Travel to Tsavo Gamelands – Tsavo East & West National Parks
The twin National Parks of Tsavo East and Tsavo West together form one of Africa’s largest wilderness reserves. Tsavo as a whole consists of 10 million acres of pure wilderness, incorporating savannah, ranges and hills, acacia and montane forest, and an extensive river system. This single National Park is larger than the island of Jamaica.
The sheer scale of Tsavo gives the visitor a chance to really get away from it all, and to explore the wild in total solitude. On safari here you will see large herds of Elephant, their hides often a luminous red with dust, as well as Lion, Buffalo, Eland, Giraffe Impala, Kudu and possibly Rhinoceros. Tsavo is also a birdwatcher’s paradise with numerous species of weavers, hornbills, sunbirds, rollers, and raptors commonly seen.
Both Tsavo East and West are ideal for those who enjoy solitude and a chance to explore wilderness without encountering other people. Lodges and camps tend to be remote and accessible by long drives or air transfer. Of the two Parks, Tsavo East is the more remote and less visited. The relative proximity of Tsavo East to the coast make it an ideal safari destination for those staying on the coast, or wishing to combine a safari and beach holiday.
One of Tsavo’s most interesting geographical features is the Lugard Falls, where white water rages through a series of spectacular rock formations. Also not to be missed is the volcanic Mzima Springs.
Tsavo’s massive area and wide range of landscapes make this an ideal place for a varied wildlife safari. The sheer space and freedom of Tsavo lets you really explore and feel at one with this awesome wilderness.
Exploring both parks means that your safari will take you through several very different habitats in a single day, encountering many different species.
The open plains are the best place to see the large herds of game. The region is well known for its herds of “Red Elephants”, their skins stained by rich ochre dust. The plains are also ideal for finding lion, eland, impala, kudu and possibly rhinoceros.
In the forested hills, large herds of buffalo and giraffe are often found. The forests of Tsavo are ideal for birding, with a fantastic range of species recorded including a variety of weavers, hornbills, sunbirds, rollers, and raptors. Birders should definitely not miss the Mzima Springs, where the plentiful supply of fresh water has created a verdant oasis. the springs attract plenty of game, and there is an underwater observatory that gives the visitor a unique glimpse into an underwater world dominated by the presence of large pods of hippopotamus. The sight of these ungainly three tonne animals gliding gracefully through the crystal clear waters of Mzima is unforgettable.
Water sources are always a lure for game, and the Aruba Dam is a popular watering hole. Many of Tsavo’s camps and lodges are situated beside waterholes that attract a procession of wildlife from the surrounding plains. This vast area is excellent birding country, notable species recorded include the rare Basra Reed Warbler, Friedmann’s Lark, Ostrich, Blue Quail, Violet Wood hoopoe, Martial and Crowned Eagle.
A privately escorted foot safari is the best way to really experience the African bush at its best. Walking through the wilds let you explore the wild at its most pure and visceral. as you track big game, you become aware of every sight and sound, the smell of the earth and the touch of the wind. An expert tracker will teach you the signs to look for – tracks- the individual tracks and spoor, and show you how to use the wind to disguise your scent, and to move silently through thick cover and get up close and personal with the game.
One of the wildest ways to explore Tsavo is by raft, on the waters of the Athi River. Three day rafting expeditions set out from the town of Kibwezi (a three hour drive from Nairobi). The river winds its way through Tsavo, and the 82 km rafting trip is the perfect combination of game viewing and white water adventure. The river is rich in birdlife, and rafters will encounter plenty of crocodiles and hippo along the way. Scenic drifts along clear stretches of water are interspersed with excellent white water action, through Class II-IV rapids of up to 6 km in length.
In and around Voi and Mtito Andei, many small markets and shops can be found selling local handicrafts. Most Kenyans would agree that the best carvers in the country are the Kamba from Eastern Kenya. Traditional Kamba designs include spoons, ladles and ornate three legged stools. The popular animal carvings are a more modern design. Commonly used woods include mango wood and the roots of the Leleshwa. Fine examples of their work can be found in this region.
The Tsavo Parks are bisected by the main Nairobi- Mombasa Highway. The most central town for access to the parks is Voi, although the smaller town of Mtito Andei is the headquarters of Tsavo West. Accessing Tsavo National Park is difficult without private transport.
- Large herds of elephant and other wildlife within the parks ensure excellent game viewing.
- One of Kenya’s most easily accessible areas.
- Watch hippos from an underwater viewing area at Mzima Springs.