The national parks and reserves in Kenya are found in various places around the country. Some are small in size while others are very big in size. Some are known throughout the world while others are just famous locally but all for really good reasons.
Tourists visit Kenya all year round to have a taste of the safari experience in Kenya. Safaris in Kenya are usually fun packed with tourists having a lot of activities and adventure during the safari. The national reserves and national parks in Kenya have various accommodation facilities that tourists can use whenever they visit want to go on safaris.
Tourists visiting Kenya for safaris can either choose to use safari camps, safari lodges, hotels or tented camps. There are very many of these facilities around the country. Some are in the national reserves or national parks while others are outside the perimeter of the national parks and national reserves.
The prices in these hotels, lodges and safari camps vary from place to place. There is no fixed rate for accommodation. These prices also vary throughout the year. Hotels change their rate depending on what season it is. There are high and low seasons when it comes to tourism in Kenya. The high season always experiences an influx of the number of tourists visiting the country while the low season experiences a low turnout compared to the high season.
During the low seasons, the rates of different accommodation spots usually drop by a considerable margin. It is usually very significant that many tourists choose to visit Kenya during this period to take advantage of the low charges. Other camps usually choose to close down temporarily until normalcy resumes in the parks.
Top National Reserves and National Parks in Kenya
So what are the most famous national reserves and national parks in Kenya? If you are planning come for safaris in Kenya, it is important that you know what the best places are to visit and what activities to expect when you visit these places.
You have a big decision to make because unless you have all the time to spend on holiday and all the money, you can never visit each national reserve and national park in Kenya. You will have to do a good research on your best destinations to visit and make sure they fit on your holiday timeline. While making these decisions, it is important that you also consider your budget for your holiday.
Below are some of the most popular national reserves and national parks in Kenya that you need to consider when visiting Kenya. These are ideal destinations for safaris and are famous among tourists who visit Africa.
The Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara National Reserve is found in Masai Mara. Masai Mara is in Rift Valley province and the closest town to the Masai Mara National Reserve is Narok Town. The native inhabitants of the area the Masai people and therefore the area gets its name from the Masai people and consequently the national reserves’ name is coined from the name of the place.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is the most popular safari destinations in Kenya and it is also quite popular in Africa. This is home to countless wildlife species and therefore a great place for safaris and adventure in Kenya. It is home to the big 5, that is, the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo.
There are also other very many interesting animals that call Masai Mara home. These include cheetahs, hyenas, zebras, gazelles, giraffes and many others. When you go for game drives in the Masai Mara, these animals can be easily seen and if you have a good guide, you will be taken to various spots famous for various animals you are interested in.
The Nairobi National Park
The Nairobi National Park is one of the most interesting national parks in the world. This is because it is the only national park that is found with a city. Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and the busiest of all the towns in Kenya. Nairobi is a metropolitan with all walks of life residing in the city.
The National Park is about 7km from the city’s CBD and just a few minutes ride will get you to the entrance of this national park. From the Nairobi National Park, you can see the tall buildings of Nairobi town and it is usually a great experience even to the city dwellers. It is convenient in that you do not have to travel long distances to see the big 5 or other animals on safari.
The animals are kept within the park’s perimeter by a fence but many times some of the animals make it out of the perimeter and cause a buzz around the neighboring areas. Just a few months back photos made rounds around the world. Some lions made it out of the national park to cause a snarl up of traffic as motorists got a rare treat of the wild beasts wrestling it out on the usually busy Langata Road.
The Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is also in Rift Valley. The national park gets its name from the Lake Nakuru that is found in the area. The lake is famous for its pink flamingo cover. It is an ideal place for bird lovers and the serenity of the area makes it an ideal destination for holidays.
There are other very many animals you can find in the park including the rhino of course other water animals and fish like Tilapia. There are very many hotels and lodges in Lake Nakuru that tourists can use when they visit the area. Nakuru is close to Nairobi and therefore offering a bit of convenience especially to domestic tourists.
The Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks
These twin national parks are found in the coast province. You can access these national parks from Mombasa, Voi or Malindi. The area is generally semi arid and dusty but is very rich when it comes to wildlife. This is the place to visit if you are particularly interested in seeing elephants.
