Top 10 parks to visit in Kenya and Tanzania

Taking an African safari is a trip of a lifetime that many people only ever get to dream about. Yet visiting a national park in Kenya or Tanzania is a dream come true. If you’re wishing to turn your dreams into a reality and making that most memorable of journeys, it of course won’t be possible to see everything you want to in just one visit. You would need to go on many safaris to do justice to this amazing continent. Here we highlight the top 10 parks to visit in Kenya and Tanzania so that you can narrow down the options and make the most from your own visit to these two East African beauties.

1. Masai Mara

The Masai Mara is arguably Kenya’s most popular game park/reserve. This should be top on your places of interest in Kenya since the great wildebeest migration happens here. The wildebeest migration from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Kenya’s Masai Mara reserve is one of the few migrations left in the world. The aura of it is during the crossing of Mara River, heavily infested by the large Nile crocodiles. Although the crossing occurs during the months of July and September, it’s not certain that during the days of your visit that they will be crossing. The population density of animals in this park guarantees a sure probability that you will see the Big Five. There are several luxury camps to choose from. Among them are Mara Engai, Governors camps, Sand River, Elephant pepper Maasai Mara and Mahali Mzuri.

2. Loisaba Conservancy

Perched on the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment on the Laikipia planes, Loisaba can be touted as an example of an excellent relationship between the local community’s conservation efforts and the tourism fraternity. It’s one of the ranches that has successfully demonstrated conservation can be done. It is a bird lovers’ sanctuary with over 260 birds’ species. Loisaba is home to more than 50 species of mammals. Wild dogs, which have been reducing in numbers, are experiencing a resurgence. Notable activities include horse riding, camel riding, night game drives, cultural visits, biking, fishing and bush walk with guides.

3. Meru National Park

Although not famous like other parks in Kenya, Meru is a gem awaiting to be explored. It is one of the largest parks in Kenya. It is the location where the Born Free movie was shot. All the Big Five can be spotted here. If you are lucky to spend the night at Elsa Kopje, you can spot the elusive leopard drinking from the pool.

4. Lewa Downs

Also called Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Lewa Downs is located in Meru County of northern part of Kenya. It’s a ranch spanning 250 square kilometers and is known for wildlife conservation. This has been the home to the endangered black rhino and the conservancy hosts 12% of Kenya’s population of black rhinos. The conservation is also home to the Big Five. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Luxury accommodation inside the conservancy comes in handy at the Lewa safari camp and the Sirikoi lodge of The Luxury Safari Company.

5. Amboseli National Park

Best known for its vast herds of elephants, Amboseli is a premium park home to all the Big Five. Its vast planes offer a scenic view of wildlife in their natural habitat. A spectacular view of Mount Kilimanjaro is best seen at sunrise. A notable luxury camp in the area is Tortilis situated in the private game concession inside the park.

6. Ruaha National Park

Looking for great places to visit in Tanzania? Look no further than Ruaha National Park which derives its name from the great Ruaha River that flows along its southern part. It’s situated in central Tanzania and is home to a vast species of animals. It is known for its walking safaris. It’s a bird’s sanctuary with over 500 bird species. This is also the largest game park in Tanzania with an area spanning over 20,000 square kilometers and forms part of the bigger Rungwa-Kizingo-Muhesi ecosystem. Luxury accommodation can be found at Kwihala, Kichaka walking safaris and Kigelia among others.

7. Ngorongoro

The Ngorongoro conservancy forms one of the most successful conservation efforts in Tanzania. It’s one of the most beautiful and fascinating places to visit in Tanzania and in Africa. Its ecosystem can not to be found anywhere else in Africa. The Big Five call this place home with easy spotting of most animals. Luxury camps include the Highlands by Asilia and The Manor among others.

8. Lake Manyara National Park

Tacked between the Arusha and Manyara regions, this park runs on a narrow strip between Lake Manyara and the Gregory Rift Valley wall. Being an alkaline lake, it attracts a lot of pink birds (flamingos). The park is home to the Big Five and due to its close proximity to Tarangire, visits to these parks can be combined in one itinerary. Accommodation includes &Beyond’s Lake Manyara Tree Lodge.

9. Serengeti

Sharing the same ecosystem with Kenya’s Masai Mara, Serengeti’s spectacular wildlife concentration offers one the chance to see all the Big 5 and a lot of the other hundreds of animals species. This is where the great wildebeest migration starts and thousands of people from all over the world come to see this natural phenomenon. Luxury accommodation can be found at Serengeti Migration Camp.

10. Tarangire National Park

Famous for its tree-climbing lions, Tarangire National Park is located in the Manyara administrative area and is the sixth largest park in Tanzania. It is a top destination for birding adventures with over 500 bird species. The Tarangire River which cuts across the park makes it easy to view and do game drives with a high probability of seeing most of the animal species. Luxury accommodation can be found at Tarangire Treetops.

Duncan Wairimu is CEO at Elite Kenya Luxury.

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