With the vast array of incredible things to see and do in Kenya, its beauty is hidden in raw and rustic national parks, which are home to many endangered species. It’s named the wildlife capital for having numerous parks and reserves.
The National Parks in Kenya
To all tourists and wildlife lovers, here are the best national parks in Kenya. These parks will leave you spellbound as you explore the wildlife of Africa and feel the thrill of staying close to these wild animals.
#1 Mount Kenya National Park
The park is named after the prominent mountain (Mount Kenya), the second tallest mountain in Africa. It borders the equator and supports 12 glaciers, pristine tarns, lakes, and dense alpine forests.
The area is also a significant water catchment supplying several large river systems in Kenya.
Location: Mount Kenya national park is located in central Kenya and lies 175 km north of the equator.
How to Get There: To access Mount Kenya national park can be by road or flight. By air or flight, Nanyuki airstrip is the closest. At the same time, by road from Nairobi, the park is reached via the Nanyuki-Isiolo road to the region’s towns – Nanyuki, Naro Moru, Meru, and Embu.
#2 Nairobi National Park
Nairobi national park is a vast open grass plain with scattered acacia bush. It hosts a wide variety of wildlife, including the black rhino and diverse birdlife. The park has recorded over 500 bird species, of which 20 are seasonal European migrants.
Location: The park is 7km south of Nairobi, a short drive from Nairobi’s central business district.
How to Get There: By road, the park is about 7kms south of the city center and about 10 kilometers from Jomo Kenyatta International airport.
#3 Amboseli National Park
Amboseli national park is the second most popular in Kenya. It is also a photographer’s paradise and visitors’ best place for getting close to free-ranging elephants. The park is named after the Maasai word “Amboseli”, meaning “salty dust.”
Location: The park is on the Kenya/Tanzania border northwest of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Relatively close to the beaches of Kenya.[Kajiado County, south constituency]
How to Get There: By road, you can access the park from Mombasa or Nairobi through Tsavo West National Park through the Kimana gate. By air, the park only features one airstrip at the Empusel gate.
#4 Maasai Mara National Park
Maasai Mara is the most popular national park for the great annual migration of wildebeest. The park’s vegetation is mainly savannah grassland and dotted acacia trees. The park was named in honor of the ancestral inhabitants, the Maasai people, who described the areas as Mara, meaning spotted.
Location: The park is southwest of Kenya, Narok county, 180 kilometers from Nairobi.
How to Get There: By use of the road, travel to the Maasai Mara national park is commonly accessed by booking a guided drive-in safari which starts from Nairobi. The reason is mainly to avoid confusion since the park has six entry gates.
#5 Mount Longonot National Park
Mount Longonot is a stratovolcano mountain. The park and mountain were named from a Maasai word, Oloonongo’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or” steep ridges.”
Location: The park is located southeast of Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift valley and 60 kilometers northwest of Nairobi.
How to Get There: You can access the park by road from Nairobi(90 km) using a matatu heading to Naivasha, then a matatu to Mai Mahiu. The park gate is 4km to the right of the town.
#6 Meru National Park
Meru national park is little visited and utterly unspoiled; few places are comparable to the rugged, remote atmosphere found in the area. The park was made famous through the book and movie Born Free by George and Joy Adamson. Joy Adam’s ashes are on her grave site, still in the park.
Location: Meru National Park is a Kenyan park located east of Meru town, 350 km from the capital.
How to Get There: You can access the park by road from Nairobi, about 348 km away. By air, the main airstrip is at Kina, next to Mulika Lodge and Elsa’s Kopje airstrip.
#7 Aberdare National Park
Aberdare national park was established to conserve and protect the Aberdare mountains. The park is best known as where Princess Elizabeth became Queen after his father’s death, King George vi, while staying at the Treetops Hotel.
Location: Aberdare national park is located 150km east of Nairobi and 87 km from Naivasha.
How to Get There: The park is easily accessible by air since there are two airstrips near the Aberdare Headquarters at Nyeri and Mweiga.
#8 Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is named after a narrow break in the cliffs, once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that fed the Rift Valley. It was named “Hell’s Gate” by explorers Fisher and Thomson in 1883. The park hosts two extinct volcanoes. Olkaria and Hobley’s.
Location: Hell’s Gate is 90 km northwest of the capital of Nairobi and just south of Lake Naivasha.
How to Get There: By road, you can book a tour with natural world Kenya safaris from the coast or Nairobi. From Nairobi, you’ll take the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway; the drive affords fantastic views of the Rift Valley.
#9 Sibiloi National Park
Sibiloi national park is home to important archaeological sites, including Koobi Fora. The area is on a semi-desert habitat and open plains. The famous remains from the park are the Australopithecus and early Homo fossils.
Location: Sibiloi National Park is situated on the northeast shore of Lake Turkana in North Kenya.
How to Get There: The park is 800 km from Nairobi by road.
#10 Tsavo National Park
Tsavo comprises two separate parks, Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park. Located in the Coast Province of Kenya between Nairobi City and Mombasa. Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest parks in Kenya, located South East of Kenya near the Town of Voi in the Taita-Taveta District of Coast province.
Location: The parks are located in the Coast Province of Kenya between Nairobi City and Mombasa.
How to Get There: You can access Tsavo East through Manyani Gate, Voi Gate, Buchuma Gate, and Sala Gate. Tsavo West through Mtito Gate, Man-Eaters Gate, Chyulu Gate, and another near Maktau.
FAQs: National Parks in Kenya
What is the most visited national park in Kenya?
Maasai Mara national park is the most visited, primarily due to viewing the Big Five and other animals and bird watching.
Which is the largest park in Kenya?
Tsavo national park is the largest park covering 20,812kms although separated from the Tsavo east and west national park.
What makes a national park?
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns.
Which is the oldest park in Kenya?
Nairobi national park is the oldest park in Kenya.
Which is the smallest park in Kenya?
Saiwa swamp national park is located near Kitale town, Trans-Nzoia county, and covers an area of 3kms thus being the smallest in Kenya.
To sum up, national parks provide an environment where humans get close to learn wildlife and enjoy watching animals and birds. They add up to any country’s beauty.
National parks are the best places to be during your holidays. Therefore, get to plan for a travel to these national parks, and you will not regret it.