Tsavo National Park
Ins and outs
Tsavo is the largest game park in Kenya, and its beautiful landscape and proximity to the coast make it a popular safari destination. It offers tremendous views with diverse habitats ranging from mountains, river forest, plains, lakes and wooded grassland. Because of its open spaces, the animals are fairly easy to spot and elephants, covered in bright red dust, are often seen wandering along every horizon. Its vastness creates a special atmosphere and on these endless plains trampled by thousands of animals it is not difficult to imagine that this is once how all of East Africa looked liked.
There are no scheduled flights to either Tsavo East or West, although
Mombasa Air Safaris
will touch down on request and there are several airstrips suitable for chartered light aircraft.
Both Tsavo East and West are fairly easily navigated with a good map as all tracks are clearly defined, and junctions are numbered. Bring all your own provisions into the park including petrol and water. You should be able to eat or drink at any of the lodges if you so desire. There is a shop at Voi Gate in the east selling (warm) beers, sodas, bread and some vegetables, and another shop in Tsavo West selling basic provisions.
This is the largest national park in Kenya at around 21,000 sq km. It lies in the southern part of the country, halfway between Mombasa and Nairobi and is bisected by the Mombasa-Nairobi railway and road link. For administrative purposes it has been split into two sections;
Tsavo East(11,747 sq km) lying to the east of the Nairobi-Mombasa road/railway is the part of the park made famous by the 'Man-Eaters of Tsavo', and
Tsavo West(9065 sq km). The Waliangulu and Kamba tribes used to hunt in this area before it was gazetted. The remoteness of much of the park means it has had serious problems with poaching in the past. As a consequence, much of the northern area (about two thirds of Tsavo East) used to be off-limits to the public in an attempt to halt poaching here, which had decimated the rhino population from 8000 in 1970 to around 100 in 1990. Recent anti-poaching laws have been particularly successful in Tsavo; the number of rhinos and elephants are increasing and the northern area of Tsavo East is once again open to the public. In 2007, the Kenya Wildlife Service did a census of the elephant population in Tsavo and the number was 11,696.
The first European to visit this part of Kenya was Doctor Krapf, who journeyed on foot and crossed the Tsavo River in 1849 on his way to Kitui. Captain Lugards, the explorer, also passed through this area - the rapids on the Galana River are named after him.