National Parks, Reserves and Conservancies

The national park system of Kenya is maintained by the Kenya Wildlife Service. There are two main types of terrestrial protected areas in Kenya: national parks, and national reserves; there are also marine parks and marine reserves. Kenya national parks and reserves are major tourist attractions. Kenya is the “home of the safari” with 54 national parks and game reserves scattered in various parts the country.

Aberdare National Park

The habitat of the Aberdare Mountains, like that of Mount Kenya that is on the other side of the Laikipia Plains, ranges from forest and thick bamboo to open moor land. Breathtaking waterfalls, brightly coloured birds, soaring raptors, a fascinating and diverse plant world and gorgeous scenery make this national park both lovely and intriguing.

This is the area for those who are keen to fish. A certain Captain Grogan and the fishing, in rivers such as the Naro Moru, the Thego, introduced the trout here in 1906 and the Chania is renowned. The Aberdares are also remembered as the guerrilla base of Kenyan heroes during their war for independence from the British. Established as a national park in 1950, Aberdare lies around two high peaks, Kinangop and Lesatima, with almost 50 kilometres of high moors stretching mistily between them.

The scenery here is stunning and the waterfalls particularly dramatic – the Gura Falls plunge and foam down the side of a 1500-foot rock face. Some of the indigenous wildlife in the Aberdares is equally as stunning. Melanistic black leopard, serval and genet can be found here, but are both shy and rare. Large numbers of buffalo, a few rhino, elephant, Colubus monkeys, bush pig and wart hog may be found in the forests. It is said that the elephant still remember the bombing raids by the British during the war for independence, and are thus extremely suspicious of mankind. The birding is excellent. Brightly coloured parrots, francolin, the strutting secretary bird and green ibis are among the species here. Sunbirds enjoy the open moors and raptors such as the rufous sparrow hawk, goshawk, buzzards and the crowned eagle scour the moors for prey.

The Aberdares even has a Hollywood connection. This is where the film “Gorillas in the Mist”, starring Sigourney Weaver, was made. The renowned naturalist studied the mountain gorillas of Rwanda and was murdered there. Perhaps even more famously, although rather longer ago, it was to Treetops, that the news of her father’s death, and her accession to the throne, was brought to the then Princess Elizabeth.

Highlights;

  • Wildlife including rare sightings like Giant Forest Hog, Bongo, Golden Cat, Serval cat.
  • Karura and Chania water falls
  • Ridges and River valleys a great attraction for mountain scenery photographers
  • Trout fishing
  • Bird watching.

Amboseli National Park

Arid looking as Amboseli is it has, historically, supported both game and the Maasai that kept their herds of cattle here. It is thanks to the waters that run off Africa’s greatest mountain that the apparently dry Amboseli, Kenya’s first game sanctuary, is able to support its wildlife. Mount Kilimanjaro broods high over Amboseli, generally cloaked by clouds but appearing in all its snow-shrouded magnificence from time to time. Kilimanjaro was once part of Kenya, but on the marriage of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany Queen Victoria gifted it to her beloved grand son, whose colony Tanzania then was, as the perfect wedding present. The mountain now provides water for the park, wonderful views and, of course, the most glorious background for animal photography.

There has been serious erosion in the park. Elephant feeding habits combined with light soil have made serious inroads in the Amboseli vegetation.

Nonetheless, there are still high numbers of the elephant for which the park is famous, and it is here that much research has been done on the largest land mammal. Indeed, a cursory examination will show that humankind is not the only animal to destroy its own environment.

The grasslands in the park can be undeniably lovely when made verdant by the rains and the three major swamps could star in a dinosaur movie. The swamps on the east of the park attract wildebeest, zebra and antelope with the predators that live off them, chiefly lion which tend to be easy to view here. In the south, Enkongo Narok swamp attracts hippos to the larger pools and plenty of buffalo, buck and teeming birdlife including the jacanas that pick their way elegantly and carefully. Giraffe are here and in areas still sufficiently treed there are leopard. Cheetah, caracal and civet may be seen.

