Park & Lakes Summary
Summary of Major Game Parks and Lakes in Kenya
Aberdare National Park
The Aberdares are abundant with a great variety of wild animals including rhinos, red duikers and bushbucks. If the visitor is especially lucky, he will see the more elusive of the mountain dwellers,the shy bongo antelope, the black leopard and the giant forest hog, or even the crowned eagle hunting colobus monkeys, one of its favourite food.
A freshwater lake, 200 kms north of Naivasha, Baringo supports an enormous number of bird species and a large number of hippos. Excursions to see an Njemp village and dancing, a local snake farm, and leisurely bird-watching trips by boat or on foot.
Lake Bogoria National Park
Quite unlike Lake Baringo in appearance, Lake Bogoria is a shallow soda lake, home to a large number of birds and the rare Lesser Kudu. Scalding hot springs and geysers at the southern end of the lake spurt and steam their alkaline waters.
National Park The first rhino sanctuary in Kenya, this small but beautiful park lies
8 kms south of Nakuru covering an area of 200 sq kms. The park is unquestionably “the greatest ornithological spectacle on earth”, serving as the congregation point for a roseate mass of some 100,000 to 2 million flamingoes and over 450 other species of birds a spectacle of immense beauty. Other wildlife to be seen in the park are the water-bucks, reedbucks, zebras, impalas, gazelles, lions, leopards, buffalos, hippos and rhinos especially in the olive tree forest to the south-west.
Covering 170 sq kms this beautiful freshwater lake, surrounded by rolling hills and extinct volcanoes, is home to over 450 species of birds. The lake’s water is used to irrigate the bountiful agriculture on its shores and a visit to these farms, for those interested in agriculture, is worthwhile. Strawberries, flowers, asparagus and numerous other crops are grown for domestic consumption
and export. Black bass and tilapia make for entertaining fishing and a delicious
Amboseli National Park
180 kms due south of Nairobi, this 3,200 sq kms park is everyone’s picture of Kenya – a lion, elephant or cheetah against a backdrop of Africa’s highest mountain, the snowcapped Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 metres). Either at sunrise or sundown Amboseli resembles a pantomime set, with mammals downstage, luminous in strong pink or amber gels, with the mountain looming above, creating the finest photogenic backdrop to a game park anywhere in the world.
The Amboseli swamps attract a large variety of wildlife including wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, cheetah and leopard. The parks checklist numbers over 420 species of
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs
Game Reserves Covering an area of 300 sq kms, 314 kms north of Nairobi, off the shoulder of Mount Kenya, Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba Game Reserves lie at the edge of the vast scrub desert that extends to Lake Turkana and beyond. A permanent relief is the broad ribbon of the Uaso Nyiro River which has blessed the park with an abundance of tiny dik diks, buffalos, elephants, cheetahs, leopards and lions. It also has resident wildlife species, rare elsewhere in the country.
Masai Mara Game Reserve
An extension of the Serengeti plains, it lies on the border with Tanzania, 250 kms to the west of Nairobi. The park covers an area of 1,800 sq kms of rolling grassland dotted with acacia.
Among wildlife sanctuaries the Masai Mara must be one of the world’s greatest, with an abundance of wildlife. Large herds of plains game gazelles, zebras, wildebeests and topis are pursued by the predators – blackmaned lions, cheetahs and leopards, as hundreds of elephants, buffalos, hippos and crocodiles complete this magical scene. A spectacle to be seen at least once in a lifetime is the annual migration from bordering Serengeti of hundreds of thousands of zebras and wildebeests. And yet, oddly, “Mara” means “mottley”. More likely, the Mara was named for the spotty, speckled inundation of the 1.4 million wildebeests and a million other herbivores that make their way across these plains any time between the end of June and the middle of September.
Nairobi National Park
Just 13 kms out of the city, the Nairobi National Park is the smallest and oldest of Kenya’s GameParks, covering an area of 120 sq kms. Today, in a cosmopolitan 20th century, a browsing rhino is photographed against the backdrop of a modern city skyline, or a more unique imagery, a lion kills a gazelle in the wild, not more than 15-minutes drive from the portico of the Hilton!
Situated at the main gate on the Langata Road, the Nairobi Animal Orphanage provides a home for the young, sick and stray animals that are nursed back to fitness before being relocated to the wilderness.
Tsavo National Park
The world’s largest wildlife sanctuary, Tsavo National Park, covers an area of 20,700 sq kms. Tsavo West stretches from the main Nairobi-Mombasa road down to the Tanzania border and Tsavo East northwards up to the borders of the Ukambani region, though tourist traffic north of the Galana River is prohibited.
More popular of the two is the wilderness of Tsavo West, with its fine extensive plains, lava flows, steep rocky hills and the parks centrepiece – a natural wonder – 48 kms of underground rivers flowing from the Chyulu Hills into a marvellous eruption of crystal clear water. Gushing 2,250
million litres daily, Mzima Springs forms a natural jacuzzi for hippos and crocodiles.
The world’s greatest concentration of elephants, numbering over 20,000, are the dominant animals of this park, devastating vegetation for decades, to its present scrub grassland. Also to be found in large numbers are rhinos, buffalos and plains game. Lions and cheetahs are regularly sighted.
The Kenyan Coast and Hotels
A Swahili proverb sums up the pervasive atmosphere of the Kenyan coast. “Haraka haraka haina baraka” – “Haste, haste has no peace.”
Here the gentle philosophy of the Swahili people is reflected in their leisurely pace of life, as might be expected at zero altitude on the equator. It is hot, humid and yet tempered all the time by either the south-east or north-east monsoon, the trade winds of the Indian Ocean. Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline stretches for over 320 kms with dazzling white sandy beaches fringed by palm trees and lapped by translucent turquoise water. For a few days relaxation after an energetic safari or sojourn at the beach, where better? 500 kms from Nairobi, one can either drive to Mombassa stopping en route at the several lovely game reserves or take one of Kenya Airways flights, of which there are 6/7 daily. Alternatively, there is an overnight train service with comfortable cabins and beds and a restaurant car serving dinner and breakfast.