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Kenya National Game Parks & Reserves

Kenya has 59 National Parks, Game Reserves, Marine National Parks and reserves which account for approximately eleven per cent of Kenya’s surface area. Proper management of the game sanctuaries is the hallmark of the country’s conservation measures and commitment to Eco-tourism. There are seven designated major tourist circuits as well as seven other minor circuits. Each circuit is made up of a number of national parks and game reserves and is home to wildlife that is unique to the particular habitat.

Kenya’s priceless treasury of wildlife owes its very existence to contrasts in the county’s terrain, which ranges from rugged snow covered peaks of mount Kenya , the highlands, the savannah, the great rift valley and its lakes as well as the simmering sands of the coast . Each of these geographical regions is home to different types of wildlife that are unique to each area. Below are some of the park;

Masai Mara Game Reserve

The Maasai Mara Game reserve is arguably Kenya’s most popular game sanctuary. It is the most famous and most visited game reserve in Kenya. The film “Out of Africa” was made to a great extent in this sanctuary. There is a profusion of all types of wildlife including the big five.
A spectacle worth seeing is the annual migration of millions of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles from the Serengeti plains across the Tanzania border and the Mara River to reach Maasai Mara grazing fields from late June every year. The dramatic crossing of the river and the preying on the migrants by predators can be viewed from early July to August. The Game Reserve bounds with birdlife since close to about four hundred and fifty two odd species have been recorded. Hot air balloons Safaris are readily available in the park. Accommodation is plentiful in Maasai Mara and range from five star lodges to luxury tented camps. There are also Spartan tented camps and campsites within the Game reserve. Game walks and night game runs are specialties outside the Game reserves.

Amboseli National Park

Lying at an altitude of about 1,200m – 1,400m Amboseli Kenya’s international biosphere reserve. Amboseli in Maasai language means “place of water”. The park has an endless supply of water which is filtered through thousands of meters of volcanic rock from Mount Kilimanjaro. During the dry seasons a captivating feature is the simmering dry lake bed where false mirage of populated horizons, interspersed with herds of zebra and gnu hover in front of visitors. Vast herds of elephants, zebra, wildebeests, giraffe, impala and leopards are main attraction. Birdlife includes pelican, bee eater, kingfisher, African fish eagle, martial eagle and pygmy falcon. Kilimanjaro forms of this game sanctuary and it is a site to see and marvel at. The nomadic, richly decorated Maasai warrior are deeply steeped in traditional culture entertain visitors with enchanting dances of ageless Africa.

Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru is a shallow alkaline lake on the edge of Nakuru town and lies a distance 160 kilometers from Nairobi. The lake is a world famous as to home to millions of flamingoes. The number of flamingoes depends on the water level which determines the quantity of algae on which the birds feed. Flamingoes are known to migrate to other Rift Valley lakes whenever the water level is low. It should be noted that dramatic drop in Nakuru’s water level occurs approximately every ten years mainly due to drought. Lake Nakuru National Park surrounds the lake and was gazette to protect the colony of flamingoes as well as to provide sanctuary for such endangered species as the rhinos, one of the largest concentrations in the country. Predators are also residents of the park. Rothschild giraffe has been translocated into the park for safety.

Mount Longonot and Hell's Gate National Park

Mount Longonot National Park is only ninety kilometers from Nairobi and lies at an altitude of about 1,900m-2,200m. Mount Longonot is a young volcano which rises two thousand seven hundred and seventy meters above sea level. It is captivating sight for visitors wishing to view the Naivasha basin, the volcano and crater, as well as the Great Rift Valley. Hell’s Gate is an ideal family get-away for a day trip from Nairobi as well as a stop over en route to Lake Nakuru. It is famous for natural hot geysers, as well as eagle and vulture breeding grounds. Special locations for viewing the Great Rift Valley include Fischer’s Tower, Central Tower and Njorowa Gorges. The game that can be viewed include buffaloes, Maasai giraffes, elands, coke hartebeests. About one hundred and three species of birds have been recorded in this game sanctuary

Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserve

The highlights of these national reserves are the spectacular scenic beauty, rivers and forests. It is an area where the local people have a very rich and spectacular cultural heritage. The sanctuary has numerous permanent springs and a wealth of wildlife which includes leopards, hippos, elephants, lions, reticulated giraffes, gravy zebras, bongos and crocodiles in the Engare Uaso Nyiro River. Over three hundred and sixty five species of birds have been identified in these sanctuaries.
The Shaba National Reserve is home to the monument of the Joy Anderson who, together with her husband George, contributes greatly to Kenya’s wildlife as an author, conservationist and artist. The film “Born Free” is based on Joy’s book of the same title. Shaba National Reserve was the sitting for the film “Sheena queen of the jungle”. Shaba National Reserve is home to the rare to the rare Somali ostrich.