In the west of the park lies Lake Amboseli, a seasonal soda lake, sometimes with flamingos. Amboseli is a fabulous place to visit. The overwhelmingly lovely views and good wildlife sightings are too good to miss.

Highlights;

  • Large herds of Elephants
  • Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Home to Big five
  • Observation Hill which allows an overall view of the whole park especially the swamps and elephants,
  • Contemporary Maasai culture and indigenous lifestyle

Masai Mara National Game Reserve.

Probably the most famous of the reserves, the Masai Mara, in Kenya’s south-western corner, boasts an astonishing amount of game. Unfenced, the Mara is bounded in the east by the Ngama Hills and in the west by the Oloololo or Siria Escarpment. Gazelle, wildebeest and zebra graze in large numbers and where prey is found so are predators. Not only is this a great place in which to find game, but also the wide greeny-gold savannahs spotted with thorn trees make it ideal for photography. The Mara, as it is known in Kenya, is ravishingly beautiful and also offers long, undisturbed views and utterly dramatic panoramas. The weather really means something here. The sun may beat down unforgiving, huge clouds in fabulous shapes may sweep across the widest of skies; the wind ripples the grasses as though a giant hand strokes them.
The landscape is stunning.

The famously black-manned Mara lions are possibly the stars of the Mara show, but cheetah, elephant, kongoni, topi, Thompson’s gazelle, waterbuck, hyena, and primates are all here too. As with the rest of Kenya, the birding is good. There is no settlement within the reserve however, the Mara is in theory owned by the Masai, pastoralists and, in earlier times, renowned lion-killers. Lodges and hotels offer the opportunity to buy their beadwork, checked cloths and copies of their spears. It is said that if lions scent approaching Masai on the breeze they move swiftly in the opposite direction.

Famously, the Mara is the northerly end of the Great Migration, that great primeval surge of wildebeest, zebra and antelope that sweeps in from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara as the Tanzanian grass starts to fail. The large predators who pick off the weak, the stragglers and the young track them. The great herds, nearing their destination by July, mass along the Mara River, pushing, shoving and fantastically noisy, just waiting for the first animal to cross so that they can all follow, lemming-like, on the final leg of the journey. However, crocodiles lie in wait, sluggishly cruising the waters, fully prepared for their best meal of the year. Many fail in the life-and-death struggle – drowned, eaten by the crocodiles or, made careless or weak by their stressful swim, brought down by lions. The Masai Mara is terrible yet wonderful, and not to be missed.

Key Highlights

  • Wildebeest migration.
  • Big five
  • Beautiful scenery (Escarpments
  • Maasai Culture

Meru National Park.

It was at Meru that Joy and George Adamson famously rehabilitated Elsa, the lioness, raised from a cub, whose tale was told in the film Born Free and it was here that George Adamson later set up his “little camp under Mugwongo Hill” in order to reintroduce to the wild the young lions that had been used in the filming of the story. Here, also, Joy Adamson lived with the cheetah Pippa, a story told in the book The Spotted Sphinx. This area was first made a reserve in 1962, in order to protect land under great pressure from hunting. In 1966 it became the national park it is today. Although Meru has suffered from poachers in the past, as have virtually all African parks and reserves, game stocks are now quite high. Meru lies almost in the centre of the map of Kenya. Bounded at its northernmost point by the Tana, Kenya’s longest river, which attracts serious amounts of game, the park has Grevy’s zebra, lion (of course), rather shy elephant who, nonetheless, are very keen on the nuts of the doum palm that grow here, leopard, ostrich, reticulated giraffe and good birding.

The main wildlife habitats are savannah, bush and woodland. On the south of the park lies the Ura River, on the north the Tana and in the north-west the Nyambeni Hills are misty in the distance.

