Meru National Park
It is home to lion, elephant, cheetah, leopard and some rare antelopes; Lesser Kudu, duiker and Dik Dik, one of Africa's smallest antelopes. Large prides of lion can be seen and some of Kenya's largest herds of buffalo. Rivers abound with hippos and crocodiles. Fishing for barbus and catfish is permitted at camp sites and along the Tana River. In the mid 1980s, the park suffered from poaching. However KWS armed wildlife security patrols have driven out poachers and the elephant population has stabilised with breeding herds settling down.
More than 300 species of birds have been recorded. They include Peter's Finfoot which inhabits the Murera and Ura rivers, the Pel's Fishing owl, kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and numerous weavers.
The park is most famous as the setting for Joy Adamson's book Born Free - the story of the Adamsons' life and research amongst lions and cheetahs. "Elsa" the lioness was the most well-known and her grave is marked here. There is one lodge and two tented campsites which must be prebooked, one public campsite, a KWS self-help banda, and leopard rock bandas (total 120 beds).
On the border of Meru National Park is Bisanadi National Reserve known as 'kinna', the border between Meru and Bisanadi Parks is the traditional division between the Meru and Boran. The Reserve was opened in September 1979 and occupies an area of 606 sq. km. A true wilderness area without any accommodation, it is only accessible by 4WD vehicles. There is an airstrip at Korbessa.
Another area made famous by the Adamsons is Kora National Park. Opened in October 1989, 280 km. northeast of Nairobi, it is an easy outing from Meru National Park. It covers an area of 1,787 sq. km., bordered by the Tana River. George Adamson had his camp was here. A key feature is the sudden appearance of lush green "oases", created by the lines of doum palms which shelter the banks of the Tana River. Striking are the Inselbergs - isolated rocky outcrops covered in vegetation which create random islands above the plains. Kora has diverse wildlife: 21 species of fish, 500 species of insects, 33 molluscs and 40 reptiles. Elephants, Lesser Kudus, wild dogs, striped and spotted hyenas, leopards and cheetahs can be seen.
Other regional parks include Rahole National Reserve, offering a wide variety of plains game, hippos, crocodiles and many birds. At Mwingi National Reserve, formerly North Kitui, there are hippos, crocodiles, buffaloes and warthogs.
- Altitude 2,500 - 4,000ft.
- Area Samburu 104 sq. ft. kms.
- Area Buffalo Spring 131 sq. kms.
- Distance from Nairobi 343 kms.
- Two airstrips
- Opened 1985
- Scenic Beauty, Rivers & Forest
- Leopard, Hippo, Elephant, Lion
- Permanent Springs
- Rich Cultural Inheritance
Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves
All three reserves offer unique vistas of rounded and rugged hills and undulating plains. The mix of wood and grassland with riverine forest and swamp is home to a wide variety of animal and birdlife, buffalo springs records over 365 species of bird. Game includes Reticulated giraffes, grevy's zebras, elephants, oryx, Somali ostrich, hippos, crocodiles, gerenuk, buffaloes, lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas. Shaba National Reserve is home to Joy Adamson's Monument. It is notable for its hot springs. Samburu and buffalo springs, in particular, are popular tourist routes. There are three lodges in Samburu (total 270 beds), and one in Shaba with 178 beds and one tented lodge with 34 beds. There are a number of special campsites in each Park, favoured by the mobile tented safari operators. They have to be pre-booked. Shaba also has an airstrip.
Maralal and Laikipia Game Sanctuaries are also located in this area and can be visited by arrangement. Laikipia Plateau Reserve was opened in October 1991. It is north-east of Laikipia District, and borders Isiolo District. To the west is the Mkogodo Forest Reserve, a belt of riverine forests along the Ngare Ndare River. It is the home of a small unique ethnic group known as the Laikipia Maasai.
The landscape is rich and varied. There are elephants, elands, buffaloes, grevy's zebras, bushbucks, and cats (cheetah, leopard and lion). It is good for birdwatching. It is a little known area which is ideal for the intrepid traveller. No accommodation is available in the area.
- Altitude 1,000 - 5,000ft.
- Area Samburu 1,482 sq. kms.
- Distance from Nairobi 620 kms.
- Two airstrips
- Opened 1967
- Untouched forest,
scenic & wild landscape
- Crater lakes
- Diverse local cultures
- Good game viewing:
elephant & greater kudu
- Former homeland of
famous elephant 'Ahmed'
Marsabit National Reserve
Marsabit is a forested mountain which rises spectacularly from the middle of a desert wilderness and provides the only source of a permanent surface in the region. It has three beautiful crater lakes with a myriad of resident birdlife. The most scenic is the Lake Paradise, made famous in the early films and writings of Martin Johnson and Vivien de Wattville.
