Best Time for Game Viewing in Kenya National Parks

Be here between July & September. Widebeest crossing the Mara
Be here between July & September. Widebeest crossing the Mara

Kenya is a year round destination with some of the best game viewing activities. The best time to go is usually July to February. The Wildebeest Migration occurs every year between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, from July to September.

The following information is offered as a guideline, as weather patterns and wildlife rhythms are never predictable and can never be guaranteed at a specific time or in a specific area


Birding: October to April

Kenya has some of the best bird viewing in the world. There are over 400 species of bird enthralling ornithologists and amateurs alike. Bird watching can be done in various national parks and game reserves, but there are some bird watching hot spots.

Kakagema Forest offers rare bird species such as brown-eared woodpecker, dusky tit, yellow-bellied wattle-eye and blue-headed bee-eater to name a few. Some of the other birding havens are Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Masai Mara, Mount Kenya and Samburu.

Botany: March to October

Kenya is a country of vast bio-diversity including mountain rain forest, moor land, thick bamboo forests and sub alpine plants. Tall grass covers the moor lands, crossed by streams teeming with trout.

Aside from regions of Acacia forest, Amboseli only has scrub and delicate saline grass. Kenya's soil allows for many flowers to flourish, roses are one of the highlights. March through to June and September and October are the months when flowers come into bloom.

Wildlife Rhythms: June to February

Kenya is home to the safari. Endless wilderness and the big game of this region have attracted adventurers from all over the world for a very long time. Very few African countries have such a breathtaking range of landscapes, unique geographical features and a vast array of wildlife.

You can come to Kenya any time of the year for excellent game viewing and views of the wilderness you will never forget. The key highlight of Kenya is the annual Wildebeest Migration from Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. The Wildebeest and Zebra come to the Masai Mara for the rich grazing land after the long rains.

Kenya offers its visitors a chance to experience a natural world unchanged by time. The Kenyan wilderness is home to an endless array of ecosystems, the staging ground for natural cycles of life. This great range of natural habitats means that there is plenty to explore, and plenty of species to encounter.

This is a land of endless potential for the wildlife enthusiast. From great migratory herds of the open savannah to an incredible abundance of birdlife, from the depths of tropical rainforest to the depths of the Indian Ocean, this is a place of wonders.

Aberdare National Park

Aberdare National Park is spread over a wide variety of terrains, covering altitudes from about 7,000 feet to 14,000 feet above sea level. Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park covers an area of 767 square kilometres (476.5 square miles) and forms part of the Aberdare Mountain Range.

Aberdare National Park offers a wide range of beautiful landscapes from the mountain peaks that rise well above sea level, to the v-shaped valleys marked by streams, rivers, waterfalls, and even moor land, bamboo forests and rainforests as one goes down to lower altitudes.

Aberdare also contains the second largest population of the Black Rhino. The wildlife to be seen during a safari include: Lion, Leopard, Baboon, Sykes monkey, black and white Colobus. Eland and Serval cats can be seen as well.

Samburu National Reserve

Samburu National Reserve covers an area of about 104 square kilometres (64.6 square miles). The terrain includes hills and plains with forests, swamps, grasslands and woodlands. The reserve was opened to visitors in 1985.

Visitors can enjoy some breathtaking scenery, including permanent springs, and view wildlife like Giraffe, Grevy's Zebra, Elephant, Oryx, Somali Ostrich, Hippo, Crocodile, Gerenuk, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and Hyena. There are over 365 species of bird.

Masai Mara National Reserve

Opening in November 1974, the Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most visited game reserves in Kenya. The park is open throughout the year offering an amazing variety of wildlife.

The reserve has breathtaking vistas across the plains and hills. The extraordinary migration of Wildebeest and Zebra starts from the Serengeti and crosses into the Mara grasslands every year. Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Hyena and Vultures follow, creating the ideal safari scene.

Wildlife includes: Elephant, Black Rhino, Buffalo, Zebra, Hartebeest, Lion, Leopard and Cheetah. Hippo and Crocodile can be found in the rivers. At the Masai Mara National Park you can also learn more about the Masaai culture.

