Tsavo West National Park Kenya, Attractions & Activities
Gazetted in 1948, Tsavo West National Park is situated in the Coast Province, South-eastern Kenya. Tsavo West National Park, inferred as “Land of lava, Springs, Man-Eaters and Magical Sunsets” encompasses an expansive area of 9,065 square kilometres (3,500 square miles) and together with the adjoining Tsavo East National Park, form the Tsavo Conservation Area which spans about 22,000 square kilometres.
Unlike its sister park Tsavo East National Park which is pre-eminent of its abundant and diverse wildlife, Tsavo West National Park is more distinguished because of its marvellous topography.
Tsavo West National Park is steeper and contains more diverse landscapes compared to Tsavo East National Park. This makes it a perfect getaway for the adventurous visitors who would like to engage in more daring activities including hiking and rock climbing especially the most famous Kichwa Tembo rock face and other rock faces which include Mastodon, Ivory Tower and the Great Tsavo Chimney.
Just like some of the most popular parks in Kenya, Tsavo West National Park hosts the African Big 5(lions, hippos, buffalos, elephants and the rhino) and other mammal species including hippos, giraffes, kudus and buffalos.
With over 400 species of birds, Tsavo West National Park offers a rich profusion of birds for bird-watching visitors. Birding highlights include Ostriches, Golden Pipit, White-headed Buffalo Weaver and the Golden-breasted Starling.
Major attractions and activities in Tsavo West National Park
All the members of the African Big Five (Lion, Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino and Hippo), vast herds of red-dust elephants, large schools of hippos and gigantic Nile crocodiles including other smaller species of mammals including the dik-dik, bush baby and klipspringer are supported by the park and offer one of the most spectacular wildlife viewings in Tsavo West National Park.
Tsavo West National Park offers some of the best rock climbing adventures in Kenya. The most impressive rock climb is the famous 300m Kichwa Tembo rock which attracted the first adventure and later, the second expedition to conquer the impressive Tsavo Chimney. Other hiking and rock climbing areas include the Ngulia Hills, Mastodon and Ivory tower. These viewpoints allow you to have a panoramic view of the landscapes, large herds of elephants roaming the vast plains and flocks of birds in the park. The rock climb usually happens in the morning hours before the heat of the sun becomes intense and for safety purposes, climbers are escorted by an armed ranger.
The Shetani caves, located next to the Shetani lava flows, were formed as a result of volcanic activity. Visitors can visit these caves to learn about their attached history. While at the caves, there is a high possibility of seeing hyenas and other small mammals. Exploring the cave requires one to carry a torch for lighting since it gets dark when in there.
With over 400 bird species, Tsavo West National Park is considered one of the best places to visit for birding. Between October and January, bird lovers flock to Ngulia hills annually because of its strategic location along one of the world’s busiest bird migration routes to see birds which include River Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Red-baked Shrike, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Vulturine Guineafowl, Golden-palm weaver among other portfolio species.
Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary
This sanctuary situated on the foot of Ngulia hills spreads over 90 square kilometres and is surrounded by a one-metre high electric fence to protect about 70 of the parks highly endangered black rhinos from poachers. The best time to see these understandably shy archaic creatures are at night since they are mostly nocturnal and browsers implying they mostly feed at night and prefer being under thick undergrowth.
The Mzima Springs is a famous water hole for abundant wildlife including the large herds of elephants, buffalos, Zebras, Gazelles which gather here especially in the heat of the day to quench their thirst and get a cold bath. The spring is also home to a vast number of Nile crocodiles and hippos. The surrounding acacia trees harbour the frolic blue and vervet monkeys.
Best time to visit Tsavo West National Park
The best time to visit Tsavo West National Park is during the dry season from the month of June to October and January to February. Wildlife viewing during this season is much easier compared to the height of the wet season (November, April and May). During the wet season, grasses grow very tall and therefore obstruct wildlife viewing. However, the park is open and can be visited at any time of the year.
How to get to Tsavo West National Park
The park is about 230km away from Nairobi and about 250km from Mombasa. From Lake Nakuru National Park, it is about 450km.
There are scheduled flights from Nairobi to Tsavo West National Park. These flights originate from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Moi International Airport for visitors from Mombasa. Tsavo National Park has also got airstrips for chartered flights.
Where to stay at Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park offers a variety of accommodation options. These range from lodges, safari camps and hotels both within and out of the protected. Some are listed below;
- Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge
- Severin Safari Camp
- Ngulia Safari Lodge
- Rhino Valley Lodge
- Voyager Ziwani Camp
- Salt Lick Safari Lodge
- Man-Eaters Camp
- Taita Hills Safari Resort and Spa
- Lake Jipe Safari Camp