Nothing gets your adrenaline pumping like the sound of hippos honking in a nearby river or the roar of a distant lion as you wake up with the sun flooding into camp. The national parks of Kenya are full to the brim with cinematic landscapes and endlessly fascinating wildlife. Rest your head in stunning safari lodges within the golden grasslands of the Masai Mara, or venture to the coast for a magical marine safari in Malindi and witness dolphins dashing around in the wake of your boat. Below is our selection of the best national parks in Kenya…
Masai Mara National Park
Enjoy the sun-soaked beauty of the Masai Mara with a crisp morning game drive. Scan the savannah for the Big Five (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalos) and keep an eye on the skies for a sight of some of the area’s fabulous bird life. If you have some time on your hands, delve into the local culture while meeting the Maasai people, accompanied by a local guide and translator, and make sure to time you trip to coincide with the Great Migration - the Masai Mara’s greatest attraction. Watch as thousands of wildebeest journey through treacherous crocodile-infested rivers to reach their migration destination.
Samburu National Park
Samburu’s lesser-visited plains, located in northern Kenya, are one of our top picks when it comes to experiencing untouched wilderness. As well as the famous Big Five, Samburu is home to the Special Five, unique creatures, some of which are found nowhere else in Africa, including reticulated giraffes, beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebras, gerenuks and Somali ostriches. Catch a glimpse of the endangered Grevy’s zebra with its long legs and white belly, or perhaps venture out in the comfort of a 4x4 to seek out the very brightest of birds. Samburu is one of the best national parks in Kenya for that ‘off the beaten track’ experience.
Amboseli National Park
Nestled at the foot of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, Amboseli’s expansive plains provide the perfect backdrop for an action-packed adventure. Discover the most undisturbed population of elephants in Africa, either in a rumbling safari truck or as a Kenyan cowboy on horseback. Catch a glimpse of a bull elephant taking a dip in a lake, his back covered in little white egrets who are none the wiser to the magnificence of the creature they reside on, and don’t miss the opportunity to explore the park on foot by visiting Observation Hill for a refreshing sundowner overlooking the entire national park.
Nairobi National Park
Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, is home to the country’s first national park, earning it the title of ‘The World’s only Wildlife Capital’. Just a short drive out of the city, you’ll find open grass plains that play host to a huge array of wildlife species including endangered black rhinos, lions and over 400 birdlife species. Once the bustling city disappears into the distance, you would never know that you weren’t hundreds of miles away from civilisation as you experience the safari of your dreams in one of the best national parks in Kenya. While you’re in the area, visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Nursery to witness orphan elephants trundling through the undergrowth in time for their dinner, or pop to Giraffe Manor for a quick kiss with a giraffe.
Aberdare National Park
One of the most scenic national parks in Kenya, Aberdare boasts vibrant bamboo forests and expansive moorland all of which are brimming with wandering wildlife. Emerald green undergrowth surrounds the three-tier Karuru waterfall, the perfect spot for a rewarding hike, followed by a slice of Kenyan serenity. Visit The Ark, a quirky ark-shaped lodge nestled in the heart of the park to enjoy a sundowner on one of the viewing decks while watching the local wildlife come for their evening drink at the wild waterhole nearby.
Malindi Marine National Park
Discover another aspect of Kenya by diving into its oldest marine national park. Grab your snorkel and explore the underwater wilderness to experience the flurry of fish activity. Dart in and out of the colourful coral reefs with dolphins or gaze into the aquamarine waters from the comfort of a glass-bottom boat. This is the best national park for travellers wanting to experience a different side of Kenya, whether you fancy exploring at an idle pace, hopping between serene sandy beaches, or would prefer to venture into the meandering mangroves to explore the best marine life Kenya has to offer.