Choosing Your Kenya Safari

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Tsavo National Park

Tsavo was split into Tsavo East and Tsavo West because of its size in 1948. Tsavo West is more widely used for safari due to its better infrastructure.

Tsavo West

This park is covered in volcanic cones, rocky outcrops and lava flows. The northern part of Tsavo West has spectacular scenery with a rolling volcanic landscape carpeted in long grass and dense bush. The park is an environment of extreme bio-diversity, with rivers, forests, lakes, wooded grasslands and mountains, each harboring a distinct set of animals. Tsavo West National Park’s landscape is dominated, especially off the hills by the giant baobab, a tree that is reputed to live a thousand years. Chief among Tsavo West National Park’s must rank the marvel of Mzima Springs, a haven for wildlife. Here there is a pool of natural spring water with underwater viewing hides to observe Hippos. Tsavo is also a big five area famous for its large elephant population (around 6000) There are also many lions – some undoubtedly the descendants of the famous Maneaters of Tsavo .

Tsavo East

Tsavo East has more open savannah, and the scrub-covered hills give the park a very remote. Despite its great game, Tsavo East does not attract large numbers of tourists. The best game viewing is along the waterways and at the Kanderi swamp. In Tsavo East you will also find ‘red’ Elephants, named from the color of the rich earth of the area that they throw over themselves.

Masai Mara

The Masai Mara lies in the Great Rift Valley, a fault line some 5000 kilometers long, from Ethiopia’s Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique. The Masai Mara is a part of the Serengeti ecosystem and is Kenya’s biggest game reserve. The reserve is perhaps most famous for its lions, however all other members of the “Big Five” are also found here. Additionally, over 450 species of birdlife have been identified in the park, making it also very popular for birdwatchers. The great migration of wildebeest also passes through this park between July and October and at its peak over 1.4 million wildebeest can be found roaming the plains. This is obviously also peak travel season for this area, so factor in an equal measure of tourists!

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli is Kenya’s third most visited park. On an Amboseli safari, you have a great view of the snowy top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, making for a great backdrop for pictures. In the park there are five different habitats for wildlife: open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland. Because of the low vegetation in the park, the wildlife here is also relatively easy to spot. This park is renowned for its elephants, seen in herds of over 100 strong drinking from the surface springs. Also roaming the grasslands are buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, giraffes, impala and warthog. Attendant carnivores include lion, leopard, caracal, cheetah, jackal, hyena and serval. Unfortunately, any rhinos are long gone from this area after intensive poaching. For the avid bird watcher there are also over 400 bird species at Amboseli.

Sweetwaters Game Reserve

Sweetwaters Game Reserve is a smaller park, but also a Big Five area. In this park Jane Goodall has established her Chimpanzee’s Sanctuary, bringing lots of visitors to this area.

Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru is a small, shallow, alkaline lake, most famous for the amount of flamingos that can be seen there, estimated to be over a million. The park is also very popular with birdwatchers as pelicans and many other birds frequent the area. Although not a Big Five Reserve, you may see one of the more than 25 rhinos that live here, and there is also a chance of seeing rare Rotschild’s giraffes, waterbuck, lions and leopards.

Samburu National Park

This park is not very well known and therefore less crowded than other parks. It is situated on the banks of a river, and that attracts wildlife. The park itself is pretty dry and many areas are not grass-covered, which makes it relatively easy to spot animals. In Samburu you will encounter giraffes, elephants, buffalo’s, waterbucks, gerenuks and zebra’s, as well as lions, leopards and cheetah’s. Again, you have a bigger chance to spot animals as there is not much overgrowth due to the lack of rainfall. Samburu NP is also home to the Samburu, a tribe that is closely related to the Masai.

Source by Sally Plunkett

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