Kenya has 54 national parks and game preserves scattered throughout the country. From plains and deserts to the Rift Valley and mountainous areas, these parks provide protected natural habitats for the diverse wildlife for which Kenya is famous. If you’re heading out on safari, here are your best bets.
Maasai Mara National Reserve
The best known (and most visited) of Kenya’s national parks is the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which adjoins the Serengeti in Tanzania just across the border. Africa’s “big five” live here: lion, elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, and leopard, along with hundreds of thousands of other animals, including giraffe, warthog, hyena, and wildebeest.
Nairobi National Park
Kenya’s oldest and most accessible national park, Nairobi National Park gives visitors the opportunity to spot lions, black rhinos, antelopes, hyenas, and ostriches with the skyscrapers of the Kenyan capital in the background. This park is close enough for a day trip from Nairobi, perfect for time-pressed travelers.
Hell’s Gate National Park
Since large carnivores are extremely rare within the bounds of arid Hell’s Gate National Park, visitors are free to explore on foot or by bicycle. Giraffes, zebras, impalas, and buffaloes often make an appearance. Guided bike tours typically include bike rentals and round-trip transportation.
Lake Nakuru National Park
This African national park is a must for bird enthusiasts, as Lake Nakuru is home to millions of flamingos, as well as more than 400 other bird species. Big mammals feature as well—leopards, black rhinos, and plenty of plains dwellers. Multi-day safaris through Kenya often include Lake Nakuru along with Maasai Mara.
Amboseli National Park
Situated 160 miles (257 kilometers) southeast of Nairobi, Amboseli National Park offers stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, across the Tanzanian border. Another draw is the park’s large herd of elephants, about 900 all told.