The Tsavo East National Park and the Tsavo West National Parks are separate National Parks and therefore one cannot simply hop in and out of both. There are very many attractions in these parks including springs and Tsavo is also rich archeologically. There are also countless activities to do in Tsavo including rock climbing among other adventurous activities.
The Mount Kenya National Park
The Mount Kenya National Park is one of the best places for adventurous safaris in Kenya. There are very many activities that tourists take part in when they visit the Mount Kenya National Park. This national park is found in the central province of Kenya and get its name from the Mount Kenya, the tallest mountain in Kenya and the second tallest in Africa.
Apart from the wildlife in the park, tourists also get the rare treat of climbing Mount Kenya. There are different peaks that you can climb but each has its own fair share of challenges to deal with. It is always a thrilling experience to make it to the top and back and that is why Mount Kenya National Park gets tourists visiting the area all throughout the year.
The Amboseli National Park
Amboseli is also one of the most popular spots for safaris in Kenya. It is just south of Masai Mara and is rich in both flora and fauna. However, it is most famous for its scenic views of the Mount Kilimanjaro. From various safari camps and safari lodges in Amboseli, you have a great view of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro which has its foot in Kenya.
There are very many animals to see including the big 5. The Amboseli has the Savannah vegetation and the weather in the area is just about right for safaris. The Amboseli National park is also famous for elephants and therefore is an ideal safari destination if you are particularly interested in elephant’s activities.
There are other very many national reserves and national parks in Kenya. These include Kakamega Rain Forest National Reserve, Hell’s Gate National Park, Meru National Park, Sibiloi National Park and Buffalo Springs National Reserve among others. All these national reserves and national parks in Kenya make safaris in Kenya a memorable experience and will surely leave you wanting for more.
Revealing the Leopard Facts
Leopards are the ultimate cats. They are the most feline, the most intelligent, the most dangerous and, until recently, one of the least understood. They hunt from South Africa to Siberia, from Arabia to Sri Lanka, and are the most widespread predator of their size on land. A leopard is a cat that walks by itself, unseen and secretive. Leopards are the beautiful killers that live in the shadows.
Common Name: Leopard
Panthera pardus pardus: Africa
Panthera pardus nimr: Arabia
Panthera pardus saxicolor: Central Asia
Panthera pardus melas: Java
Panthera pardus kotiya: Sri Lanka
Panthera pardus fusca: Indian sub-continent
Panthera pardus delacourii: Southeast Asia
Panthera pardus japonensis: Northern China
Panthera pardus orientalis: Russian Far East, Korean peninsula and Northeastern China
Averages 28 inches at the shoulder with a general range of 17.5 – 30.5 inches high at the shoulder. It’s the smallest of the big cats, which include tigers, lions, and jaguars.
Males generally weigh 80-150 lbs. Females weigh 62.5 – 100 lbs.
Varying colors of yellow with rosette markings. Melanistic (black) leopards also exist but are far fewer in number.
Forest, subtropical and tropical, savanna, grassland, rocky and mountainous regions, and desert. The leopard can live in both warm and cold climates.
Carnivore – Giant eland, kudu, springbok, bushbuck, impalas, Thomson’s gazelles, duiker, primates, warthogs, guinea fowl, hares, rodents, fish, dung beetles. The leopard is capable of killing prey larger than itself.
The range of leopards is the most widespread of the big cats, covering a large stretch of Africa, parts of the Middle East, and Asia, including China, India, and eastern Russia.
Near Threatened (according to IUCN)
Humans – Urban expansion results in habitat loss and a decrease in food sources. Leopards are also hunted for their valuable fur and to prevent livestock loss.
- The animal’s name derives from the Greek word leopardus, a combination of leon (lion) and pardus (panther). Of the big cats, the leopard is the only known species that lives in both desert and rainforest habitats. Leopards are generally nocturnal and do most of their hunting at night. Their large eyes and dilated pupils allow them to see well in dark conditions.
