National Parks and Reserves in Kenya
1. Lake Bogoria National Reserve
As is the essence with flamingos, they are unpredictable in their comings and goings, and one cannot be certain of their presence, but, at the 107 km2 Lake Bogoria, their spectacle is open for inspection year-round. The lake’s claim to fame is as a veritable flamingo water. At times, the flamingos assemble here in hundreds of thousands. The unmistakable epic pink line made by its flamingos has honoured Lake Bogoria with endless praise as the ultimate ornithological destination in Kenya. Historically, the largest congregation of these flamingos assemble when the lake’s waters are lowest, between August and early October. Originally known as Hannington Lake, Lake Bogoria also lacks little in scenery. Set hard against the steep slopes of the Rift Valley’s eastern wall, with the cliffs and gradients descending about 4,000 ft into the emerald green to azure water, it provides one of the most fetching sweeps in Baringo. It is also home to varied wildlife, most notably of its Kudu that are easily seen on the eastern shores. The other key attraction at Lake Bogoria is its series of gushing furmaroles and hot-springs half way along the western shore. From here, trippers may wish to have a meal or stopover at Lake Bogoria Spa Resort. Lake Bogoria is located 45 kms from Mogotio, 20 kms from Marigat, and about 25 kms south of Lake Baringo. The two lakes – Bogoria and Baringo – are remnants of a once continuous lake, and are now separated by the Loboi Plain, a wide extent of silt laid down by the original lake. Lake Bogoria is saline, and is fed by springs from the escarpment above it: a couple of impermanent tributaries on the west including the Emsoss River fed by the hot springs; and the Wasagess River flowing in from the north. The salinity of Bogoria intensifies to the south, reflecting the greater recharge from the north end. There is a possibility of subsurface drainage northwards, to Lake Baringo, situated some fifty feet lower, but most of the loss from this Lake is undoubtedly due to its ‘pervasive evaporation’ that causes its routine salinity.
2. Lake Baringo National Reserve
The 101 km2 Lake Baringo 25 kms north of Lake Bogoria is famed for its jazzy diversity of birds and its grandiose beauty once described by John W. Gregory (British geologist & explorer) as the most beautiful view seen in Africa. Its fresh nature is partly due to the fact that it has a submarine outlet discharging water northwards to Kapedo, and also that it accrues great quantities of fresh water from its inflowing rivers. The Lake, which is fed by Rivers Molo, Pekerra and Ol Arabel, has 13 islands each holding a unique beauty and mystery. It is possible to explore at least 7 of these islands – Lokoros, Rongena, Lengai, Devil’s Island, Samatian, Ol kokwe and Parmolos – in an afternoon’s adventure by means of motorized hop-on hop-off boat taxis. Adventure-makers whose only aim is to enjoy the aesthetics and serenity of the lake can take shorter trips aboard the tradition ambach boats popularly used by the Njemp, Tugen and Pokot anglers. Unique to Lake Baringo is its overt, undeviating and monotonous scrubland. Prosopis, a perennial thorny shrub native to the Americas, was introduced here in the 1980’s by Government of Kenya, with financial backing from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). It was intended to ensure self-sufficiency in wood products, make the environment habitable, and also to safeguard the existing natural vegetation from over exploitation. In some parts of the world where it has been introduced, there have been many benefits, but, at Baringo, especially around Lake Baringo, it became invasive and it has been of little use. Its other unique feature is a little-known wonder located high above its cliffs. The basalt cliffs of Lake Baringo are famous among bird-lovers as one of few places in Kenya to spot the rare Verreaux’s eagles, also known the African black eagle. “The cliffs of Baringo are their favourite haunt because these birds of prey are among the most prey-specific of any avian predator, hunting for rock hyrax, the close kin of the elephant” – Rupi Mangat. It is located 21 kms from Marigat.
