Best Big 5 Game Reserves In Kenya

What is a Game Reserve?

A game reserve (also known as a wildlife preserve or a game park) is a large area of land where wild animals live safely or are hunted in a controlled way for sport.

If hunting is prohibited, a game reserve may be considered a nature reserve; however, the focus of a game reserve is specifically the animals (fauna), whereas a nature reserve is also, if not equally, concerned with all aspects of native biota of the area (plants, animals, fungi, etc.).

Best Big 5 Game Reserves In Kenya

1. Masai Mara National Reserve

There are no prizes for guessing that the Masai Mara is the most popular safari destination in Kenya. With its abundant wildlife, iconic savannah views, and of course, the annual wildebeest migration, the Masai Mara deserves to be at the top of every visitor list.

Proudly situated in the Rift Valley in southwest Kenya, the Masai Mara is home to the Big 5, as well as large families of hippos, hyenas, and topi. The list goes on. There are no fences in the Mara which allows the animals to roam free between the Masai Mara National Reserve and the private conservancies which also form part of the Masai Mara.

2. Amboseli National Park

Amboseli is another popular park and the place to go for those picture postcard views of elephants trundling across the plains with the magnificent backdrop of a snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. Don’t forget your camera!

Home to over 50 animal species, Amboseli is known as the ‘Land of the Giants’ thanks to the large herds of elephants who roam the sun-baked savannah. It’s quite a rare spectacle, especially if you’re lucky enough to encounter some of the famous large tuskers.

These unobstructed views allow for superb game viewing, and there’s a good chance of seeing lions, leopards, and even cheetahs. It’s great for bird watching too with over 400 species to keep an eye out for.

3. Tsavo National Parks

Tsavo has come a long way since the infamous man-eating lions of 1898. Today, Tsavo East and Tsavo West are vast, wild, and perfectly safe for safaris. It’s not always easy to spot the Big 5 here, but they are there, and the difficulty just makes it even more exciting. The fun of safaris is in the anticipation as much as the sighting. Those who persevere will be rewarded with rhinos, leopards, buffalo, and yes, lions.

Tsavo West is also a popular place to watch elephants sand bathing in the red dust, rolling about and creating quite a spectacle. You’ll also find hippos bathing here (although this time in water!) as well as the ever-present crocodiles lurking in the shallows.

4. Lake Nakuru National Park

It’s not often you get to see black and white rhinos against a backdrop of pink flamingos, but here at Lake Nakuru, it’s a common sight. The lake is famous for its enormous flamingo flocks that enjoy the shallow alkaline waters, and there are often more than a million birds nesting there. That’s a lot of pink!

Whilst it doesn’t feel as wild or untamed as many of the other game reserves and parks in Kenya, Lake Nakuru is good for year-round visits, and the chances of spotting giraffes, lions, hippos, warthog and ostrich are high.

5. Lewa Conservancy

The Lewa Conservancy is a private wildlife reserve that was established to protect the endangered black rhino and also the rare Grevy’s zebra. There are now over 60 mammal species so visitors can enjoy a well-rounded safari experience here.

As well as vehicle safaris and bush walks, it’s also a fabulous location to indulge in a bit of wildlife viewing with a difference – by horse or even camel. As well as discovering gazelles, lions, and leopards, there are also reticulated giraffes, Beisa oryx, and the huge eland living here at Lewa.

Which is the best game reserve in Kenya?

The Masai Mara

The Masai Mara is Kenya’s best-known reserve, and for good reason too. Home to an abundance of big game, the Mara is excellent for predator sightings – cheetah, lion and leopard – with the open grasslands and far-reaching views making these big cats easier to spot.

Which is the biggest game reserve in Kenya?

Tsavo National Park

Tsavo National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Kenya and in the world, offering a diverse range of habitats from mountains and rivers to plains and wooded grassland. The park is home to many different species including buffalo, cheetah, rhino, and elephant.

Which is the oldest game reserve in Kenya?

Nairobi National Park was established and gazetted in 1946. It is Kenya’s oldest Conservation area. The park has for the past 75 years been the setting for numerous studies on wildlife behavior, ecology, and conservation management.