Tsavo West National Park straddles in the southern part of Kenya just at the border with Tanzania. It spans up to about 9000 square kilometers making it one of the largest protected areas not only in Kenya but also across Africa. It is a 200 kilometer drive national park from southwest of Nairobi, 188 kilometers west of Mombasa. The Tsavo West and East National Parks were once a one block protected area but they were later divided. The two conservation areas are separated only by the Mombasa or Nairobi road from the Tsavo East, Tsavo West that makes up the great Tsavo eco-system. This vast wildlife conservation area is largely famous for its remarkable red skinned elephants and the legend of the man eaters of Tsavo. Tsavo’s lions proved to be notorious around 1898 at the time when Mombasa-Nairobi was constructed. The construction then slowed down for many months.
Whereas Tsavo West National Park features the largest population of wildlife species, its size and the dense vegetation cover, wildlife safaris in the park are a bit challenging making it not as famous as the Maasai Mara and Amboseli National Park. However, it features the most distinct landscapes in East Africa that also comes with enormous volcanic craters and spectacular hills like Chyulu. The water from this hills flow from beneath the Lava ridge and makes up most of the natural pools in the area. These remarkable pools are the famous watering holes for birds and African wildlife species such as the hunter’s hartebeest, black rhinoceros, cosen’s gerbil, enormous shrew species and rat, wild dogs and Grevy’s zebra. Tsavo west conservation area is also credited for its remarkable Mzima springs, the rare underwater hippo observatory and for the shaitani Lava flow which features as the biggest of all the various lava flows in the protected area, with many areas visitors can take a walk including several Lava caves below the surface. The caves used to be notorious for catching prey wildlife that had fallen inside to look for water as well as predators that had also followed them. There is chaimu volcanic crater and offers travelers opportunity to explore it while on hiking safaris. At the summit of this spectacular crater, you will have the most outstanding views of the developed area.
Besides, bird lovers on safari in Kenya are never left out as this remarkable conservation area also offers refuge to more than 600 distinct species of birds. The park also refuges an important rhino sanctuary but largely popular for its unique elephants. The park is exceptionally one of the important birding areas that you shouldn’t miss to pay a visit for tremendous bird watching experiences in Africa. If you are a bird enthusiast, you will keenly spot at the African skimmers, goshawks, buffalo weavers, palm nut vultures, red and yellow bishops and many more. Its swamps also offer refuge to Lake Jipe and the acacia woodlands which also feature several bird species some of which include ostriches, kingfishers, secretary birds, herons, hornbills, weavers, starlings, buzzards, kestrels. For unforgettable bird sighting experiences, you can visit Tsavo west national park between October and January.
Tsavo West National Park exceptionally features the largest ecosystem where the interaction between biodiversity and the environment has been supported by its distinct habitats that range from water bodies (Rivers and Lakes), mountains, forests, plains and wooded grasslands. A side from its enormous bird species, the park also refuges wildlife species like cheetah, buffalo, rhino, elephants, impalas, giraffes, zebras, lions, leopards, plain game, crocodiles as well as other varied mammal species and insects that are all worthy exploring while on your safari in Kenya. With all this diversity, Tsavo west wildlife conservation area is more magnificent and can easily be reached compared to Tsavo East National Park. This makes it one of the best wildlife conservation areas for visitors who wish to catch a glimpse of Kenya’s biodiversity at a close range while in their natural setting. The cliff faces in Tsavo west rewards visitors with the most breathtaking rock climbing adventures in Kenya. The views over the savanna plains are stunning and Mount Kilimanjaro can also be sighted while on safari in this protected area. You can pay a visit up to 300 meters high, east of Kichwa Tembo, the mighty Tsavo chimney and the ivory tower on elephant rock.
Around May, 1948 Tsavo National Park was separated leading to formation of east and west protected areas. The park derived its name from River Tsavo that overflows from West to East and it is popular as one of the diverse conservation area in the world. It is the only Kenyan protected area which allows night drives as well as off road driving and you will certainly have a close encounter with its remarkable biodiversity. As you head to the southern side of Tsavo West National Park, you will find Lumo community wildlife sanctuary directly bordering the famous Taita hills game sanctuary. Lumo community wildlife sanctuary covers an area of about 500 square kilometers. LUMO is an association of the Lualenyi Mramba and Ossa ranches whose communities have collaborated to boost wildlife tourism. And when you are at Taita hills game sanctuary, visitors can spend a night at Lion’s Bluff Lodge. The two stunning wildlife sanctuaries feature spectacular species like elephants, buffaloes, giraffe, variety of antelope families and gazelle. If you are keen enough you will also catch a glimpse of melanistic serval and aardwolves as well as some of the 400 distinct birdlife.
When to visit Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park is an all year round safari destination. However, it is best visited from January to February and from November to September. The park receives moderate amount of rainfall with temperatures that range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. March and April are considered to be the long rainy season and short rains stat between November and December and these make up the two distinct rainy seasons. Visiting the park during this period is at times very challenging as most of the remotest routes that lead up to the park may turn to be muddy and slippery. For this case, you will need a 4 by 4 safari car to help you navigate through all kinds of roads in Kenya. For bird lovers, migratory bird species in Tsavo West National Park are best sighted from October to January. You can embark on wildlife safari in the park early in the morning and in the afternoon and you will be thrilled with remarkable biodiversity in this protected area.
Getting to Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park is accessible by road and by air. By Air, the best airstrips for chartered flights in Kenya include the Mtito Andei, Jipe, Maktau, Ziwani, Kasigau, Tsavo and Chyulu gate.
By road, from Amboseli National Park, which is about 52 kilometers you will set off towards the Chyulu gate. From Nairobi for about 272 kilometers then you connect to the Mtito Andei gate. From Mombasa about 188 kilometers where you will use either the Tsavo gate which is close to Manyani or the Mtito Andei gate. Other entrances include the Ziwani, Jipe and Maktau but these depend on the part you are interested in visiting while on safari in Kenya.
Safari Lodges in Tsavo West National Park
The excellent safari lodges for visitors to spend a night on while on safari in Kenya include the luxurious Finch Hatton’s Camp and this is a private camp that offers visitors opportunity to experience that golden colonial era while on safari. Denys Finch Hatton was famous for the lavish style of his tours. This lodging facility offers luxury services and comes with en-suite safari tents. Consider spending in this lodge and have a chance to engage in guided morning and evening game drives as well as nature walks. The stunning lodges include the Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge and Voyager Ziwani Safari Camp which is also famous for honeymoon experiences given its stunning view of Mount Kilimanjaro and classic privacy. Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, this is established using stones at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro that overviews the busy waterhole. Visitors who choose to have a stay over at this lodge have a chance to enjoy authentic African safari experiences. The lodge comes with en-suite rooms as well as own verandahs. Spending a night at this lodge is a great opportunity for you to embark on guided walks, climbing the volcanic hills, game viewing and then hike to Mzima springs.
The moderate facilities include Kilaguni Serena lodge, Ngulia Lodge and Severin Safari Camp, these are best for budget travelers in Kenya. There are also campsites for visitors who love camping adventures. They include Lake Jipe and Kamboya, Royal Little, Kudud, Simba and Kenge. There are also bandas in Lake Jipe, Ngulia and Kitani.