African Wildlife Safaris : Discover the Untamed Kenya Wilderness
The enchanting wilderness and big game of Kenya has always attracted explorers from all corners of the world. Kenya gives wildlife adventure seekers the chance to experience an incredible range of landscapes, unique natural features and species as well as an endless array of ecosystems.
The 27 national parks and 33 game reserves in Kenya host millions of wild animals, making the country a game watching paradise. The great wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara, and the Lake Nakuru flamingos (the highest concentration of flamingos in East and Central Africa) are just some of the attractions that make Kenya the best wildlife safari destination in Africa and in the world.
Every year, thousands of visitors from around the world flock into the Masai Mara to witness the great wildebeest migration. The migration takes place between July and October, with about 2 million wildebeest, and hundreds of thousands of zebras and Thompson gazelles crossing from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania into the Mara. The migration pattern is dictated by the availability of water and pasture in the two game reserves, due to the different rainfall patterns. The large ungulates start their northward journey at the end of May, the onset of the dry season in the Serengeti.
The Masai Mara is a fascinating game-viewing destination all year round, although most people like to time their Masai Mara Safari with the Great Wildebeest Migration. Getting the timing right is, however, really tricky as it all depends on the rains which schedules the migration.
Situated on Kenya’s southwest about 300km from Nairobi, the Mara is owned and managed by the local Maasai people. The game reserves occupies an area of 1510 sq. km. Getting to Maasai Mara takes around 5 hours by road and 45 minutes by flight from Nairobi. Scheduled flights to the Mara are available from either Wilson airport or Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Charter flights are also available from Wilson airport. Most travel agents and tour operators in Kenya organize safaris to the Mara and game drives within the reserve.
A popular and convenient wildlife safari destination for visitors who do not want to travel much across the country is the Nairobi National park. The park is situated about 7km from Nairobi city center, making it the only game reserve in the world located in a major city. Nairobi national park was established in 1945 and was the first national park in Kenya.
A great diversity of animal and bird species are present in the Nairobi national park. All the big five except the elephant are found here, alongside cheetahs, hyenas, crocodiles, hippos, antelopes, gazelles, warthogs, hyrax, wildebeests, and monkeys. There are also over 400 resident and migratory bird species including African hawks, martial eagles, ostriches, secretary bird, marabou storks, hornbill, and crowned cranes.
The park has an Orphanage where young and/or injured or deserted animals are kept, studied, treated and released back into the wild when they are ready. A rhino sanctuary was started off in the park making it one of the few places where you are sure to spot a black rhino in its natural environment. There are also walking trails near hippo pools, a Nairobi Safari walk and spacious picnic sites.
Visitors frequent the park any time of the year, as there is a permanent population of game and carnivores. However, the best times are during the July/August period when large herds of wildebeest, eland and zebra migrate into the park, and during the dry season, when animals flock in the northern part of the park in search of water made available from the man-made dams.
Tsavo National park, famed for the movie ‘man eaters of tsavo’, is yet another good wildlife destination. Tsavo is the largest national park in Kenya, and is located about 300 km from Nairobi. The park is divided into Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks, with the Mombasa-Nairobi highway separating the two parks. Tsavo West neighbors the Serengeti plains on the south, and has many wild animals owing to the favorable altitude. Tsavo’s major attractions include the underwater hippos and crocodiles observation point in Mzima springs.
Tsavo animal population consists lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, buffaloes, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and crocodiles among many more. There are a host of other smaller animals including dik dik, hyrax, and mongoose. You can travel to Tsavo both by road and by charter flight. Some operational airstrips in Tsavo include Kilaguri, Maxtar, Kamboyo, and Tsavo Gate.
There are several other wildlife safari destinations in Kenya. Amboseli National Park, Samburu game reserve, Lake Nakuru national park, Aberdares national park, and Mount Kenya national park are some of the most popular.