Africa Preview: Kenya and Ethiopia National Parks

The countdown to our time in Africa has begun! We will be spending a little less than two months in the countries of Kenya and Ethiopia, beginning in October. During our time in Africa we will be taking part in a variety of cultural and natural activities.

We will be visiting national parks in both Kenya and Ethiopia. A previous story detailed our walking safari plans in the Maasai Mara National Reserve and can be viewed here. The other parks we plan to visit during our time in Kenya and Ethiopia are as follows:

Hell’s Gate National Park

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com (Craft*ology)

This park is located northwest of Nairobi and was created in 1984. It is named after a narrow break in cliffs that were once a tributary of an ancient lake that fed the Rift Valley. Hell’s Gate is known for both its scenery and wildlife, such as lions, leopards and cheetahs. Hot springs, geysers and two extinct volcanoes are also located in the park. In fact, the terrain of Hell’s Gate was the model for the settings animated in Disney’s The Lion King film.

While at Hell’s Gate, we plan to take a game drive, including a guided gorge walk. We will spend the afternoon at nearby Lake Oloiden on a boat ride to look for hippos and do some bird watching.

Lake Nakuru National Park

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com (Roger Smith)


Lying at 5,755 feet (1,754 meters) above sea level, Lake Nakuru is known for its up to one million flamingos that congregate along its shores. Established in 1961, the park is located in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Another feature of this park is a sanctuary area for Rothschild giraffes, black rhinos and white rhinos. This is one of few parks in the world where Rothschild giraffes can be seen. These giraffes differ from other giraffes in terms of their patch shapes and the fact that they display no markings on their lower legs. They are the most endangered giraffe subspecies.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com (Roger Smith)

When visiting Lake Nakuru, we will spend a full day on game drives looking for Rothschild giraffes, black rhinos and white rhinos, as well as viewing the flamingos.

Simien Mountains National Park

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com (Paul Robinson)


Simien Mountains National Park is located in northern Ethiopia. Created in 1969 and added as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, Simien contains several endangered species of animals, including the Ethiopian wolf and the walia ibex, which is a type of wild goat. Gelada baboons and caracals (a cat) can also be seen within the park. Many types of birds can be found as well, including a vulture with a 10 feet (3 meter) wingspan.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com (hhesterr)


Our Ethiopian trek will take place in this park. During our five-night hike, we plan to visit several viewpoints where we hope to observe some of the park’s animals and see the magnificent vistas.

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