Kenya's top ten wildlife parks and reserves are listed below and reflect my personal opinion. It's the quality of Kenya's parks and reserves that make Kenya the most popular safari destination in Africa, and each has their own best times to visit. Safaris in Kenya are cheaper than anywhere else in Africa, but you can also enjoy an exclusive experience.
For more information about each of the parks listed below, click on the headings.
The Masai Mara Reserve is the most popular wildlife park in Kenya. From July - October you can witness the incredible migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra. The Maasai tribesmen also offer cultural tours which really add to the experience. The Mara showcases big families of elephants, buffaloes, lions, and hippos among many more.
Best Time to Go: July - October
Where to Stay: There are plenty of lodges and campsites both inside and outside the reserve.
Getting There: Charter flights from Nairobi or Tanzania
Lake Nakuru is famous for its huge flocks of flamingos that enjoy the alkaline waters of this shallow soda lake. Other than a million flamingos and many more species of birds, the park is also home to white rhino, warthog, giraffe, hippo, ostrich, and lion. Lake Nakuru is slowly recovering from several environmental pressures that caused its flamingo population to decline in the 1990's.
Mount Kenya is Africa's second highest peak and provided the inspiration for Kenya's modern name. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and the seat of the Kikuyu God, Ngai. The Reserve is home to rare species of animals as well as spectacular lakes, mineral springs, and forests. The mountain is an incredibly important watershed, providing water for about 50% of Kenya’s population and producing 70% of Kenya’s hydroelectric power.
Best Time to Go: January - February and July - October
Where to Stay: There are huts on the mountain and also lodges and private camps in the surrounding area.
Getting There: By road from Nairobi (3-4 hour drive).
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli is a popular park with breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro (in Tanzania). The park is centered around Observation Hill, which offers great views of the plains below. The Maasai live around the park and other than their cattle, Amboseli is home to more than 50 species of mammal and over 400 species of bird. You can see elephant, hippo, cheetah, leopard and more.
Best Time to Go: June - October
Where to Stay: There are several lodges and campsites in the park.
Getting There: By road from Nairobi (4 hours) or a daily scheduled flight from Nairobi's Wilson Airport.
More about Amboseli, and Images of Amboseli...
Tsavo National Park is split into Tsavo East and Tsavo West. The Tsavo parks are vast and the landscape is wild. Tsavo East is less developed than Tsavo West but more accessible. In Tsavo West, you can watch elephants bathe among the hippos and the crocs from a unique vantage point of an under-water glass tank. The "Big Five" do live here, but you have to look carefully to spot them.
Best Time to Go: May to October
Where to Stay: Tsavo East has Voi Wildlife Lodge; Tsavo West has several lodges. Both parks have private campsites.
Getting There: By road from Mombasa (3-4 hours) or Nairobi (10 hours); Or charter flight.
Aberdare National Park is as famous for its lovely waterfalls as its rare species of rhino, black leopard, and bongo antelope. The regular rains keep the park green year round and the temperatures cool, perfect for hiking.
Best Time to Go: May to October
Where to Stay: Treetops and The Ark are two upscale lodges in the park, there are also public and private campsites.
Getting There: By road from Nairobi (3-4 hours).
Lewa is a private reserve set up primarily to protect black rhino, sitatunga, and the endangered Grevy's zebra. The park is excellently maintained, there are over 60 species of mammals and over 200 species of bird. You can even enjoy your game viewing on foot, on the back of a camel, or in a traditional safari vehicle.
Best Time to Go: January - April and June - October
Where to Stay: There are several lodges in the park and on community land outside the park.
Getting There: By air from Nairobi on Safari Link.
Nairobi National Park is one of Kenya's most successful black rhino sanctuaries, it also enjoys its own wildebeest migration as well as hosting over 400 species of bird. This is all within a stone's throw of Kenya's bustling capital city, Nairobi. Walking trails offer visitors a chance to experience the African bush at its best.
Best Time to Go: Year-round (migration is July/August)
Where to Stay: Anywhere in Nairobi
How to Get There: By road, it's less than 5 miles from the city center.
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs are 3 Reserves bordering one another in the dry landscape of North Central Kenya. The wildlife congregates around the Ewaso Ngiro River which runs through the Reserves. Besides the wildlife (elephant, giraffe, leopard, zebra, blue-legged ostriches), a highlight of any visit is to meet the Samburu people. Camel safaris are on offer at most of the lodges and if you're in the area, visit the Laikipia Plateau.
Kisite is a marine reserve situated in the shallow Indian Ocean coastal waters of Southern Kenya. Traditional Dhows sail you back and forth to the underwater park where you can enjoy snorkeling or diving among its colorful coral reefs. Dolphins, turtles, manta rays, angelfish, and parrotfish are regularly sighted.
Best Time To Go: October - January
Where to Stay: There are several guesthouses and bandas available in the marine reserve.
Getting There:1 1/2 hour drive from Mombasa and then you can take a Dhow.