Tsavo East National Park

Having opened in 1948, Tsavo East National Park is one of Kenya's oldest national parks. Tsavo East National Park contains some wonderful terrain, including rivers, lakes, glaciers and peaks with a wide variety of vegetation, including grasslands, Acacia vegetation, open plains and savannah. The highlight of Tsavo, are the Camel safaris.

Wildlife to be viewed include: Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Leopard, Crocodile, Waterbuck, Kudu, Gerenuk and Zebra. Some of the famous attractions are: Mudanda Rock and the Yatta Plateau, which is the world's largest lava flow. Luggard's Falls on the Galana River include shapely water-worn rocks.

Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National Park has given the wildlife in the area an environment of extreme bio-diversity. There are rivers, forests, lakes, wooded grasslands and mountains, each harbouring a distinct set of animals.

Tsavo National Park is infamous for its history and there is a lovely variety of wildlife and birdlife in the park. Wildlife include: Leopard, Cheetah, Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Lion and Crocodile.

Mzima Springs is a major attraction for visitors. There is a pool of natural spring water with underwater viewing hides where one can observe the Hippos. A highlight is the views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park was opened in April 1948 and today its one of the most famous national parks. This park went through rather tragic times when the Masaai people were put out of the area. Today everything has been sorted out and the Masaai live in harmony with nature and the people in Amboseli, sharing their amazing knowledge.

Amboseli National Park is very striking. The park has a dry look due to the volcanic ash from Mount Kilimanjaro when it last erupted. Mount Kilimanjaro is just 40 kilometres (25 miles) away. Water from Mount Kilimanjaro's melted snow creates streams forming some green areas and 2 clear water springs.

The herds of Elephant are abundant. Animals include: Zebra, Wildebeest, Giraffe, Impala, Caracal and Serval cat, Lion, Leopard and Hippo. For the avid bird watcher there are over 400 bird species at Amboseli.

Lake Nakuru National Park

Open to guests since 1968, Lake Nakuru National Park was originally meant to protect the flocks of flamingo. Over one million flamingos live at Lake Nakuru. Therefore, Lake Nakuru is perfect for bird watchers, scientists, and wildlife filmmakers.

Lake Nakuru National Park is an ecological wonder; from the lake waters, woodland and the rocky ridges. Hippos and otters can be seen in the lake itself. Wildlife like the Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Zebra, Black Rhino and White Rhino can also be found.

During game activities you can see the Big Five, Giraffe, black and white Colobus monkey, Eland, Steinbok, Reedbuck and Dikdik. Rock Hyrax and Klipspringer can be observed on cliffs and the escarpment.

Regions of Kenya

The Coral Coast is famous for its various marine life species; thrilling fisherman, snorkellers and scuba divers. During August to March the seas are calm and the water is clear. During April, May and June, a lot of the hotels close, but travellers can still find the odd hotel open.

Southern Kenya stays warm throughout the year. The prime wet season is usually from March to May, and again in October and November which is cloudy during the day. In northern and eastern Kenya the rain comes in March and November; however rain can be experienced any time of the year. The rain will not hinder driving.

Western Kenya which is the location for the Masai Mara is perfect throughout the year. However, the heavy rains from March to May, and again in November to early December can make travel a problem. Rain can come any day of the year at Lake Victoria, normally late in the afternoon.

The Great Rift Valley is great for almost any time of the year. During the rain season the roads can be very difficult to get through. Central Kenya is best from December to mid-March when the days are hot, sunny and dry; the nights are usually cool. The rain usually comes from mid-March to May, with some rain in November.

Climate

Kenya has a varying climate. Since Kenya is located on the equator, temperatures within regions vary little during the year but differences between the regions are enormous due to the variations in altitude and other climatic factors.

Temperatures are generally higher from January to March. There are lighter rains in November and heavier rains in April and May. In highland regions, the rain can come at any time.

Along the low inland regions, weather is hotter and drier than the coast, becoming dry and almost like a desert near the northern frontier. The highland regions can be cloudy and cool during the rainy season.

There are 2 rainy seasons that one must try avoid. The short rains are in October and November; the long rains go from the end of March to the end of May. August and October are just about the best times but to see the Wildebeest Migration in the Maasai Mara you will want to come around the end of July through September.



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