The tree-lined edges of the rivers offer the gerenuk with its elongated neck, buck, cheetah and both hippo and crocodile. Meru also has some wonderful examples of the stately giant baobabs, huge trees with swollen trunks that look rather as though they have been planted with their roots in the air. They figure prominently in African folk tales and legends and those with children, who may have watched The Lion King rather more often than strictly necessary, may remember that Rafiki, the wise baboon, lived in one. These great trees are also big favourites with foodie elephants who like to peel away the bark in order to get at the moisture-retentive tender central core.

Key highlights

  • Former home of Joy and George Adamson and Elsa the lioness
  • Views of Mt Kenya
  • Rivers and riverine habitats
  • Tana river
  • Adamson’s falls
  • Big five

Mount Kenya National Park.

Centred on Africa’s second highest mountain, Mount Kenya National Park covers the most astonishing variation in terrain. The twin high peaks of extinct volcano Mount Kenya, Batian at 5199m and Nelion at 5188m, are the only places on the equator to boast permanent snow. Four days, for the fit amateur, will see you to the top of the lower peak, Lanana, and on the way up allow you to see the GM-looking giant plantlife of the mountainsides, including a huge lobelia of up to ten feet high quite unlike our own garden varieties, and giant rosette plants! The two higher peaks, joined by a ridge called the Gate of Mists, are strictly for the accomplished climber and Kenya is rated, even by Himalayan climbers, as one of the most difficult ice mountains in the world. To the Kikuyu, Kenya’s largest ethnic group, Mount Kenya is the home of the God Ngai who sits atop the highest peak and is thus their sacred mountain.

Forested with juniper and podo from about two thousand metres, the vegetation changes to bamboo and then a thick canopy of lesser trees.

Spanish moss frosts the trees, watered by the mists of the mountain slopes. Leopard, elephant, colobus monkeys, the shy bongo and buffalo inhabit the forest. Stunning sunbirds in jewel bright colours may be seen on the slopes. The Mount Kenya mole rat and the Mount Kenya mole shrew, specific to the area, are rare. The elusive golden cat can also be found at higher altitudes and it is said that on the moors there is a better chance of seeing the melanistic black leopard.

Tracks up the mountain are passable in good weather by four wheel drive vehicles. The Naro Moru track leads through the main gate to the park and takes you to about ten thousand feet. The Chogoria track, on the Meru side, takes you to about fourteen thousand feet. High altitude moorland walks are of stunning beauty. Tarns twinkle in the sunlight and the views are utterly breathtaking.

Highlights

      • Second highest mountain in Africa
      • World Heritage site
      • Wildlife

Nairobi National Park

Just a stone’s throw outside Nairobi lies a first class national park, which offers virtually all the animals for which Kenya is famous, with the notable exception of elephant. Despite the lack of elephant here, it was near the main gate to Nairobi National Park that President Arap Moi chose for his huge ivory bonfire in 1989, which grabbed worldwide headlines and publicised the threat to the elephants by ivory poachers. Lion, cheetah and leopard are the predators of the herds of zebra, wildebeest and kongoni. Rhino have been re-introduced and this is probably one of the easiest places to see them. Also found are giraffe, buffalo, antelope, baboons, warthog and hyena. Hippo and crocodile inhabit the river pools. The Mbagathi River bounds the southern edge of the park and this completes the surprisingly varied habitat: riverine forest; savannah; gorges; seasonal springs; and dense woodland. The natural geography is added to by man-made dams, which are good for water birds.

The park is not totally enclosed and much of the game migrates, following the rains. The best game viewing period is during the dry season and the bird watching is best in the rainy season. Game is often to be found near the Mbagathi – one of the park’s advantages is that the Mbagathi flows year-round.

Another of Nairobi National Park’s attractions is the Animal Orphanage near the Banda Gate. Here young animals, often orphaned by poachers, are cared for and a donation towards Mrs Sheldrick’s excellent work will ensure both a wonderful opportunity to observe the youngsters at close quarters and some great photos!

