National Parks and Reserves to Visit in Kenya

National Parks in Kenya

There are many national parks and reserves for tourists to visit in Kenya. National parks and reserves offer travelers the best safari experiences and a chance to see incredible wildlife up close.

Many of the national parks in Kenya are within driving distance of Nairobi. Visitors staying in the Kenyan capital can see several different parks and reserves during their trip.

Moreover, Kenya e-Visa holders can stay in the country for up to 90 days: plenty of time to explore some of the African nation’s finest natural landscapes.

Some of the best national parks to visit in Kenya are listed below along with key information for visitors.

Maasai Mara National Reserve: the Great Wildebeest Migration

Maasai Mara is one of the most visited national parks in Kenya. Known locally as ‘The Mara’, it’s best known for hosting a significant portion of Kenya’s Great Wildebeest Migration, a phenomenal natural event considered one of the seven wonders of Africa.

Tourists who visit Masai Mara national reserve have a good chance of spotting some of the big 5: lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo, whilst on safari.

Masai Mara key information

Where: southwest Kenya, along the Tanzanian border

When to visit: July to November for the migration of wildlife

Best for: seeing the Great Wildebeest Migration

Distance from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport: 466 mi (290 km)

Mount Kenya National Park: Kenya’s Highest Mountain

Mount Kenya National Park is well worth visiting. Both the mountain, an extinct volcano, and the surrounding landscapes are impressive. Visitors will find lakes, glaciers, springs, and forests which are home to an exceptional variety of flora and fauna.

Mount Kenya National Park offers tourists the chance to go hiking and climbing and is an excellent choice for keen bird watchers.

As one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa, Mount Kenya National Park was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kenya in 1997.

Mount Kenya key information

Where: central Kenya

When to visit: December to March for the most sunshine and best visibility

Best for: scenic views including glaciers and lakes

Distance from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport: 280 mi (175 km)

Amboseli National Park: Views of Kilimanjaro

Formerly called Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, this national park lies on the border with Tanzania. The park boasts Mt. Kilimanjaro as its backdrop and offers some of the most spectacular scenery to be found anywhere in Kenya.

Amboseli National Park is particularly popular amongst tourists who wish to catch a glimpse of free-ranging elephants close up. The sparse vegetation during the long, dry months means that lions, cheetahs, giraffes, and zebras can all be spotted easily.

Amboseli National Park key information

Where: Kajiado county, on the border with Tanzania

When to visit: June to October is the best time to see wildlife

Best for: seeing large herds of elephants

Distance from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport: 127 mi (205 km)

Hell’s Gate National Park

Hell’s Gate National Park is another of the top safari destinations in Kenya; despite being small the park boasts a wide variety of wildlife and offers beautiful scenery. The name Hell’s Gate comes from a narrow break in the cliffs resembling a gate.

Unlike at other Kenyan national parks, tourists can cycle, hike, and camp in Hell’s Gate. There are 3 basic campsites and a cultural center where visitors can learn about the Maasai people.

Hell’s Gate National Park key information

Where: South of Lake Naivasha northwest of Nairobi

When to visit: June to March to enjoy outdoor activities with little rain

Best for: cycling, hiking, and camping

Distance from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport: 42 mi (69 km)

Lake Nakuru National Park

Travelers who want to see flamingos in Kenya should not miss Lake Nakuru National Park. Thousands of pink flamingos nest along the shore of the Rift Valley soda lake.

The best time to see them is during the dry season when they flock to the shallow lake in search of food and water supplies. Baboons and other birds also flourish in the area.

Lucky visitors may also catch sight of endangered black and white rhinos that have been introduced to the park.

Lake Nakuru National Park key information

Where: in the Rift Valley, south of Nakuru

When to visit: January of February to see the flamingos

Best for: A wide variety of birdlife

Distance from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport: 280 mi (175 km)

Planning a Trip to Kenya National Parks

Most foreigners need a Kenyan visa to visit the national parks. Travelers can apply for an e-Visa for Kenya online, the electronic visa is valid for tourism and leisure activities including going on safari.

Tourists should complete the Kenya eVisa application at least one week before departure to allow time for processing.

If traveling during peak season, it’s advisable to also arrange accommodation in Kenya and tours in advance. The most popular spots, including the parks and reserves listed above, can get busy when conditions are optimal.

Finally, foreigners are reminded to pack suitable clothing for their trip. Loose clothing, a hat, and comfortable footwear are highly recommended when visiting the parks.

Acces to eVisa Application