We bring you an exclusive article on the full list of National Parks in Kenya. Kenya is a well-known tourist destination that has made a name for itself around the world.
Boasting some of the best breathtaking attractions and rare happenings like the great wildebeest crossing, no other destination compares to Kenya.
From the bustling capital city to the most remote village, there is always something fascinating about the people and the wildlife. Park your bags and join me as we explore all the National Parks in Kenya.
List of National Parks in Kenya
Here is a list of National Parks in Kenya where you can spend your vacation and enjoy the wildlife as well as the local people.
See Also: What is Kenya Known for?
1. Aberdare National Park
Aberdares national park is named after the Aberdare ranges where the National Park is located. The Aberdare ranges are located in central Kenya and 100 Km north of the capital city. Due to their high altitude, they are noticeable from almost every point in central Kenya. The National Park is bordered by Aberdares forest and the neighbouring Mount Kenya.
The ranges rise from an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level to 4000 meters. Aberdares national park was established in 1950 and covered a total area of 766 square kilometres.
Apart from the landscapes, the national park is known for its abundant wildlife which includes leopards, lions, elephants, wild dogs, giant hogs, mountain reedbucks, waterbucks, suni, buffalos, olive baboons, jackals, duikers, Sykes monkeys, and Columbus monkeys among others.
2. Amboseli National Park
The Amboseli National Park was formerly known as the Maasai Amboseli Game reserve which is located in Kajiado County in Kenya. The park is part of the 8000 square kilometre ecosystem that is shared by Kenya and Tanzania.
Amboseli National Park, however, covers 39206 hectares of the ecosystem. The Maasai people mainly inhabit Kajiado County, but over the years, other tribes have settled in the county owing to the tourist-driven economy there.
Although the region experiences low rainfall patterns, it is located in a system of swamps that attract various animals to a focal point where tourists can view them.
Amboseli is mainly known for bird view where birds like Kingfishers, pelicans, Crakes, and hamerkops are common. Amboseli national park is also home to over 47 raptor species.
After Maasai Mara, Amboseli National park is the second most famous National park in Kenya. Within the park, you will find a dry lake bed on one side and semiarid vegetation while on the other side; five swamps provide water and green vegetation for the wildlife. Apart from Birds, Amboseli national park is also known for Maasai Villages and its free-ranging elephants that stroll the dusty plains.
3. Arabuko Sokoke National Park
Arabuko Sokoke forest is home to the Arabuko Sokoke National park. The wood is located along the Kenyan Coast 110 km north of the coastal town Mombasa. A section of the Arabuko Sokoke forest is protected as a national park after it was gazetted in 1980. Over the years, local communities have settled in the park since there is no fence marking the boundaries of the park.
At the moment, it is difficult to tell where the park starts and where it ends. The Arabuko Sokoke forest is an area of high endemism, containing endemic mammals, birds and plants.
It is also the largest fragment of coastal forests in East Africa covering an area of 420 square kilometres. The National Museums of Kenya actively manage the Park, the Kenya Wildlife Service and Forest research institute.
4. Central Island National Park
This is perhaps the most hidden treasure in Kenya that most people do not know about. It is also known as the crocodile island located in Lake Turkana. The island is also home to the central island national park managed by the Kenya wildlife service.
The island is as a result of volcanic action in the lake that resulted in a raised island in the middle of one of the remotest lakes in Kenya. As a result, there are several craters and cones on the island that are filled with water.
It is incredible how you can have a lake within a lake. Within the park, there are two large lakes which are over a kilometre in diameter and about 80m deep. The highest point of the island is 550m above the lake surface.
5. Chyulu Hills National Park
This national park is named after the mountain ranges called Chyulu Hills in Makueni County. It is a volcanic marvel that is aligned in an NW-SE direction. The highest peak of the hills is 2188 meters above sea level. Visitors here can spot buffalos, birds, monkeys, and gazelles.
6. Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate is one of the most spectacular places to visit. The groove is something you will not find in every country that you visit.
People visit the national park purposely to visit the groove although the park has abundant wildlife. It is relatively small compared to other national parks in Kenya but all the same gratifying.
The national park was established in 1984 and is located along the rift valley. Within the park, there are hot springs from the underground heated water. It is believed that the neighbouring Mt. Longonot is responsible for the marvel.
The government has gone a step further to harness geothermal power in Olkaria south of the national park. Within the park, there are three camping sites which are based on the Maasai culture and traditions.
Sighting of various animals like leopards, lions, cheetahs, gazelles, and giraffes are common in the park. However, the population of the predators is small, and a day can pass without seeing one. Remember you are here to see the groove.
7. Mpunguti Marine National Park
Mpunguti Marine National Park is a park that is located in the south coast of Kenya, south of Wasini Island near Shimoni. The park covers an area of four islands occupying over 30 square Kilometers.
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The marine park is surrounded by coral reefs which harbour several marine animals like; triggerfish, parrotfish, wrasses, scorpionfish, snappers, green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, pufferfish, moray eels, angelfish, butterflyfish, groupers, damselfish, rays, and dolphins. Humpback whales and sharks are seasonal.
