Kenya Wildlife Highlights

Kenya offers wonderful big cat viewing, especially in the renowned MASAI MARA, home to the BBC’s Big Cat Diary.

Other good areas for the big cats cats include Samburu, Nakuru and The Mathews Range (all for leopard) and Amboseli and Lewa Conservancy (both for cheetah). Lion can be seen throughout. But the best place for big cats is the Masai Mara.

Elephant viewing is excellent in Amboseli, Samburu and in the The Mathews Range. A more specialist elephant safari is possible at one camp in Samburu, whilst close to the southern Mathews Range the excellent Reteti Elephant Orphanage is worth visiting. In Nairobi the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is also popular.

Some of the best viewing of black & white rhino in Africa is found in Kenya,m specifically at Lake Nakuru in the Great Rift Valley and on the private Lewa Downs, Solio and Ol Pejeta conservancies in the Laikipia Region. Rhino tracking in the wilderness is possible at a couple of locations.

The rare African wild dog can be seen in the Laikipia region, whilst central and northern Kenya is also home to various mammal sub-species such as reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, Beisa oryx, and Lesser kudu.

The Masai Mara, perhaps the most famous wildlife area in the world, supports an incredible variety of mammals. The plains are dominated by large herds of herbivores of which the wildebeest, zebra and Thompson’s gazelle are the most numerous. Eland, the largest antelope, mix with the other giants – elephant, buffalo, hippo and giraffe, usually under the gaze of the predator species – lion, leopard, cheetah, hyaena and crocodile. Topi, zebra, bushbuck, impala, waterbuck, dik dik, duiker and kudu are all present too, whilst the smaller species are well represented too – bat-eared fox, serval, caracal, aardwolf, black-backed and side-striped jackal, baboon, monkey, warthog and a variety of mongoose.

The main seasonal wildlife highlight in Kenya is the annual wildebeest and zebra migration which usually arrives in the Masai Mara in late July, and stays until mid-late October. River crossings, when the herds ‘swim the gauntlet’ across the croc-filled Mara and Talek rivers, can be seen during this period. For more information on this spectacle, please see our Great Migration page.

Birding in Kenya is superb, with over 1100 species found through a variety of different habitats. Migrant species are most likely to be seen from October to March. Greater and lesser flamingo populations migrate between the Rift Valley lakes throughout the year, but not to a set pattern.

Please see our Regions page for more detailed information on Kenya’s different wildlife areas.