Best Wildlife Destinations to Visit in Kenya
Kenya is one of the most amazing countries in the world in terms of wildlife diversity.
Whether you are looking for a dream safari in Africa, or like the idea of a Kenya gap year, you really need to visit this country and see why so many tourist absoutely love travelling here.
Kenya is huge country and you could plan a trip independently, or search tours and safaris - there are hundreds to choose between with weekly departures all year round.
Knowing where to go is very important though, and if you are interested to see animals in their natural habitat we have put together this guide to the best places to add to your itinerary.
Check out our list of the top wildlife destinations in Kenya and start planning an amazing trip today.
Nairobi is the huge sprawling capital of Kenya and one of the most popular cities in Africa.
You can catch international flights into the city from all around the world and it is also worth staying here for a few days to get an introducation to the country and get over any jetag.
Although not specifically a wildlife destination, this is where most tours and safaris start.
Nairobi is a bustling city with lots of activities and places to visit, it is also one of the best places to see a local side to Kenya away from the tourist trail.
If you are passionate about wildllife you have to visit the David Sheldrick Rescue & Rehab Center for orphaned elephants in KWS Central Workshop Gate, Magadi. This is open to the public for viewing mud baths and feedings. You will get to learn more about these animals and efforts being made to help conserve them.
Also if you really can't wait for the impressive Kenyan National Parks book a trip to the Giraffe Centre which is recommended.
2. Tsavo East National Park
Established back in 1948, the Tsavo East National Park is a huge wildlife destination covering an area of 13,747 km2 (5,308 sq mi).
The park forms the largest protected area in Kenya and it is one of the top rated locations to see African animals. You can see elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions, leopards, hippos, crocodiles, waterbucks, Kudu and various bird species.
Most local and international travel companies offer safari tours here due to the popularity among foreign tourists.
3. Samburu Game Reserve
The Samburu Game Reserve is located in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District and here you can see animals like camels, zebra, ostrich, beisa oryx, gerenuk, dik dik and giraffes on morning and afternoon game drives.
The landscapre here is really picturesque and you might also come into contact with the local Samburu tribe who live here, they are related to the Maasai and they still wear traditional dress which is an amazing sight to see.
If you have looked at volunteer programs in Kenya this is where a lot of projects are based. You could get to play a role in helping consservation efforts and working directly with exotic animals - a dream opportunity.
4. Masai Mara Game Reserve
The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is one of the most popular National Parks in Africa and also one of the best places to oberve animals in their natural habitat.
You can expect to see leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas on morning and afternoon game drives. Many people choose to visit during July to September to see the spectacular wildebeest migration, you can also take a hot air balloon safari for an extra cost.
By visiting you will also be able to learn more about the local Maasai people who are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting northern, central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are recognisable for their distinctive customs, dances and clothing.
5. Amboseli National Park
The Amboseli National Park is located in southern Kenya and it is one of the most scenic destinations due to the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro on the skyline.
Amboseli is well known for its large elephant herds and opportunity to see giraffes, zebras, cheetahs and bird species. Lake Amboseli, during rainy season is one of the main highlights.
Be sure to visit Observation Hill which offers amazing panorama photos of the plains and swamps.
6. Sweetwater Game Reserve
The Sweetwater Game Reserve is a 24,000-acre private ranch where you can go on an afternoon or night game drive to see animals up close.
You can expect to see animals like hippos, giraffes, baboons, monkeys, aardvarks, and ostrich. Antelopes include Grant's gazelle, Thomson's gazelle, impala, Beisa oryx, waterbuck, eland, and over 300 species of birds.
We also recommend planning a visit to the nearby Jane Goodall Chimp Sanctuary.
Other Places to Consider
If you have more time and a flexible schedule you might want to also try and see these locations which are also highly rated:
- Lake Naivasha National Park
- Lake Nakuru National Park
- Samburu National Park
- Lake Baringo National Park
- Lake Bogoria National Park
- Kakamega National Park
- Kisumu, Kogelo, Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu
- Aderdare National Park
Plan a Trip to Kenya
Whether you want a short break to see wildlife, have always wanted to volunteer in Africa or you just want to discover this magical eastern African country, you have so much choice for places to visit.
Although there are hundreds of incredible destinations, hopefully our list has given you some ideas for the essential destinations to try to see for your first trip to Kenya. To maximise your time here search Kenya tours and compare all trips to see which appeals to you.
Some travel companies also offer combo trips to other countries in the region, for example going to see wildlife in Uganda or relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar.