Meru National Park Kenya, Activities & Attractions
Meru National Park Kenya is located East of Meru and straddles the equator. Meru National Park from Nairobi City is about 350km and occupies an area of about 870 square kilometers. Established in 1968 and being one of the least visited protected areas in Kenya, Meru National park is the least spoilt and promising park.
Meru National Park became famous after animal conservationists Joy Adamson and her husband George Adamson hand-reared an orphaned Lioness called Elsa, which inspired the best-selling non-fictional book and award-winning movie Born Free. When Elsa died, Joy buried her remains in the park and was as well buried at the same site next to Adamson’s Falls where Tana River is.
During 1980s, Meru National Park went through a dark time when poachers very aggressively poached and wiped out the entire white rhino population that had been introduced in the park.
Their barbaric action forced the Kenyan government to promptly swing into action with the same force, driving out the poachers and tightening the security of the park. This was followed by the restoration of the once-thriving white rhino population and other wildlife into the park hence bringing it back to its former glory.
Although the tourists’ numbers are still low in the park today, the wildlife numbers have steadily increased over the years making the park one of the most promising protected areas in Kenya and the East African region.
Some of the key attractions and activities in Meru National Park
Burial site of Joy Adamson and Elsa the lioness
When animal conservationist Joy Adam who was also the wife of George Adamson died, she was buried in the park next to the grave of Elsa, the orphaned lioness who they hand-reared.
Because of the works, this couple had done in Meru National Park, a memorial site was constructed here in recognition of their efforts. This Dutch couple was the first explorers to enter the park and visitors interested in learning about their interesting history and conservation works can find all this information here.
Situated in the cavern of Hastings, Adams Falls which was named after notable animal conservationists George and Joy Adamson stands 50m high and offers some sightings. Hiking to the top of the falls takes about 2-3 hours depending on the fitness level of the hikers but once at the top, the strenuous hike is so rewarding.
With over 300 bird species, visitors have the opportunity to see both swamp, forest, and open savannah species some of which include the Maasai Ostrich, Guineafowl, Fish Eagle, Kori Bustard, Palm Weaver, African Finfoot, Secretary Bird, Wattled Starling, Martial Eagle, and the Boran Cisticola.
A walking safari across Meru National Park allows visitors to focus on the smaller details in the park and may reveal to you animals like the bohor reedbuck, wallowing buffalos, the elusive caracal, and over 400 species of lively birds.
Meru National Park is home to the African Big 5 and a variety of other rich wildlife species. Some of the mammal species that roam this complete wilderness include elephant, rhino, cheetah, leopard, both Grevy’s and Plains zebra, reticulated giraffe, hippo, buffalo, and hartebeest among others.
The cats are more difficult to see in Meru National Park due to the thick, tall grass cover and bushland. However, experienced driver guides can be able to locate where these cats are and give the visitors an opportunity to see these rarely sighted cats.
Meru National Park is a melting point of culture. The generosity of the local community has enhanced the success of the park. On the slopes of Nyambene hills to the West of the park are the Meru people who are predominantly agriculturalists with hectares of Catha edulis plants (Miraa) and coffee. The Kamba, Borana, and Orma pastoralist communities also border the park. These provide a rich cultural diversity and experience to visitors who want to find out more about the rich lifestyle of these people.
Best to visit Meru National Park
During the dry season from June to September, wildlife viewing is at its peak. Animals crowd the watering holes during this season and therefore offer the best time to see them.
On the other hand, the long rains between March and May as well as the short rain which occurs between October and November make wildlife viewing quite hard because the grass tends to grow tall therefore sighting animals becomes more difficult. However, the park can be visited at any time/season of the year.
How to get to Meru National Park
Meru National Park can be accessed by both road and air transport.
From Nairobi, Meru National park can be reached via the Nyeri-Nanyuki route or using Embu to Ura gate
There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi to any of the two airstrips in the park. These are the main airstrip at Kina, Mulika and Elsa Kopje’s airstrip.
Where to stay in Meru National Park
- Ikweta Safari Camp
- Rhino River Camp
- Merera Springs Eco-lodge
- Stansted Annex Hotel
- West Wind Hotel
- Elemana Elsa’s Kopje
- Alba Hotel Meru
- Leopard Rock Lodge