Nairobi National Park

Nairobi national park is the oldest of Kenya’s National park and Game Reserves. It was gazette in December 1946. This game sanctuary is a glorious stretch of savannah that is set against the dramatic skyline of Nairobi, the capital city. Its main entrances are merely a stone’s throw from the outskirts of the city, thus making Nairobi the only city in the world that borders a natural game protection area. Well over one hundred species of mammals mainly plain games have been recorded in this park. The big five are represented except the elephant. A unique feature of Nairobi National Park is that visitors do not have to travel far to view game in their natural habitat.
Another unique feature of Nairobi National Park that should not be missed is the Animal Orphanage and Nairobi Safari walk at the main goats. The orphanage is home to the injured and orphaned young animals. Here they are nursed back to health before being released back to the wild. The park is also ideal for ornithological safaris as four hundred species as four hundred species of birdlife have been recorded.

Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Chyulu Hills National Park

Tsavo National Park is the largest Game sanctuary in the world comprising Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Chyulu hills. It is well over twenty one thousands square kilometers and is located halfway between Nairobi and Mombasa. Its fascinating, awe inspiring landscape and proximity to Kenya’s coast makes the park a popular safari destination. The game sanctuary is one of the world’s leading biodiversity areas. It is ideal for photography on account of its unlimited sunlight and the expanse of the Yatta plateau – the world’s largest lava flow. One of the out standing features of this sanctuary is its huge population of large red elephants which derive their red coloring from the rich red earth of the park. Other wildlife to be seen include, buffalos, rhinos, lions, hippos, leopards, crocodiles, waterbucks, kudus, gerenuks, zebras, hartebeests and the hirola antelope that has been translocated  to Tsavo East. Tsavo occupies its place in the frontier folklore as a place where two lions killed and ate close to forty engineers and their crew who constructing the Kenya-Uganda railway during the turn of the century.
The man eaters of Tsavo nearly brought the construction work to a halt. The marauding lions of Tsavo have been immortalized in a book entitled, “Man Eaters of Tsavo” written by Colonel J.J Patterson.
The park has well over five hundred species of birds which include ostrich, buzzards and migratory kestrel. Some specific areas of the park are ideal for walking safaris as there are many nature trails and it is possible to explore the famous Chaimu volcanic craters. Chyullu hills and the great Kilimanjaro can be viewed clearly from this park. Other outstanding feature worth seeing include and geological formations, Shetani lava flow and Mzima springs underwater observatory.

Aberdare Ranges National Park

The Aberdare ranges lie at an altitude of about 2,134 – 4,268meters. It is home to the first tree hotel in Africa and harbours significant memories in world history. In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II learnt of her accession to the British throne while she was a guest at the tree top lodge following the death of her father, King George VI. It is also at the nearby town of Nyeri that lies the remains and tomb of lord Baden Powel, the founder of the Worldwide Boy Scouts, movement.

Famous as the place where in 1952, Elizabeth II learned that she had inherited the English throne, Aberdare National Park takes its name from magnificient volcanic mountain range that forms part of the eastern wall of the Rift Valley. The Aberdare Mountains make up the backbone of the park and run roughly 100km  between Nairobi and the famous Thomson's Falls.
Topographically diverse, the park is cut through with deep ravines that make for splendid vistas wide valleys and vast slopes are carpeted by extremely dense forest and watered by icy, crystal-clear streams where trout fishing is possible. The park has a reputation for its famous Treetops hotel, where Elizabeth was staying when she became queen. Today there are two such tree hotels, where guests rind themselves ensconced in what feel like specially built gigantic viewing capsules, their sights poised on an endless array of animals that turn up-like kids in a candy store to gorge on the mineral-rich salt licks that are constantly topped up by the hotels.

For many, staying up all night and watching the nocturnal action from viewing areas of these hotels is a Kenya highlight, for others it's like being on the wrong side of the cageat a zoo. Besides seeing large herds of African elepahnt and buffalo at close range, you might just glimpse one or two of the park's rare and endangered species, including black rhino, giant forest hog and wild dogs. The park is basically divided up into two zones. The western part is dense forest and mostly interesting for the beauty of its terrain. Here is where the hikers and climbers may set out on foot accompanied by an armed ranger. Most visitors stick to the developed salient region which is Eastern part where the two lodges, Treetops Lodge and the Ark Lodge are located and where there's far greater opportunity to spot animals.

