Activities in Tsavo National Park Tanzania
Referred to as “Theatre of the Wild” by the Kenya Wildlife Services, Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks combined, cover an area of about 22,000 square kilometres (about 4% of Kenya) and form one of the oldest and the largest game sanctuaries in Kenya (about 9 times the size of Maasai Mara National Park). Tsavo East alone surrounds an area of about 13,747 square kilometres and is separated from Tsavo West by the A109 road (Nairobi-Mombasa highway) and railway which cross the park. Tsavo East National Park was opened in April 1948 and gets its name from the Tsavo River which rolls from the West to the East of the park. The park is particularly well known for its large herds of elephants and captivating landscapes. Inside the park is also the Athi River which connects with the Tsavo River to form the Galana River.
Tsavo is one of the less populated game areas in Kenya and a perfect getaway for visitors who want to enjoy a pristine wildlife experience. Tsavo East National park is bordered by the Chyulu Hills National Park and Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania. The park is situated near Voi town in Taita-Taveta County. The biggest part of the park comprises semi-arid heaths and savannah making it most popular as one of the hotspots for large numbers of varied wildlife including the African Big Five. The park is also home to a large variety of bird species including the crowned crane and black kite. Tsavo East is also known for its Rhino Sanctuary. The highlight of the park is the spectacular Mzima Springs, where crystal-clear water flows through volcanic rock.
Gazetted in 1948, Tsavo West National Park is situated in the Coast Province, South-eastern Kenya. The 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 preeminent for 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 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.
Tsavo National Park was also made famous by the Yatta Plateau, which is the world’s longest lava flow covering about 300km.
Activities and attractions in Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo National Park has a diversity of attractions and activities which visitors can participate in. These attractions range from flora and Fauna to the other naturally built aspects in the park.
Some of these attractions and activities include:
With over 500 bird species, Tsavo East National Park offers a truly distinctive and unbelievable birding experience. These include many of the dry-country specials easily spotted such as the Vulturine Guineafowl, Ortolan Bunting, Levant Sparrow, Savi’s Warbler, Bat-like Spinetail, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Golden-breasted Starling and the Golden Pipit. The park is also the Southern hotspot of the Somali Ostrich and migrant species from Europe. Other species include Black-headed Lapwing, red-winged lark, Rosy-patched BushShrike and the Eastern chanting Goshawk.
Camping in Tsavo National Park can be done either at the community camping sites or private camping sites. These sites are located in good animal viewing areas and are protected by rangers. From your tent balcony, you can easily view animals at your comfort and the most exciting moments about camping are being awoken by the birds singing or the roar of the king of the jungle patrolling its territory.
Tsavo National Park is rich in wildlife much as it is less visited. This makes it one of the best-protected areas to visit especially by visitors who do not love crowds. Its popularity comes from the large red wallowing elephants which have been called red elephants.
Game viewing in Tsavo National Park is so rewarding due to the rich wildlife variety. Most notable are the Big Five especially the red-dusty elephants, lions, Cape buffalos, leopards and the Rhino. These game drives are done following tracks which usually lead to the water holes where these animals gather. Other animals you are likely to encounter include Giraffes, Impalas, Zebras, Cheetahs, Dik Dik among others.
Hanging over a natural dam close to the Manyani dam, this massive 1.5km long rocky outcrop attracts herds of elephants and other wildlife to drink water especially in the dry season. The inselberg acts as a water catchment, supplying the natural dam below it. The outcrop also gives a vantage point for the varied wildlife that freely roam the park and spectacular views of the park.
This prehistoric lava flow located to the North of Galana River stretches about 300km and is considered one of the oldest lava flows in the world. Visitors can enjoy refreshing scenery accompanied by the history of its formation.
The dam was built in 1952 and acts as a water reservoir, attracting different wildlife species This offers another opportunity for visitors to come across these animals while engaging in other activities in the park. Buffalos, elephants, dik-dik among other animals are often spotted here.
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.
Tsavo national park has various eye-catching tourist attractions to watch during the safari. Believe that Jewel Safaris can give you the most outstanding safari experience not only in Kenya but also in Uganda.