My top ten favorite parks in Kenya

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*This post was previously live on my older/erstwhile site TheWingedFork.

There is so much beauty in Kenya. One has to see for oneself. I’m lucky, I’ve had the chance to visit Kenya a few times, and I always come away amazed at the astonishing beauty that Kenya is. 

Kenya is a land of diverse and varied landscapes, the purest air and the most amazing wildlife. If you’re thinking about visiting Kenya, let me tell you that you absolutely have to; and if you need a list of top ten things to do while you’re there, here’s mine.

1. David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Nairobi

The David Sheldrik Orphanage in Nairobi

You cannot visit Kenya without visiting Nairobi, literally. You get into and out of Kenya from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, named after the first President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta.

Nairobi is a vibrant city, home not just to people, but wildlife as well, with a National Park in its midst. It’s good to be cautious if traveling as a tourist. Traffic can be a real headache as well.

I got to visit a police station on my first trip there, as some of my clients were unfortunate victims of theft, that too in the secured parking lot of a mall with a popular Indian restaurant.

Up close with the Giraffe at the Centre

Do visit the Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Centre; a chance to interact with the animals is awesome.

Meat off the steak at Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi

For meat lovers, a stop at Carnivore restaurant is a must; taste a variety of different meats, right off the steak. Only certain types of meat are allowed for consumption.

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Recommended places to stay:

  • Fairmont – The Norfolk
  • Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi
  • Intercontinental Hotel
  • Nairobi Serena Hotel
  • Nairobi Safari Club
  • Karen Blixen Manor House
  • Safari Park Hotel

2. Aberdare National Park

The Eland at Aberdare National Park in Kenya

A Park in the centrally northern region of Kenya, this park has a variety of wildlife, however, no lions.  A beautiful landscape, the accommodation offered here is different from the rest of Kenya and a nice experience.

Mount Kenya in the distance, from inside Mount Kenya National Park
Warthogs at Aberdare National Park

Recommended places to stay:

  • The Aberdare Country Club
  • The Ark Lodge

3. Mount Kenya National Park

This is a UNESCO World Heritage sight; home to the mighty Mt Kenya, the highest mountain in Kenya. If you’re fit enough, you can do a trek to the top.

Recommended places to stay:

  • Serena Mountain Lodge
  • Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club

4. Ol Pejeta Conservancy

A game drive in this park gives you the chance to see the last surviving northern white rhinos, a must for your top ten in Kenya.

On your way to the park, you’ll find many stalls and curio shops selling Kenyan souvenirs along the roadside. If you’re looking for something to take home, these are cheaper than the shops at the camps themselves.

Chimps at the Ol Pejeta Sanctuary

A visit to the park’s Chimpanzee Sanctuary tells you about how these chimps are rescued from all over Africa.

Blind Rhino Baraka at the Conservation Centre in Ol Pejeta

You must also visit the Rhino Conservation Centre where you can meet Baraka, a blind black Rhino.

Recommended places to stay:

  • Sweetwaters Serena Camp
  • Ol Pejeta House

5. Lake Naivasha

Don’t disturb a hippo at lunch – At Lake Naivasha

Known for its varied bird life and hippos, Lake Naivasha is a must do for your holiday to Kenya.

Boat-Ride-Lake-Naivasha-Kenya - TheWingedFork
My clients on a boat ride a Lake Naivasha

A boat ride on the lake is an awesome way to see these winged creatures; followed by a walk on Crescent Island among the herbivores (so no chances of becoming prey).

Walking around at Crescent Island on Lake Naivasha

You learn as you roam along with giraffe, zebra, deer and a variety of birds. Be prepared for quite a bit of walking though. 😉

Recommended places to stay:

  • Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge
  • Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge

6. Lake Nakuru

Flamingos and Rhinos paint pictures of Lake Nakuru in Kenya

Famous for it’s Rhino and Flamingos, this alkaline lake is a great place to visit and about three and a half hours away from Nairobi.