8. Lake Nakuru National Park
The Lake Nakuru National Park was created in 1961 around Lake Nakuru, which is located near Nakuru Town. The national park is mainly known for the hundreds of thousands of pink and white flamingos which nest along the shores of the lake. The flock of flamingos creates a shifting mass of pink and white, that is beautiful.
However, the flamingos come to the lake depending on the water level and the volumes of food. From the baboon cliff, visitors have a vantage point where they can enjoy the views of the lake and the rest of the park. The national park is also a fenced sanctuary to protect giraffes, buffalos as well as both black and white rhinos.
9. Malindi Marine National Park
The Malindi Marine National Park is located along the Kenyan coast and is believed to be the oldest marine park in Africa. The park lies at Malindi, about 118 km north of Mombasa and is protected and administered by the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Along with Watamu Marine National Park, Malindi Marine Park is enclosed by the Malindi Marine National Reserve. Visitors go to the park to view dolphins, turtles, coral reefs, tropical fish, and barracudas.
10. Malka Mari National Park
Although it is not very popular, the Malka Mari National park is one of the biggest parks in Kenya covering a massive 370,000 hectares along the Kenya Ethiopia border. The park is accessible via the Mandera Airport and is probably the least visited national park in the nation.
Malka Mari is an IUCN Category II park designated in 1989. The park is mostly semi-arid and scrubby grassland with riparian woodland along the river. There are plants in the park that are unique to the area.
11. Masai Mara National Park
The Maasai Mara national park of the Mara is the most visited and most famous national park not only in Kenya but also the world. It is a large park that is shared by Kenya and Tanzania. In Tanzania, the park is called Serengeti.
In Kenya, Maasai Mara is named in honour of the Maasai People who dwell in the park and were the ancestral inhabitants of the area.
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Every year, the world media focuses on the Maasai Mara when the seventh wonder of the world happens.
It is globally famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October, known as the Great Migration.
12. Meru National Park
This is a national park located 350 km from Nairobi east of Meru. It covers an area of 870 square kilometres and its one of the most popular parks in the country.
Due to its location in central Kenya, the park receives adequate rainfall of 635-760 mm annually, which contributes to the growth of vegetation and lush swamps within the park.
The park has a wide range of wild animals including the African bush elephant, lion, African leopard, cheetah, eastern black rhinoceros, southern white rhinoceros, Grévy’s zebras, and hippopotamus.
13. Mount Elgon National Park
This park is located 140 kilometres northeast of Lake Victoria along the Kenya Uganda border. It covers an area of 1279 square Kilometers. Kenya and Uganda share the Park, but the most significant part is on the Ugandan side covering 1110 square kilometres while the Kenyan side covers 169 square kilometres.
14. Mount Kenya National Park
The Mount Kenya National park is one of the oldest parks in Kenya that was established in 1949. It was gazetted to protect Mount Kenya and at the same time, promote tourism.
Since it is located on the slopes of Mount Kenya, it is mostly covered with a rainforest that has been a perfect habitat for various animals that live within the park. It is also a very vital water catchment area for the country.
15. Mount Longonot National Park
Mount Longonot is a stratovolcano located southeast of Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. It is thought to have last erupted in the 1860s.
Its name is derived from the Maasai word Oloonong’ot, meaning “mountains of many spurs” or “steep ridges”.
16. Nairobi National Park
This is the only national park in the world that is located within a major city. It was established in 1946 as the first national park in Kenya.
The park is located seven kilometres south of the central business district and is surrounded by an electric fence to contain the animals within the park.
However, sometimes the animals find their way out of the park but the KWS officers take care of the situation. Nairobi’s skyscrapers from the background of the park bringing an unparalleled experience.
The proximity of urban and natural environments has caused conflicts between the animals and local people and threatens animals’ migration routes.
17. Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
This national park is located along Kilimambogo in Machakos County. Kilomambogo is a name derived from Kamba people meaning a mountain of buffalos. Ol Donyo Sabuk is a Maasai name meaning a big mountain.
Lord Macmillan was the first white man to settle here, and everything else that has happened since is primarily attributed to him.
The park is quite dusty due to deforestation and loose ground cover, compounded by occasional rainfall. However, the area is adorned with lots of untamed beauty.
18. Sibiloi National Park
Sibiloi National Park lies on the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya. The park was established in 1973 by the government of Kenya for the protection of wildlife. The discovery of palaeontological sites there also warranted for its gazettement.
The park covers 1570 km² and is internationally known for its fossils. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 as a part of Lake Turkana National Parks.
19. Tsavo National Park
The Tsavo National Park is the largest in Kenya and is divided into two sections. The Tsavo East and Tsavo West. It was opened in 1949 and was named after the Tsavo River which flows west to east through the national park, and it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania.
Tsavo is known for its versatile ecosystem where on one side, the park is dry and dusty while on the other side; the park is green and lush. It is rich with wildlife like the big five, crocodiles, and different species of birds and butterflies.
That is it for the full list of National Parks in Kenya that you can visit and see the wildlife that Kenya boasts about.