Tsavo National Park, ideal for African Safari in Kenya
If you like nature and animals you will love Tasvo National Park in Kenya. Seeing large groups of elephants in the wild, giraffes cuddling or even the lions was as exciting as the smell of the savannah and breathtaking landscapes. Luckily awareness around preserving the wildlife has grown bit by bit throughout the years that we still are able to see some of these wonderful animals.
Tsavo National Park lies in the south-east of Kenya and is the largest ( At nearly 22,000km²) and one of the oldest parks in the country, established in 1948. It’s a classic savannah park of rolling grasslands and open woodland, arid and dusty in the dry season, green and well-watered after the rains. Much of Tsavo National Park is undeveloped and, despite a reputation for good game viewing, the park isn’t a regular destination on the standard Kenya African safari circuits.
Tsavo is consists of two main parks Tsavo West and Tsavo East, plus Taita Hills Game Sanctuary, Chyulu Hills National Park, South Kitui and Ngai Ndethya National Reserve. Tanzanian Mkomazi National Park borders southern Tsavo West. Inland from Tsavo West is Amboseli National Reserve, and south of Amboseli, on the Tanzanian side of the border, is Mount Kilimanjaro, surrounded by Kilimanjaro National Park. Tsavo National Park was split into East and West for administrative purposes. The combined area of Tsavo East and West National Parks makes Tsavo one of the world’s largest game sanctuaries, larger than Wales in Great Britain or Jamaica in the Caribbean. There is a separate entrance fee for both parks that are divided by the Nairobi–Mombasa railway and road. Standing in these surroundings you feel really tiny, amazed by nature.
Kenya sits on the world’s largest accumulation of igneous rocks in the earth’s crust. Millions of years after the formation of the gneisses (rock formed by exposure to high temperature and pressure), volcanic eruptions gave rise to two of the Park’s most attractive scenic features, the Chyulu Hills in the northwest, and the Yatta Plateau along the east side of the Athi River. These features were formed after a volcanic eruption just 200 years ago. The park has many interesting geological features due to volcanic activity and extends 200 km both east and west of the main Rift Valley and is centered on the Kenya dome. There is a diversity of volcanic rocks from acid to basic.
Volcanism of the Kenya Rift Valley began around 15 to 30 million years ago. The 100 km long Chyulu Hills volcanic field is located 150 km east of the Kenya Rift, it contains several hundred small cones and flows, including numerous Recent cinder cones. The Chyulus run in a series of whale-backed summits in a line about 30 miles long dividing the country of the Wakamba people from Maasai land, Amboseli and Mt Kilimanjaro to the South.
This region is known for its Red-colored Elephants, who love to dust bathe the red colored soil. It’s very cool to watch this or seeing how large groups of elephants protecting the young ones in a safety circle. The park is massive and the wildlife is spread out, so you will need to take some time to fully appreciate this national park. Of all the animals, the elephants were my personal favorite. There’s plenty of Wildlife that can be see here includes Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Crocodile, wild dogs, Hyena,Giraffe, Zebra and Monkeys, ect.
There are 500 bird species recorded here: Flamingo, Secretary bird, hornbills, all eight East African vultures and herons. Both common ostrich and Somali ostrich are found in the area, even though the latter only appears north of the Galana River in Tsavo East, i.e. in non-tourist areas. They have beautiful color and some of them are so graceful, a joy for the eye. If you like birdwatching, this is defiantly the place ot be.
Poachers and drought caused tremendous devastation among the Park’s elephant and rhino populations, but both species are now recovering. An aerial count of elephants in Tsavo East and West in 1991 revealed nearly 7,000 elephants, by far the largest population in any Kenyan park. Apart from the elephant population there are many lions, some undoubtedly the descendants of the famous Man eaters of Tsavo. The landscape is dominated by the giant baobab, a tree which is reputed to live 1,000 years, there are many other interesting plants to see and a lot of ant hills.
The eastern part of Tsavo is the largest with 11,747 km2 of the two parts, although much of the area north of the Galana River is closed to the public. The Southern section of the park is very accessible with a good network of dusty tracks. Droughts are much more common in Tsavo East than West because of the Aruba Dam, and has dried up completely at times, although it covers an area of 85.4 hectares.
Some popular attractions are Mudanda Rock, Yatta Plateau and Lugard Falls. The surface of this part is essentially flat and covered with low, dry vegetation. Less developed than Tsavo West and with a genuinely remote feel to it, Tsavo East offers a African safari with the very wild safari experience.
Yatta plateau is about 290 km long and is one of the world’s longest lava flows, you can see Tanzania and the Kilimanjaro from there.
Lugards Falls on the Galana river are not true falls but a series of rapids. Visitors can walk down to river to view rapids.
Mudanda rock is a long rock outcrop that is about 1.6 km long. There is a dam at the base, where animals can be seen drinking. Visitors can walk along the rock and enjoy a cool breeze as well as view wildlife at the base.
The main focus of the park is on the Mzima Springs which produces 350 million liters of fresh water a day, and in fact provides most of Mombasa’s water supply. Here you’ll find monkeys, fish, hippo’s and crocodiles. Mzimas’ isolation makes animals dependent on its waters: other sources are too distant for them to reach by overland travel. The hippos also sustain an entire food chain. They browse the surrounding savannah by night and return to Mzima’s pools by day, where their dung fertilises the water. There is an observation point below the surface level here that provides a window into the antics of Hippos underwater as the water is so clear.
The route between the springs and Tsavo Gate are considered the best game driving area. Just west of the springs is the Chaimu Crater, a volcano crater that you may visit on foot. The Shatani Caves north of the river can also be visited.
Tsavo West is marked by a number of recent rocky outcrops and volcanic hills, the youngest only being a few hundred years old. Chyulu Hills National Park (471 km2/182 sq mi) borders north-western Tsavo West.
The wildlife isn’t very rich, but antelopes, African buffalo’s, elephants, eland and leopard inhabit the area. There are also reptiles such as mambas, puff adders, rock pythons and tortoises and lost of birds. The Chyulu Hills were formed through volcanic activity only 500 years ago, and is one of the youngest mountain areas in the world. Grass, thickets and patches of mountain forest cover much of the landscape.
Lodges in Tsavo
Severin Safari Camp
A excellent place to stay in Tsavo west is Severin Safari Camp, a tented lodge not very far from Mzima Springs in northern Tsavo West. It has 22 tents with ensuite bathrooms and private verandas. A main building has restaurant, bar, lounge with wireless Internet, gift shop, spa, swimming pool, and views of Kilimanjaro and a floodlit waterhole. The main safari activities are game drives and bush walks.
You can read more about our experience in this lodge here.
Another one is Lions Bluff Tsavo West, a small safari lodge built on the edge of a cliff. This unique place offers fantastic views of the plains of the LUMO sanctuary and, if weather permits, Mt. Kilimanjaro. The lodge is called Lions Bluff for a reason: the area is home to a pride of lions that can be often seen along with the other big five that inhabit the savannahs beneath the lodge.
You can read more about our experience in this lodge here.
These are two excellent stay we would recommend for your African safari in Kenya
If you are planning to go on safari in Kenya, we can also recommend El Moran Safaris to book your trip. You’ll find more information here