Highlights;

      • Major Rhino sanctuary for breeding and restocking other parks.
      • Black rhinoceros
      • Diverse birdlife of over 400 bird species and atleast 20 seasonal European Migrants
      • Ivory burning site monument
      • Walking trails at Hippo pools
      • Nairobi Safari walk and the orphanage

Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park is dominated by a gentle undulating terrain with open bush and woodlands, typical of the dry rift valley vegetation. Twenty seven percent of the park is composed of the Lake Nakuru waters. The Park was declared a Rhino Sanctuary in 1983. The Rhino stocking program which ensued received white rhinos from South Africa. Currently the sanctuary has approximately 45 black and 31 white rhinoceros. The Park lies in the volcanic – strewn Great Rift Valley, one of the chains of 8 lakes,
The Lake is world famous as the location of the greatest bird spectacle on earth. Pink flamingoes whose numbers are legion, often more than a million. There are also a number of giraffe. The Park also has large sized python snakes that inhabit the dense woodlands, and can often be seen crossing the roads or dangling from trees.
The lake water is highly saline but supports a habitat rich in biodiversity including a variety of aquatic flora and fauna.

The lake also is inhabited by water mammals mainly hippopotamus and claw less otters while the terrestrial part of the park supports a large number of other African plain mammals.
The park lies in Central Kenya, 140km north-west of Nairobi, in Nakuru district of the Rift Valley Province. The ecosystem comprises of the lake, surrounded by mainly wooded and bushy grasslands.

Highlights

      • Rhino Sanctuary
      • Flamingos
      • Endangered Rothchild’s giraffe

Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo Springs National Reserve.

Samburu is different from many of the other frequently visited areas. These forty square miles of reserve is not the oft-seen Kenyan landscape of savannah and flat-topped acacias, but harsh, dramatic terrain. The people from this area, the Samburu, are similarly dramatic to the outsider. Dressed in bright red, with their braided hair and skin daubed with red ochre, the “Moran”, the youthful warriors of the Samburu almost always spear-in-hand, are a wonderful sight.

The permanent water supply of the Uaso Nyiro River is what attracts the game to Samburu. Much of the reserve is arid, hilly landscape but riverine forest fringes the riverbanks and there are doum palms, the fruit of which is a great favourite with elephants.

Crocodiles lie quietly in the mud and it is here that you will find abundant Birdlife, including palm-eagles, storks, hornbills, bee-eaters and plenty of weaverbirds.

Some species in the area are specially adapted to the arid environment, and are particularly northern – the magnificent Oryx, for example and the gerenuk, a rather odd looking long-necked gazelle which can stretch up to reach the lower branches of the thorn trees. You will also find Grevy’s Zebra, larger than the more commonly seen Burchell’s zebra, and reticulated giraffe, with their irregular netted pattern of white. Desert lion are found here, leopards can be seen, and the ostrich (Ethiopian) have blue legs! Elephant wander, browsing in family groups.

Buffalo Springs has the Uaso Nyiro River as its northern boundary, and thus may almost be seen as an extension of Samburu Reserve, which is bounded in the south by the river. The game here is the same as Samburu, but here there is more marshland and the large pools from the springs themselves. You may cross from one reserve to the other via a bridge over the river.

Samburu and Buffalo Springs are becoming more sought after as a wildlife destination. They are only a couple of hundred miles from Nairobi and thus an easy hop on the light aircraft that fly from Wilson Airport, which itself is just outside Nairobi. In addition, the harsh beauty of the landscape is compelling.

Highlights

      • Samburu special five
      • Big five
      • Scenery
      • Mountain of God.

Shimba Hills

Shimba Hills were gazetted as a National Forest in 1903, grassland areas were incorporated in 1924 and several subsequent extensions took place to bring the reserve to its present size. In 1968 most of the reserve was double gazetted as the Shimba Hills National Reserve.
Two smaller areas to the west adjoining the reserve and almost entirely forested remain as Forest Reserves; Mkongani North and Mkongani West Forest Reserve. A fenced elephant corridor connects the Shimba Hills with Mwaluganje Forest Reserve to the North.

The Shimba Hills are a dissected plateau that ascends steeply from the coastal plains, 30 km south west of Mombasa and just south of Kwale town. The surrounding escarpment rises from around 120 metres to 300 metres across the bulk of the plateau and as high as 450 metres at Marare and Pengo hills.