Originally part of a huge reserve which took in Shaba, Samburu, Buffalo Springs and the Losai National Reserve, the mountain was made a national reserve in its own right. It is a nomadic rangeland and the droughtland of the Rendille herdsmen. Its name means 'Mountain of Cold'.
One of the area's most famous residents was the elephant Ahmed - decreed a protected animal by President Jomo Kenyatta's Order in 1970. Ahmed, who had some of the biggest tusks ever, had a 24-hour armed guard. When Ahmed died, aged 55, his body was preserved and is now on display at the National Museum in Nairobi.
Other game include: Greater kudu, Reticulated Giraffe, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Leopard and caracal. Over 370 species of birdlife have been recorded which include the Somali Ostrich, the rare Masked Lark and over 52 raptor species (eagle, buzzard, vulture). A special treat is the rare Lammergeyer Vulture. The area is especially good for butterfly viewing with a wide variety of species. There is one lodge in the park.
Nearby is Losai National Reserve, opened as a single reserve in January, 1976. It covers 1,806 sq. kms. of wild, semi - desert landscape characterised by rocky hills, plains and rivers. The scenic beauty is breathtaking; game to view include elephant, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk and Grants Gazelle. It is accessed via the Isiolo/Marsabit road which passes through the reserve.
- Altitude 2,000 - 6,780 ft.
- Area Samburu 1,091 sq. kms.
- Distance from Nairobi 565 kms.
- Airstrip at Turkwell Dam
- Opened October 1979
- Scenic landscape & Mountain vistas
- Hot springs
- Game: Elephant, Buffalo, Oryx, Lion,
South Turkana National Reserve
Nasalot National Reserve covers an area of only 92 sq. km. It is mainly plains broken up by the impressive Sekess Hills, a continuation of the Cherangany ridges. To the north, it is bordered by a section of River Turkwel and Wei Wei River, to the east. It has an important eco-system with river valleys and floodplains which support evergreen forests dominated by fig and acacia trees and many types of papyrus and sedges.
The wildlife include the elephant, hippo, giraffe, impala, grant and Thompson's gazelle, plains, zebra, eland, lesser kudu, bushbuck, duiker and dik dik and their predators - lion, leopard, spotted hyena and jackal. There are olive baboons and vervet monkeys and crocodiles. There are more than 150 species of birds. There is a murram airstrip at the Turkwel hydro-electric dam and two campsites.
- Altitude 1,000 - 2,000ft.
- Area Sibiloi 1,570 sq. kms.
- Area Central Island 39 sq. kms.
- Area South Island 5 sq. kms.
- Distance from Nairobi 800 kms.
- Airstrip at Turkwel Dam
- Sibiloi Opened August 1973
- Central Island Opened Jan. 1985
- South Island Opened Jan. 1983
- Origins of man: Koobi Fora
Museum & Research Base
- Thousands of Fossils including
giant torroise behemoth,
45 ft. long crocodile
- Lake Turkana & Scenery
- Birdwatching: Flamingo,
- Shoreline gameviewing: hippo,
crocodile, zebra giraffe
Sibiloi Central & South Island National Parks
Sibiloi National Park is one of the world's greatest treasures, where proof of man's origins was found. It was originally established by the Kenya National Museum to protect unique prehistoric and archaeological sites.
In this remote area near Kenya's border with Ethiopia, some of the earliest hominid traces were found. Koobi Fora finds are considered some of the most important palaeontological discoveries of the 20th Century.
In the 1960s and 1970s more than 160 fossil remains of early man including Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus were discovered, putting man's origins back three million years. More than 4,000 fossil specimens of mammal and stone age artefacts have been discovered here.
The locations of the most important finds can be visited. Four particular treasures are: the shell of a giant tortoise dating back three million years, a set of jaws over 5ft. long from a crocodile believed to have been over 45ft. in length and the exticnt Behemoth, forbearer of the elephant with massive tusks, both dating back 1.5 million years and the hominid (early man).
Lake Turkana is 265 km. long with an average width of 30 km. There are turtles, 60 species of fish and thousands of flamingoes, pelicans and other water birds. The lake's water is remarkable for its 'soaplike' softness and fascinating shifting images and reflections.
The Crater lakes in the Central Island National Park offer an excellent opportunity for viewing and photography. The Central Island is an important breeding ground for crocodiles. There is prolific shoreline game including hippos, plains and Grevy's zebra, topi, oryx, reticulated giraffe, greater kudu and Grants gazelle.
South Island National Park is easier to reach and offers exciting views of giant crocodiles and age-old traditional lifestyles. There is an airstrip, but boat trips are available from the western shore. There are three campsites in the Alia Bay region.
Malkamari National Park is located on the north eastern border with Ethiopia. The park opened in October 1989 and covers and area of 876sq. kms.
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