For years, Kenya has consistently been voted as a leading destination that offers unique and unrivaled travel experiences. This East African country was recently named Africa’s leading tourist destination during the 2020 World Travel Awards (WTA). With the country managing to scoop such coveted awards, it is beyond doubt, a top safari destination, one that every traveler must put on their bucket list.
Aside from her alluring white sandy beaches, Kenya is home to some of the most exciting wildlife safaris on the planet. But which are the top 5 wildlife safari destinations in Kenya?
1. The Maasai Mara
Maasai Mara National Reserve has been described as a magical charm, a scenic place where beautiful memories are conceived and rightly so.
It is home to a breathtaking savannah ecosystem, and the Great Wildebeest Migration, named the 8th Wonder of the World in 2007.
During the migration, approximately 1.5 million wildebeests and thousands of zebras and antelopes migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Maasai Mara. The reserve also protects the Big Five and other wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, hyenas, buffaloes, black rhinos, crocodiles, wild dogs, over 450 bird species, and much more. Click here to learn more about the Great wildebeest migration in Masai Mara.
The best time to visit the Mara is during the annual migration, from July through October. It’s the perfect time to catch a glimpse of even the rarest of animals. From rare leopards to elegant cheetahs to roaring lions to growling hippos to roaming with herds of grazing gazelles and elephants, you’ll witness it all at the Maasai Mara.
As if that’s not enough, you’ll get to discover exhilarating activities such as hot air ballooning, bird watching, camping, bush dinners, not forgetting state -of -the-art-accommodation at the reserve. You’ll also visit the red-cloaked Maasai community and learn about their rich heritage. Click here to see a 4 days, luxury Masai mara safari package that takes you to the Mara during the migration period.
2. Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National park is a tropical paradise surrounded by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. This is the perfect safari destination for anyone seeking to go on game drive in a vast and beautiful landscape.
With fascinating attractions in and around it, you’ll experience the park’s natural beauty and its rich heritage and cultural charm. Five diverse habitats lie within its borders, including dense woodlands, the grassy savannah, the swamp system, and the seasonal Lake Amboseli.
These habitats complement each other to spring varied and abundant life in the park ranging from animals such as cheetahs, lions, leopards, waterbucks, gazelle, impala, wild dogs, Dik-dik, etc., and over 600 species of birds.
Elephant herds that are a key attraction of the park can be spotted bathing in red dust against the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro’s panoramic views, making it a photographers’ delight.
You can also visit the nearby Maasai village and learn about the exciting Maasai tribe, who reside around the park’s protected areas. You can also participate in activities such as hiking, picnic, viewing, camping, and much more.
3. Samburu National Reserve
Did you know that the Samburu National Reserve played home to the popular Born Free movie about Elsa the lioness? A visit to the Samburu National Reserve will take your breath away.
Located on the edge of northern Kenya’s arid savannahs, the park is known for its game rarity and diversity. With fewer crowds and photogenic views of the forest greenery, arid landscapes as you make your way through the tall grasslands, you get a good feeling that you are about to experience nature at its finest.
You’ll spot lions, elephants, cheetahs, wild dogs, hippos, black rhinoceros, waterbucks, cape buffaloes and numerous species of birdlife.
However, the stars of the show are what the locals call the ‘Samburu Special Five.’ This includes the gerenuk antelope, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx, and the Somali ostrich.
You’ll also meet the Samburu people adorned in bright colors and beautiful beads away from the wildlife and experience their rich and unforgettable Samburu cultural experience.
The best time to visit Samburu National Reserve is during the dry season, from May through October. Then, you’ll see a large concentration of wildlife gathered along the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River and surrounding waterpoints. If you’re planning for an extended getaway, you’ll find various accommodations to suit every budget, from standard campsites to luxurious eco-lodges.
4. Lake Nakuru National Park
From the moment you arrive in Lake Nakuru National Park, you’re met with plenty of postcard-worthy images of pink flamingos nesting along the lake’s shores.
While Lake Nakuru National Park is relatively small compared to other Kenyan national parks, it’s the perfect embodiment of beauty, diversity, and tranquility. It’s home to hundreds of indigenous bird species, waterbucks, warthogs, giraffes, black and white rhinos, lions, leopards, venomous and non-venomous reptiles, including snakes, just to name a few. The picturesque landscapes encompass sweeping grasslands bordering the lake, rocky cliffs, savannah woodlands and boast the largest Euphorbia candelabrum forest in Africa.
You’ll get many accommodation selections ranging from pitching individual tents at designated campsites to staying in luxurious guesthouses and eco-lodges that ensure you enjoy the beautiful sunsets and wild noises after game drives.
5. Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Park boasts an enormous expansion of wilderness, making it Kenya’s largest park. The park is divided into Tsavo East and Tsavo West National.
Together, the parks square up to about four percent of the country’s total area comprising rivers, waterfalls, savannah grasslands, volcanic hills, impressive wildlife diversity, and more.
Dubbed “Theatre of the Wild,” Tsavo East is famous for vivid sights of dust-red elephant herds wallowing, rolling, and bathing in red dust. You will also catch the elephants spraying each other with waters of palm-shaded Galana River which twists through the park. Other park highlights include the Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow; Mudanda Rock, Aruba Dam, and the Lugard Falls, a series of white water rapids pools infested by crocodiles. All three big cats, lions, cheetahs, and leopards, can be found here, as well as buffalos, rhinos and hippos, waterbucks, lesser Kudu, gerenuk, and a prolific birdlife of over 500 recorded species.
On its end, Tsavo West offers more beautiful and diverse scenery. Highlights include the spectacular Mzima Springs, where crystal-clear water gushes out through volcanic rocks. There’s the striking Shetani lava flows where lava stretches for miles and where you can sight the evasive klipspringers.
The Poacher’s Lookout is also located here, where you’ll experience magnificent experience game viewing, including elephants, rhino, Hippos, lions, cheetah, leopards, Buffalos, diverse plant and bird species, including the endangered corncrake and Basra Reed Warbler.
The park offers a plethora of accommodation services and activities, including cave exploration, camping, hiking, and underwater hippo and fish viewing—everything for the perfect safari drive.
Kenya is and will always be the original home of African safaris — a must-visit destination for anyone looking for an unforgettable wildlife safari experience. And what’s better than booking a trip, sitting down with friends and family in a 4×4 cruiser while enjoying the sounds and breathtaking sights of wildlife by your local guide.