Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Park
That Tsavo National Park, a vast arid region of 20,807 square kilometers (8,034 square miles), is Kenya’s largest wildlife stronghold established in 1948. This huge Park is made up of two Parks which are separate entities. The parks are Tsavo West National Park whose area is 7065 square kilometers (4,415 square miles), and Tsavo East National Park whose area is 13,747 square kilometers (8,592 square miles).
The park comprises of a diversity of habitats, open plains alternating with savannah bush and semi-desert scrub; acacia woodlands; rocky ridges and outcrops, and more extensive ranges and isolated hills. Lake Jipe is included in the extreme south-west of the Park, an extremely rich bird locality where Pygmy Geese and Black Heron are common.
Not only is Tsavo National Park the largest protected area in Kenya, but it is also home to the country’s biggest single population of elephants, currently standing at 13,000.
The main attractions in Tsavo are dust-red elephants, Aruba Dam, Mudanda Rock, Yatta Plateau and Lugard Falls. The Park is popular because of the infamous Man Eaters of Tsavo.
Tsavo National Park, which lies roughly half-way between the coast and Nairobi, is bisected by the main Nairobi-Mombasa road and railway resulting to Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park. The Park is watered by two rivers; Tsavo River and Athi River. The two rivers unite above Lugard Falls to become the Galana River.
Most of the Park is made up of basement gneisses and schists, but part of the western sector is of recent volcanic origin including the Chyulu Hills. Here may be seen many lava flows such as Shetani, near Kilaguni Lodge. This volcanic zone also contains the famous Mzima Springs, where more than 250 million liters of sparkling crystal-clear water gush out daily from a lava ridge. Hippos and shoals of Barbel live in the springs and provide a dramatic spectacle. These aquatic beasts together with their scavengers may be watched from the lookouts or through the plate glass windows of the submerged observation chamber.
One of the greatest spectacles of Tsavo East National Park is Mudanda Rock between Voi and Manyani. This one-and -halt kilometer long outcrop is a water catchment which supplies natural water at its base. In the dry season hundreds of elephants come to drink and bath. From a vintage point, visitors have an opportunity to watch the beasts below them. A similar spectacle may be observed at Aruba Dam.
The Lugard Falls on the Galana River are remarkable for the fantastic shape of the water-torn rocks. The river disappears into a narrow rocky gorge with the Falls immediately below.
Specially rewarding game viewing circuits are those along Galana River from Lugard Falls to Sobo, southwards to Aruba and then south-west to Mudanda Rock.
Elephants in large herds are the number one attraction in Tsavo. Game watching can’t be pleasanter than to recline in a comfortable chair on the veranda of Kilaguni Lodge, a cold drink at hand, and watch the elephants take their refreshments from a waterhole 90 meters away. Tsavo is also a good place to see one of the most beautiful antelopes, the Lesser Kudu with spiral horns and white striped coat. Other animals like to be encountered are Buffalo, Common Waterbuck, Eland, Gerenuk, Fringe-eared Oryx, Impala, Masai Giraffe and Black Rhino.
One of the most common birds is White-headed Buffalo Weaver. Starlings are numerous including Golden-breasted Starling and Fischer’s Starling. Hole-nesting birds – Starlings, Parrots, Barbets and Rollers – often associated with the thick-trunked Baobab trees are such a feature of the landscape.
In Tsavo West National Park accommodation include Lion’s Bluff Lodge, Kipalo Hill and Kivuli Camp.