Amboseli National Park, formerly Masai Amboseli Game Reserve, is in Kajiado District, Rift Valley Province in Kenya. The park is 39,206 hectares in size at the core of an 8,000 square kilometers ecosystem that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border. The local people are mainly Maasai, but people from other parts of the country have settled there attracted by the successful tourist-driven economy and intensive agriculture along the system of swamps that makes this low-rainfall area (average 350 mm) one of the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world. The park protects two of the five main swamps, and includes a dried-up Pleistocene lake and semi-arid vegetation.
260 kilometers from the capital city Nairobi, Amboseli National Park is the third most visited game area in Kenya after Maasai Mara National Reserve and Nakuru National Park and the visit can easily be done in a weekend.
In 1883, Joseph Thompson was the first European to penetrate the feared Masai region known as Empusel (meaning 'salty, dusty place' in Maa). He, too, was astonished by the fantastic array of wildlife and the contrast between the arid areas of the dry-lake bed and the oasis of the swamps, a contrast that persists today.
Amboseli was set aside as the 'Southern Reserve' for Masai in 1906 but returned to local control as a Game Reserve in 1948. Gazetted a National Park in 1974 in order to protect the core this unique ecosystem, it was declared a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve in 1991.
Amboseli National Park is famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to free-ranging elephants. Other attractions of the park include opportunities to meet Masai and spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
For all your adrenalin-producing needs. Best for: Spectacular landscapes and great buffalo herds.
With sprawling savannah and soaring mountains, Kidepo National Park might be the most picturesque park in Africa.
Sharing borders with Sudan and Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, it is Uganda’s most beautiful, remote and least-explored park. Kidepo was once the playground of the late president Idi Amin and you can still visit the haunting ruins of a lodge that could just as easily have been designed as a massive bunker.
Those who take the trouble to get here are rewarded with phenomenal wildlife sightings and a level of exclusivity that can rarely be had at any cost in neighboring countries.
Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes. It lies to the south of Nakuru, in central Kenya and is protected by a small Lake Nakuru National Park. The lake's abundance of algae attracts the vast quantity of flamingos that famously lines the shore. Other birds also flourish in the area, as do warthogs, baboons and other large mammals. Black and White rhinos have also been introduced. The lake's level dropped dramatically in the early 1990s but has since largely recovered.
Nakuru means ``Dust or Dusty Place`` in Masai language. Lake Nakuru National Park, close to Nakuru town, was established in 1961. It started off small, only encompassing the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity. Now it has been extended to include a large part of the savannahs.
Lake Nakuru National Park is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos nesting along the shores. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to continually shifting mass of pink. The number of flamingoes on the lake varies with water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from Baboon Cliff. Also of interest is an area of 188 km around the lake fenced off as a sanctuary to protect Rothschild giraffes, black rhinos and white rhinos.
The park has recently been enlarged partly to provide the sanctuary for the black rhino. This undertaking has necessitated a fence - to keep out poachers rather than to restrict the movement of wildlife. The park marches for 12.1 km on the south eastern boundary with the Soysambu conservancy which represents a possible future expansion of habitat for the rhinos and the only remaining wildlife corridor to Lake Naivasha.
The park now the largest concentrations of Rhinos in the Kenya, plus around 70 white rhinos. There are also a number of Rothschild's giraffe, again translocated for safety from western Kenya beginning in 1977. Waterbuck are very common and both the Kenyan species are found here. Among the predators are lion and leopard, the latter being seen much more frequently in recent times. The park also has large sized pythons that inhabit the dense woodlands, and can often be seen crossing the roads or dangling from trees.
The traffic in The Mara is just deadly. Best for: Big cats and the great migration.
The Maasai Mara national Reserve, also known as ``The Mara,`` is the venue for arguably the most astounding wildlife spectacle on earth.
Every year during the great migration an estimated 2.5 million animals make a round-trip journey of 2,000 kilometers across the Serengeti ecosystem between Tanzania and Kenya.
