The 117 km2 Nairobi National Park is unique by being the only protected area in the world with a variety of animals and birds within a capital city. Wide open grass plains and backdrop of the city scrapers, scattered acacia bush play host to a wide variety of wildlife including the endangered black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded.
Nairobi National Park is one of the most successful of Kenya’s rhino sanctuaries that is already generating a stock for reintroduction in the species former range and other upcoming sanctuaries. Due to this success, it is one of the few parks where a visitor can be certain of seeing a black rhino in its natural habitat.
Within the Nairobi National are two establishments viz:- The Nairobi Animal Ophanage and the Nairobi Safari Walk.The Nairobi Animal Orphanage serves a treatments and rehabilitation centre for wild animals. The Orphanage hosts lions, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, serval cats, rare Sokoke cats, warthogs, leopards, various monkeys, baboons and buffalo. Various birds can also be viewed including parrots, guinea fowls, crowned cranes and ostriches. The Nairobi Safari Walk provides a sneak preview of Kenya’s National Parks. With its raised wooden boardwalk that allows for uninterrupted views of the animals, allowing visitors to discover what they can expect to see across the country. Visitors can see a sample of the country’s rich animal life including the rare bongo, white rhino and albino zebra as well as big cats, antelopes and primates. It is also home to some 150 species of local trees.
Amboseli National Park is one of the most popular parks in Kenya. Located in the south of the country, Amboseli lies on the Tanzanian border, in the shadows of Mount Kilimanjaro. Amboseli attracts visitors primarily because of its huge herds of elephant. But the park is also home to many predators like lion, cheetah and leopard. A natural swamp, fed by the melting snows of Kilimanjaro, is filled with large pods of very contented hippos, plenty of crocodiles, and also a prolific number of birds (over 400 species recorded). 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. The national park was gazetted in 1974 with an extension of 392 km², though it is surrounded by a much larger reserve in which the Maasai people settle and breed their cattle.
On the floor of the Great Rift Valley, surrounded by wooded and bushy grassland, lies the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park. Visitors can enjoy the wide ecological diversity and varied habitats that range from Lake Nakuru itself to the surrounding escarpment and picturesque ridges. Lake Nakuru National Park is ideal for bird watching, hiking,picnic and game drives.
The Park also contains Kenya’s largest population of rhinos. The surface of the lake occupies about a third of the park. The lake supports a dense bloom of the blue-green Cyanophyte Spirulina platensis from which it derives its colour. It is a food source for flamingos. The lake is fringed by alkaline swamps with areas of marsh along the river inflows and springs. The surrounding areas support a dry transitional savannah with lake margin grasslands.
Climbing to 5,199 meters, Mount Kenya is the second tallest mountain in Africa. The scenery surrounding this designated World Heritage Site is breath-taking. It is pristine wilderness with lakes, tarns, glaciers, dense forest, mineral springs and a selection of rare and endangered species of animals, high altitude adapted plains game and unique montane and alpine vegetation. Visitors can enjoy mountain climbing, camping and caving with the mountain’s rugged glacier-clad peaks providing the perfect backdrop.
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.
Covered end to end in volcanic ash, the nightly glow of its South Island’s luminous vents has inspired numerous tales of ghosts and evil spirits. The island is home to a profusion of birdlife including 34 species of European migrants most spectacularly viewed as they return home between March and May. At least 23 species breed here, including Goliath heron, and African skimmer, while African open-billed stork, Duck and Gulls feed on the shores and the volcanic island lakes attract lesser flamingos. Birds of prey are also abundant, especially swallow-tailed kites. This park is ideal for game watching and has one of the world’s largest concentrations of crocodiles.
