Chyulu Hills National Park and Reserve, Ngai Ndeithia National Reserve, Malka Mari National Park, Losai Reserve, South Island National Park

National Parks and Reserves in Kenya

31. Chyulu Hills National Park

Chyulu Hills National Park in Makueni County

The 741 km2 Chyulu Hills National Park forms part of the Tsavo-Amboseli Arc of the thousands of square kilometres of virtually empty bushland that harbour the world’s largest assembly of elephants, estimated at over 30,000. It was the exotic description of a series of ash cones at Chyulu Hills as the Green Hills of Africa in the selfsame titled book published in 1935 by Ernest M. Hemingway – recounting his 1933 safari experience in Kenya – that thrust this area under the international limelight. These ash hills cones, which range from 50 to 1000 feet in height, are a conspicuous features of the landscape and are usually in linear groups having a northwest to southeast strike that trends parallel to that of the main range. In many respects, the scenic crest of the hills remain its focal point, yet, there is plenty of game in the woodland savanna on the lower slopes and a wild and out floral gamut. An important aspect linked to these woodlands are its watershed services which provide water to humans and wildlife. After the rains, the sunburned hill-scape of Chyulu is transformed to a verdant scene of rolling hillocks and far-out sweeping greens. Chyulu Hills National Park is also home to Kenya’s most extensive caves. It contains the Kisula Caves widely cited as the second longest lava caves in the world. To get to Chyulu Hills National Park, drive past the turnoff to Kibwezi for 9.3 kms to Maikui and turnoff to the parkway designated with signage. From here it’s about 9 Kms to Kithasyo Gate. It is possible to explore Chyulu from Tsavo West National Park via Chyulu Gate.

32. Ngai Ndeithia National Reserve

The scarcely cited 202 km2 Ngai-Ndeithia National Reserve – forming a finger-like blind-ended tube in the southern tip of Makueni between the Tsavos – has very little to distinguish it from its surrounding landscape, aside from it being an occasional migratory corridor for elephants and some plains game. Like the Malaba Sanctuary in Busia County which is cultivated from end to end, the Ngai Ndeithia National Reserve manifests itself more as a paper exercise. There is little to differentiate it as a national reserve. It was gazetted as a reserve in 1976.

33. Malka Mari National Park

Malka Mari National Park.

From Wajir there are two alternative routes to Mandera, with little to separate the challenges of the journey. The first, through Duse and Lafey, travels north easterly from Tarba following the international border to Mandera Town. The alternative route travels just east of north before turning northeast as it aims for Rhamu from where it heads east to Mandera. The latter travels 70 kms outside Malka Mari National Park en route Rhamu. From Mandera Town, through the road that runs west along Daua Valley roughly parallel to the Ethiopian border through Rhamu, it’s about 229 kms to Malka Mari National Park. That is to say, this is one of the remotest parks in Kenya and conceivably the least visited. The 1500 km2 park gazetted in 1989 is enigmatic even for the natives of Mandera.  Moreover, the few trippers who have accomplished a visit to Malka Mari have reservedly done so by air – rarely by road. The account of this inscrutable park is one of bewildering landscapes, teeming with wildlife and a handful of unique historic sites – notably of Malka Mari Fort. Its sure advantage are its knockout vistas of Awara Plains, River Daua Gorge and the undefined Mandera Triangle. At the moment, this park is undeveloped and trippers aiming to visit should be totally self-reliant. Malka Mari National Park is accessible via Mandera Airport.

34. Losai National Reserve

Losai National Reserve in Marsabit County. Image Courtesy of Family in Africa

Losai National Reserve is situated 190 kms north of Isiolo Town along the A2 Nairobi-Isiolo-Moyale Road. The recently completed section of the A2 Road with a glorious two-lane strip of blacktop linking Archer’s Post and Moyale 500 kms away is a joy to drive on. As you cross the area between Nanyuki and Isiolo Towns the land quickly drops, the hillocks extending from Mount Kenya fast disappearing, and the out and out horizons of scrub and bushland associated with the arid Northern Region of Kenya marches on the surfeit of memorable landscapes. The stretch of road between Archer’s Post and Merille (104 kms) travels across the two protected areas of Namunyak Conservancy (west) and Sera Conservancy (east). Past Namunyak and Sera Conservancies, the A2 cuts through the 1,806 km2 Losai National Reserve between Merille and Laisamis. Gazetted in 1979 this has little to distinguish it from the surrounding landscape and it’s totally untamed. The little-known valley of patchy flora enveloped by a striking chain of hills is in the truest sense an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Losai National Reserve is one of the obscure National Reserves in Kenya and probably the most underdeveloped. The park can be accessed by 4X4 vehicles on a rocky, hard to navigate, 50 kms path from Marsabit Town which is mostly used by livestock. There is no accommodation in Losai National Reserve and trippers must be self reliant and self catering. Callers to area must inform KWS.

35. South Island National Park

South Island National Park. Image Courtesy of KWS

Originally known as ‘Hornel Island’, the 39 km2 island stretching about 12 kms rises abruptly to an average of 1,400 ft near the southern limit of Lake Turkana and easily sighted from Loiyangalani. South Island National Park is the largest and southernmost island of the three main islands alongside North and Central Islands and part of the Lake Turkana National Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is an important flyway refuge and stopover for palaeartic migrant birds and is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International. Sibiloi National Park was gazetted as a national park in 1973 whereas South and Central Islands were gazetted in 1983 and 1985 respectively. South Islands can be reached from Loiyangalani or Kalokol Bay via the hop-on hop-off boat taxis.

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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