The Mara has been described as the most prolific wildlife real-estate on earth and is perhaps Africa’s greatest safari destination.
Similarly, the Serengeti, which is contiguous with The Mara to the south, is one of Africa’s truly untamed wildernesses, with seemingly endless expanses of swaying savannah where plains herds graze and lions and cheetah maintain a vigil from their lookout kopjes.
The Masai Mara National Reserve covers some 1530km² in south-western Kenya. It is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, covering some 25,000 km². It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west and Masai pastoral ranches to the North, East and West. The Sand, Talek and Mara are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hill slopes and hilltops.
Named after the Masai people (the traditional inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from a viewpoint - ``Mara``, which is Maa (Masai language) for spotted: an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savannah and cloud shadows that mark the area. It is famous for its exceptional population of Big Cats, game, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle and wildebeest from the Serengeti every year from July to October, a migration so immense it is called the Great Migration.
All members of the ``Big Five`` - Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino are found in the Masai Mara. Hippopotami are found in large groups in the Masai Mara and Talek rivers. Cheetah are also found, the plains between the Mara River and the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment are probably the best area for game viewing, in particular regarding lion and cheetah.
The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving an immensity of herbivores some 1,300,000 wildebeests, 360,000 Thomson's gazelles, and 191,000 zebras. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by a block of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena.
Numerous other antelopes can be found, including Thomson's and Grant's gazelles, impalas, topis and Coke's hartebeests. Large herds of zebra are found through the reserve. The plains are also home to the distinctive Masai giraffe as well as the common giraffe. The large Roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders. The Masai Mara is a major research centre for the spotted hyena. Additionally, over 450 species of birdlife have been identified in the park, including vultures, marabou storks, secretary birds, hornbills, crowned cranes, ostriches, long-crested Eagles, and African pygmy-falcons.
An African Eden. Best for: Near guaranteed sightings of the ``Big Five`` (elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino and leopard).
Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater could be the most compact wildlife venue on the planet. From the first spellbinding glimpse of the crater and the stomach-churning descent down the inner walls, your senses are assaulted by Africa at its most intense.
During a single morning you can easily rack up unforgettable sightings of elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.
If this is your first time on safari it can be the perfect choice but aficionados complain that this amazing little ``lost world`` makes it all too easy.
The Samburu National Reserve is located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro river in Kenya; on the other side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve in Northern Kenya. It is 165 km² in size and 350 kilometers from Nairobi. Geographically, it is located in Samburu District of the Rift Valley Province.
In the middle of the reserve, the Ewaso Nyiro river flows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests that provides water without which the game in the reserve could not survive in the arid country.
The Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness made famous in the bestselling book and award winning movie Born Free.
The Samburu National Reserve is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness that was famous for adopting oryx calves.
Samburu National Reserve can be entered via the Ngare Mare and Buffalo Springs gates. Once inside the reserve, there are two mountains visible: Koitogor and Ololokwe. Samburu National Reserve is very peaceful and attracts animals because of Ewaso Nyiro River (meaning ``brown water`` and pronounced U-aa-so-Nyee-ro) that runs through it and the mixture of acacia, riverine forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation. The Ewaso Nyiro flows from the Kenyan highlands and empties into the famous Lorian Swamp. The natural serenity that is evident here is due to its distance from industries and the inaccessibility of the reserve for many years.
There are wide variety of animal and bird life seen at Samburu National Reserve. Several species are considered unique to the region, including its unique dry-country animal life: All three big cats, Lion, Cheetah and Leopard, can be found here, as well as Elephants, Buffalos and Hippos.
The Shimba Hills National Reserve is an area of coastal rainforest, woodland and grassland located less than 30 kilometers away from Kenya's Coastal city/town of Mombasa in the Kwale region of Coast Province. Shimba Hills National Reserve was established in 1968 and the park features coastal bush land, riverine forests and grasslands and its main attraction is the sable antelope, which can only be seen here in the whole of Kenya.
