Tsavo National Park
The three reserves of Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Chyulu Hills cover an enormous tract of land in southern Kenya. The main Nairobi to Mombasa road and railway splits Tsavo East and West right down the middle, which neatly cuts the parks into two.
Tsavo East is one of Kenya’s oldest and largest National Parks at the eastern edge of the inland plateau. Here you find bushy grasslands and rocky open plains alternating with semi-arid acacia scrub and woodland, with the Galana River cutting a green swathe across the park. The seasonal Voi and Tiva rivers are important to the northern and southern portions of the park, as there is little other surface water.
Mudanda Rock is a great spectacle of this park as this outcrop is a water catchment area which feeds a natural dam where hundreds of elephants come to drink and bathe during the dry season. Views are exceptional and it is a good place to sit and watch game. Ancient volcanic activity is evident at the Yatta Plateau – a long flat-topped lava ridge on the western border of Tsavo East.
Tsavo West offers tremendous views and diverse habitats ranging from mountains, river forests, plains, lakes and wooded grassland. It is especially attractive at the end of the rains when the countryside turns green. Mzima Springs is pool of natural spring water that attracts a lot of game and there is even an underwater hippo-viewing hide. Tsavo West is known for its ‘Roaring Rocks’, which if climbed gives views usually only seen by the eagles and buzzards that whirl around these cliffs.
The Chyulu Hills are a volcanic mountain range pitted with volcanic cones and barren lava flows. Surface water is rare, but nevertheless it is an important water catchment area for Mombasa and was gazetted in 1983 to protect this water source. Weird cylindrical tunnels were formed shortly after volcanic eruption and created the longest lava tube in the world. The two Tsavo parks are popular for short visits due to their proximity to the Mombasa coast.
Wildlife congregates around waterholes particularly in the dry season. Game includes buffalo, zebra, giraffe, oryx, lion and leopard. Tsavo East sees herds of elephants up to a hundred strong and they often appear more brown than grey from the rich red Tsavo dust.
Some 500 species of birds have been recorded in the Tsavo West area, including many migratory birds on their flight south.