Masai Mara National Reserve
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Samburu National Reserve
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Amboseli National Park
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|When to go|
Kenya is one of Africa’s original safari destinations - an incredibly diverse country in terms of its wildlife, birdlife and different habitats and cultures. A fabulous destination for a safari and beach holiday - Kenya offers an outstanding experience for a first time safari and a second and third safari too! Embark on a world class safari visiting some of the most iconic parks and reserves in Africa and then fly to the coast to enjoy the beautiful beaches directly from the Masai Mara.
With so many national parks, reserves and private conservancies - many off the beaten track and still very quiet and uncrowded - Kenya really does offer something for everyone and is quite justifiably one of our favourite safari destinations in Africa. We have listed some of Kenya's most popular safari areas - all can be combined using either a road safari or a flying safari depending on your budget, time available and your preferences.
Located in East Africa with the Indian Ocean to the east, Uganda to the west, Somalia and Ethiopia to the north and Tanzania to the south, Kenya’s main economies are agriculture and tourism and produces excellent coffee and tea. Along the coastal areas are stunning, palm fringed white beaches which offer the opportunity to relax before or after your safari, and diving is superb at Malindi, Watamu and to the south of Mombasa. Lamu Archipelago offers deserted beaches for pure relaxation.
Kenya's climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. The long rains occur from March to the end of May and short rains during October/November – with a few variations of course allowing for climate changes.
The country has so much to offer from the annual migration to sail fishing on the coast, from snow-capped mountains and wonderful views of Mount Kilimanjaro to the volcanic area of the Rift Valley - a string of lakes and massive wilderness areas which are filled with spectacular wildlife all year round.
The people of Kenya are also what makes the country special and on a Kenya safari you really can get ‘under the skin’ of the country and meet local communities and experience different and very diverse cultures. The Kenyan people are very welcoming and happy to share their cultures and traditions with you.
Perhaps the most interesting reason to visit Kenya is the chance to stay on a private conservancy. A private conservancy is a parcel of land which is owned by the local communities and let on a collective basis for a fair rent to the safari operators who have camps and lodges within that conservancy. A definition of a private conservancy is that it aims to achieve a sustainable form of tourism that provides tangible benefits for the local communities and which makes a significant contribution to wildlife conservation and preservation of habitats and eco-systems.
The key elements of the concept are the environment, the community and tourism. Everyone benefits – local communities receive a fair rent for their land, employment opportunities within the camps and the conservancies, enhanced schooling and medical facilities which allow the people to continue their traditional way of life with the benefits of some modern facilities. Wildlife and conservation benefit from larger eco-systems, more natural corridors and structured conservation efforts such as anti-poaching.
The benefits for you visiting a private conservancy are immense – not only does the environment offer an outstanding wildlife experience but a much quieter safari as visitor numbers are limited every day. Both walking safaris and night drives are offered in private conservancies and you will have the opportunity to meet the local communities and many of the qualified guides you will meet in camp are drawn from the local villages.
Apart from many private conservancies all over Kenya, the country has an amazing diversity of National Parks and Reserves, some of the most popular include:
AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK
Amboseli National Park is located in Loitoktok District, Rift Valley Province of Kenya. The ecosystem is mainly savannah grassland spread across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The park is famous for being one of the best places in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants among other wildlife species. Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet the Maasai and spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Wildlife includes: leopard, cheetah, wild dogs, buffalo, rhino, elephant, spotted hyena, jackals, warthogs, olive baboons, vervet monkey, giraffe, plains zebras, Grant's and Thomson's gazelles, gerenuk, wildebeest, hippo, lion, crocodile, mongoose, hyrax, dik- dik, lesser kudu, and nocturnal porcupine.
Birds include the African jacana, grey, goliath and black headed herons, great white egrets, glossy ibis, Egyptian geese, blacksmith and spur winged plovers, saddle billed stork, flamingo, common redshanks, purple swan hens and Eurasian thick-knees.
LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
Lake Nakuru National Park was created in 1961 around Lake Nakuru, near Nakuru Town. It is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos nesting along the shores. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. The number of flamingos on the lake varies with water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from Baboon Cliff. Also of interest is an area of 188 km around the lake fenced off as a sanctuary to protect Rothschild giraffes and black and white rhinos.
Other wildlife includes waterbuck, lion, cheetah, leopard and pythons. As well as flamingos, there are many other bird species that inhabit the lake and the area surrounding it, such as the African Fish Eagle, goliath heron, hamerkop, pied kingfisher and the verreaux eagle.
Birdlife on the alkaline Lake Nakuru includes flamingos, pelicans, cormorants, and over 400 species of birds can be found on the lake and in the surrounding areas, including grebes, white winged black terms, stilts, avocets, ducks, and migrant waders.
TSAVO EAST NATIONAL PARK
Opened in 1948, Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 11,747 sq kms. It is one of the world's largest game reserves providing undeveloped wilderness homes to vast numbers of animals.
Mammals include the aardwolf, yellow baboon, cape buffalo, bush baby, bushbuck, caracal, African wildcat, cheetah, African civet, dik-dik, wild dog, blue, red and bush duiker, eland, elephant, bat eared fox, gazelle, large and small spotted genet, gerenuk, giraffe, African hare, hartebeest, spotted and striped hyena.
