National Parks of Kenya

Sunset in Masai Mara National Reserve
Sunset behind an acacia tree on the savannah in Masai Mara in southern Kenya

Kenya boasts over 30 major faunal reserves designated as National Parks, National Reserves and Game Parks and many rate among the very best in Africa. The National Parks and Reserves are administered through Kenya Wildlife Service and some are administered by County Councils.

Kenya’s savanna ranks as one of the world’s better holiday destinations, and with good reason. In no other country in Africa will you find such a wide variation in landscape, vegetation, wildlife and culture. Huge herds of wildebeest and gazelle roam its vast grassland plains. On more undulating terrain herds of elephant nibble at the thick-trunked baobab tree.

The landscape ranges from forest and snow-clad peaks in the highlands, to dusty bush savanna towards the north, where lions find shade under the bristle acacia and clusters of doum palm. On arable land small farmers cultivate the soil, supplying produce for bustling colourful markets in the towns.

Broadly speaking, the difference between the National Parks and National Reserves is that in the former complete protection of the fauna and flora is the paramount purpose and human utilisation of the land is not allowed. In the Reserves preservation of the wildlife is a primary purpose but human activities such as grazing their cattle is allowed on specific terms and conditions.

National Parks in Kenya

Tsavo National Park
Amboseli National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park
Mount Kenya National Park
Marsabit National Park
Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek
Hells gate National Park
Meru National Park
Aberdare National Park
Nairobi National Park
Mount Elgon National Park
Ol Doinyo Sebuk National Park
Saiwa Swamp National Park
Ndere National park
Losai National Reserve

Vulture in a tree and tall grasses
Vulture in a tree and tall grasses, Hasselblad 203FE and 250 mm f/4 on Kodak 100VS, scanned on Imacon Flextight ll. Photo © Mikkel Grabowski

National Reserves and Game Reserves

Oryx antelope in Samburu
Oryx antelope in Samburu-Buffalo Springs-Shaba National Reserves

Masai Mara Game Reserve
Samburu-Buffalo Springs-Shaba National Reserves
Lake Bogoria National Reserve
Kakamega Forest Reserve
Kisumu Impala Sanctuary
Lambwe Valley National Reserve
Shimba Hills National Reserve
Tana River Primate Reserve
Arawale National Reserve
Boni National Reserve
Kora National Reserve
Rahole National Reserve
Dodori National Reserve
Sibiloi National Reserve (Koobi Fora, known as the cradle of Mankind is a UNESCO World heritage site on the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana)
Mwea National Reserve (Embu District)
Ngai Ndethya National Reserve (Kitui District)

Marine National Parks

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park
Malindi Marine National Park
Watamu Marine National Park

In addition to the faunal National Parks and National Reserves there are three other Parks which are mainly of historical and archaeological significance:

Fort Jesus National Park which protects the seventeenth-century Portuguese fort overlooking the Indian Ocean in Mombasa. Gedi National Park which protects the outstanding but partly ruined thirteenth-century Arab city outside Malindi, and lastly Olorgesailie National Park which preserves a Pleistocene living-site of hand-axe man with his artifacts and some prehistoric mammal fossils exhibited on the site

Dhow at Kisite-Mpunguti National Park