13 Best National Parks in Kenya to Explore
Adventurers and nature lovers alike should consider visiting Kenya.
For one, Kenya is home to many national parks and reserves that any nature lover would love to see. If you’re one of those people who are interested in going to Kenya’s national parks and reserves, here are 13 places that you can start.
Masai Mara National Reserve
One of Africa’s most incredible national parks that you should go to would be the Masai Mara National Reserve, also known locally as The Mara.
The name of the national reserve derives from the ancestral inhabitants of the area called the Maasai people. The site also has its name because Mara also means spotted, which describes the area’s short trees.
If you want to maximize your stay here, schedule your trip for the months when you can observe the awe-inspiring wildebeest migration. Aside from that, the national reserve also has a list of safaris that you can choose from.
Getting There: The best option to get to the national reserve is by chartering a domestic flight.
Where to Stay: There are plenty of glamping sites within the Maasai Mara National Reserve that you can go to but make sure to book them in advance.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to go would be between July to October, especially if you want to see the wildebeests.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park’s center is the grand Lake Nakuru. However, you’ll have plenty to observe and admire outside of the lake with the ridges around the lake.
The Lake Nakuru National Park is most famous for the millions of flamingos that flood its waters.
Getting There: The best way to get to the National Park is by driving to Nairobi for three hours.
Where to Stay: You can find numerous guesthouses and cottages available that you can find, as seen on their website.
Best Time to Visit: If you want a chance to see the flamingos, it’s best to go during the hot and dry months, such as January and February.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is one of Kenya’s most famous national parks. That’s because it’s a short distance away from the capital city. Aside from accessibility, there are various wildlife and gorgeous views in Nairobi National Park.
Getting There: You can arrange for pick-up at your accommodation, or you can ride public transport. The commute should take you an hour or less.
Where to Stay: There is the Nairobi Tented Camp filled with luxurious permanent tents.
Best Time to Visit: All-year-round
Tsavo National Park
Being one of the country’s oldest parks, the Tsavo National Park has quite an exciting story. When they were making a railway station from Mombasa to Nairobi, the Tsavo’s man-eating lions attacked the railway workers.
However, this isn’t going to be an issue now when you follow the guidelines well.
Getting There: From Nairobi, you should drive to get to the Tsavo East and West National Park.
Where to Stay: Several camps and lodges are available in the park.
Best Time to Visit: January to February, or June to October.
Meru National Park
Meru National Park is famous for its many fantastic water bodies. This includes the Tana river and Adamson’s Falls.
Besides that, you can have an excellent view of Mount Kenya within, many different bird species, and even a grave for the famous lioness, Elsa.
Getting There: If you plan to land on an airstrip, the nearest one is at Kina, Mulika. However, you can also drive from Nairobi through Nyeri-Nanyuki-Meru.
Where to Stay: Plenty of cottages, guesthouses, and campsites are available inside.
Best Time to Visit: January to February, or June to September
Aberdare National Park
The Aberdare National Park aims to protect the Aberdare mountain range and the area surrounding it. Since this national park is up relatively high, that means it’s prone to raining, so prepare for that.
The park is most known for the Black Rhinos it houses, which are an endangered species.
Getting There: You can get to it through the Nanyuki airstrip or drive for up to three hours from Nairobi.
Where to Stay: Guesthouses, cottages, and the like are available.
Best Time to Visit: January to February, or July to September
Mount Kenya National Park
In Mount Kenya National Park lies Africa’s second tallest mountain that reaches about 5,200 meters. However majestic the mountain may be, there’s still a lot to see and experience in Mount Kenya National Park. From the gorgeous glaciers and lakes to the one-of-a-kind animal species, there are many things to admire.
And with Mount Kenya as the national park star, many hikers pack their bags and trekking poles to get here and conquer the mountain. The hike up Mount Kenya is not for the faint of heart as it requires technical skill to get up there. So don’t try to get up the peak if you don’t have hiking experience.
Getting There: Mount Kenya National Park is around 175 km away from Nairobi. You can get here by the Sirimon Track on Nanyuki-Isiolo road.
