gazetted as a national park in 1974. The park covers 392 sq km, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 sq km Amboseli ecosystem. Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season, making Amboseli a popular tourist destination. It is surrounded by six communally owned group ranches.
The national park embodies five main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of
a Pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Within this basin is a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, that fl oods during years of heavy rainfall. Amboseli is famous for its big game and its great scenic beauty and the landscape is dominated by the towering Mount Kilimanjaro.
Major attractions: Mount Kilimanjaro; Observation Hill which allows an overall the swamps and elephants; swamp below observation hill hosts many elephants, buff aloes, hippos and a variety of water fowl like pelican; Egyptian goose; contemporary Maasai culture and indigenous lifestyle; herds of elephants.
Wildlife: Amboseli has over 80 different mammals ranging from the tiny (and rarely seen) spectacled elephant shrew to the huge bulk of the African elephant. Few visitors will go home without superb elephant pictures with Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. There are over 400 bird species.
Kenya - Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara National Reserve is widely recognized as the jewel in the crown of Kenya’s tourism industry. It plays a key role in preserving the world’s greatest migration of large mammals. The reserve is regarded as the most spectacular wildlife viewing area in Kenya, with over 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 bird species.
The dominant inhabitant is the wildebeest. In July each year over 1.5 million wildebeest, along with large numbers of zebra and Thompson’s gazelle, migrate from the Serengeti plains in Tanzania to fresh pastures in the Masai Mara before going back in October.
The reserve is surrounded by local community group ranches serving as dispersal areas. The communities have allowed their land to be used as wildlife conservancies to earn tourism-related revenue. Wildlife - 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and 400 bird species recorded, including annual migration of wildebeest involving over 1.5 million animals.
Kenya - Olare Orok and Motorogi Conservancy
Located on the northern boundary of the Masai Mara National Reserve between Itong and Talek, this exclusive resort has a limit of 78 visitors at a
time. An established partnership between individual landowners and tourism has made it possible to preserve this area in its pristine state, grazed by herbivores and prowled by a healthy population of carnivores.
This is a wonderful, relatively undisturbed part of the Masai Mara ecosystem, with good populations of both predators and herbivores, including many elephants. The area offers pleasant and exclusive viewing of game in a pristine environment, with a rich and diverse wildlife population rarely found anywhere else on the African savannah. Rhino and wild dog have been sighted in the area occasionally, and it could become a viable habitat for these two highly endangered species, given the right protection through sensitive tourism development.
Kenya - Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru is a very shallow, strongly alkaline lake set in a picturesque landscape of woods and grassland next to Nakuru town. The landscape includes areas of marsh and grassland alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, stretches of acacia woods and rocky hillsides covered with a euphorbia forest on the eastern perimeter.
The lake catchment is bounded by Menengai Crater to the north, the Bahati hills to the north-east, the Lion Hill ranges to the east, Eburu crater to the south and the Mau escarpment to the west. Three major rivers, the Njoro, Makalia and Enderit, drain into the lake, together with treated water from the town’s sewage works and the outflow from several springs along the shore.
Lake Nakuru was declared a bird sanctuary in 1960 and upgraded to national park status in 1968. A northern extension was added to the park in 1974 and the lake was designated a ramsar site in 1990. The foundation of the park’s food chains is the cyanophyte spirulina platensis, which supports huge numbers of lesser flamingo.
The vegetation is mainly woods and bushy grassland with a wide ecological diversity and characteristic habitats that range from the lake waters to the escarpment and ridges. The normally water-covered surface of the lake occupies about a third of the park. The lake water supports a dense bloom of the blue-green cyanophyte spirulina platensis from which it derives its colour and which is the major food source for the flamingo. The lake is fringed by alkaline swamps with areas of sedge, cyperus laevigatus and typha marsh along the river inflows and springs.
Wildlife - Birds: Up to 1.5 million flamingos plus 450 other species of birds. Fauna: Includes Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelle, the rare leaf-nosed bat, colobus monkey, rock hyrax, hippo, leopard, lion, rhino, waterbuck, impala, gazelle, striped hyena, bat-eared fox, wildcat, reedbuck and golden cat. Restocked mammals: Include lion, black and white rhino and the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is on the equator, in Kenya’s Laikipia District, between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya. The conservancy is home to an astounding variety of animals. Thanks to the wildlife and the wonderful views across the open plains of Ol Pejeta, an unforgettable safari experience is guaranteed. As a safe and secure private sanctuary, the conservancy offers a hassle-free safari experience with amazing wildlife viewing on good all-weather roads.
Revenues generated by visitors are used in support of conservation and community outreach activities.
Sweet-waters chimpanzee sanctuary, black rhino sanctuary, endangered species boma, Morani information centre and Morani’s restaurant.
Access: The conservancy is a three hour drive from Nairobi and welcomes day visitors.
Kenya - Sibiloi National Park
Sibiloi National Park covers 1,570 sq km of wilderness scenic landscape on the shores of Lake Turkana. The park was partially established through the initiative of National Museums of Kenya to protect unique prehistoric and archeological sites some of which are linked to the origin of man. The fossils include a crocodile euthecodon brumpti, giant tortoile petusios broadleyi, elephant
elephas recki and the petrified forest. The terrain is lake shore, dry semi desert bush and near desert country. The park is waterless apart from the alkaline waters of the lake.
Wildlife: Birdwatching: More than 350 recorded species including flamingo, pelican and duck. Hippo,crocodile, zebra, Grant’s gazelle, reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx, topi, greater kudu, lion, cheetah, leopard among other species. The world’s largest Nile crocodile population breeds on Lake Turkana’s Central Island.
Kenya - Samburu National Reserve
It is one of the lesser known parks but nevertheless teeming with wildlife. Situated alongside the Ewaso Nyiro River, there is plenty to attract wildlife from the surrounding savannah plains.
The reserve lies within ecological zone V, 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 days are extremely hot and the nights are cool. The annual mean temperatures range between 18°C and 30°C while the mean annual rainfall is 345 mm with peaks in November and April. The dry season starts in late May and goes on to early October, when a large concentration of wildlife is found in the reserve due to availability of lush vegetation along Ewaso Nyiro river, the main source of water to the reserve and the nearby communities.Rare northern specialist species such as Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk and beisa oryx.