Everything about Tsavo West National Park is extreme and striking. The contours and variety of its land, the deep colors of desert, sky and springs, and the surprise of nearby wildlife emerging from the scrub.
The park is an immense panorama of savannah broken by dark volcanic lava beds, unexpected vistas, ancient baobab trees and lush oases fed by underground springs.
You can find Africa’s “big five” here in the dense foliage searching for game and sustenance as they have for millions of years. The famous Tsavo lions and herds of red dust elephants are unique to this land. In fact, Tsavo hosts Kenya’s largest elephant population.
Keep your eyes open for giraffe as they feast on the treetops and don’t be surprised to see buffalo, leopard and rhino as well, especially at the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. Some 80 of these endangered creatures live protected here.
Of course, as you move about the park with your expert guide, you’re sure to spot some of the park’s smaller treasures like the bushbaby, hartebeest, dik-dik, lesser kudo, gerenuk and impala.
And there’s lots of monkeys here! The park’s many acacia trees are a playground to yellow baboons and vervet monkeys who are sure to entertain you with their antics.
Tsavo West is a parade of continuous surprises. The arid grassland gives way to the green paradise of Mzima Springs. At Chyulu Hills you can drive to incredible viewpoints such as Poacher’s Lookout where you’ll be treated to unforgettable vistas and the image of snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance.
And what other park in Kenya offers such exciting opportunities for rock climbing? Scale Kichwa Tembo, the Great Tsavo Chimney or the Ivory Tower on Elephant Rock and be rewarded with incredible vistas of the savannah below.
Things to do and see
Shetani Lava Flow
This hardened lava flow is only a few hundred years old. Shitani is the Kiswahili word for ‘devil’. When villagers saw the flaming lava erupting from the earth, they imagined it was the coming of the devil into their world.
Over 600 types of birds have been spotted in the park. The area is a feast of migratory birds such as African skimmers, goshawks and palm nut vultures. Some more familiar species such as ostriches, buzzards, kingfishers, hornbills and herons are also plentiful here. Other treats like the golden-breasted starling and orange-bellied parrot can be spotted as well.
Named for the persistent whistling of the wind and the constant buzz of nearby cicadas, this outcropping is an easy climb and a wonderful place to spot eagles and other birds of prey cruising nearby.
Perhaps the most special locale in the park, this lush spring is fed by over 200 million liters of clear water daily. Mzima means “life” in Swahili and this life sustaining oasis attracts a rich assortment of elephants, hippos, crocodiles, zebras and other wildlife to its raffia palm shores. There are plenty of nature trails and even an underwater observation platform.