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Tsavo East National Park

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Discovering Tsavo East National Park

Tsavo East National Park, spanning an impressive 4,535 square miles (11,747 sq km), is the larger of the two Tsavos in Kenya. With its rugged landscape featuring scrubland adorned with majestic baobab trees, the park offers a captivating setting for both nature enthusiasts and avid photographers. The natural light that graces the vast plains, stretching to the horizon, is a photographer’s delight.

Rich Diversity of Wildlife

The park is home to a diverse array of wildlife that congregates around the oasis banks of the Voi and Galana rivers, as well as the colossal Aruba Dam, constructed across the Voi. Visitors can witness herds of elephants and buffalo, graceful waterbuck, and an assortment of other animals quenching their thirst at the dam. The Galana River hosts the Lugard Falls, a series of rapids rather than traditional waterfalls, surrounded by water-sculpted rocks, providing a picturesque scene.

A unique feature within the park is the Yatta Plateau, stretching an impressive 180 miles. This plateau is one of the world’s longest lava flows, running parallel to the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway. With a width ranging from 3 to 6 miles (5 to 10 km) and a height of 1,000 feet (305 meters), the Yatta Plateau offers a stunning geological spectacle. Mudanda Rock, a 1.5-km (2-mile) outcropping, serves as a water catchment area, attracting abundant wildlife to the dam below.

Historical Echoes: The Man-Eaters of Tsavo

Tsavo East National Park gained notoriety in the late 1890s due to the infamous “Man-Eaters of Tsavo,” a pride of lions that terrorized Indian migrant laborers constructing the railway. The lions, depicted in the 1996 thriller “The Ghost and the Darkness,” starring Val Kilmer, claimed the lives of more than 130 workers. This dark chapter in history adds a layer of intrigue to the park’s allure.

Abundant Wildlife

The park boasts a rich array of wildlife, including the iconic zebra, elegant impala, majestic lion, swift cheetah, and towering giraffe. Additionally, rare species such as the oryx, lesser kudu, and the agile klipspringer antelope, known for its nimble rock-jumping abilities, contribute to the park’s biodiversity.

Getting There & Around Tsavo East

For those eager to explore Tsavo East, several gates serve as entry points. Mtito Andei Gate, located 233 km (148 miles) southeast of Nairobi, provides access to the park. Voi Gate, positioned 157 km (98 miles) northwest of Mombasa, and Buchuma Gate, situated 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Mombasa, are commonly used for organized safaris originating from the coast. While there are nine airstrips in the park, there are no scheduled flights. Most visitors opt for a scenic drive from Mombasa, while charter flights present an alternative. Notably, there is no public transport available within the park.


Navigating the Seasons: When To Go

A Tsavo vacation safari promises a memorable experience year-round. However, it’s essential to consider the impact of the seasons. The long rains from March to May and the short rains from October to December result in dense vegetation, making it challenging to spot wildlife. To maximize the safari experience, the period from July to October is highly recommended. This timeframe aligns with the peak travel season for Kenya safaris and coincides with the annual great wildebeest migration, providing an unparalleled wildlife spectacle.