Climatic conditions – The climate is hot and moist but cooler than that the coast with strong sea breezes and frequent mist and cloud in early morning. Annual rainfall is 855-1,682 mm. Mean annual temperatures is 24.2°C.

Major attractions – Scenic landscape comprising hills and valleys extending beyond the Reserve boundaries; coastal rainforest; Sheldrick’s Falls.

Wildlife – Sable, elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, reedbuck, hyena, warthog and bush pig, giraffe, leopard, baboon plus Sykes’, black-faced vervet monkey and Angola colobus monkey, serval, Harvey’s duiker and suni. Introduced species include Maasai giraffe and ostrich.

Best time to visit – All year round
Activities – Game viewing, potential for bird-shooting outside the reserve, walking safaris

Highlights

      • Coastal rainforest
      • Sable antelope
      • Walking safaris

Tsavo West & Tsavo East National Parks.

These two national parks form a vast area for game preservation in the south of Kenya. The Mombasa to Nairobi road and the railway divide their eight thousand square miles into east and west. Denys Finch-Hatton, the professional hunter played by Robert Redford in “Out of Africa”and lover of the author Karen Blixen often came here to hunt. Of the two parts of Tsavo it is Tsavo West that is visited by far the most frequently.

Tsavo West’s scrublands initially appear boundless and harshly unwelcoming. However, the variety of animal species testifies to a reasonably diverse environment including woods, riverine forest and volcanic hills. Indeed Tsavo boasts Mzima Springs where an incredible volume of crystalline water finally flows above ground.

Filtered by the volcanic rock, such as that of the Chyulus, the waters form a sequence of wildlife-attracting pools where hippo and crocodile may be observed.

Previously famous for its vast elephant herds, drought and poachers in the seventies and eighties caused a substantial drop in numbers. Effective anti-poaching patrols have now increased the population to around eight thousand head and growing. In addition to the Tsavo elephant there are cheetah, buffalo, gerenuk, klipspringer, lesser kudu and oryx, baboon, a good population of gazelle and zebra and, of course, lion. The lions of Tsavo are notorious for it was here that they held up the building of the Uganda railroad by killing and eating many of the labourers. Colonel Patterson, who finally shot the man-eaters, became a hero and his rather over-dramatised telling of the story was eventually made into a film called “The Man-eaters of Tsavo”. Tsavo also offers a rhino sanctuary, for the rhino population suffered from poaching even more badly than the elephant. They are still hard to spot but you might be lucky!

Tsavo East is, to the casual observer, a bleak place. Vast tracts of desert boast only a sprinkling of thorns; the bush and the flat landscape appear harsh and profoundly unwelcoming. However, there are those who find it immensely rewarding. The Yatta plateau offers stunningly limitless views that are balm to both eyes and soul and there are excellent game viewing areas: the Lugard Falls are famous for huge crocodiles; the Voi River valley is good for buffalo, elephant and gazelle; and climbing the huge Mudanda Rock allows the visitor to look down on a much frequented waterhole.

Much of this part of the park is closed to the public for security reasons and may only be seen by those with special permission from the warden. The rest of Tsavo East is not popular with visitors and this loneliness and isolation is very attractive to some and is accentuated by the striking landscape. Desolate it might be, but to some a visit here is a profoundly spiritual experience, as indeed it was for Finch-Hatton.

Highlights

      • Mudanda rock
      • Mzima springs
      • The big five
      • Shetani lava flow
      • Poacher’s lookout and roaring rocks
      • Lake Jipe

Lake Bogoria National Reserve.

The lake is saline and is found within Lake Bogoria National Reserve. The lake is shallow (2m deep) and was established as a National Reserve in November 1983. The great geologist J.W Gregory described the lake as “the most beautiful view in Africa”. Today this view still stands.

The lake’s hot springs offer a natural organic spa for visitors. A geological fact related to this lake is that the Great Rift Valley came about as a result of the volcanic activities taking place within the lake. The waters of the lake contain the blue- green algae that attract thousands of flamingoes.

