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Dotted with a variety of landscapes and littered with wildlife, the Tsavo East and Tsavo west national parks are one of the highlights of Kenya’s tourism. Though overshadowed by the likes of Masai Mara and Amboseli, Tsavo offers plenty to its visitors, and its offerings are quite different from those of its famous counterparts.
Tsavo East and west, clubbed together, constitute the largest conservation area in Kenya. The variety of wildlife found here makes it an animal lover’s delight, and game drive facilities available are well-designed and show you everything that the parks have in store.
Tsavo is Kenya’s oldest national park and has a spine-chilling history. The park is famous for its large pride of maneless lions. In the year 1898, two maneless lions from Tsavo turned man-eaters and killed around a hundred and thirty people who were constructing railway lines in the region. The park was opened in 1948. The eastern and the western part of the park is divided by a railway line and the Nairobi-Mombasa road.
Nearest airport: Moi International airport
How to reach: by road, train, flight from Nairobi
Famous for: large herd of elephants, Yatta Plateau, Lugard Falls, Lake Jipe, Mzima Springs
Months open: all year
Best time to visit: June to October; January to February
Tsavo West: Mzima Springs with its underwater observation chamber for close-up views of hippos, Excellent birding; many dry-country specials, views of Kilimanjaro on a clear day, Rare black rhino
Tsavo East: Beautiful landscape with scenic landmarks, The Galana river, Taita Hills, Wide variety of animal with the Big 5, Mane less lions, Fringed eared Oryx, Large herd of elephants covered in red soil
Mother Nature has laden Tsavo with a wide variety of landscapes. Be it the swamps, and dusty plains of Tsavo east, or the natural springs, volcanic cones, and sweeping grasslands of the west, you will never grow tired of admiring Tsavo’s rich landscape. The snow-capped peaks of the Kilimanjaro in the west, the Shetani lava flows, the Galana River in the east, and the Mzima springs- all makes Tsavo a rich safari destination that has much more than just wildlife.
Tsavo is also home to many exotic species of birds and endangered species of animals like the black rhino and the fringed ear oryx.
Popular interests in Tsavo east:
Tsavo East is littered with beautiful landscapes and scenic views of the wilderness and the wildlife. It has a wealth of landmarks that you shouldn’t miss during your safari trip. They have been listed below.
The Galana River: The Galana river and its green surroundings give rise to a stark contrast with the dusty plains. It is home to numerous crocodiles, hippos and is also frequented by other animals. Hence, it provides ample opportunities to view the park’s wildlife up close. The sight of elephants covered in red dust bathing in the river, is a frame of a lifetime for photographers and animal lovers.
Taita Hills: Nestled in the heart of nature where human interference is minimal, are the Taita Hills. Standing tall amidst the savanna grasslands, it is home to a large variety of animals and also houses the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. You will find the most beautiful lodging options here.
Apart from its landscapes, the park's wildlife is a treat to watch. You should keep your eyes ready to feast on the below-mentioned species.
Exotic Birds: The park is home to many exotic birds like the Golden Pipit, Somali Ostrich, and many more. Migratory birds flock the park in months from November to April, making it a paradise for bird watchers.
The Big 5 and the Fringe eared Oryx: Tsavo east is home to the Big 5- lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and cape buffalos. Viewing these animals, in their natural habitat, in their full splendour is indeed a treat for the eyes.
What makes the lions found in Tsavo east more special is the fact that they are maneless. This variety of lions are rare and that is why these animals are a treasured component of the park.
The Fringe eared Oryx is another highlight of the park. These species of muscular antelopes are one of the highlights of the park as these beautiful animals have become very rare due to poaching and habitat loss and are only found in a handful of places now.
Popular interests in Tsavo west:
Like its eastern counterpart, Tsavo west is also a treasure trove of wildlife and natural beauty. Some of the most popular attractions of the park have been listed below.
Mzima springs and its underwater observation centre: Mzima springs is an oasis that is home to crocodiles, hippos, and a wide variety of fish. Besides being a major attraction of the park, it is also one of the highlights of Kenya’s tourism. The oasis also has an underwater observation centre that serves as a unique vantage point to view hippos, fishes, and reptiles.
Lake Jipe: Lake Jipe is a scenic lake which offers mesmerizing views of Kilimanjaro. It is a bird-watching hotspot as it is the haven of many migratory birds. The lake is also considered to be one of the best places for viewing wildlife in the park.
Panoramic views of Kilimanjaro and birding: Tsavo west offers splendid views of the mighty Kilimanjaro that is bound to fill your heart with elation and will remain etched in your memory for a long time.
Also, the wide variety of birds that are found in the region makes it a utopia for bird watchers. Shelley’s Starling, Narina Trogon, and Marsh Warbler are few of the popular species of birds found in the region.
The Big 5 and the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary: The park offers you the mouth-watering prospect of seeing lions, rhinos, leopards, cape buffalos, elephants and many other animals, all in their wild, natural habitat, beautiful, majestic, and at times, scary.
The Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, one of the major attractions, is home to the rare black rhino.
Where to stay:
In Tsavo east:
Ashnil Aruba Lodge: This safari lodge lies at the centre of the Tsavo east national park and offers splendid wildlife viewing spots as there are many water holes around it that are frequented by the animals. Its strategic location clubbed with its excellent facilities makes it an attractive lodging option for tourists.
Voi Wildlife Lodge: The easy accessibility, top-notch facilities, and excellent wildlife viewing spots that it offers makes Voi Wildlife lodge a hot favorite among visitors to the national park.
In Tsavo west:
Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge: The Kilaguni Serena Safari lodge is a perfect concoction of modern luxuries and natural beauty. In addition to offering a scenic view of the Mount Kilimanjaro and the savanna grasslands, this safari lodge also provides all modern luxuries.
Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge: Sarova Saltlick Game Lodge is a picturesque, luxury lodge located at the heart of Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. It offers excellent facilities, overlooks the plains of Tsavo west and offers ample spots to view wildlife in its true colors.