The Shimba Hills National Reserve being only 60km from Mombasa, is ideal for a day visit. It contains one of the largest coastal forests in East Africa and is where a great diversity of Kenya’s plant species are found, many of which are endangered. The Shimba Hills National Reserve is home to many Elephant, and is the only place in Kenya where tourists can see the Sable Antelope.
Shimba Hills National Reserve is 300 Km2 and protected by the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS). The reserve is well known for its large elephant population, which in the early 2000’s became unsustainable. In 2005 KWS translocated over 150 elephants to Tsavo East National Park, it was described at the time as “the single largest translocation of animals ever undertaken since Noah’s ark”.
There are still over 500 elephants in the reserve, which causes tense human wildlife conflicts with the subsistence farmers in the area. To help reduce this conflict the Mwalunganje Elephant Sanctuary was established and shares a boundary with Shimba Hills National Reserve providing the elephants a migration corridor.
The Reserve is also known for its excellent birding opportunities and twitchers can search for the Croaking Cisticola or the Zanzibar Red Bishop. Due to the thick nature of the forest, game viewing is not as rewarding as on the savannahs, as many animals spend their time deep in the forest. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes the wildlife encounters that you do have, that much more spectacular. The best time of day to go for a game drive would be in the late afternoon, when the cooler temperatures lure the animals out of the shade and seek water.
The magnificent 21 m high Sheldrick Falls are in Shimba Hills; the late David Sheldrick, founder of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, once explored this area, whilst flying over the area he discovered a hidden waterfall within the Shimba Hills National Reserve, and subsequently had the falls named after him.
Location: The reserve is 30 km (18.5 miles) southwest of Mombasa on the coast. This coastal proximity makes it a perfect 1-day getaway from the beach resorts.
Climate: The climate is moist with sea breezes and early morning mist. Temperatures average 24oC/75oF.
When to go: The park is open year-round and always accessible.
Best time to visit: The best wildlife viewing is during the dry season (June – October). There are usually some rains along the coast year-round, but the stronger rains in April, May and November can limit game drives and hikes.
Getting there: By road – the principal road is from Diani and Mombasa.
Things to do and see
This is one of the easiest parks to visit and very close to the coast. There are lots of trails and gentle hills for kids to traverse. The climate is mild and comfortable for hiking making it a popular park for families. The trails offer sightings of plenty of wildlife including giraffe, buffalo and the elephants.
An easy walk brings you to this 21 m (60 ft) spectacular falls. Draped in vines and greenery, the falls are a relaxing respite in this carefree park. Have a picnic, swim in the natural pool or just laze about on this easiest of safaris
A high point both literally and figuratively – this is the best viewing site in the reserve. From this summit look for Shimba’s many elephants and picturesque vistas over the valley and out toward the ocean. Rangers will escort you to the top.
This is the only place in Kenya where you can view these beautiful creatures. The females gather in small groups and are easier to observe than the males.
A busy watering hole. Look for the larger animals including elephants. This is also a great spot for bird watching.
Shimba Hills Reserve Highlights
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