The sight of dust-red elephant wallowing, rolling and spraying each other with the midnight blue waters of palm-shaded Galana River is one of the most evocative images in Africa. This, along with the 300 kilomtere long Yatta Plateau, the longest lava flow in the world, make for an adventure unlike any other in the Tsavo East. The park forms the largest protected area in Kenya and is home to most of the larger mammals, vast herds of dust –red elephant, Rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, pods of hippo, crocodile, waterbucks, lesser Kudu, gerenuk and the prolific bird life features 500 recorded species.
The Waliangulu and Kamba tribes used it as a hunting ground prior to gazettement.
Construction of the railway reached Tsavo river in 1898. During the construction of the bridge Lions (Man eaters of Tsavo) terrorized the workers, killing over 130 people before being killed by Col. Patterson.
During the World War I (1914-1918) British forces built fortresses along Tsavo river to counter threats from invading German forces from Tanganyika (present Tanzania) – whose intention was to blow up the Tsavo river bridge that was vital to British Communication.
From the sight of fifty million gallons of crystal clear water gushing out of from the under parched lava rock that is the Mzima Springs to the Shetani lava flows, Tsavo West is a beautiful, rugged wilderness. The savannah ecosystem comprises of open grasslands, scrublands, and Acacia woodlands, belts of riverine vegetation and rocky ridges including the Poacher’s Lookout where visitors can see the teeming herds in the plains below. Tsavo West offers some of the most magnificent game viewing in the world and attractions include elephant, rhino, Hippos, lions, cheetah, leopards, Buffalos, diverse plant and bird species including the threatened
Named for the intense geothermal activity within its boundaries, the Hell’s Gate National Park is a remarkable quarter of the Great Rift Valley. Spectacular scenery including the towering cliffs, water-gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub clad volcanoes and belching plumes of geothermal steam make it one of the most atmospheric Parks in Africa. Hell’s Gate is an ideal venue for a day trip from Nairobi where, in addition to the bio-diversity that includes raptors, visitors can enjoy mountain biking, rock climbing and a natural spa.
Ruma was first gazetted in 1966 as Lambwe valley game reserve and acquired national park status in 1983. The park was established mainly to protect the Roan antelope which does not occur anywhere else in the country. The soils are largely black cotton clay. The surrounding area is settled, with a mix of small scale cultivation and grassy pasture land.
Meru is a savanna National Park, 35km east of Maua town in the north eastern lowlands below the Nyambeni hills. Meru is part of a complex of protected areas along the Tana river that includes the adjacent Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves (to the east and south respectively), Kora national park and Rahole national reserve. The wetter North Western sector is hilly, with rich volcanic soils. The land flattens towards the East, where grey alluvial volcanic soils appear.
The area is crossed by numerous permanent streams, draining from the Nyambenes and flowing in parallel between tounges of lava, south eastwards towards the Tana River. As well as the many streams that cross it, the park is bounded by three large rivers: the Tana to the South, the Ura to the South West and the Rojeweru to the East. There are several prominent inselbergs of basement rock, notably Mughwango and Leopard rock.
A section of the park has been designated as a wilderness area in which are no roads. The park is part of the domain made famous by the writings of Joy Adamson.
The Kora National Park was gazetted in 1973 as a reserve and gazetted as a park in 1990. It comprises of an area of a little over 1700 km2. This triangle of dense woodland and scrub is limited along its 65 km northern boundary by the Tana River, which rises in the highlands between Aberdares and Mount Kenya, before commencing its 700 km passage to the Indian Ocean. The western boundary follows a straight line from Tana River which a joint boundary with the adjacent Mwingi N. Reserve, while the eastern boundry runs along Mwitamyisi River.
The land surface slopes gently from an altitude of 490m in the south-west and about 270m in the north-east. Central areas comprise of an undulating peneplain through which Basement ridges protrude above the surface as rocky inselbergs the highest of which are Mansumbi 488 m, Kumbulanwa 450m and Kora Rock 442m. The park also has several seasonal rivers.
The park is within Lake Turkana. Central Island is only 5 km2. Central Island has three scenic crater lakes i.e. Crocodile, Flamingo and Tilapia.