Mount Kenya Trekking

Mount Kenya National Park lies at an altitude of about 3,400m - 5, 200m. It offer excellent game viewing, mountain climbing and breathe taking scenery that includes glaciers, tarns and peaks. There are also mineral springs. According to the local folklore, Kenya owes its very name to the majestic mountain which is also ranked the second highest mountain in Africa after Mt Kilimanjaro. Mt. Kenya National Park is the centerpiece of game sanctuaries. Part of the mountain’s attraction is the variation in flora and fauna found at different altitudes. Dry upland forest covers the lower slopes while true mountain forest begins at altitude of 2,000meters and comprise of cedar.

The wildlife in the sanctuary includes colobus monkeys, sky's monkeys, bushbuck, buffalo, elephant, olive baboon, waterbuck, black rhino, leopard, giant forest hog, genet cars, hyena and the elusive bongo to name but a few. Sightings of albino zebras have been recorded in this sanctuary. The mountain also features in the local people folklore as being the home of the supreme-Being “Ngai” (God). It is, therefore, treated as a holy shrine.

Lake Bogoria/Baringo Game Reserves

North of Nakuru is another of the Rift Valley's soda lakes, Lake Bogoria. It too supports a great number of flamingo, many of which came here when Lake Nakuru was recovering from previous droughts. The park is home to leopard, klipspringer and caracal as well as the wonderful greater kudu – in fact, it's one of the best places in Kenya to see this mighty animal with its splendid, spiralling horns. The greater kudu favours the isolated and wooded southern reaches of the park, where a wealth of other species can also be found.

Lake Bogoria National Park's hot springs and geysers are a further attraction although not a tempting proposition for bathing as the springs are hot enough to boil an egg! Just north of the Park is Kesubo Swamp, an important wetland to the Lake ecosystem and a fascinating area for birdwatchers to visit as it has over 200 recorded species of bird.

Just to the north of Lake Bogoria and the most northerly of all the Rift Valley lakes is Lake Baringo, a freshwater lake dotted with picturesque islands. The waters support a multitude of hippo and crocodile and over 450 of Kenya's 1,200 recorded native species of bird. This amazing environment draws birdwatchers from all over the world, eager to catch a glimpse of a special rarity.

Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve

The Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve is the largest surviving stretch of coastal forest in East Africa. It covers 420 square kilometers. Together with the adjoining Milda Creek, Arbuko Sokoke comprising an ecosystem of great diversity, containing rare species of birds, butterflies, amphibians and plants. There are butterfly species found here but not anywhere else in the world.
While Arabuko Sokoke is home to a large number of fascinating as well as a variety population of snakes, lizards, frogs and toads, it is its diversified birdlife for which the forest is locally and internationally renowned. With a high concentration of endangered bird species, Arabuko Sokoke is classified as one of the two most important sites for bird conservation in Africa. There are altogether some 230recorded species in the forest, which includes some of the rarest species such as the Amani Sunbird, Clarke’s Weaver, Sokoke Pipit is the last stronghold of the golden-rumped elephant shrew and the Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose.

Climate

The variations altitude and terrain creates contrast in climate. The coast is hot and often humid. Mornings in the central Highlands can be cool while in the North and North East, the days are dry and very hot. In the areas most frequented by the visitors on safari, the weather Is ideal as it is neither too hot nor too cool. Due to Kenya’s location on the Equator, there are almost equal nights and days all year round. The sun rises between 5.45-6.15a.m and set at 6.30-7.00p.m.
There are two rainy seasons which interrupts Kenya’s otherwise unbroken sunny weather. The short rains occur from late October through November and the long rains from late March through to early June. Rain usually falls in the late afternoon. Dry periods occur during the rainy seasons and sunny spells are often experienced even on rainy days.
July and August are the coolest months and the days are often overcast especially in the mornings. The rains do not interfere with safaris since very few tourist roads become impassable. The parks are fresh and green with fewer people and vehicles.

Contact Information

AFRICAN GAME TREK
P.O Box 35627 - 00200, Nairobi, Kenya

Telephone: +254 722 467 516
                 +254 752 467 516
Email: info@africangametrek.com
           odhis@africangametrek.com
Website: www.africangametrek.com