Rock hyrax, impala, black backed and side stripped jackal, klipspringer, lesser kudu, leopard, lion, banded, dwarf, marsh and slender mongoose, black faced vervet monkey, sykes monkey, fringe eared oryx, black rhino, serval, warthog, waterbuck and zebra.
Over 500 bird species have been recorded in the area including ostriches, kestrels, buzzards, starlings, weaver birds, kingfishers, hornbills, secretary birds and herons.
TSAVO WEST NATIONAL PARK
Tsavo West National Park is located in the coastal province of Kenya and covers an area of 9,065 sq kms.
Tsavo West National Park has a variety of wildlife, such as the black rhino, cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, Masai lion, bush baby, hippo, hartebeest, lesser kudu and the Masai giraffe.
MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
The Masai Mara game reserve is in south-western Kenya and is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park game reserve in Tanzania.
The Masai Mara is well known for its large populations of lion, game and the annual migration of zebra, wildebeest and Thomson's gazelle. Other wildlife includes lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, black rhino, hippo, Nile crocodile, hyena, cheetah, jackal, bat eared fox, Grant's gazelle, impala, eland, duiker, hartebeest, zebra, giraffe, roan antelope and the bat eared fox.
More than 470 species of birds have been identified in the park many of which are migrants with almost 60 species being raptors.
The conservancies outside the Mara Reserve were created to benefit local communities and preserve wildlife in the areas. By visiting camps in one of the conservancies you will not only be benefiting the local people but you will also experience wonderful wildlife away from the crowds and be able to enjoy night drives and walking safaris.
Walking safaris in the Conservancies allow you to enjoy a closer encounter with Africa and see lots of the little things you often miss on a 4 x 4 safari. Led by experienced and professional guides walking will add a new dimension to your safari, along with night drives to view nocturnal creatures.
ABERDARE NATIONAL PARK
The park is located about 100 km north from Nairobi and stretches over a wide variety of terrains because it covers altitudes from about 7,000 feet 14,000 feet above sea level. Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park covers an area of 766 sq kms and forms part of the Aberdare Mountain Range.
Animals easily observed include the lion, elephant, leopard, wild dog, giant forest hog, and side-striped jackal, mountain reedbuck, bushbuck, waterbuck, eland, suni, buffalo, duikers, olive baboon, black and white Colobus monkey. More elusive are the bongo and the golden cat. The Aberdare National Park also contains a large population of black rhino.
The bird viewing is rewarding, with over 250 species of birds in the park, including the endangered Aberdare Cisticola, Jackson's Francolin, sparrow hawk, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers.
North of the Aberdare Mountains and set on a wide plateau stretching from Mt Kenya in the south east to the edge of the Great Rift Valley in the west, Laikipia is made up of vast community owned ranches private farms and wildlife conservancies. Laikipia supports the second highest density of wildlife in Kenya and is the only place in Africa where wildlife and habitat numbers are on the increase. The area supports extensive rhino conservation and is a superb area to see both black and white rhinos in their natural habitat.
Laikipia is vast wilderness area with spectacular scenery and an abundance of wildlife including the Big 5 plus many endangered species such as Grevy's Zebra and the Striped Hyena and is one of the best places in Kenya to view the endangered Wild Dog.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is part of the Laikipia ecosystem supporting over 440 bird species and more than 70 different mammals. Its Rhino population has grown steadily and you can see both black and white rhinos.
SAMBURU NATIONAL RESERVE
The Samburu National Reserve is located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro river in Kenya. It is 165 sq kms in size and 350 kms from Nairobi and was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness made famous in the bestselling book and award winning movie Born Free.
There is a wide variety of animal and bird life seen at Samburu National Reserve including lion, cheetah and leopard, elephant, buffalo, hippo, gerenuk, Grant's gazelle, Kirk's dik dik, impala, waterbuck, zebra, oryx and reticulated giraffe.
There are over 350 species of birds including the Somali ostrich, grey headed kingfisher, sunbirds, bee-eaters, marabou stork, tawny eagle, bateleur, vulturine guineafowl, lilac breasted roller, palm nut vulture, red billed hornbill, secretary bird, Verreaux's eagle, superb starling, yellow billed hornbill and vultures. The Uaso Nyiro river contains large numbers of Nile crocodile.
Kenya is exceptionally culturally diverse with over 42 different ethnic groups ranging from Masai and Samburu pastoralists to the Swahili living along the coast. With its turbulent history, cultural diversity, varied natural habitats, fantastic beaches and some of the best wildlife viewing in the world, Kenya is an exceptional safari destination.
We have travelled the length and breadth of Kenya visiting properties in most of the national parks , reserves and private conservancies and the Kenyan coast and would be happy to use this expertise to design your safari to offer recommendations.
We offer a wide range of flying safaris, lodge and camp safaris, luxury mobile camping safaris, walking safaris and small group safaris which you can combine with time at the beach on the Kenyan Coast, Zanzibar, Mafia or Pemba Islands.
Call us on 01386 830264 or email [email protected] to start planning your Kenyan adventure!