Best Known National Parks and Reserves of East Africa
Prior to the year 1990 when various environmentalists called out for responsible traveling in natural areas to conserve both the locals as well as the environment, there was no such thing as Ecotourism. However, there had been a solid effort to conserve the natural environment and wildlife for the benefit of the locals ever since national parks were established within the United States and Australia way back in the 1870’s.
It later took half a decade before a national park was created in Africa- the Virunga National park located in the Democratic Republic of Congo 1925. It was then followed by the Kruger National park in South Africa. However, most would argue that currently the most impressive national parks all over Africa are based in East Africa.
Some the most renowned national parks in the East include:
The Amboseli National Park
It was previously known as the Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve before being renamed as the Amboseli National Park. It measures 151-square miles and it is a hotspot for ecotourism activities within Kenya’s Rift Valley. It was selected for preservation in the year 1906 and was set up as a national park in the year 1974. Seventeen years later it was declared as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
Even though it is synonymous for free-range viewing of large herds of Elephants the Amboseli also provides opportunities for cultural interactions with the local Maasai people who have stayed true to their traditions and culture for over a very long time. The stunning view of Mount Kilimanjaro is also a spectacular scene especially when the sun is directly above the snow caps.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve
A trip to the Maasai Mara is probably top of the list for any wildlife enthusiast and a dream come true for any nature lover. The Mara is part of the extensive Serengeti ecosystem and it covers over 12,000 square miles all the way to the northern parts of Tanzania from the southwestern parts of Kenya.
This national park is famous for the annual migration of wildlife across the Mara river and it is considered as one of the ten natural wonders of the world. Every year millions of zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles move towards the northwestern part of Kenya searching for food and water overcoming numerous challenges like coming face to face with hungry crocodiles as they cross the Mara river. This is one amazing safari spectacle to experience.
The Mara is also home to over 470 species of birds as well as leopards, lions, buffaloes, cheetahs, hyenas, elephants and many more.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area
On the basis of the fossil evidence discovered close to the Olduvai Gorge during Louis and Mary Leakey’s first archaeological excavations, the Ngorongoro is said to be the home of several hominid species for over 3 million years.
Initially, it was part of the Serengeti National Park but it was separated from the park in 1959. Subsequently, it was declared a heritage site by UNESCO in the year 1979. It is the only conservation reserve that allows human habitation but restricts cultivation to only subsistent levels making it very unique.
The Ngorongoro crater is the most popular site in the park. It is the world’s largest unfilled, intact and inactive volcanic crater. It was as a result of a volcanic explosion that collapsed on itself forming a 100 square mile wide and 2,000 feet deep crater. It also has a dense lion population as well as over 25,000 large animals like buffalos, hippos, and gazelles.
The Serengeti National Park
One of the most famous national parks in the east African region is the Serengeti park.it is the home to over two million zebras, and wildebeests that roam freely all over the southern grasslands in search for new pasture and water. This makes it the world’s most impressive animal migration pattern in present time. During this time the migrating animals experience numerous challenges, and dangers but they never fall back or stop their migration and this is a trait that they have continued for millions of years. Apart from the wildebeests the park also plays host to over 70 species of animals such as rhinos, wild dogs, hippos, impalas, elands, topi antelopes, gemsboks, waterbucks, hartebeests, Maasai giraffes, Jackals, caracals, mongooses, warthogs, buffalos, servals genets honey badgers, rhinos and many more
The Tarangire National Park
Even though it may be under the shadow of neighboring giant parks like the Ngorongoro national park or the Serengeti national park the Tarangire National park is also a home to one of Africa’s largest population of African elephants. This is because it has some of the largest baobab trees in the world that can sustain numerous elephants. The dry season is usually the best time to see these elephants in droves as they make their to the Tarangire river.