Top 10 Big Five Destinations in Kenya: Everyone who travels on an African safari aspires to see the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros) up and personal. And Kenya is unquestionably one of the greatest places to make this goal a reality.
Many of its parks are home to at least four – and sometimes all five – of these highly sought-after animals. Furthermore, by pairing two or more safari places with complimentary qualities, you may significantly boost your chances of seeing all of the Big Five.
To help you make the most of your Kenyan safari, we look at ten of the country’s most well-known parks and offer an overview of which of the Big Five are there and how easy they can be spotted.
What are the Big Five?
Many first-time safari-goers dream of seeing the Big Five, a group of huge African creatures. These include lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinos. The word was invented by big game hunters to describe the animals they believed to be the most dangerous to hunt on foot. This is why it excludes other charismatic but generally unthreatening animals like giraffes and cheetahs.
Top 10 Big Five Destinations in Kenya.
Masai Mara National Reserve.
Kenya’s preferred safari location is one of the greatest sites to see the Big Five. A northern extension of the Serengeti, it is well known for the wildebeest migration that takes place on its undulating plains in September and October.
At any time of year, you may expect to witness lions, leopards, elephants, and buffalo in the Masai Mara. Black rhino is more difficult to spot; however, they are more likely to be found in the westerly section known as the Mara Triangle.
Amboseli National Park.
For elephant admirers, Amboseli is the best site to see these fascinating beasts up close. Buffaloes are also plentiful here, but large cats are sparse, and rhinos are not present. The park’s stunning position at the foot of Kilimanjaro more than compensates, especially if you’re also visiting nearby parks where lions, leopards, and rhinos are still more abundant.
Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s safari symbols, with enormous-tusked elephants and big cats (lions and cheetahs), all against the backdrop of Africa’s tallest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro. It’s a lovely, tiny park with a variety of species, including flamingos and an easily accessible hyena lair. And there’s true safari enchantment in the air in the early morning or late afternoon, when the clouds part to expose Kilimanjaro’s peak.
Lake Nakuru National Park.
This small and yet picturesque national park is easily accessible from the Masai Mara, and the two complement each other nicely. This is because Lake Nakuru is one of Kenya’s greatest spots to spot rhinos, which are scarce in the Masai Mara.
White rhinos are plainly seen on the lake floodplain, but black rhinos are more discreet and prefer deep vegetation. Lions and leopards are present, although not in large numbers. Buffalo, Rothschild’s giraffes, and seasonal groups of flamingos are all common sightings.
Tsavo East National Park.
Tsavo East national park, which runs northeast from the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway, is suitable for anyone looking to include a short safari into a longer beach vacation. It is home to the Big Five and is well-known for its vast herds of elephant and buffalo, although lion, leopard, and black rhino are less definite.
Aberdare National Park.
The mountainous Aberdare National Park is an unusual safari site in that most animal viewing is done from a pair of hide-like ‘tree lodges’ overlooking floodlit waterholes. Despite this, it is home to all of the Big Five, and on a good night, the waterhole may draw buffalo, elephant, black rhino, leopard, and, more infrequently, lion.
Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National park, along with its eastern counterpart, is part of Kenya’s biggest protected territory. Elephant and buffalo are plentiful, and lion sightings are slightly more reliable than in Tsavo East. Tsavo West is particularly favorable for black rhinos, with over 80 of them protected in a walled drive-through sanctuary at Ngulia, at a density of about one individual per square kilometer.
Nairobi National Park.
Nairobi National Park is easily ruined with a small amount of praise. Yes, the city skyscrapers tower above several areas of the park. True, it is an excellent destination for a day safari for individuals with little time.
However, it is a wilder and more fulfilling safari location than such assertions suggest. Despite its proximity to Nairobi city, the park’s whole southern edge remains unfenced, allowing species to freely move from the Athi Plains. And four of the Big Five are routinely sighted, with the exception of the elephant.
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves.
The group of reserves, stretched along the Ewaso Nyiro River as it runs through the parched badlands north of Mount Kenya, is home to four of the Big Five (the rhino being the exception). The wooded riverside is a fantastic place to spot leopards, elephants, and buffalo. These reserves are notable for their abundance of dry-country animals like as Grevy’s zebra, Beisa Oryx, and gerenuk, which are rarely found in other national parks.
Meru National Park.
Meru National Park is an excellent alternative for people want to view the Big Five wildlife in Kenya while staying in an off-the-beaten-track safari resort. This picturesque national park is the type of area where you can drive for an hour without seeing another car.
Elephants and buffalo are numerous, as are the beautiful reticulated giraffes), and both rhino species are protected in a walled drive-through sanctuary. Big cats are not assured, but if you are lucky enough to see one, you will most likely have the sighting to yourself.
Laikipia Plateau and Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Laikipia Plateau is the most advanced of Kenya’s Big Five conservation areas. It is a patchwork of private and community-owned conservancies that together create Kenya’s second-largest protected habitat.
Laikipia is also a vital bastion for all of Kenya’s Big Five wildlife, including rhino, as well as Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and the African wild dog. Premier properties include Lewa, Ol Pejeta, and Solio Ranch, which provide all-inclusive game packages in small, private lodges.