Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Parks together form one of the largest national parks in the world, covering 4% of Kenya’s total land area. It’s about the same size as Jamaica, Michigan, Wales or Israel. The park is named after the Tsavo River that flows from west to east.
Tsavo West is 9065 km2 in size, characterized by a rugged arid landscape. It ranges from 200-1000 metres in altitude. This park is marked with a number of rocky outcrops and volcanic hills. It’s lesser known due to its large size and a smaller concentration of wildlife compared with other parks. A great advantage of Tsavo West National Park is more than 2,000 kilometres of well-maintained roads.
During the rains, Tsavo West National Park is colored with white and pink ipomea and acacia trees of white and pink blossom. The desert rose, somewhat like a miniature baobab, has pink flowers of striking beauty at almost any time of the year. On a clear day, the park offers lovely views of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tsavo West National Park still has its fair share of game. The trees, dense vegetation and long grasses in the wet season make it harder but the animals are here, including several prides of lion.
The rocks of the Shetani Lava flow are an awe-inspiring reminder of the power of nature. In Kenya, we have 7 active volcanoes and the stark volcanic landscape, where little plant life and few animals exist hundreds of years after the last eruption, is an uncomfortable reminder of the fragility of our human settlements.
You will notice how the road color changes from red to black as you get closer to Chaimu. Chaimu crater, or “the devil’s crater” in Kamba tribe language, is a tall rising hill clad in the bright black colour of the lava stones.
A harsh landscape of grey-black magma stretches towards the Chyulu Hills volcanoes in the distance. Haunting and memorable, well worth a visit to this area at the northern border of Tsavo West. Very close to the Lava flow are the Shetani caves. The caves is a 50 metre or tunnel with a fairly difficult descent. Throughout the tunnel, you will find the bones of animals who have been trapped in here. Towards the end, a ladder leads you up a steep ascent to the surface.
Mzima Springs are replenished with two hundred and twenty million litres of crystal-clear water filtered through volcanic rock from the Chyulu Hills every day. It comes from the underground streams flowing from the nearby Chyulu Hills.
Mzima in Swahili means ‘Life’. It attracts rich wildlife including elephants, hippos, crocodiles, gazelles, zebras and giraffes wandering around the banks through the thick acacias and raffia palms together with a large number of monkeys and birds.
Mzima is also the main source of Mombasa’s city water supply. There are well-marked nature trails, an observation platform and an underwater glass tank. You can take a walk guided by a ranger and it’s wonderful, in its uniquely Kenyan combination of danger and beauty.
Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary is a fenced area of 90 sq km, heavily guarded with the purpose of protecting the endangered black rhino. Tsavo’s rhinos numbered approx. 7000, 50 years ago but by 1989 there were only 20 remaining. Their decline is almost entirely due to poaching. The sanctuary started with three rhinos and now boasts 80. A visit here is your best chance of seeing a rhino in Tsavo.
Kilaguni Serena Lodge is a great spot to stop for lunch while on transit or the best place to stay while visiting for some overnights. It was the first lodge inside Tsavo West National Park, opened by Britain’s Duke of Gloucester in 1962. It is located at the centre of the park and has an excellent game viewing in all directions.
The lodge and its waterhole have an almost permanent population of ground squirrels, warthogs, hyraxes, mongooses and other birds. The traditionally decorated dining room overlooks the Lodge’s waterhole where herds of elephants, buffaloes and graceful antelopes collect to drink while guests enjoy their meals. Interested in visiting Tsavo West National Park? Don’t hesitate, just contact Pallid Safaris for the best experiences.