The Park is located approximately 260km from Nairobi and about 25km from the lake Baringo Airstrip. It can be accessed by road or by air. The main attraction of the Reserve would have to be the lake from which the hot springs can be seen erupting, along with the geysers.

The springs erupt 2.5 -3 meters into the air and carry with them a strong pungent sulfur smell. However scenic, the water is dangerously hot and visitors are asked to tread carefully. The thousands of flamingos that flock the lake add color, turning the shores pink. Animals can also be seen camouflaged in the bushy grassland surrounding the lake. These include buffalos, zebras, impalas, dik dik. The lake is the perfect spot to see the rare Greater Kudu. The picnic site is readily available for visitors along with a dramatic backdrop of the Laikipia Escarpment.
The lake’s vegetation is composed of dry bush, grasslands and riverine forests.

Highlights

      • Flamingoes
      • Hot springs and geysers
      • Greater kudu

Mount Elgon National Reserve.

Mt Elgon, whose peaks reach 4320 m, lies astride the Kenya-Uganda border. Like most of the other great mountains of East Africa it represents the remains of an immense volcano. There is no permanent snow on the mountain but its bleak and craggy peaks are surrounded with the typical afro-alpine vegetation of the high mountains of the equator. Giant groundsel and lobelia grow over the 3650 m level and for much of the year everlasting flowers (Helichrysum sp) cover the moorlands as far as the eye can see. At lower levels giant heath, bamboo and montane forest prevail and in these areas there are elephant and plenty of buffalo. Part of the eastern aspect is set aside as the Mt Elgon National Park stretching from the peaks to the boundary of the forest and the heavily cultivated country  of the Luhyia people.  Within the  par is a wondrous multitude  of wildlife and wild flowers and some exciting oddities, among them the celebrated Kitum and Makingeny caves where elephants probe deep in the dark interiors to sample mineral salts from the cave walls.

Mount Elgon has been called Kenya’s loneliest Park but it is much more than that. It is an eye feast for the visitor with scenic beauty in mind and an unusual experience for the inquisitive traveller.

Highlights

      • Kitum and Makingeny caves
      • Elephants
      • Beautiful scenery

Saiwa Swamp National Park.

The lake is saline and is found within Lake Bogoria National Reserve. The lake is shallow (2m deep) and was established as a National Reserve in November 1983. The great geologist J.W Gregory described the lake as “the most beautiful view in Africa”. Today this view still stands.

The lake’s hot springs offer a natural organic spa for visitors. A geological fact related to this lake is that the Great Rift Valley came about as a result of the volcanic activities taking place within the lake. The waters of the lake contain the blue- green algae that attract thousands of flamingoes.

The Park is located approximately 260km from Nairobi and about 25km from the lake Baringo Airstrip. It can be accessed by road or by air.

The main attraction of the Reserve would have to be the lake from which the hot springs can be seen erupting, along with the geysers.

The springs erupt 2.5 -3 meters into the air and carry with them a strong pungent sulfur smell. However scenic, the water is dangerously hot and visitors are asked to tread carefully.

The thousands of flamingos that flock the lake add color, turning the shores pink. Animals can also be seen camouflaged in the bushy grassland surrounding the lake. These include buffalos, zebras, impalas, dik dik. The lake is the perfect spot to see the rare Greater Kudu. The picnic site is readily available for visitors along with a dramatic backdrop of the Laikipia Escarpment.
The lake’s vegetation is composed of dry bush, grasslands and riverine forests.

Highlights

      • Flamingoes
      • Hot springs and geysers
      • Greater kudu

Others

Marinne Parks

There is no natural world that can be more serene and bubbling with life than the world under sea. Marine parks in Kenya have been established at the Coastal Kenya to protect the rich aquatic life abound in the Kenyan waters. If you love underwater photography and underwater flora and fauna excites you, come to the Kenya and enjoy your underwater paradise. These include Malindi Marine Park, Watamu Marine park, Kisite Mpunguti Marine Mark and Mombasa Marine Park.

