Here is a brief description of the most famous of Kenya’s national parks – and the ones we most often visit on our safaris.
If you think about the savannas and the really big flocks of savannah game, the choice must fall on the Masai Mara – it is Kenya’s most expensive area. The Masai Mara is in principle also the northern part of Tanzania’s legendary Serengeti plain. This is East Africa, as we know it from the safari films: on the open savannah, large flocks of zebras, kongoni, topi and wildebeest graze, while many smaller antelope species – especially Thompson’s and Grant’s Gazelles and impalas keep them company. Small flocks of warthogs are seen. This is where the chances of lions are greatest, for they are attracted, as are the hyenas and jackals of the many grazing animals. It can be a good idea to look for circling vulture flocks, because they are a signal that a scavenger is at your disposal – unless the lions are having a feast. We see hundreds of new bird species here.
Ostriches strut slowly around, and in turkey size are several species of stairs. Colorful Elk Crows impress while a gray, cuckoo-like case called a Go Away Bird lives up to its name through its annoying, three-tone scream! More than 50 species of birds of prey can be found here, from vultures to peregrine falcons. Constantly there are new impressions in this paradise for nature lovers, and we see it all from our safari buses.
It is obsessive to experience how nature comes to life again in the last, intense hours of daylight – places that a few hours ago were completely cleansed of life are now a scene for East Africa’s unique wildlife. No two rides are alike, and that’s one of the most charming things about this type of tourism: you never know what’s going on around the corner or when a Leopard unexpectedly shows up!
Located 260 km. south of Nairobi lies the beautiful Amboseli National Park at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Amboseli is probably the most spectacular location of all Kenya’s national parks. Amboseli is approx. 400 km 2 and the sand in the park originates from Kilimanjaro.
Amboseli is, despite a slightly tarnished reputation, a great nature experience – even though the park’s great pride, the elephants go a little hard to the dishes. The elephants are one of Amboseli’s great experiences, we will most likely see larger herds of this mighty animal. In the arid landscape, there are underground springs that run down from the flanks of Kilimanjaro and (yet) eternal snow.
Nairobi National Park
According to thesciencetutor, Nairobi National Park is one of Kenya’s smallest parks, but certainly not one of the poorest in animals !. The savannah game dominates and we see many different antelopes (including the huge elk antelope Eland), zebras, impalas and we will see if Hippo Pools lives up to its name by housing hippos. Surprisingly often one is lucky with the animals here and there are good chances for the first lion of the trip. For though the lion is for many the epitome of Africa, it is not entirely easy to see: believing the lions roam the streets of Nairobi is as wrong as believing that the polar bears pose a danger in the streets of Helsinki! Here we have been lucky several times with cheetah and Black Rhinoceros (the latter near extinction in East Africa). The bird life is as everywhere in Kenya impressive, and we see i.a. ostrich, black-necked heron, blue kite, secretary bird, Helper guinea fowl, Crown cranes and stairs. Incidentally, there is a very special feeling to see the animals with Nairobi’s skyline in the background – Nairobi National Park is a piece of Vestamager translated into real tropical Africa!
Stress-relieving experiences in the land of the vast expanses! The areas north of Lakes Nakuru and Naivasha as well as Mount Kenya are far less affected by tourism than the Nairobi and the classic safari areas of Southern Kenya. The wonderful lakes lie undisturbed at the base of the Rift Valley, forming the backdrop with its rugged small mountains. In the drier areas to the north, a fauna thrives that is distinctly East African, but offers other animals and birds than those seen further south. A safari that takes the areas north of Nairobi with it gives an almost comprehensive impression of the wonderfully varied nature of magnificent Kenya.
Lake Nakuru and crowds of flamingos
Lake Nakuru, considered by many to be East Africa’s, perhaps the best bird lake in the world, is a wonderful experience. It is salty, and the habitat of over a million pink flamingos of two species: the small and brightly colored, and the larger, paler one, which is known from North Africa and southern Europe. Along the entire shores of the lake they stand, shoulder to shoulder, mingling with the large Marabou stork (which looks and behaves like vultures), two species of pelicans, Yellow-billed Wood stork and cormorants. Lots of herons take advantage of the lake’s fish fauna, and along the shores we see bucks, water bucks and perhaps hippos. Such an abundance of animals and birds attracts many birds of prey such as birds of prey and steppe eagles, black eagles, several vulture species and beautifully colored aubergines.
We drive slowly through the forest, because this is where we have the best opportunity on the whole journey to see the Leopard. The sight of the spotted cat resting along a branch is worth the whole trip, but it takes luck! We also visit a vantage point with a nice view of the lake. Here live Rock Badgers that look like large rodents, but are actually the Elephant’s closest relative! They are found in small groups and attract Black Eagles, who are specialists in taking these animals. Lake Nakuru is worth a trip in itself. After a day full of strong impressions and colorful views of nature, the lodge’s delicious dinner tastes especially good!
Lake Baringo is like a life-giving freshwater oasis in the middle of the arid landscape, surrounded by green, lush shores with flowering water lilies. The lake is known for its large population of hippos, crocodiles and waterfowl. Proud Goliath herons, two species of pelicans and the strange Snake-necked Birds lurk along the lake shores, several species of kingfishers slip past and the White-headed River Eagles can be seen up close. The reed forests and the dry, scrub-clad landscape are home to a completely different bird fauna, such as metallic shiny starlings and colorful weavers. Over 450 bird species have been recorded in and near the lake, over 300 observed within one day alone !. In addition to the lake itself, the semi-desert and rocky slopes west of the lake are worth a visit. Along the cliffs, the Black Eagle hunts for Rock Badgers and the Lanner Falcon for the endemic Brush-crowned Starling!
Sailing on a canoe photo safari in a canoe on the lake is an experience of a lifetime! Lake Baringo has in recent years been affected by dams that for a change caused the water level to fall alarmingly, but the water level is now rising. Not least Lake Baringo’s central position as a destination for nature tourists has led to increased awareness about the conditions at this unique place.
With its 30 square kilometers, Lake Bogoria is only half the size of Lake Baringo. While Baringo is fresh, Bogoria is a soda lake, and the fauna is therefore different. The park is only slightly visited. A serene paradise dominated by the life-giving and colorful sight as tens of thousands of pink flamingos reveal themselves as a fringe of the candy-floss country shores of the lake. Lake Bogoria along with Nakuru are the best places to see these amounts of waterfowl and up to 2 million have been seen at one time! The flamingos feed on green algae found just by soda lakes. The green algae are also food for large quantities of small animals and fish, which in turn constitute the main food of waterfowl.
The lush forest at the southern corner of the lake is Kenya’s best spot for the beautiful antelope Great Kudu with its long, twisted horns, but also houses many other animals, and sometimes you see leopards.