3. South Western Mau National Reserve
The South Western Mau National Reserve is the new name for what has been known simply as the South Mau Forest, included in the Mau Complex, which was officially gazetted in 1954 as a Forest Reserve. The total combined area of the Mau Complex was estimated at 4,000 km2 of precipitous rugged forested country in the early 1960’s, now estimated at 2,773 km2, that’s ecologically and economically critical for Kenya and parts of East Africa. More than 10 million people depend on its rivers. It also influences the region’s micro-climate which creates ideal conditions to produce crops such as tea. Furthermore, it is one of Kenya’s main water towers. The destruction of more that 30% of Mau’s forest – either been cut down or degraded for putting tea production and other private sector industries – raised a national alarm, prompting establishment of secure protected reserves. The edge of the reserve is located 5 kms from Tirgaga Tea Factory at Ndarawetta. This is an all weather gravel road that climbs an easy gradient passing tea farmlands. Although it still under utilized as a destination, replanting the degraded forest areas and regulating access have commenced.
4. Rimoi National Reserve
Established in 1983 and re-opened in 2016, the 66 km2 Rimoi National Reserve became the 50th and most recent national reserve to be established in Kenya. It occupies the western half of Kerio Valley Conservation Area – directly below the Kerio View Hotel. The eastern area of the Conservation Area is occupied by the Lake Kamnarok National Reserve, which it is separated from by the Kerio River and Elgeyo Escarpment. Its dramatic scenery and its prolific wildlife are some of its fantanstic highlights. Withal, the showstopper at Rimoi National Reserve are its groups of elephants which can sometimes be seen in herds of up to fifty. Although its parkways are motorable at most times of year, the cutbacks made by its resident herds of elephants make them somewhat uncomfortable for the regular saloon cars and are almost impassable during the rain season. Not to be omitted on a visit to Rimoi National Reserve is the famous Tabar Dam which is the epicenter of activities here. A favoured watering-hole, it is habitually visited by plenty of wildlife and bird life. Other highlights at Rimoi include the viewing points to Lake Kamnarok and Kerio Valley, and the nearby Kerio View Hotel.
5. Lake Kamnarok National Reserve
This tiny 1 km2 fresh water oxbow lake on the Kerio Valley, formed in 1961 as a result of the Kerio River remodeling its course, was gazetted in 1984 as a game reserve. Back then, Lake Kamnarok was known to host 500 elephants. Akin to many lakes on the Rift Valley, its actuality was jeopardized by farming pursuits and, following its nigh on disintegration and disappearance in 2008, the Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo counties collaborated their efforts to revamp and restore the ecologically-diverse Lake Kamnarok and things are getting back to normal.
- Lake Baringo National Reserve, Lake Bogoria National Reserve, South-Western Mau National Reserve, Rimoi National Reserve, Lake Kamnarok
- Mount Kenya National Park, Mwea National Reserve, Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary, Rahole National Reserve, Arawale National Reserves
- Boni National Reserve, Ruma National Park, Bisanadi National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Shaba National Reserve
- Amboseli National Park, Kakamega National Reserve, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, Watamu Marine National Park, Malindi Marine Reserve
- Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Ndere Island National Park, Mwingi National Reserve, South Kitui National Reserve, Shimba Hills National Reserve
- Diani-Chale Marine National Reserve, Kisite Mpunguti National Marine Park and Reserve, Dodori National Reserve, Kiunga Marine National Reserve, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
- Chyulu Hills National Park, Ngai Ndeithia National Reserve, Malka Mari National Park, Losai National Reserve, South Island National Park
- Marsabit National Reserve and Park, Sibiloi National Park, Meru National Park, Mombasa Marine National Reserve and Park, Nairobi National Park
- Mount Longonot National Park, Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, Hell’s Gate National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Bonjoge National Reserve
- Masai Mara National Reserve, Aberdare National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Maralal Game Reserve, Lake Kanyaboli National Reserve
- Kora National Park, Tana Primate National Reserve, Tsavo East & Tsavo West National Parks, Mutejwa National Reserve
- Mount Elgon National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Central Island National Park, South Turkana National Reserve, Nasolot National Reserve