Wildlife areas in Kenya – 6 of the best

Kenya’s amazing wildlife viewing is renowned worldwide, with iconic destinations like the Masai Mara attracting visitors from all corners of the globe. However, venturing beyond these well-known areas to explore lesser-visited national parks can offer equally rewarding experiences. Here, we highlight some of Kenya’s key wildlife areas that deserve your attention when planning your safari adventure.

Masai Mara
Including a stay in the Masai Mara is almost a rite of passage when embarking on a safari in Kenya. The world-famous wildebeest migration, featuring adrenaline-filled river crossings, takes centre stage from mid-July to October each year. Yet, the exceptional density of resident wildlife ensures remarkable sightings year-round. Predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas are abundant, thanks to the plentiful prey.

The iconic rolling plains of East Africa define the landscape of the Masai Mara, with a picturesque escarpment providing a stunning backdrop. Over the years, the conservation efforts have expanded with the establishment of conservancies. These vast swathes of protected land border the main reserve, allowing wildlife to roam freely between them. The Masai landowners derive crucial income from lodges located on these conservancies, ensuring the continued protection of the region’s biodiversity. The great advantage of staying in a conservancy is that visitor numbers are limited meaning you get the opportunity to view the wildlife in a truly peaceful setting.

Wildlife viewing at Offbeat Mara, Masai Mara
Wildlife viewing at Offbeat Mara Camp, Masai Mara

Laikipia Region
Situated in central Kenya, in the foothills of Mt Kenya, this region offers a diverse and captivating landscape teeming with wildlife, including several endangered species. Renowned for its conservation efforts, areas like Lewa Wildlife Conservancy provide not only exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities but also insights into crucial conservation work.

Encompassing over two million acres, this area boasts unique and varied habitats, showcasing stunning landscapes and hosting species typically found further north. From the striking Grevy’s zebra to the elegant reticulated giraffe and elusive wild dog, the region is a sanctuary for a multitude of wildlife, including the endangered black rhino, all of which can be seen on game drives and walking safaris.

With many lodges situated on private land, visitors enjoy the freedom to partake in a variety of activities beyond traditional game drives. From sleeping under the stars to camel or horseback riding through the breathtaking landscapes, and even mountain biking, Laikipia offers a wealth of unforgettable experiences beyond the traditional vehicle based safari.

Anti poaching wildlife protection dogs, Lewa
Anti-poaching dogs and rangers in Lewa Conservancy

Meru National Park
Covering approximately 870 sq km Mt. Meru National Park is a picturesque landscape steeped in wildlife and with a rich history, famous through the captivating story of Joy and George Adamson in ‘Born Free’. This enchanting park, located in the heart of Kenya, showcases a diverse range of habitats and wildlife.

Boasting over 400 bird species and a plethora of wildlife including elephants, Grevy’s zebra, cheetah, reticulated giraffe, lion, and gerunuk, Mt. Meru National Park offers an immersive safari experience like no other. With its limited annual visitors, it remains a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, making it a must-visit destination on your Kenyan safari itinerary.

Wildlife viewing - rhino, Elsa's Kopje, Meru
Game drive at Elsa’s Kopje, Meru National Park

Samburu National Park
Located in northern Kenya, Samburu National Park sprawls across approximately 165 square kilometers of an arid and semi-arid ecosystem. Bordered to the south by the Ewaso Nyiro River, which separates it from the Buffalo Springs National Park, Samburu is renowned for its unique landscape and abundant wildlife.

Despite its arid terrain, Samburu National Park is teeming with wildlife, including iconic species such as lion, elephant, and leopard. Moreover, visitors have the opportunity to spot rarer species like the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, gerenuk, and Besia oryx. With over 450 bird species gracing its skies, Samburu promises an unforgettable safari experience, perfect for those seeking extraordinary wildlife encounters.

Wildlife in Samburu National Park
Grevy’s zebra in Samburu, Sasaab Lodge

Chyulu Hills
South east of Nairobi, between Tsavo West and Amboseli, lies the enchanting Chyulu Hills National Park. This park boasts a mesmerizing landscape marked by lush rolling hills, dense forests, and expansive plains, all formed by ancient volcanic activity.

The park’s dramatic scenery includes dome-topped hills and open acacia woodlands, creating a serene ambiance for visitors. On clear days, Mount Kilimanjaro graces the horizon, offering breathtaking views. Chyulu Hills is also home to the world’s largest lava tube, adding to its unique allure.

Wildlife viewing in Chyulu Hills is both rewarding and tranquil, thanks to its limited number of camps and private conservancies. Visitors can encounter elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, and more on game drives, walking safaris, or even horseback rides for the experienced rider.

Wildlife viewing on a ride, Ol Donyo Lodge, Chyulu Hills
Wildlife viewing on a riding safari from Ol Donyo, Chyulu Hills

Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Situated in Central Kenya’s Laikipia region, this conservancy, though not officially designated as a national park, is a wildlife paradise. Once a cattle ranch, it was transformed in 2004 by Fauna and Flora International, a UK-based conservation organization, with support from an international philanthropic group. Since then, this conservancy has flourished, becoming a sanctuary for a wide array of wildlife. It boasts one of East Africa’s largest populations of rhinos, including the last two northern white rhinos in existence. Protected within a sanctuary, these rhinos are carefully safeguarded, offering visitors a unique opportunity to learn about conservation efforts firsthand.

Beyond rhinos, the conservancy is home to a diverse range of species, from elephants, leopards, and lions to cheetahs, wild dogs, and Jackson’s hartebeests. Visitors can also witness rare sightings of servals, oryx, and giraffes.

Moreover, the conservancy hosts the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, the sole location in Kenya where these primates can be observed. Spanning 24,000 acres, the sanctuary provides a natural haven for rescued chimpanzees, allowing them to thrive in their native environment. With its remarkable wildlife and commitment to conservation, this conservancy offers a truly enriching experience for visitors seeking to connect with nature and support wildlife conservation efforts.

Wildlife at Ol Pejeta Safari Cottages
A lioness at Ol Pejeta Safari Cottages

If you would like more information on Kenya, the accommodation options and this special offer please give us a call or email Lucinda to discuss your wishes. We would be delighted to help you put together a fabulous safari holiday.