- Leopards are incredibly athletic and known for their climbing ability. They often carry food into trees to avoid losing it to scavengers like lions and hyenas.
- They tend to be solitary animals and rarely interact with each other except to mate or raise cubs. Leopards breed perennially with a gestation period of approximately 3 months, giving birth to a litter of 2-3 cubs on average. Despite their names, the clouded leopard ( neofelis nebulosa ) and snow leopard ( panthera uncial ) are often considered a separate species.
- One of the rarest subspecies of leopard is eastern Russia’s Amur Leopard. There are only an estimated 30 currently living in the wild. Leopards can go for long periods of time without water, living off the moisture of their prey.
- Leopards mark their territory with urine and claw marks on the bark of trees.
Rudyard Kipling wrote the short story, How the Leopard Got Its Spots, to offer his own fictional explanation for the big cat’s attractive coat.
Revealing the Leopard
Leopards are survivors. Despite a changing world, the leopard has been able to maintain a surprisingly large population, especially in comparison to other big cats. While nobody knows the exact number of leopards currently on the planet, it’s estimated that there are roughly half a million — ten times more than lions, tigers, and cheetahs combined.
The majority are found in the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, most likely where the modern-day leopard originated hundreds of thousands of years ago — but they are also widespread, covering much of Africa, the Middle East, as well as eastern and southern Asia. They have settled in terrains that range from tropical rainforests and deserts, to alpine mountains and the outskirts of cities. Of the big cats, the leopard is the only known species that lives in both desert and rainforest environments.
What makes the leopard so successful? They are not as fast as cheetahs, nor as strong as lions. But the leopard is adaptable, able to acclimate and modify its habits to thrive in its current environment. As the natural landscape shifts, so does the leopard, adjusting to the new world that surrounds it.
Physical characteristics of Leopard
Populations of Leopard, like fur color and fur length vary depending on location. A leopard living in the savanna will have orange or yellow fur while a desert leopard’s fur is paler. Leopards that live in cooler climates tend to be longer-haired and more gray in color; rainforest leopards are more golden. A recessive gene can result in melanistic (black) leopards, as similar genes produce red hair in humans. These leopards are relatively few in number and are primarily found in tropical environments like the forests of Northeast China where there is more cover, and they can better blend with their surroundings. These differences enable leopards to live successfully in a range of environments.
Leopards are resilient and adaptable
While the leopard is resilient and adaptable, its population has recently suffered a decline, primarily attributed to human-leopard conflicts. The leopard’s valuable fur makes it vulnerable to poachers and hunters. Urban expansion has resulted in substantial habitat loss, a decrease in food sources, and aggression from communities that kill leopards to protect their livestock.
Sightings of leopards
The number of sightings of leopards near and around villages has continued to rise as their natural habitats and food sources shrink related to development. There have been sightings in developed areas of India, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, China, Saudi Arabia, even the United Kingdom. In a study conducted by the WWF in Pakistan, between 2005 and 2007, the majority of leopard sightings – 97 out of 125 – were in and around the small group of villages that were being monitored.
Generally leopards do not harm humans, but there have been cases of leopards attacking people. In 2004, fourteen people in Mumbai were reported to have been killed in attacks. Ongoing efforts are focused on educating affected communities to minimize leopard-human conflicts and to conserve natural habitats to deter leopards from moving into urban areas.
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) describes the leopard as “Near Threatened” on their Red List of Threatened Species. While leopards as a whole are not considered endangered, populations of certain leopard subspecies are less secure.
Ruaha National Park Tanzania
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania. The addition of the Usangu Game Reserve and other important wetlands to the park in 2008 increased its size too. Located in the heart of the country, Ruaha is the ‘other park’ on the Southern circuit. Ruaha’s relative inaccessibility has resulted in a park that takes far fewer tourists than the Selous and far fewer than any park in the Northern circuit.
The rewards of travelling this far are a wild landscape with baobab studded hills and rocky escarpments, playing host to excellent levels of game including superb predator concentrations, huge elephant and buffalo herds and a cross over of game from southern and Eastern Africa. Birdwatcher’s can enjoy over 400 species of bird.
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