National Parks and Reserves in Kenya
6. Mount Kenya National Park
Of the five mountains in Africa whose peaks rise over 14,000 ft, only three are permanently snow-capped – Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft), Kenya (17,058 ft) and the Ruwenzoris (16,763 ft). They were climbed in that order – Kilimanjaro being first in 1888, Kenya second in 1889, and the Ruwenzoris in 1906. Every year, thousands of people take to these three mountains for the hiking challenge. Mt. Kenya, which is more scenic than faunal, is the most-liked climbing destination in Kenya. The ascend to Point Lenana, 3rd highest peak, can be made through eight different trails but the two most popular are Naro Moru and Sirimon. The snowy peaks of Mount Kenya, lying just south of the equator, are the prominent landmark in Embu County, which is one of five counties whose borders extends to the tip of Mount Kenya alongside Nyeri, Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Kirinyaga. The encircling ring of land from 5,000 ft. to 9,000 ft. is comprised of protected forests. There is a hiking route that goes through Embu West, on its way up to Mount Kenya. The trail commences at the Irangi Forest Information Centre. It is reached by taking the turnoff before Melody Eco-Lodge and Kiarimui Centre. It is a 17 kms drive from here, on Mukuuri-Mbui Njeru Road, to Irangi Station.
7. Mwea National Reserve
Overlooking Kamburu Dam, and Machakos County, is the 42 km2 Mwea National Reserve, a haunt of brooding open grassland, scattered acacia and baobab with a few far-between rolling hills. Kamburu Dam, found on its east and southeast harbours an interesting variety of fauna and flora, notably of its crocs and hippos. A boat can be hired from the park gate to explore Kamburu Dam. Also seen at Mwea National Reserve is the confluence of Thiba and Tana Rivers. It’s home to more than 200 species of birds including the rare Hinde’s babbler, endemic to Kenya. Created in 1979, it hosts a good concentration of wildlife including elephants, kudus, antelope, giraffe and Burchell’s zebra. An electric fence has been put up in some areas to keep wildlife in and poachers out. From Embu Town it is reached on a good 41-kms tarmac road to Mavuria through Gachoka and Kiritiri, then on a 15 kms road which runs parallel to its northern boundary upto the park gate. There is a longer, alternate route from Nairobi via Thika, Matuu and Masinga Dam (160kms) on a good road which is surfaced until Masinga. 10 kms is covered by all-weather road to Makima Gate.
8. Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary
The 121 km2 Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary, a community-based and community-held sanctuary located a short distance from Garissa Town, was established as an initiative by the locals to host the internally displaced giraffes that had been affected by the Kenya-Somalia border fracas. “First to arrive was a colony of 30 giraffes, some of which, residents say, had gunshot wounds” – Standard Media. With adequate protection and abundance of acacia trees, the giraffes prospered, leading to its recognition by Kenya Wildlife Service. Since 1991, the population has grown to over 60 reticulated giraffes that now call it home. The Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary is hosted within the Bour-Algi Village, which is set along the riverine strip of River Tana. Today, this sanctuary is associated with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, National Museums of Kenya, Wildlife Direct and the Somali locals, who collectively support it. Other wildlife seen here include Kirk’s dik-dik, Gerenuk, lesser kudu and warthog. It’s located 10 kms south of Garissa.
9. Rahole National Reserve
This is situated 72 kms north of Garissa Town and is contiguous with the Kora National Park to the west. The extensive 1,270 km2 Rahole National Reserve, which is by and large a tract of dense thorny dry bushland, offers out of the ordinary scenery owing to the fact that it is a rarely explored reserve. While it is entirely safe to visit Rahole National Reserve, it has no accommodation and, likewise, the adjoining Kora National Park, on the eastern flanks of Tana River, has no accommodation and trippers must be self-sufficient. Rahole once held significant numbers of elephants and rhinos which were raged by poaching in the 1970’s. At present, there are no displays of the big-game aside from giraffes.
10. Arawale National Reserve
This is situated 124 kms south of Garissa Town and is reached on B8 Garissa-Bura-Lamu Road which crosses it on the western flank. The 513 km2 Arawale National Reserve, made up of a sweep of arid bushland on the eastern bank of River Tana, is inter-territorial and is shared with Tana River County. Started in 1974, it was the first wildlife sanctuary set-up primarily to conserve the relic Hunter’s Hartebeest, locally known as Hirola, which is a critically threatened gazelle endemic to north-eastern Kenya and the southwest region of Somalia. There is no accommodation and adventure-makers who visit Arawale National Reserve must have a strong wish to venture off the beaten circuits and be fully self-contained. Most visiting Arawale Reserve make Bura the jumping-off place.
- Lake Baringo National Reserve, Lake Bogoria National Reserve, South-Western Mau National Reserve, Rimoi National Reserve, Lake Kamnarok
- Mount Kenya National Park, Mwea National Reserve, Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary, Rahole National Reserve, Arawale National Reserves
- Boni National Reserve, Ruma National Park, Bisanadi National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Shaba National Reserve
- Amboseli National Park, Kakamega National Reserve, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, Watamu Marine National Park, Malindi Marine Reserve
- Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Ndere Island National Park, Mwingi National Reserve, South Kitui National Reserve, Shimba Hills National Reserve
- Diani-Chale Marine National Reserve, Kisite Mpunguti National Marine Park and Reserve, Dodori National Reserve, Kiunga Marine National Reserve, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
- Chyulu Hills National Park, Ngai Ndeithia National Reserve, Malka Mari National Park, Losai National Reserve, South Island National Park
- Marsabit National Reserve and Park, Sibiloi National Park, Meru National Park, Mombasa Marine National Reserve and Park, Nairobi National Park
- Mount Longonot National Park, Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, Hell’s Gate National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Bonjoge National Reserve
- Masai Mara National Reserve, Aberdare National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Maralal Game Reserve, Lake Kanyaboli National Reserve
- Kora National Park, Tana Primate National Reserve, Tsavo East & Tsavo West National Parks, Mutejwa National Reserve
- Mount Elgon National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Central Island National Park, South Turkana National Reserve, Nasolot National Reserve