Kenya has an enormous variety of wildlife, which is why many people go on safari here…! This is the country of the king of the jungle (lion), the biggest mammal living on land (African elephant), the fastest land animal (cheetah), and the biggest fish in the ocean (whale shark). Here you encounter the Big Five and the Samburu Special Five. Birdlife is immensely diverse (some parks have over 600 species) and we won’t even start on reptiles and insects. In short, in Kenya you meet with the animal kingdom in all its glory.
The Big Five
The Cape buffalo, the African elephant, the black rhino, the lion, and its brother the leopard – these are the Big Five. They used to be the big animals that were the hardest to kill during the hunt. Nowadays this illustrious name refers to the same five large animals, but now because they are most difficult to find during the safari. This means the rewards are huge if you do manage! Other large animals that walk around freely in Kenya (but that most people only know from zoos or National Geographic) are giraffes, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, zebras, white rhinos, hyenas and many more.
The Samburu Special Five
Kenya has a reputation for conserving wildlife, hence the 24 national parks, 15 game reserves, 6 marine parks, and multiple private conservancies. The almost extinct black rhino has fairly big numbers in Kenya these days, thanks to multiple breeding programs. But also other rare (often endemic) species are known to thrive here. Well-known are the Samburu Special Five – called this way because the Samburu National Reserve is the only place where you can spot all five of these rare animals together: the beautiful Beisa oryx, the graceful gerenuk, the reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra with its special patterns, and the Somali ostrich.
The smaller species
Kenya has an enormous variety in birds. Hundreds of different species in one national park are no exception. From small colourful birds to huge vultures, birds of prey to waterbirds, and from common sparrows to endemic species that can only found here – Kenya has it all.
Besides, there are many reptiles and insects hiding around. You might not spot them from your safari car, but once you have your feet on the ground you can run into them. Snakes like the black mamba, the cobra and the puff adder can be found right next to lizards, chameleons, turtles and tortoises. Spiders like the black widow and the tarantula live alongside killer insects such as scorpios and poisonous centipedes. Luckily hotels have their ways of keeping your rooms clear from these creepy crawlers. So chances are you won’t even see them during your stay (phew!).
Beaches are tropical and beautiful here, and so is the life underwater. With a coastline of over 530 kilometers, Kenya has one of the largest coral reefs of the continent. There a plenty of tropical fish to be found here. Think beautiful blue parrotfishes, amazingly colourful nudibranches, blow up pufferfishes, blue marlins, swordfishes and barracudas. And of course there is the season when whale sharks pass by this coast. Diani Beach and Bamburi Beach north of Mombasa are perfect places to discover this underwater life. And of course, there are plenty of lakes, rivers and springs that have their own special life under water.
Dying to see all this and more with your own eyes? Then by all means check out our itineraries for Kenya, and we hope to see you soon!