A safari in Africa sits at the top of many travellers' bucket lists. Coming face to face with the Big Five is an impressive and unforgettable experience. Kenya, with its beautiful wildlife sanctuaries and experienced guides, is a perfect destination to go on safari and spot the Big Five.
The Big Five
The elephant, kaffir buffalo, leopard, lion and rhino make up the Big Five. They owe this name to the fact that they were the most difficult animals to hunt on foot in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Four of the "Big Five" are on the list of endangered species, which makes it even more special to see them. Lions and leopards are vulnerable to extinction and their populations are steadily declining. The African elephant is also endangered, but their numbers are increasing due to conservation efforts. Despite many countries banning the sale of ivory, the elephant remains vulnerable to extinction due to poaching and loss of habitat. The rhino, and in particular the black rhino, is a critically endangered species because of its horn. The kaffir buffalo, on the other hand, is abundant.
The 5 most beautiful parks for a safari in Kenya
Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara, located in the Rift Valley in the southwest of the country, is by far the most popular safari destination in Kenya. It is home to the Big Five and large families of hippos, hyenas and antelopes. There are no fences, so the animals roam freely through the park. Thanks to the far-reaching views over the savannah, the Big Five are relatively easy to spot here.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli Park is home to more than 50 different animal species and is known as the "Land of Giants" thanks to its large herds of elephants. The view of the snow-covered Kilimanjaro makes this park a special destination for a safari in Kenya.
Tsavo National Park
Tsavo East Park is the largest national park in Kenya. The park is mainly known for its biodiversity. The elephants rolling in the red sand are also called the "red elephants of Tsavo". Tsavo West National Park is less accessible because it is more hilly and humid than Tsavo East Park. Due to the dense vegetation the animals in Tsavo West park are often difficult to see, but this additional challenge makes it all the more exciting for some travellers. When the rhinos, leopards, buffalo, elephants and lions finally emerge, it feels like a real reward for all that patience.
Lake Nakuru National Park
South of the town of Nakuru lies this national park, in which Lake Nakuru can be found. In this alkaline lake you can find many blue-green algae and small crabs, which attract huge groups of flamingos. Partly because of this colourful spectacle, Lake Nakura is one of the highlights of Kenya. In addition, there are often more than a million birds nesting there and black and white rhinos, hippos, giraffes and lions can be admired.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
This private nature reserve was created specifically to protect the endangered black rhino and the rare grévy zebra. More than 60 animal species can now be found in the reserve and visitors can - in addition to the standard jeep and walking safaris - enjoy the wildlife from the back of a horse or even a camel. In Lewa Park you can spot gazelles, lions, elephants, leopards, giraffes, but also huge moose.
Best travel time for Kenya to spot the Big Five
The high season for safaris in Africa runs from July to October. This coincides with the cooler, dry African winter. Due to the lack of rain the vegetation dries out, making it easier to see a rhino or buffalo than in summer, when the long, dense grass and dense foliage make it harder to see the animals. This is especially true for leopards, which spend a large part of their time in trees. The ponds, streams and puddles also dry up, causing the animals to move to the remaining large lakes and rivers. Most animals have to drink every day, so they stay close to the water, especially buffaloes and elephants. Read more about the climate in Kenya and the best time to travel.
Apply for a visa for a safari in Kenya
Are you planning to travel to Kenya to cross that safari from your bucket list? Then you will need to apply for a Kenya visa. This can easily be done via the online application form. Take note: this requires a booking confirmation of an overnight stay in Kenya and a return or onward flight ticket. The visa will be sent by e-mail, generally in one week. From the moment the application is approved, the visa is valid for three months. During these three months you can stay in Kenya for a maximum of 90 days; more than enough to go on several safaris in Kenya and hopefully spot the Big Five.