Lioness, Tsavo East National Park
See all of Africa's Big 5 in Tsavo. Credit: stevie withers (flickr)
Buffalo Tsavo West National Park
See all of the Big 5 in the Tsavo National Parks: Photo Smudger888 (flickr)
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Tsavo National Park in Kenya
The Tsavo National Park was established on 1st April, 1948 and is located about 200km south east of Nairobi and is the closest large National Park to Mombasa and makes the ideal safari location if you are staying on the coast anywhere around Mombasa, Bamburi beach or Malindi.
Split in half by the Nairobi to Mombasa road, the Tsavo National park in Kenya has an area of 8035 square miles, which means that it covers an area larger than Wales and is much bigger than the more famous Masai Mara National Park. To the east of the main Nairobi-Mombasa road lies Tsavo East and on the western side... you guest it: Tsavo West.
The two parks are very different and generally Tsavo West has a more varied topography and a more diverse array of habitats than Tsavo East. Tsavo West consists mainly of semi-arid plains, granite outcrops and ancient lava fields. The highest and most impressive is the Ngulia Mountain, which stands at almost 6000ft high. It is far more visited that Tsavo East, to which much is closed to the general puplic although there is still such a vast amount to see this should not put you off from visiting it. Tsavo East does not have the mountains and hills of Tsavo West and the park cosists mostly of dry, flat thorn-bush scrub, which is occasionally broken by the green vegetation of the Galana river and other smaller seasonal rivers that run through the National Park.
For most of the year Tsavo is dry and dusty and is where the term the Red Elephants of Tsavo comes from, but after the rains the National park is transformed almost over night, with new grasses, and a fantastic array of wild flowers, like the pink and white convolvulus (morning glory's).
Man Eaters of Tsavo
Written by Colonel JH Patterson, it is a true story and tells of when he was in charge of building a bridge for the Uganda Railway over the Tsavo river in 1898. During the night some of his workers were continually being dragged from their tents and then killed by to large male lions. After some time the workers started to believe that because the lions were so fearless, it was actually the Devil in the shape of a lion that was doing this.
In December 1898, after the death toll had risen to 28 Indian workers and a large number of locals, work on the bridge was brought to a halt, until the lions had been shot. After many nights of waiting, Colonel Patterson did eventually kill the lions, which are now on display in the Chicago Natural History Museum in the USA.
You will often hear the elephants in Tsavo being referred to as "Red Elephants" and whist they do sometimes appear to be red, the colour of their skin is no different than that of other elephants, it is just down to the red soil that much of Tsavo is covered in and which the elephants use to cover themselves with, during their dust baths.
At one time there were around 50000 elephants in Tsavo, which were having a detrimental effect on the vegetation and there was talk of culling to decrease their numbers, but before this was put in place, there was a severe drought during the late 1960's and early 70's, during which time the vast numbers of elephants ate pretty much all the edible vegetation and eventually nature took it's course many starved to death, along with many other animals including black rhino. The drought, along with a serious poaching problem, mean that today there are between five and six thousand elephants, but their vastly reduced numbers mean that the vegetation is recovering and in some places is even thicker than before. This along with good conservation mean that the elephant and other animal populations are increasing as well.
For more infromation on each of the two national parks, including animal guides, accommodation and directions, take a look at:
This is an area where there is malaria and it is recommended that you take the necessary precautions if you visit this area. More information on Malaria.
When to Visit Tsavo
Personally I don't think there is a best time to visit Tsavo, you will just see different things at different times of the year. Generally the weather in Tsavo is warm and dry with the temperatures ranging from 20-40 celcius, rainfall from 200-700mm per year.
Rainy Season: There are two rainy seasons. The long rains are generally from March through to May and the weather is hot and humid. The short rains arrive in the warm months of October to December.
Dry Season: January to March is hot and dry and July to October is warm and dry
Accommodation at Tsavo
Both Tsavo East and West have a good selection of Accommodation options, with everything from 5 star luxury loges, to public campsites. For more information take a look at:
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Tsavo East National Park
Located about 200km south east of Nairobi, on the main Nairobi to Mombasa road, Tsavo East contains a huge variety of wildlife including all of Africa's Big 5. Tsavo East is dominated my the 300km long Yatta Plateau, and also contains the impressive Lugards Falls and Galana River and the iconic Mudanda Rock.
Tsavo West National Park
Eestablished in 1948 and part of the Greater Tsavo National Park, Tsavo West is situated about 240km south east of Nairobi and about 200km north of Mombasa on the main Nairobi to Mombasa road. All of the Big five and an abundance of hippo and crocodiles at the Mzima Springs, there is plenty to see and do at Tsavo West.. more >>
A holiday in Kenya can be so many things, a safari holiday, beach holiday, a cultural experience or all three. Take a look at the Safari Guide to finding your ultimate Kenya Holiday. >> Kenya Holiday Guide
Scuba Diving in Kenya
The diving in Kenya is excellent and there are few other places in the world where you can be scuba diving in Mombasa in the morning and then viewing so of Africa's best wildlife in the Afternoon. Kenya is also a great place to learn to Scuba dive as it is relatively cheap compared to other locations, I personally learnt to dive in Bamburi Beach, passing my Padi Diving Certification in three days. >> more
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After your camera, a good pair of binoculars is crucial in getting the most out of your Safari Holiday. So what is a good pair of binoculars? Here is my binocular guide and recommendations >> Binocular Reviews
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