Cape Buffalo lazing around at Nakuru

Also see Cape Buffalo, giraffe, zebra and other wildlife.

Giraffe and Rhino grazing under the towering Acacia at Lake Nakuru

The Acacia trees grow so tall that the giraffe and rhino grazing below them look like ants.

Recommended places to stay:

  • Lake Nakuru Lodge
  • Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge
  • Lake Nakuru Sopa Lodge

7. Masai Mara National Park

Wildebeest migration at Masai Mara

The vast open plains of the Mara, home to the big five and more, is a definite must do for your list of top ten things to do in Kenya. The Wildebeest migration from July to October is a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed.

Cheetahs, the master of speed at Masai Mara

Get as close to nature as possible, but do remember that the animals have right of way…

… especially if they’re a big tusker!

Elephants crossing the track at Masai Mara

Lionesses rest with their cubs under the shade of a tree.

Lioness and cubs resting in the shade of a tree

While some of them prefer getting some sun.

Lioness getting some sun 😉

By the way, the lioness I saw on my next trip still had spots like a leopard. Most lions have spots that fade in adulthood, but some of them retain them like the ones we saw. We also had a chance to watch them mating.

Masai Mara is also perfect for Hot Air Ballooning,  an experience that would take your breath away! Although I only got a chance to see this from afar and just take pics, I’m sure the actual experience is really exhilarating.

Hot Air Balloons taking off in the distance

Recommended places to stay:

  • Mara Leisure Camp
  • Mara Fig Tree camp
  • Sarova Mara Game Camp
  • Keekorok Lodge
  • Mara Sopa Lodge
  • Mara Serena Lodge
  • Ashnil Mara Camp

8. Samburu

Although I haven’t had a chance to visit this Park yet, it is also known for its wildlife. Located in the northern region on Kenya, it is more like a desert. The Giraffe and Zebra here are a slightly different species than their counterparts in the Mara.

9. Amboseli National Park

A view of Mt Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park

This park is known for its large Elephant population and for having the best views of Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa (on a clear day that is).

The Landscape at Amboseli in Kenya

A contrast with Masai Mara, the landscape here is more dry and arid, but has plenty to see.

Zebra and Ostrich grazing

Ostrich and Zebra are seen among loads of other wildlife that you can see there.

Recommended places to stay:

  • Kilima Safari Camp
  • Amboseli Serena Lodge
  • Oltukai Lode
  • Amboseli Sopa Lodge
  • Kibo Safari Camp
  • Sentrim Amboseli Lodge

10. Mombasa

Beautiful White Sands at Mombasa

Sun and sand! Known for its white sandy beaches and plethora of water sport activities, Mombasa is good for some rest and relaxation after the other safaris and a visit to Haller National Park. 

Fort Jesus, built by King Philip I of Portugal in 1596

Don’t forget to visit the famous Fort Jesus, built by King Philip I of Portugal in the late 1500’s, between 1593 and 1596, and later invaded by the Arabs in 1698.

View of the sea from the Baobab Forest

Recommended places to stay:

  • Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa in Bamburi

Now that you’ve read my list of top ten things to do in Kenya, tell me what you think of it? Did you enjoy visiting Kenya as much as I did? Or are you planning on visiting soon? What’s on your top ten list of things to do in Kenya?

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5 thoughts on “My top ten favorite parks in Kenya”

  1. Great choices. I’ve only been to Kenya once, going to Maasai Mara, lakes Nakuru and Naivasha and the Chyulu Hills (near Amboseli), and I loved it all. Definitely would like to go back for Amboseli, Tsavo and Samburu.

  2. We love Kenya too, particularly for the varied and magical safari opportunities. We’ve been a few times also, and our favourites include the Masai Mara, especially some of the conservancies bordering the triangle, Meru, which has some unusual species and such striking landscapes and in Nairobi we love the elephant orphanage and there’s a fabulous craft centre too. Lovely post bringing back memories!


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