National Parks and Reserves in Kenya
36. Marsabit National Reserve and Park
Midway through the especial verdant green patch of Marsabit and following the signage to take a right turn is the entrance into Marsabit National Park within the Marsabit National Reserve. The road into the park travels across a heavily forested montane of Marsabit National Reserve and past the spell-binding Lake Paradise before arriving at the park offices. This misty montane mosaic lying uniquely between Kaisut and Chalbi Deserts and overlooking Mount Marsabit is wondrous, if not magical. “Rising gently out of a near desert environment, this great volcanic bump has a certain aura of romance about it.” The 1,554 km2 Marsabit National Park well known for its scenery and beautiful craters lakes is also home a sizeable population of elephants. On the slopes of Mount Marsabit, not too far from Lake Paradise, is Marsabit Lodge, operated and maintained by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Although not where it used to be and a tad bit grey, the lodge is of a modern design with running water and electricity. There are several campsites operated by KWS within Marsabit National Park. Marsabit National Reserve owes its almost cryptic fame to the chronicles of Ahmed the Elephant. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Ahmed was conceivably the most famous elephant in the world. The good-natured, almost tame crown-jewel of Marsabit National Park, was world-famous for its epic long tusks rumored to weigh 85 kgs each. Upon his death in 1974, a presidential decree was issued to have the remains of Ahmed mounted and preserved at the Nairobi National Museum in perpetuity for the future ages. Marsabit National Park is 565 kms from Nairobi.
37. Sibiloi National Park
The 1570 km2 Sibiloi National Park at the northeast shore of Lake Turkana is a hauntingly beautiful park marked by barren baked rocks trembled and quivered by mirage. Other than a few metres along the shore of the lake, Sibiloi National Park is an endless profusion of arid or near desert scrubland. It’s also along the shore where large populations of both species of zebra, topi, oryx and antelope freely roam, and where one of Kenya’s largest surviving busk of crocodiles also thrives. Perhaps more than any National Park in Kenya, it offers the element of challenge and is not an easy destination to reach. The roads about it are not well demarcated other than the parkway to its headquarters and to the famous base camp at Koobi Fora Museum. Still and all, for all the difficulty of getting there, Sibiloi National Park is a rewarding place to visit and offers a plethora of unique sights far different and diverse in comparison to other parks. Sibiloi National Park is world-famous for its fossil beds which gained international fame as the source of much information on man’s paleontological history. Then, there’s the volcanic formations including Mount Sibiloi, where the remains of a petrified forest can be seen – a once-great cedar forest which covered the Lake’s shores 7 million years ago. At Koobi Fora Museum, caller to the park can also see a well preserved elephant fossil that dates 1.7 million years back which is among the unique archaeological findings here. It’s found about 800 kms north of Nairobi.
38. Meru National Park
There are two gates into Meru National Park: Via A2 Nanyuki-Meru Road and C91 Meru-Nchiru-Maua Road – entering at Murera Gate – distance from Meru to Murera Gate 67 kms; Via B6 Embu-Meru Road and C92 Embu-Marimanti-Gatunga Road – entering at the Ura River Gate – distance from the B6 Embu-Meru Road to Ura River Gate 61 kms. Famous as where “Elsa the Lioness” was rehabilitated, in one of the prettiest national parks in Kenya, the 870 km2 Meru National Park is also a warm tribute to Peter Jenkins; the warden of that time who converted it from a devastated landscape to one of the best run in Kenya. The park itself is generally a hot low country but extremely well watered, with no less than 9 permanent rivers. One of the main rivers, the Rojewero, roughly divides the park into two contrasting zones. To its north, the country is an open acacia savannah grassland, and in parts combretum bush, under black cotton soil. “To the south of the Rojowero River the country is of the red sandy soil type, cut by innumerable sand luggas, and the vegetation is dense commiphora, wait-a-bit and thron shrub interpersed with baobab trees.” It commences at an altitude 2600 ft (north) at the foothills of Nyambene Range dropping down to 1200 ft (south) at Tana River where it links to Mwingi National Reserve and Kora National Park. It is contiguous with Bisanadi National Reserve along its eastern frontier. Unique to Meru National Park is that it lacks a focal point of a great spectacle. Instead, it manifests itself as a valuable ecological area where wildlife can be spotted in plenty. Moreover, the park is small enough with well laid out roads and there are fully-equipped lodges. It is a peaceful park that is well worth more than one visit. Having such diverse types of habitat wildlife, and the birds in particular, are second to none. There is excellent course fishing here in all its rivers, and a fishing permit can be obtained from the park’s office.
39. Mombasa Marine National Reserve and Park
Covering 210 km2 between Mtwapa Creek to the north and Tudor Creek to the south, Mombasa Marine National Reserve is the most visited marine reserve in Kenya. The park covers 10 km2 while the reserve covers 200 kms. The enclosed parts of the lagoon, the reef with a vibrant underwater life and the varied water-sports are the main highlights here. MMNR covers the four principal beaches of Nyali, Kenyatta, Bamburi and Shanzu. Almost all of the highly-lauded middle-budget sun-lovers resorts set at North Coast are within the Marine Park. They include: Nyali Beach, Voyager Beach Resort, Bahari Beach Hotel, Pride-Inn Beach Resort, Reef Hotel, Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach, Sai Rock Beach Resort, Whitesands Beach Resort, Travellers Resort, Flamingo Beach Hotel, Severin Resort, the Sun Africa Beach Resort, Serena Mombasa and Bahari Beach Hotel.
40. Nairobi National Park
At Nyayo Stadium Roundabout taking exit 1 onto Langata Road, passing Wilson Airport, sits the Nairobi National Park. It can also be reached via the Sourthern Bypass which links to Langata Road. The latter provides one of the surpassing roadside views of the park. Except for this stretch and for a few kilometres near Langata Road, to keep wildlife out the heavy traffic, the park is not fenced. The animals move freely in and out of the park across the unfenced boundary with the Athi-Kapiti Plains. The entrance to the National National Park, adjacent to which is also a unique animal orphanage, where animals are nurtured back to health, is located within the Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarter. The 117 km2 Park has over 60 kms of marked looping trails which unveil, around every bend, all that is great about wildest Africa; with the backdrop of Nairobi City’s skyline. The Nairobi National Park is never without a unique concentration of wildlife across its plains – zebra, wildebeest, kongoni, impala, grant’s gazelle, cheetahs, lions, warthogs among many more. Along the Athi River are herds of waterbuck and, in the river, there are hippos and crocodiles. The park has more than 100 species of animals, several quite rare like the Caracal. The best times for game viewing in the park are the early morning and early evening, when the sunset behind the Ngong Hills provides a wonderful background for photographers. Also of interest is the Ivory Burning Site. The first ivory burn happened in 1989 when 12 tonnes of ivory were incinerated. The most recent happened in 2016, when 100 tonnes of ivory were incinerated at the same burn site. “This is one the most important landmarks in the annals of conservation” – Lonely Planet.
- 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