Where to Stay: A variety of guesthouses are available and numerous campsites in the national park.
Best Time to Visit: December to March are the best months to visit the Mount Kenya National Park.
Hell's Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is less about the wildlife roaming in it and more about the massive and incredible gorges and ravines around it. There are plenty of unique rock formations that will be stunning to see when you get to the National Park.
Getting There: You can arrive via the Loldia airstrip or drive there from Nairobi or Naivasha.
Where to Stay: The park doesn’t provide accommodations, so your best bet is to go on a day trip here while staying somewhere in Naivasha.
Best Time to Visit: June to September
Amboseli National Park
One of the best places to admire the famous Mt. Kilimanjaro is within the Amboseli National Park’s confines. Amboseli National Park is right at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. However, that’s not the only thing worthy of your time when you’re there.
The wildlife is also a big reason you should stop by there, particularly the elephants and the giraffes. That’s why it’s a good idea to stay there for a few days or nights to feel the place better.
Getting There: From Nairobi, you can drive to the Meshanani Gate, and it will take you two hours and a half to get there. Driving is also the more scenic route, although there are a few flights that head to Amboseli.
Where to Stay: There are plenty of lodges available within Amboseli that will give you a luxurious feel in the middle of the national park.
Best Time to Visit: You can visit Amboseli National Park and have a good time almost every month of the year. The months you might want to avoid would be April, May, and November.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a private reserve, and it works to conserve several endangered animals local to the area. Primarily, this conservancy is protecting the black rhinos, Grevy’s zebra, and the sitatunga.
Lewa is a well-maintained conservancy, considering that they have animals within their reserve other than the wildlife they are protecting. You can enjoy riding a camel and admiring the area or ride a safari vehicle too.
Getting There: There are direct flights that you can take to Lewa Downs. Ideally, take a flight with SafariLink because they donate every time someone comes in and out of the Conservancy.
Where to Stay: The Elewana Lewa Safari Camp is a luxurious comfort that is worth a try when you’re there. However, there are lodges and houses there as well.
Best Time to Visit: January to February, and June to September
Oldonyo Sabuk National Park
If you’re an avid birdwatcher, Oldonyo Sabuk National Park is a place that you should stop by in Kenya. You can observe several birds in the park, but they also have other wildlife in the area.
Aside from birdwatching, you can also enjoy a bit of hiking within the national park.
Getting There: Oldonyo Sabuk National Park is only 85 km or 53 miles northeast of Nairobi, so you can drive to get there.
Where to Stay: Campsites near the area are the accommodations of choice.
Best Time to Visit: The park has a hot and dry season almost all-year-round. January to March would be its hottest months.
Sibiloi National Park
If the Oldonyo Sabuk National Park is excellent for bird watchers and enthusiasts to visit, the Sibiloi National Park is for archeologists and archeology enthusiasts.
Its presence near Lake Turkana makes it home to a massive collection of all sorts of marine life. Koobi Fora is a geologic formation ripe with archeological discoveries that date back from years and years ago.
Getting There: The park is 800 km or 497 miles from Nairobi. You can drive to get there or fly and land at two of the all-weather airstrips.
Where to Stay: There are plenty of guesthouses, campsites, and lodges available.
Best Time to Visit: The birds migrate in the middle of March usually, but you can visit the park all-year-round.
Malindi Marine National Park
Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve is a national park that pays special attention to the marine creatures in the area. You can enjoy glass-bottom boat rides, snorkeling, windsurfing, and all sorts of water-based activities.
At the same time, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the many corals that the national park is also protecting.
Getting There: The Malindi Marine National Park is about 110 km or around 68 miles north of Mombasa. You can either drive to get there or fly and arrive at Malindi Airport.
Where to Stay: The popular accommodation choice is the Casuarina campsite.
Best Time to Visit: November to April, and August to October
Kenya is the home to much exciting wildlife and beautiful sceneries. So much so that any avid traveler would be remiss to not stop by a single national park in the country. And if you do, ensure that you admire the beauty and see sights and creatures you’ve never seen before, all in front of you.
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