Top 5 National Parks In East Africa
Google Earth: East African National Parks
Masai Mara Game Reserve
Situated in southwestern Kenya the Masai Mara is a continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The Mara River where the annual migration of 1.3 million wildebeest, 190,000 zebra and 360,000 gazelle occurs every year from July to October divides the two parks. The great wildebeest migration is dubbed the 7th wonder of the world and attracts thousands and thousands of tourists each and every year. As these herbivores endeavour to cross the river, crocodiles, lions and leopard all lie in wait for their arrival pouncing on the vulnerable and the weak.
The Mara is home to a vast array of wildlife including the Big 5 (rhino, buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant), cheetah, hyena, jackal, leopard, mongoose, serval and wild dog. The park is also home to a variety of ungulates including giraffe, hippo, warthog, dik dik, duiker, eland, waterbuck and gazelle plus many many more.
Amboseli National Park
Located in the Kajiado District of southeastern Kenya, Amboseli is quite a popular park with tourists visiting Kenya, which helps empower the local Masai community into employment. It's believed that Amboseli has the highest concentration of elephants anywhere in Kenya, which makes for a superb photo opportunity especially with the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. The park is home to the Big 5 animals as well as cheetah, giraffe, wildebeest, hyenas, gazelles, impalas, gerenuks, bats and around 600 species of bird-life. Amboseli also offers its visitors a magnificent opportunity to mingle with the local Masai people, where activities often include trips to local schools and villages.
Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti comprises of 14% of the entire landmass within Tanzania and extends from the continuing plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya. The park itself is listed as a world heritage site and borders the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the southeast and the Grumeti game reserve to the south with the Loliondo Game Control Area the gem in the crown of Tanzania's protected areas to the north of the park. As you would expect the Serengeti is home to the big 5, cheetah, Thomson’s and grants gazelle, impala, African wild dog, hyena, waterbuck, eland, baboon, elephant, giraffe, dik dik and an estimated 500 bird species including the likes of the crowned crane, kori bustard, secretary bird and marabou stork ostrich.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area was originally part of the Serengeti National Park and lies in northern Tanzania. The pride of the park is it's unique variation of geology, topography and wildlife indigenous to this part of the world. The volcano caldera, mountain forests, waterfalls, and grasslands are home to a vast array of animals as well as the Masai tribe who call northern Tanzania and southern Kenya home. Tourists descend 2000ft onto the crater floor to experience the magnificent nature and the wondrous nature and the stunning wildlife the eighth wonder of the world has to offer. The Great Rift Valley acts as a barrier on the southern and eastern boundaries thwarting any attempt of animal migration from within or outside of the crater itself. The Crater is home to 25,000 mammals, most of which are grazers, out of which wildebeest and zebra account for half, the rest being buffalo, hartebeest, eland, gazelle and warthog. Alongside the herbivores there are the odd predators including lion and hyena.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a UNESCO world heritage site accessible only by foot due to the fact the terrain is certainly not suitable for even the most versatile of 4x4 vehicles. The altitude of the park is between 1200m and 2000m, where a large percentage of the park is over 2000m. Bwindi is located is southwestern Uganda bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo adjacent to the Virunga National Park and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The reason most tourists travel to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is to view the Mountain Gorillas. Bwindi is home to 340 Mountain Gorillas, which is half of the world's population, with the other half living in the Virunga National Park over the border in the DRC. The park is also a sanctuary for 120 species of mammal including 11 primates; examples include colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, 202 species of butterfly, 346 species of bird including turaco's and hornbills, frogs, geckos and many other endangered species. Whilst Bwindi doesn't have the same magnitude of wildlife as the Masai Mara, Amboseli, the Serengeti or the Ngorongoro Crater it's home to one of the world’s last remaining wilderness experiences, spending time with the Mountain Gorilla isolated to this region of Africa.
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