Fairend Safaris

Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National Park is situated in Kenya’s southeastern part near the Tanzania border. It covers an area of 9,000 square kilometers comprising of a diverse ecosystem with open grasslands, acacia woodlands, rocky ridges, scrublands, and belts of riverine vegetation.In addition, Tsavo West offers some of the most magnificent views forexample gallons of crystal clear water comes from under a lava rock.

The park is separated from Tsavo East National Park by the Nairobi -Mombasa high making. This makes it a perfect destination for travelers who want to conclude a safari with a beach holiday. Animals that can be seen in Tsavo West National Park include elephants, rhinos, Hippos, lions, cheetahs, leopards, Buffalos, and many more.  Diverse plants and bird species including corncrake, Basra Reed Warbler, and secretary birds among others are also found in this park.

How to get to Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National Park can be accessed by both road and air. It is located 240 km from Nairobi and 250 km from Mombasa. It takes about 4 to 6 hours to get to the park by road. Travelers may choose to use either Tsavo gate, Mtito Andei gate, Chyulu gate, Ziwani gate, or Maktau gate. Visitors from Nairobi use Mtito Andei gate while those of from Mombasa use Chyulu gate.

Alternatively, there are scheduled flights from Wilson Airport to the different airstrips in the park. The airstrips are Tsavo gate airstrip, Ziwani airstrip, Kamboyo airstrip, Jipe airstrip, Kilaguni airstrip, Finch Hottons airstrip, and Maktau airstrip.

Top Attractions

Mzima Springs

The Mazima Springs is undoubtedly one of Tsavo West’s top iconic attractions with millions of gallons of crystal water flowing through parched lava rocks.  Travelers usually explore these springs during a guided nature walk preferably early in the morning or before sunset. Most importantly guests should always look out for large animals like crocodiles and hippos.

Wildlife species

Tsavo West National Park is home to over 70 wildlife species for instance the African big five  can be spotted during game drives. The most sighted animals are lions, Elephants, Buffalo, leopards, rhinos, Giraffes, zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, wild dogs, gazelles, wildebeests, antelopes, gerenuks, lesser kudus, and cheetahs among others.

Bird species

There are a wide range of bird species in Tsavo West National Park, over 400 recorded bird species can be spotted within. The park hosts both residents and migratory birds, and the best time for birding is during rainy seasons. Travelers may visit in November and April when they can be able to see the migratory birds from Europe. The list of birds to see is as follows; Basra reed warbler, Golden Pipit, Shelley’s Starling, Golden palm weaver, Lesser Kestrel, African finfoot, Golden pipit, Golden palm weaver, Narina trogon, Martial eagle and Eastern black-headed oriole among others.

Shetani Lava Flow

The Shetani Lava Flow is the largest lava flows in Tsavo West National Park located about 4km west of the park. It includes a series of lava caverns beneath the surface once known for capturing prey animals that visited for water. Although,  the locals living in this area believe it was the devil himself emerging from the dirt. This wide swath of folded black lava spans across the savannah near the Chylus Hills for 50 square kilometers.

Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary – it was established in 1986 to safeguard and conserve black rhinos in Tsavo West National Park. It started with 9 rhinos but currently has about 120 rhinos and the success has been due to committed teams. The Tsavo rhino population has risen dramatically over time, making it one of the most successful and beneficial conservation stories in recent years.

The Poacher’s Lookout – this is a hill found at the centre of the park. It gives a 360-degree view of the park making it an ideal place for beautiful views. The hill was named after its popular use by the poachers to view the wildlife at the park. From the time poaching was eradicated at the park, the hill has retained its name and popularity. 

 Lake Jipe – is one of the water sources that wildlife use to quench their thirst. It serves as a water supply and home to a diverse range of aquatic species like hippos, crocodiles, and water birds. It is situated at the border of Kenya and Tanzania.

Activities to do in Tsavo West National Park.

Game drives and wildlife viewing

Tsavo West National Park offers spectacular wildlife viewing during game drives. It is home to the big 5 and rare northern Kenya species which can be seen roaming in the open plains of the park. Game drives are conducted with an experienced guide or driver who is well knowledgeable about the species and the park. Due to low animal densities, thick shrubbery and woodlands the lead guide must well know where to locate the animals

The best time to conduct game drives is in the morning and evening, travelers use in open-roof safari vehicles. These enable tourists see animals like lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, cape buffaloes, wild dogs, klipspringers, Oryx, gerenuk, black rhinos, mongoose, giraffe, black rhinos, antelopes, hyenas, hippos, and crocodiles among others.

Bird-watching

The park is home to more than 400 recorded bird species that may be seen at Ngulia hills. This is one of the world’s busiest bird migratory paths. The greatest birding experiences are between October to November and April when migratory birds are present.

Bird species to expect on birding tours in Tsavo west National park include the African fin-foot, Pied kingfisher, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Vulturine Guinea fowl,  Pangani Longclaw, Somali ostrich, Fischer’s Starling, Shelley’s Starling, Martial Eagle, Narina Trogon, Taita Falcon, Taita Fiscal, Golden pipit, Thrush Nightingale and Northern Brownbul among others.

Walking Safaris

Travelers can explore the park on foot with the company of an experienced armed ranger. This is to ensure safety of both tourists and the animals. Several trails allow visitors encounter animals like giraffes, wildebeests, buffaloes, rhinos, bush babies, and elephants among others. There are other attractions worth seeing including the First World War Swite-East African Campaign, Kichwa Tembo, Mzima fort,  Shetani Lava flow, Lake Jipe, and Mzima springs among others.

Cultural Encounters

The Maasai people live around the park, they are pastoralists and have a distinct clothing code. Travelers usually visit their communities to learn more about their culture and way of living. Their cultural dance is the most gratifying dance as they bounce up and down while narrating stories.

Picnics and having wild breakfasts

Travelers visiting Tsavo East can as well have picnics and have breakfast in the wild after early morning game drives. Freshly prepared foods and drinks may be carried in cooler boxes according to guests’ preference. These may be enjoyed as they watch the sun sink behind the hills as they sit under a tree shade.

Visit the Mzima Springs

Mzima Springs is a green oasis situated in the western part of the park, it attracts a wide range of animals to quench their thirst.  Species like giraffes, impalas, elephants, gazelles, and many many more are seen walking along the shoreline. There is an underground viewing station where tourists can see hippos walking along the bottom of the springs and crocodiles soaking in clear waters. The Mzima springs’ water originates from the Chyulu Hills and it produces over 200 million liters of water a day.

Where to stay 

There are several accommodation facilities where travelers can stay during their visit to Tsavo West National Park, they range from luxurious facilities, mid-range to budget facilities. These include Ngulia safari lodge and camp, Finch hattons camp, Lions Bluff lodge, Severin safari camp Lake Jipe cottage, Severin safari Camp, Voyager safari camp, Kitani severin safari lodge, Ziwani safari camp, Palm Tree camp among others.

When to visit 

Tsavo National Park can be visited any time of the year however,  the best time to visit is in the dry season from July to September and December to March. During these months the grass is shorter and many animals can easily be seen near water bodies. Given the semi-arid climate of this park, the rainfall is infrequent compared to other parks in Kenya.