Private Conservancies

The conservancy model of conservation was adopted in Kenya’s wildlife protection areas in order to create co-existence between wildlife and livestock of communities living near tourism attractions. Many conservancies can be described as playgrounds for both wild and domesticated animals to interact as they roam wildly. A conservancy safari in Kenya is unique because on horseback, or walking or while biking, you get the most up close and personal experience with the wildlife you love.

The experience is extra ordinarily unforgettable. For lovers of conservation, you can also experience some of the most endangered wildlife species with the help of professionally trained guides. Lastly, tourists are also given a chance to visit local community projects that the conservancy is involved in. Serves as a unique chance to interact with local community cultures and perhaps make friends. Some of the Conservancies are; Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Selenkey Conservancy, Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, Mara Naboisho Conservancy among others.

Other attractions of Kenya

The doorway to Kenya’s history and origin is in the museums and monuments. With exhibits dating back to the prehistoric era, you can connect to the magical story of Kenya’s past.

Museums and Monuments

The doorway to Kenya’s history and origin is in the museums and monuments. With exhibits dating back to the prehistoric era, you can connect to the magical story of Kenya’s past.

Nairobi National Museum, Snake Park and Botanical Gardens

Nairobi National Museum was initiated in 1910. The museum closed for refurbishment in 2006 and re-opened in 2008 as a World Class Museum complete with shopping and dining facilities. The museum presents Kenya’s History, Nature, Culture and Contemporary Art in its entire splendor. Also within the grounds are the famous Snake Park, Botanical Gardens and Nature Trail.

Karen Blixen Museum

Built in 1912, Karen Blixen Museum was home to Danish Author, poet and Artist- Karen Blixen. Made famous by the Oscar Award winning film ‘Out of Africa’, based on Karen’s autobiography by the same title, the then farmhouse was established as a museum in 1986 by the National Museums of Kenya.

The museum continues to captivate visitors inspired by Karen’s life story.

Fort Jesus Museum

Located in Mombasa Island, Fort Jesus Museum was built to secure the safety of Portuguese living on the East Coast of Africa. The Fort was used as a barrack for the soldiers and converted to a prison when the British protectorate was proclaimed.

The Fort is now an important historical landmark in the East African region, a national treasure managed by the National Museums of Kenya.

Gede Ruins and Museum

Gede ruins are remains of a Swahili town. It traces its origin to the Twelfth Century and was rebuilt with new town walls in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. The museum has numerous ruins, comprising mosques; a magnificent palace and houses all nestled within 45 acres of forest.

Koobi Fora Historic Site

The Jade sea is an area of great importance in terms of human culture. It is possible to visit the prehistoric site at Koobi Fora on the far North shores of the lake near Sibiloi.

There is an ongoing excavation here that has produced a great wealth of fossil evidence.

Lamu Museums

Lamu Museums are located in the North Coast, a World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful & serene locations on the African continent. Museum attractions include the Lamu Museum, Lamu Fort, German Post Office, Swahili House and the Takwa Ruins.

The National Museums of Kenya helps preserve and promote this rich cultural heritage in collaboration with partners in the annual Lamu Cultural Festival.

Popular sites

Giraffe Centre

The AFEW (African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) Giraffe Centre is located in Langata, just outside Nairobi.

The centre has been ostensibly set up as a breeding centre for the endangered Rothschild giraffe, but now operates conservation/education programs for Kenyan school children.

There is good information on giraffes available here, and an elevated feeding platform where visitors meet the resident giraffes face to face.

Hand feeding giraffes is an education in itself. You will see, close at hand, how they use their long, prehensile tongues to remove leaves from prickly acacia branches.

The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is located near Nairobi National Park. This orphanage for Elephant Calves and Rhinos from all over Kenya was founded and still managed by Daphne Sheldrick, the widow of one of Kenya’s best known Game Wardens David Sheldrick. Today, the Sheldrick orphanage is a focal point for Elephant Conservation.

