When the topic of an African safari is brought up, Kenya must be one of the first destinations which comes to mind. It is after all, the birthplace of the safari and was the first country to introduce the concept of the Big 5. A Kenyan safari is a must for anyone looking to see a huge array of wildlife but knowing exactly which park or reserve to travel to can be tough. With that in mind, we’re highlighting the five places in Kenya for a safari that we feel are the best.
The iconic Masai Mara is widely regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife viewing areas, and deservedly so. A varied land of savannah woodlands, riverine forest and vast grassland, the reserve is home to an abundant predator population year-round, with the chance to encounter prides of lions, cheetahs hunting on the open plains and leopards stalking in the forests all serving as key attractions.
The Mara is also, of course, home to the ultimate wildlife experience from July through to September, when you'll witness thousands of wildebeest making their annual journey across the Mara River during the Great Migration. Some of Kenya’s most revered camps and lodges can be found in the Masai Mara, such as the famous Governors’ Camp which sits along the Mara River and has a bar tent and deck overlooking the river, perfect for tracking the migration.
Visitors from around the world are drawn to Lake Nakuru to witness the huge flocks of flamingos gathering at the lake, as well as the 300+ plus other species of bird which call the park home. Although the numbers of flamingo and pelican congregating in the area has decreased in recent years, it has been known to rise to up to 1.5 million. It’s not just birdlife which inhabits Lake Nakuru en masse, the park was declared a rhino sanctuary in 1983 and currently has a very healthy population of both black and white rhino. If you venture south to the forested area below Flamingo Hill, you’ll find the popular lion-spotting region, where you’ll see the lionesses sleeping in the trees as well as a few leopards.
Located to the north-west of snow-capped Mount Kenya, the high plains of Laikipia are increasingly being recognised as one of Kenya's premier safari regions. This thinly populated area offers endless vistas and stretches of complete wilderness, offering some of the most extraordinary views found anywhere in the country. On the wildlife front, the density of the wildlife population in Laikipia ranks second only to the Masai Mara, and the area supports more endangered mammals than anywhere else in East Africa, as well as a healthy number of endemic species including the Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe. One of Laikipia’s biggest attraction is the huge number of rhinos. The region is home to an astounding 50% of Kenya's rhino population, with over 300 of the magnificent creatures roaming the vast plains.
Having been restored since it fell into neglect amidst out of control poaching in the 1990s, Meru National Park is becoming an increasingly popular destination for wildlife viewing. It is still one of the least visited of Kenya’s big parks, but this works in its favour as it leaves an unspoiled stretch of land spanning 870 square kilometres, just waiting to be discovered.
Meru may not boast quite as many visitors as other well-established parks, but its wildlife population and game viewing opportunities matches almost any other park in Kenya. There are now increasingly frequent sightings of the Big 5, as well as cheetah and numerous other savannah species. The streams and rivers which run through Meru are a key feature of the landscape, and offer excellent opportunities to spot hippo, crocodile and the African fish eagle.
Deriving its name from the Samburu people who have been native to the region for many years, Samburu National Reserve is one of Kenya’s smaller parks in comparison to the likes of the Masai Mara but is teeming with life, nonetheless. The unrestricted savannah grassland has the Ewaso Nyiro River passing through it, which attracts an abundance of wildlife including a huge population of Nile crocodile, and the reserve is also home to the ‘Samburu Special 5’, the rare northern species which inhabit the park. These are the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk and the beisa oryx.
The birdlife at Samburu is prevalent, with over 350 species of bird including vultures, kingfishers, marabous, bateleurs, guinea fowl, and others. Other Kenyan wildlife present in the park includes cheetahs and lions, as well as elephants, buffalo and hippos. Elusive leopards are also found in the reserve and are best spotted in the evenings. While at Samburu, it’s also definitely worth making time for the cultural tours, where you’ll visit the local Samburu villages and get a chance to interact with the colourful Samburu people in their traditional setting and experience the culture.
Looking to book a dream safari trip to Kenya? Get in touch with us by calling 020 7843 3500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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