Amboseli National Park, Kakamega National Reserve, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, Watamu Marine National Park, Malindi Marine National Reserve and Park


National Parks and Reserves in Kenya

16. Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park

The 392 km2 Amboseli National Park is especially held dearly by photographers against the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and its flat terrain. Administered by the local Maasai through Kajiado County Council, Amboseli expands over the dry savanna plains and contains enormous wildlife resources. The park derives its name from the Maasai’s equivalent of “dry river bed” in reference to Lake Amboseli – which over dry weather is smooth enough to drive across and only forming the shallow Lake Amboseli in the rain season. The smooth lake bed makes it easy to drive across to one of Amboseli’s useful observation points, consisting of a small hill that overlooks the major swamps, simply known as the “Observation Hill”. Moreover, it is equally easy to get lost crossing the dusty lake bed, and to avoid getting lost it is advised to follow the tracks. Amboseli National Park is famous for its elephants, buffaloes and rhino population. For accommodation, there is something for everyone at Amboseli. From Namanga, it is a 70 kms drive to Meshanani Gate. Via Emali, it’s reached through the Kimana (Olkelenyiet) Gate, which is a 231 kms drive from Nairobi.

17. Kakamega National Reserve

Kakamega National Reserve

The most popular route to Kakamega National Reserve is via Isecheno Gate, 18 kms east of Kakamega Town through Kambiri Market. This is well signposted. From Eldoret, the easiest route is via the Kapsabet-Chepsonoi-Mukumu Road. Either way, both routes arrive at the mid-western edge of the Kakamega Forest Ecosystem, which is open year round, daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (charges: citizen-300, Resident-600, Non-resident USD 22). The biologically-flush 44.5 km2 Kakamega National Reserve harbors more than 400 bird species, rare and endemic tree species like the Elgon teak, Red stinkwood and African satinwood, and plenty of monkeys. As a destination, this forest has pieced itself together as a sanctum for nature-lovers, where amazing beauty unfolds around every bend. What’s more, there is genuine serenity and tranquil solitude about this forest. Nature takes center stage. It is about the wide-band tropical bird songs of the rain forest? or the sunlight piercing through the forest canopy? or the majesty of an untravelled waterfall? or even perhaps, its viewing deck at Bunyangu Hill that overlooks the roof of the forest? There is plenty to enjoy here. Kakamega National Reserve is both a scenic and exploratory park, where trippers can opt to scout by walking, riding or driving. There are three accommodation options within the Kakamega Forest Ecosystem – at Isikuti and Udo Guest Houses, and Rondo Retreat. It’s found 18 kms from Kakamega, off Kakamega-Webuye Road.

18. Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve

Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve

Covering 420 km2 and marching with Mombasa-Malindi Road from near Kilifi to Gede, the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the largest and last surviving fragment of the coastal forests in East Africa. Likewise, it is Kilifi’s most important forest. 6.1 km2 inside the forest is designated as a National Reserve managed by Kenya Wildlife Service as well as a 2 km2 patch taken by National Museums of Kenya principally for the preservation of the historically important Gede Ruins. The bracing beauty of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve is best enjoyed on walking safaris which take walkers through the motley collection of endemic species of insects, butterflies, birds, rare hard and soft wood trees. It has a meshwork of well-marked walking trails, with more than 30 kms of driving tracks traversing the different forest sections.   The Kenya Forest Service guides offer captivating insights on its anatomy and history including some of the traditional rituals still carried out here and the ancient medicinal properties of many of its plants, on a walking trip that culminates at Nyari Viewpoint with unprecedented views over the forest canopy. Mida Creek, a beautiful tidal inlet with 6 species of mangrove trees, is less than 1 km from the entrance to Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. The main gate is found 110 kms from Mombasa City, and just 20 kms from Malindi Town.

19. Watamu Marine National Park

Watamu Marine National Park in Kilifi County - A Guide to Game Parks and Reserves in Kenya - Image Courtesy of Fahukasoforo

Established in 1968, the 10 km2 Watamu Marine Park enclosed by the 213 km2 Malindi National Marine Park and Reserve is a charming underwater world of incredible colours. Watamu Marine Park covers the areas around Blue Lagoon, Turtle Bay and the birding paradise of Mida Creek.  Further offshore, stretching northerly, the Malindi Marine Parks and Reserve is well-liked for scuba-diving.  Popular activities at Watamu Marine National Park: snorkeling, skiing, glass-bottomed boats rides, exploring the islands and Mida Creek. The area around Watamu has plenty of reasonable rentals and resorts to include Watamu Beach Hotel, Turtle Bay Resort and Ocean Sports Resort.  Watamu Marine National Park is situated 115 kms from Mombasa City near the entrance into Mida Creek.

20. Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve

Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve

Access to the Malindi Marine National Park is through Casuarina Road south of Silversands. This is just 5 kms from Malindi township, taking Exit 4 (Casuarina Road) at the roundabout. Revered as the “green turtle paradise”, it was the first Marine Reserve established in Kenya, in 1968.  Today, Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve is recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, both for its diversity of marine life and flora and for its efforts in conservation.  Some of its prolific marine life include crabs, corals, sea urchins, jellyfish, sea stars, and sea cucumbers. Varieties of coral species include Acropora, Turbinaria and Porites. Of interest here are the many hop-on hop-off glass-bottomed boats taxis that cruise along the shoreline and off-shore to some idyllic snorkeling spots, where the range of variegated, beautiful, and bizzare marine life is open for inspection.

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  1. Lake Baringo National Reserve, Lake Bogoria National Reserve, South-Western Mau National Reserve, Rimoi National Reserve, Lake Kamnarok
  2. Mount Kenya National Park, Mwea National Reserve, Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary, Rahole National Reserve, Arawale National Reserves
  3. Boni National Reserve, Ruma National Park, Bisanadi National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Shaba National Reserve
  4. Amboseli National Park, Kakamega National Reserve, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, Watamu Marine National Park, Malindi Marine Reserve
  5. Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Ndere Island National Park, Mwingi National Reserve, South Kitui National Reserve, Shimba Hills National Reserve
  6. Diani-Chale Marine National Reserve, Kisite Mpunguti National Marine Park and Reserve, Dodori National Reserve, Kiunga Marine National Reserve, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
  7. Chyulu Hills National Park, Ngai Ndeithia National Reserve, Malka Mari National Park, Losai National Reserve, South Island National Park
  8. Marsabit National Reserve and Park, Sibiloi National Park, Meru National Park, Mombasa Marine National Reserve and Park, Nairobi National Park
  9. Mount Longonot National Park, Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, Hell’s Gate National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Bonjoge National Reserve
  10. Masai Mara National Reserve, Aberdare National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Maralal Game Reserve, Lake Kanyaboli National Reserve
  11. Kora National Park, Tana Primate National Reserve, Tsavo East & Tsavo West National Parks, Mutejwa National Reserve
  12. Mount Elgon National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Central Island National Park, South Turkana National Reserve, Nasolot National Reserve