Elephant calves orphanned by poaching are brought here from all over the country. They receive extremely specialized treatment here, and literally receive personal care 24 hours a day from highly dedicated staff who become surrogate mothers to the calves. Eventually the calves are moved to Tsavo, where they are carefully reintroduced into wild herds.

The centre is open to the public each morning (11am-12pm)

At this time the calves are being exercised and bathed and visitors are free to watch. This is a good centre for general information on Elephants and their Conservation.

Ol Pejeta Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Ol Pejeta Ranch has created a sanctuary for Chimpanzees, working in close conjunction with the Jane Goodall Institute. While Chimpanzees are not native to Kenya, small endangered populations are found in the rainforests of neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, and throughout Central and West Africa. The refuge at Ol Pejeta has been designed as a safe haven for Chimps from Central Africa, rescued from the bush meat and pet trade. All of the Chimps at Ol Pejeta were rescued from these kinds of conditions. They now roam free on a large island at the centre of the ranch where they have formed a large social group, and interact and breed freely.

World Heritage sites

Kenya’s Lake systems

The World Heritage Committee inscribed Kenya’s Lake Systems of Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementaita on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001

It comprises three inter-linked relatively shallow lakes in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya and covers a total area of 32,034 hectares.

The Lake System is home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversities in the world.

It is the single most important foraging site for the lesser flamingo anywhere, and a major nesting and breeding ground for great white pelicans.

Visitors to this great lakes in Kenya can also fine sizeable mammal populations, including black and white rhino, Rothschild’s giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs and is valuable for the study of ecological processes of major importance.

Mount Kenya National Park

The World Heritage Committee inscribed Mount Kenya National Park on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997

Mt Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak is regarded as the realm of Ngai, god of the local Kikuyu people. The mountain itself is an awe-inspiring sight with its ragged peaks, and equatorial snow.

Mount Kenya is surrounded by a belt of verdant forest that is an equally fascinating destination.

While the 5199 metre summit is a difficult technical climb, the lesser peak of Point Lenana (4985m) can be easily reached by any fit trekker. This trek takes between 3 and 5 days, through a fascinating world of forests, wildlife, unique montane vegetation including podocarpus and grounsel, and finally one of the world’s rarest sights, equatorial snow.

The Mijikenda Kaya Forests

The Mijikenda Kaya Forests consist of 11 separate forest sites spread over some 200 km along the coast containing the remains of numerous fortified villages, known as kayas, of the Mijikenda people. The kayas, created as of the 16th century but abandoned by the 1940s, are now regarded as the abodes of ancestors and are revered as sacred sites and, as such, are maintained as by councils of elders. The site is inscribed as bearing unique testimony to a cultural tradition and for its direct link to a living tradition. The World Heritage Committee inscribed Mount Kenya National Park on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997

Lake Turkana National Parks

Lake Turkana is a massive inland sea, the largest desert lake in the world. This single body of water is over 250 kilometers long- longer than the entire Kenyan coast. It is widely known as the Jade Sea, because of the remarkable, almost incandescent, colour of its waters.

Turkana has one of the longest living histories on earth, and recent fossil evidence unearthed at Koobi Fora has led to the Lake being referred to as ‘The Cradle of Mankind’. The site lies at the heart of the Sibiloi National Park, a place of stark beauty and prehistoric petrified forests.

The Lake itself is a natural treasure, with the world’s single largest crocodile population. In Turkana these reptiles grow to record size, with some of the largest specimens found on remote windswept Central Island. Lake Turkana is Kenya’s most remote destination, but one that repays the intrepid traveller with rich rewards.

Rock Arts

Kenya possesses an interesting variety of rock art offering an extraordinary connection through time. Visiting rock art sites will give you the opportunity to support local communities who benefit from their local rock art and the tourism that it attracts. These include Rock Art of Kakapel, Rock Art of Mfangano Island, Rock Art of Namoratunga, Rock Art of Loiyangalani and Rock Gongs of Lewa Downs