Safari Animals in Kenya

Safari Animals in Kenya: Kenya, widely known as the origin of safari, offers remarkable experiences for both novice and experienced safari enthusiasts. As one of Africa’s premier tourist hotspots, Kenya’s wildlife safaris offer thrilling adventures and unrivaled game viewing opportunities.

Wondering about the kind of wildlife you can encounter during a safari in Kenya? Curious about the locations where you can spot lions? This informative guide on Kenya’s wildlife not only answers these queries but also provides additional insights.

Safari Animals in Kenya


As the fastest land mammal on earth, capable of reaching speeds exceeding 100 km/h or 60 mph, the cheetah prefers flat and expansive areas to pursue its prey. Observing these swift felines hunt is one of the most thrilling sights you can witness during a wildlife safari in Kenya.

Where Can You See Cheetah in Kenya?

  • Amboseli National Park
  • Masai Mara National Park
  • Meru National Park
  • Tsavo National Park
  • Samburu National Reserve


The Cape buffalo is considered the most ill-tempered member of the Big 5 and is recognized as one of the most perilous animals in Africa. Possessing an infamously erratic disposition and immense strength, the buffalo has minimal natural predators, except for lions and large crocodiles.

Where Can You See Buffalo in Kenya?

Despite being one of the most prolific grazers in Africa, the buffalo is not very particular about its habitat. However, due to their significant need for hydration, they heavily rely on Kenya’s year-round water sources found in locations such as Masai Mara, Amboseli National Park, and Meru National Park. In fact, Meru National Park boasts some of the largest herds of buffalo, making it an excellent destination for wildlife safaris in Kenya.


The Rhinoceros, apart from the elephant, is the largest land mammal. Of the five species, two are found in Africa and are known as the black and white rhinoceroses. All individuals belonging to these species possess two horns that they use for mating, fighting, and self-defense against predators such as lions.

As herbivores, rhinos feed on foliage from trees and bushes as well as grass.

Sadly, poaching and habitat loss have had a severe impact on rhino populations in Africa. However, initiatives such as the Ol Pejeta Conservancy are actively working towards conserving and growing the rhino population.

Where Can You See Rhino in Kenya?

To witness these massive African creatures, visitors can go to parks such as Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Masai Mara National Park, Solio Game Reserve, Meru National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, and Il Ngwesi Group Ranch.


Kenya’s wildlife parks, excluding Lake Nakuru, are home to a vast population of elephants. However, to witness some of the largest herds, and admire their impressive tusks, a visit to Amboseli National Park is a must. Here, magnificent herds of these gentle giants gather to graze and drink at Amboseli’s perennial swamps and lakes.

On a clear day, Amboseli offers breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro, providing a stunning backdrop for Kenya’s wildlife. The park offers an incredible opportunity to observe wildlife against the striking beauty of Africa’s highest mountain.

Where Can You See Elephant in Kenya?

  • Amboseli National Park
  • Masai Mara
  • Samburu National Reserve
  • Meru National Park
  • Laikipia


Crocodiles are reptiles that inhabit various regions across the globe. There are 13 species of crocodiles, varying in size. These animals can lay between 10 to 60 eggs per clutch and do not reach maturity until they are at least 4 years old. They can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and feed primarily on meat, including fish, crustaceans, birds, and frogs.

African crocodiles, specifically, are found in tropical areas, including the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya.


Giraffes are the tallest living land animals on the planet, recognized for their long necks. However, their legs alone can surpass 6 feet, making them taller than the average person.

Recent studies have identified 4 giraffe species and 5 subspecies. Despite their spotted coats, no two giraffes have the same pattern. Giraffes are often encountered on safaris in large herds, with females traveling alongside their young. In contrast, males travel together to find mates.

As herbivores, giraffes inhabit Africa’s plains, grasslands, and savannas. Most giraffes reside in southeast Africa, with Masai giraffes, specifically, found in Kenya National Park.


Hyenas are expert opportunists and are often found near predator kills made by lions and cheetahs. With their signature giggle, these scavengers will steal meat from just about any predator. Despite their unsavory reputation due to their savage behavior and unusual appearance, hyenas (along with vultures and jackals) play a crucial role in the ecosystem by consuming carrion, serving as nature’s recyclers.

During a Kenyan wildlife safari, the distant, whooping serenade of spotted hyenas may lull you to sleep. These common animals can be found throughout Kenya, anywhere there is sufficient prey for predators to feed on.

Where Can You See Hyena in Kenya?

  • Masai Mara
  • Amboseli National Park
  • Meru National Park


The origin of its name from the ancient Greek meaning ‘river horse’ explains why these creatures are predominantly seen in huge groups in Kenya’s rivers, lakes, and swamps. Despite their appearance resembling pigs, they are closely related to cetaceans such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Hippos are known to be highly aggressive and unpredictable, which makes them one of the world’s most dangerous animals, especially when they leave the water to graze during dusk.

If you happen to be staying at a safari lodge or camp located near a river or lake, you can witness the daily soap opera of territorial male hippos, which includes chortling and other entertaining behaviors.

Where Can You See Hippo in Kenya?

While you can see this animal in plenty around Kenya’s perennial water sources, the following locations offer the best opportunities for spotting hippos during a wildlife safari in Kenya:

  • Swamps and lakes of Amboseli National Park
  • Talek and Mara Rivers in Masai Mara
  • Streams and rivers of Meru National Park
  • Lake Nakuru National Park.

Wild Dog

African wild dogs exhibit remarkable social behavior by forming packs of 6 to 20 dogs, with a dominant breeding pair. Each dog has unique markings, making them easily distinguishable from one another. To communicate with their pack members, they use various vocalizations, touch, and body language.

