Safari Parks in Kenya
Maasai Mara Game Reserve
The world renowned Masai Mara does not need an introduction. Its tawny wildlife-infested savannas have been has been on every TV set for years where tons of documentaries have been filmed for the Discovery channel and National Geographic including the most recent Disney’s “African Cats.”
Locally known as Serengeti North, the Mara hosts some of Africa’s greatest battles between millions of herbivores and the great predators who rely on them for food. The Masai Mara is the embodiment of what an African safari should be: muddy, wild, and exhilarating.
The Mara has some fantastic properties for every taste and preference, from more rustic camping safaris to high-end luxury 5 star hotels in the middle of the bush. Be prepared to feel like you are at the center of the earth as the circle of life unfolds around you while you sip champagne.
The great wildebeest migration is one of the “Seven new wonders of the world” and occurs from July through October where over 2 million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti to the Mara in search of greener pastures.
The greatest point is the crossing of the Mara river where crocodiles prey on the wildebeest. Watching them try to come out with their torsos intact is one of the greatest and most eye-opening things I have ever witnessed.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli is the land of the elephant. This park is teeming with herds of elephant that come in massive packs known to many of the guides as they are families of elephants that have been tracked for decades. Ask your guide and he/she will be able to tell you who the mothers and aunts of the herd are. This is especially amazing because you can see the close bond that elephants form with each other that last a lifetime. Don’t miss the observation hill, which provides extraordinary views of the elephants and the whole park.
Amboseli National Park is also famous for its views of Mt Kilimanjaro. Because of its close proximity, underground rivers flow through Amboseli from Kilimanjaro and create permanent swamps in the park, leaving elephants with an abundant supply of water. There are about 1,200 elephants that inhabit Amboseli today.
Tsavo National Park
Tsavo was made famous by the movie “The Ghost and the Darkness” staring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas, which tells the tale of the man-eating lions of the Tsavo in the late 1800’s (don’t worry – they don’t exist anymore today!) The Tsavo is the largest park in Kenya and one of the largest in the world. Because of its size, it has been split into two Tsavo East and Tsavo West.
The western part of Tsavo is more mountainous and wetter than its counterpart, boasting some great attractions like Mazima Springs, Lake Jipe and tons of swamps. The park is a ‘catchment’ for visitors from coast resorts with large herds of elephant, rhino, buffalo and many lion prides.
Mt Kenya National park
Mt Kenya National Park refers the region surrounding Mt Kenya. The park and the forest reserve within is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Located east of the Great Rift Valley at 5,199m, Mt Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa. Climbing Mt Kenya is a real; there is something for everyone between its three peaks: Point Lenana, Nelion and Batian. The latter of the three are Nelion and Batian, suitable for skilled rock climbers. As a mountain, it’s much more difficult than Kilimanjaro where you only need legs and a good pair of lungs.
Aberdare National Park
Queen Elizabeth II learned of her accession to the British throne at Treetops Lodge, which is located in the Aberdare National Park. 58 years later, Prince William popped the question to Kate Middleton on a verandah of a log cabin high on the flanks of Mt Kenya. This park definitely has the right royal connections.
Aberdare National park also has a rich history: it was where the Mau Mau hid during their rebellion against British forces and there are some fantastic caves to explore which depict the history of the Mau Mau.
The park is also home to Kenya’s 2nd largest population of black rhinos.
Lake Nakuru National Park
The flamingos of Lake Nakuru are breathtaking, resembling a pink carpet spread across this soda lake. They feed on the algae that forms at the bottom, and only occasionally take flight. Lake Nakuru is world renowned for this phenomenon and is a must-see for all tourists.
The park is also teeming with wildlife and is an important sanctuary for rhinos; both black and white species of these animals can be found here, often seen resting near the lake shore under the acacia trees. The best chance of seeing leopards in Kenya is in Lake Nakuru and the park is also home to several prides of lions.
Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu
Mombasa Kenya is where paradise truly exists. I have vacationed there my whole life from the time my folks threw me in the Indian Ocean at age five to December holidays with my friends as an adult. We continue to explore our coastline every year and discover the many hidden beaches and secluded spots. Mombasa is also home to many world-class hotels, offering a variety of experiences for every different kind of tourist.
Mombasa is divided into the North and South coasts. A ferry is required to go across from one side to the next, called “Liconi.”
The South Coast is where the term "white sandy beaches for miles" must originate. The South Coast of Mombasa has made a name for itself with increasingly more impressive hotels every year, and the older ones with more history being constantly refurbished and updated. These hotels cater to every taste and style.
Mombasa also has an awesome nightlife. The North Coast in particular is full of bars and clubs that operate from dusk to dawn, especially on the Nyali beach strip.
A two-hour drive from Mombasa or a twenty-minute flight, Malindi is bit quieter than Mombasa, but a major hub for other types of activities, such as deep-sea fishing for Marlin, shark and sailfish. Malindi is exceptionally popular with Italian tourists; it has been a settlement for many Italians since the 1980’s. Most of the hotels dotting the coastline are owned and operated by Italians, who bring their incredible language and culture to Malindi as well.
For the last number of years Malindi has seen a breakthrough in water sports, hosting the CHE SHALE annual kite surfing competition for the 3rd time in 2012. Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho, two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso, musician Bono, British supermodel Naomi Campbell, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and billionaire Flavio Briatore are among those who regularly visit the amazing town. Italian Billionaire Flavio Briatore’s “Billionaire Resort Club” is said to be the only one of its kind in Africa (for those who are lucky enough to visit!)
If you’re looking for a vintage vacation that takes you back in time 100 years, Lamu is definitely a stop you need to make. It is the most northern point in Kenya’s coast and has no roads, only alleyways and footpaths. Cars and bikes are a rarity on this beautiful and untouched island. Residents move about on foot or by boat and donkeys are used for public transportation.
Lamu Old Town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.
Walking around this town is an uplifting experience; the culture is more than 1000 years old and remains relatively unchanged. You can have dinner in the middle of the warm Indian Ocean in a restaurant that’s has been built on stilts, and lay under the millions of stars in the night sky that shine so brightly you can almost read a book at midnight. Lamu is why we leave our grueling lives for a few weeks – for an experience that warms the body, mind, and soul.
Masai Mara Conservancies
On the Northern and Eastern boundaries of this amazing world-renowned park you can find cattle grazing land belonging to the Masai. This land is now being converted into conservancies by the Masai landowners, who have come together to benefit from tourism by agreeing to joint land rental with industry stakeholders, who pay an annual rent and fee per visitor.
Because these conservancies have done so well in protecting themselves as private reserves, wildlife traffic has become more prolific. The animals have adjusted their movement, especially during the migration and peak seasons due to the fact that the less visited lands in the north are relative safe havens: humans pose a limited threat and the environment is quickly returning to its natural balance.
Meru National Park
Made famous by the book “Born Free,” this park was where George and Joy Adamson released their famous lioness “Elsa” back into the wild.
This park has been rehabilitated in the last 15 years as it fell into serious neglect and out of control poaching in the 80’s and 90’s. Charismatic warden Peter Jenkins pushed the International Fund for Animal Welfare to restore this oasis and installed a dedicated force of armed rangers and a KWS (Kenya Wildlife Services) constant presence. This park now has a poacher-proof Rhino sanctuary near the main gate.