The ecosystem holds one of the largest coastal forests in East Africa after Arabuko-Sokoke forest.
The reserve is rich in flora and fauna and hosts the highest density of African elephant in Kenya. Other animal species found in the area are Sable antelope, black and rufous elephant shrew, bushy tailed mongoose and other small mammals like fruit bat. The forest is an important bird area and is endowed with forest birdlife while the grasslands hold localized species such as red-necked-Spurfowl, Croaking Cisticola and Zanzibar Red Bishop.
The reserve is also home to a number of other wildlife species such as the elephant, bush pig, waterbuck, reedbuck, warthog and the roan antelope which was recently introduced. The famous Sheldrick Falls can also be found here (25m high).
Guided forest walks are available from the Sheldrick Falls ranger station. There is a swimming hole and picnic area at the scenic Sheldrick Falls on the Machemwana River.
To see wildlife without venturing far from the city center, visit Nairobi National Park, now a black rhino sanctuary and also home to a host of other classic safari stars including lions, leopards, buffalo, zebras, wildebeest, and cheetahs. Within the park's borders, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust offers close-up encounters with elephant orphans. And no visit to Nairobi would be complete without popping into the Giraffe Centre near the famous Giraffe Manor where these long-necked beauties eat out of visitors' hands. While visiting Nairobi, travelers should exercise care as crime rates have escalated in recent years.
Tsavo National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 11.747 kilometers. Opened in April of 1948, it is located near the village of Voi in the Taita District of Coast Province. The park is dived into east and west sections by the Mombasa-Nairobi road and a railway. Named for the Tsavo River, which flow west to east through the national park, it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park, and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania.
Tsavo national park is split in Tsavo West national Park and Tsavo East National Park divided by the Nairobi-Mombasa road. Tsavo East is a little bit dryer and less busty but therefore the chance to see the wild animals is bigger. Most of the action is concentrated along the Galana River, because a lot of animals will drink at this river. At the river you will see a lot of crocs and hippos. During the dry season, the landscape in both parks is dusty and parched, but it erupts into colour at the end of the wet season. There are over 60 different mammals in the Parks and the bird life is equally varied. Tsavo East area is mainly dominated by flat bush and huge baobab trees. It was the main area of poaching in the past and some parts still remain closed to public.
The Kenya/Uganda railway lines runs close to the road in this area of the Park and it was here that work on the railways was halted in the early 20th century when man-eating lion dragged several workers always and devoured them in the bush.
The park can be accessed by three main gates, from Voi through the Manyani, gate, from Mombasa through the Bachuma gate or from Malindi through the Sala gate. There are also several airstrips in the park that allow chartered light planed. Inside the park, the Athi and Tsavo rivers converge to form the Galana River. Most of the park consist of semi-arid grasslands and savanna. It is considered one of the world’s biodiversity strongholds, and its popularity is mostly due to the vast amounts of diverse wildlife that can be seen. The park also offers camping and several geographical points of interest.
Rwanda is situated in the region of Great Lakes and has many beautiful and serene lakes bordering it. Tourists from all over the world come to have a view of these serene Rwanda lakes. There are five volcanic lakes which lie on the border of Congo and Rwanda and have their own attractions. The major Rwandan lakes include Lake Kivu, Lake Ruhondo, Lake Mugesera, Lake Burera Lake Muhazi and Lake Ihema.
Lake Kivu is the biggest of the numerous freshwater bodies that are in Rwanda. It is an outstanding beautiful inland body of water which is enclosed by vertical, green terraced hills along the border of Congo. There are three resort towns namely, Gisenyi, Cyangugu and Kibuye which are located close to Lake Kivu.
Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo are the two most neglected lakes of Rwanda. These lakes are surrounded by steep hills and large waterfalls with a backdrop of the Virunga volcanic mountains. These twin lakes are great spots to be visited after watching the gorillas in the Rwandan mountains.
The lakes in Rwanda offer ample scope for water gliding, swimming, canoeing and water-skiing.