The Tsavo West National Park forms part of one of the greatest wildlife conservancies on Earth. It is known for its Red Elephants and the legend of the Maneaters of Tsavo.Tsavo West forms one of the largest wildlife conservation areas on Earth and is one of the largest national parks in Kenya. The park has abundant wildlife, but due to its size and thicker vegetation game viewing is more challenging. For this reason it is less popular than the Maasai Mara and Amboseli. However, the park has one of the most diverse landscapes in East Africa, with several volcanic craters and interesting hills.
Location: The park is in southeast Kenya between Nairobi and Mombasa. It’s relatively close to the beaches of the Kenya Coast and can easily be a 1-day safari for those who wish a quick getaway.
When to visit: The park is open year-round and always accessible.
Best time to visit:
It depends. If you like your scenery greener (as opposed to browner), you desire the best views of Kilimanjaro and the finest bird viewing, then choose the wet season (October to May). But if larger wildlife watching is your thing the best time to visit is in the drier months. The animals are easier to spot as they venture to the rivers and watering holes.
Operating Hours: The park is open from 06:00 hrs. to 18:00 hrs. daily. Note: One can only walk or hike in designated areas and only in the company of a Kenya Wildlife Services ranger.
By road – you can book a tour with Timken Tours from the coast or Nairobi.
Air – chartered aircraft can land at the park’s multiple airstrips at Chyulu, Mtito Andei, Tsavo, Jipe, Maktau, Kasigau and Ziwani gates.
Railway – take the Nairobi-Mombasa railway which runs right through the park.
Things to do and see
Shetani lava flow – This hardened lava flow is only a few hundred years old. Shitani is the Kiswahili word for ‘devil’. When villagers saw the flaming lava erupting from the earth, they imagined it was the coming of the devil into their world.
Bird watching – Over 600 types of birds have been spotted in the park. The area is a feast of migratory birds such as African skimmers, goshawks and palm nut vultures. Some more familiar species such as ostriches, buzzards, kingfishers, hornbills and herons are also plentiful here. Other treats like the golden-breasted starling and orange-bellied parrot can be spotted as well.
Roaring Rocks – Named for the persistent whistling of the wind and the constant buzz of nearby cicadas, this outcropping is an easy climb and a wonderful place to spot eagles and other birds of prey cruising nearby.
Mzima Springs – Perhaps the most special locale in the park, this lush spring is fed by over 200 million liters of clear water daily. Mzima means “life” in Swahili and this life sustaining oasis attracts a rich assortment of elephants, hippos, crocodiles, zebras and other wildlife to its raffia palm shores. There are plenty of nature trails and even an underwater observation platform.
Lake Jipe – There’s still more bird and aquatic life to explore at this stunning lake fed by the run-off from Mr. Kilimanjaro. You can take a water safari on the lake and explore the nearby wetlands, teeming with wildlife.