Lesser Visited Kenya Safari Parks Blog

When thinking of a Kenya safari most people immediately think of the Maasai Mara as the place to visit when going on safari. There is no doubting this area is famous for a reason as it undeniably offers fantastic safari experiences due to the sheer abundance of animals living here, offering great sightings on almost every game drive. On top of this the wildebeest Mara River crossing in July-September each year draws in crowds from across the globe, hoping for that golden view of the wildebeest herds moving from Tanzania into Kenya as the weather changes between countries. 

However, whilst the Mara will always be a great place to visit there are plenty of other reserves and national parks that offer equally memorable experiences, and each of them have their own unique selling point. In addition, these areas tend to have a much lower number of tourist vehicles at any given time, which I believe provides a much more enjoyable game drive experience. There is certainly no queuing three deep around a cat sighting, which has unfortunately become common in the Mara, with its high visitor numbers. 

Below I have highlighted some of my favourite areas and the reasons why.

Solio – Rhino Lovers Dream 

This is a private game reserve in the north of the country that due to its reserve status is able to offer guests night game drives, with the opportunity to spot the more nocturnal species that you don’t get to see in the national parks where gates shut at 6pm. In addition to this, Solio has over 300 rhinos on the reserve, which will almost guarantee a sighting of these endangered, beautiful animals who form part of the famous safari Big 5. There are some beautiful high-end lodges here, like Solio Lodge offering a wide range of experiences, and there are also some great midrange properties such as Rhino Watch Safari Lodge.

Samburu – Different Species Only Seen in the North

The Samburu Tribes are similar to the Maasai and both speak slightly different versions of the ‘Maa’ language.However, the Samburu inhabit north central Kenya whilst the Maasai are in South Kenya and North Tanzania. Even if you have visited Kenya before and done tours of the Maasai villages we highly recommend also experiencing the Samburu Tribe way of life, learning about how they live, their beliefs and their traditions.

In addition to the beautiful tribes of this region, another absolute reason to visit Samburu is because it gives the opportunity to view five animals that are not found in other more regularly visited areas of the country. These are 

  1. Grevy Zebra – which has a visibly different stripe pattern to the more common burchells zebra seen across Africa;
  2. Reticulated Giraffe  – that has more dark orange and brown patches with areas of beige, and lacks markings on its lower legs;
  3. Gerenuk – known colloquially as the giraffe antelope because of its exceptionally long neck; 
  4. Somali Ostrich – also known as the blue neck Ostrich as the neck and legs are a more greyish blue than they typical pink seen in the common ostrich.
  5. Beisa Oryx – Whilst very similar in appearance, beisa oryx  have a number of distinct characteristics that allow identification, notably fringed ears and black tufts of hair that extend past their ears.

Amboseli – Backdrop of Mt Kilimanjaro 

Whilst this National Park is typically well known by those who have previously visited Kenya because of its easy access on tarmac roads from Nairobi, I still firmly believe it is worth a mention here because of the fantastic safari experience it offers. There is an open flat landscape in this park, which means it is brilliant for photographing animals without obstruction. There is also a great mixture of dry and clear flatlands, small lush green tropical tree forests (that the cats love) and an abundance of lakes and waterlogged swamps, which not only attract a high variety of birds but it also provide a cool munching ground for hippos, large elephant herds, wildebeest, buffalo, antelope and warthogs. High volumes of animals are regularly spotted in the waters both simultaneously cooling off and feeding in this picturesque landscape. 

The brochure selling point of this national park though is its proximity to Mt Kilimanjaro, when on a clear day it is possible to get that sought after shot of a long-tusked elephant in front of the worlds tallest freestanding mountain. Whilst this is an absolute selling point, the reality is this opportunity, whilst spectacular, is actually quite rare. On many days of the year, cloud cover restricts the view making it very rare to get that golden postcard shot. However, there are still plenty of reasons to visit this beautiful park – and I highly recommend it to all visitors to Kenya.

Tsavo – Kenya’s Largest National Park

Tsavo is a great place to visit in Kenya, because not only is it the largest national park in the country, covering 13,747sqm, it is split into two distinct areas that offer very different safari experiences. Tsavo East has a very dry and barren landscape, with red sands dominating the views as you drive through the park. During my time here I had some phenomenal lion sightings, where more than one pride was sat out in the open, offering great chances to view and photograph these popular cats. There are also plenty of elephants, zebras, giraffes, buffalo, antelopes and bird varieties to keep you busy with sightings.

Tsavo West is a complete contrast to the East with lush green hills, a beautiful waterfall area with resident hippos, dark and hardened historic volcanic lava flows, picturesque rocky outcrops and a wide variety of trees bringing this whole area to life. Whilst wildlife spotting is much harder here, and sightings are a lot less frequent, the scenery is just outstanding and worth the drive time alone. I would definitely put the route we took from Tsavo West via the Shetani Lava flow, and over to Amboseli as one of my top 10 picturesque drives in Africa –. The pictures I have, as always with scenic shots, just do not do it justice.

Kenya really is a fantastic destination to visit for a wide variety of travellers including:

  • Those looking for easy access direct flights to a safari destination. 
  • Those looking for a unique short break from the UK 
  • Those looking to experience safaris in different landscapes, to maximise the types of wildlife that might be seen – whether visiting for one week or one month – there is plenty on offer.
  • Those looking for a good value private safari with high quality guiding
  • Those looking to combine safari with a luxury Indian Ocean beach stay
  • First timers and regular safari enthusiasts
  • Those looking to combine East Africa with Southern Africa – there are direct flights to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Cape Town, South Africa.

Check out some of our Kenya tours here – Kenya

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    • Thank-you! It really is such a beautiful country, and the safaris are always so different.

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