Are you about to embark on a safari in Kenya? Do you want to know which animals you might be lucky enough to spot there? If this East African country overlooking the Indian Ocean is one of the world's most famous safari destinations, it's not for nothing! Kenya is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, and the spectacle of all these animals is truly fascinating.
What animals can you see in Kenya?
Kenya is one of the few countries in the world where you can observe the Big Five of Africa. These are the five largest land mammals with the reputation of being the most difficult to hunt and observe: lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant and rhinoceros. They all live in their natural state in Kenya's parks and reserves.
Actually, Kenya is probably the best place in the world to see the black rhino, especially in the lake region of Nakuru National Park and in Lewa Park. The country also boasts an incredible concentration of hippos in the basin above Thompson Falls.
Amboseli National Park, one of Kenya's must-see safari reserves, and Tsavo Park (Kenya's largest park) are particularly renowned for their large numbers of elephants.
If you're interested in birdwatching – and in particular if you want to admire the most incredible flocks of pink flamingos, you'll want to head for the lake district, around Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria.
All these animals, some of which are endangered, are rare and sometimes difficult to observe. Of course, during a safari in Kenya, you can also see other even more discreet species such as the zebra, the reticulated giraffe or the cheetah. Cheetahs can also be spotted in the steppes of the Maasai Mara during the dry season, when the vegetation is not yet tall enough for them to hide.
Kenya's land mammals
It's difficult to list all the animals found in the various parks. So here's a list of the most emblematic land mammals you'll come across in Kenya:
- Coke's hartebeests
- Blue monkeys, or Diademed monkeys
- African ground squirrels
- Common cape elands
- Savanna bush elephants
- Southern lesser galagos
- Masai giraffes
- Grant's and Thompson's gazelles
- Spotted hyenas
- African wild dogs
- Banded mongooses
Birds of Kenya
More than 400 species of birds live in Kenya, including :
- Tawny eagles
- Southern ground hornbills
- African royal cranes
- African sacred ibises
- Marabou storks
- African vultures
Reptiles of Kenya
- Monitor lizards
- Snakes, mostly found on the Kenyan coast, outside parks and reserves (cobras, vipers, pythons...)
Where and when to see animals in Kenya?
It is from December to March, during the dry season, that conditions are best for observing the animals that live in Kenya.
To do so, you can visit one of the country's 60 parks and reserves. Here are 10 of the best places to go on safari in Kenya:
- Amboseli National Park
- Maasai Mara National Reserve
- Samburu Estate
- Nairobi Park
- Tsavo Park
- Lake Nakuru
- Shimba Hills Nature Reserve
- Meru National Park
- Kora National Park
- Aberdare National Park
Note that the Maasai Mara National Reserve is an exception: here, large numbers of animals gather at the end of the Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration. Therefore, the best time to visit this specific park (which is an extension of Serengeti Park in the south-west of the country), is from July to October.