The Masai Mara is considered by many to be one of Kenya’s finest National Reserves. The rolling grasslands offer ideal game viewing and photographic opportunities and the grassy plains are broken by rocky outcrops which are favourite midday resting places for lion, for which the Mara is famous. Some of the other animals which can be seen in and around this 700 square mile conservation area include elephant, black rhino, buffalo, leopard, cheetah, wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle. Hippo and crocodile abound in the muddy brown waters of the rivers which traverse this Reserve. One of the Mara’s main attractions each year is the astonishing spectacle of the annual migration of up to two million wildebeest, thousands of zebra and an escort of carnivores from the Serengeti plains, following the rains and succulent new grass.
Elephant, black rhino, buffalo, plains zebra, hartebeest, wildebeest and other herbivores and all the big cats are also found in Mara. The rivers are home of crocodiles and hippos.
Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, the Amboseli National Parks is one of Kenya’s most popular parks. The name “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “salty dust”, and it is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulphur springs, the savannah and woodlands. They can also visit the local Maasai community who live around the park and experience their authentic culture.
Leopard, Cheetah, Wild dogs, Buffalo, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Lion, Crocodile, Mongoose, Hyrax, Dik- dik, Lesser Kudu, and Nocturnal Porcupine. Prolific birdlife features 600 species.
Samburu National Reserve is situated in the hot and arid fringes of Kenya’s vast Northern Frontier District. The area is home to the Samburu tribe, pastoral relatives of the Masai. The landscape is rugged and dramatic – against a backdrop of volcanic mountains, gaunt hills and withered scrub tree punctuate the sparse and dry terrain with clusters of the incredibly hardy desert rose providing the occasional flash of vivid colour. The Ewaso Nyiro river, lifeline of the area, runs along the southern boundary dividing Samburu from Buffalo Springs Reserve. Crocodile and hippo share the river with the many small herds of elephant which bathe and frolic in the muddy brown waters during the heat of the day before returning later to browse on the lush vegetation of the riverine forest. Buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah and plains game may also be seen but a special feature of this Reserve are the various species of game unique to these northern parks – Beisa oryx, the long necked gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and the blue shanked Somali ostrich.Samburu Reserve covers an area of 104 km2 on the northern bank of Uaso Nyiro river. The reserve has a unique landscapes of rounded and rugged hills and undulating plains.
It is the largest Park in Kenya with an area of 21,812 Km2. Tsavo National Park was divided into East and West for administrative purposes. The two Parks are divided by Nairobi–Mombasa railway /road.
Tsavo East is a very popular Park as is indicated by the high number of tourists. Some of the attractive scenic features include:
The Aberdares are part of Kenya’s central highlands, running roughly north south between Nairobi and Thomsons Falls with a range of almost 13,000 ft. The topography is diverse with deep ravines that give way to gentler valleys separated by steep hills and rocky outcrops. The park is an important water catchment area providing water to the Tana and Athi rivers and part of Central Rift and Northern drainage basins. The climate is wet and moist. The park is surrounded by a predominantly indigenous forest, whose management is under an MoU between KWS and the Forest Department.
Animal life is most abundant in the forest zone. Large mammals are represented by elephants, buffalo, bongo and black rhino among others. Carnivores include lion and leopard, whereas primates are represented by baboon, black and white colobus and sykes monkeys. The park is rich in bird life with over 250 species recorded. The Jackson’s Francolin is endemic.
Mt. Kenya lies about 140 km North, North-East of Nairobi with its Northern flanks across the Equator. The mountain has two main peaks – Batian (5200m) and Nelion (5188m). The mountains slopes are cloaked in forest, bamboo, scrub and moorland giving way on the high central peaks to rock, ice and snow. Mt. Kenya is an important water catchment area, supplying the Tana and Northern Ewaso Ngiro systems. The park, which was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997 and is also a Biosphere Reserve, covers 715 km2, and includes the Peaks consisting of all the ground above 3200m with two small salients extending lower down to 2450m along the Sirimon and Naro Moru tracks. Surrounding the park is Mount Kenya National Reserve with an area of approximately 2095 km2.Climate, flora and fauna on Mt. Kenya varies with altitude.
Other important towns on the coastal strip include Diani in the South, and Kilifi, Malindi, Watamu and Lamu in the North. Part of the coastal population is located in resort and beach settlements. Diani Beach is now also a tourist center, with palm trees and the white sandy beaches like Mombasa. Malindi is where Vasco da Gama picked up his pilot to navigate with the monsoon winds to India. Watamu is a small fishing community and East Africa’s first Marine National Park. The climate is tropical humid.