As carnivores, wild dogs prioritize feeding their puppies during a kill, and the entire pack shares the responsibility of protecting them.

Where Can You See Wild Dog in Kenya?

  • Laikipia
  • Mara North Conservancy
  • Mpala Center in Kenya
  • Samburu

African Leopard

Leopards are the smallest among the big cats, but still a formidable predator. Females can weigh between 46 and 132 pounds, while males can weigh between 80 and 165 pounds.

They are typically solitary animals, only coming together during mating or when raising their young.

Leopards are known for their fierce yet graceful hunting methods. They are nocturnal, preferring to hunt at night for prey such as antelopes, waterbuck, young zebras, warthogs, wildebeest, large birds, monkeys, and rodents. They rely on their acute senses of hearing and vision to track and capture their prey.

Where Can You See Leopard in Kenya?

The Sub-Sahara region is home to a vast population of African Leopards. These highly adaptable creatures thrive in various climates. When on a wildlife safari in Kenya, you may spot these elusive African animals in parks such as:

  • Masai Mara National Park
  • Meru National Park
  • Samburu National Reserve
  • Tsavo National Park


Kenya’s wildlife parks are home to wildebeest all year round, but the most spectacular wildlife event is the Great Wildebeest Migration between July and November, where around a million of them congregate in the Masai Mara. This migration is considered one of the last great terrestrial wildlife movements on Earth and is arguably the greatest animal show on the planet.

August offers the best opportunity to witness the dramatic river crossings from the Serengeti into the Mara, making it the most popular time for a wildlife safari in Kenya. However, the Masai Mara can become crowded during this period, so it’s advisable to plan at least a year in advance. For a more peaceful safari experience, we suggest staying in one of the private conservancies adjacent to the Masai Mara National Reserve, which offers close proximity to the Migration’s hotspots.

Where Can You See Wildebeest in Kenya?

Kenya’s wildlife parks, including Masai Mara, Amboseli National Park, and Meru National Park, are teeming with gnu, also known as wildebeest.


The African lion, known as Panthera leo, is the unchallenged ruler of the African savannah. Seeing lions on a Kenya wildlife safari is an exhilarating and primal experience. Their sheer size is awe-inspiring, with muscular barrel chests, prominent chins, and resonating roars that remind us of their dominance in the wild.

Lions are Africa’s apex predators, hunting large prey such as zebra, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, and even young elephants. Watching lionesses on the hunt is a heart-stopping and unforgettable experience.

Where Can You See Lion in Kenya?

You will find these massive African animals in the following parks in Kenya.

  • Amboseli National Park
  • Lake Nakuru National Park
  • Masai Mara National Park
  • Meru National Park
  • Nairobi National Park
  • Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park
  • Ol Pejeta Conservancy
  • Samburu National Reserve


Zebra, characterized by their stripes, occupy diverse habitats in Kenya, such as savannahs, grasslands, woodlands, shrublands, and mountainous regions. While they are present in many of Kenya’s wildlife areas, hundreds of thousands of them migrate along with the wildebeest from July onward each year, heading towards the Masai Mara.

Where Can You See Zebra in Kenya?

Kenya’s wildlife includes two subspecies of zebra: the common plains zebra, found in nearly all wildlife parks, and Grevy’s zebra. The stunning Grevy’s zebra, also known as the imperial zebra, is the biggest wild equid still in existence and is the most endangered zebra species. To spot Grevy’s zebra while on a Kenyan wildlife safari, the Samburu National Reserve and the Laikipia region offer the best opportunities.

Thomsons Gazelle

Thomson’s gazelle, a striking and elegant type of antelope, has curved and ringed horns and a lightweight body that enables them to move swiftly and jump high to escape predators. They belong to the same family as sheep, cattle, and goats and are classified among the smaller species, weighing between 26 to 165 pounds. Being herbivorous, they mostly consume grass, shoots, and leaves.

These gazelles are prevalent in African deserts and savannas, including the Serengeti region of Kenya.


At first glance, a warthog on safari might appear hairless, but in reality, these wild pigs are covered in bristly hair, with a noticeable crest, hairy tails, and cheeks. Their four-tusked heads make them appear as fierce predators, but they tend to avoid confrontation with adversaries and hide in burrows abandoned by aardvarks. Although they are mostly herbivorous, they may occasionally prey on small animals they encounter during their travels.

Due to their abundance, it’s highly likely to spot several warthogs during your safari, including in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.


Baboons, which are a type of old-world monkey, have been around for over 2 million years, with the oldest known fossil dating back to that time. They come in various sizes, ranging from as small as 30 lbs to as large as 80 lbs, depending on the 5 different species. Baboons typically live and travel in groups called “troops” and are omnivorous, consuming a variety of plants, fruits, and small animals. Despite their ability to climb trees, they lack the gripping tail of other monkeys and usually spend their time on land.

Baboons are mainly found in savanna and semi-arid habitats, though some may also inhabit tropical forests. The hamadryas species of baboon is primarily found in cliff areas. Amboseli National Park in Kenya is a great place to observe baboons in their natural habitat.


The topi is a medium-sized antelope, weighing between 150 and 340 pounds, and is capable of achieving speeds up to 43 mph when startled. They are typically most active during the early morning and evening hours. Living in closed herds, the males tend to be territorial over the females. Being herbivores, they primarily consume grass, and there are currently 7 identified species.

The topi commonly inhabits savannas and seasonally flooded grasslands, and can also be spotted at the Maasai Mara National Reserve.