Buffalo Tsavo West National Park
See all of the Big 5 in the Tsavo National Parks: Photo Smudger888 (flickr)
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Tsavo West National Park in Kenya
Tsavo West was established in 1948 and forms part of the Greater Tsavo National Park that includes Tsavo East and West National Parks and the Chyulu Hills. It is situated about 240km south east of Nairobi and about 200km north of Mombasa on the main Nairobi to Mombasa road.
Tsavo West streatches from Mtito Andei, along the Mombasa-Nairobi road and south to the Tanzanian border and consists of mostly semi-arid plains that are broken up with granite rock outcrops (kopjies) and lava fields, but also includes open plains, avannah bush, acacia woodlands, belts of riverine vegetation, palm thickets and on the Chyulu hills, mountain forest.
Tsavo West shares it's North Eastern boundary along the Highway with Tsavo East National Park.
Tsavo West's Main Attractions:
- Mzima Springs: a pool containing natural spring water with underwater viewing hides for observing hippos.
- Lake Jipe for fantastic views and birdwatching.
- Chaimu Crater, the volcanic crater that is less than 200 years old which you can climb
One of the main attractions in Tsavo West are the Mzima Springs, located 48km from the Mtito Andei Gate and close to both Kilaguni Lodge and Kitani Bandas. The two large pools, connected by a rush of rapids are replenished with two hundred and twenty million liters of crystal-clear water every day, from the underground streams stemming from the lava the Chyulu Hills, 40-50 kilometers away.
This fresh water at Mzima forms a haven to a huge variety of wildlife including hippoa and crocodiles, but is aslo an important source of drinking water for many animals including elephants, lion, gazelles, zebra and giraffe.
The upper (or long) pool is the favoured hippo wallow, while the crocodiles have retreated to the broader expanse of water lower down.
There is a car park at Mzima and you are permitted to walk down to the water following a path, from here you may be rewarded with a sighting of animals coming down to the waters edge to drink as well as that of Hippos in the water. It is also worth walking around this lower pool where, if you're stealthy, you have a good chance of seeing crocodiles, just make sure there's not one on the bank behind you!
A must is to look for Hippo underwater through the windows of the observation tank that has been sunk into the river, even if your luck is not in, you are sure to spot a few fish species including barbel.
A tip is to arive early in order to avoid the tour-bus feel that may disturb some o the animals. There are also two nature trails at Mzima, which are great for spotting birds.
Just west of the springs is the Chaimu Crater, this volcanic crater is less than 200 years old and composed maily from black coke. It is well worth the visit and you can climbed by foot. Animals to look out for in this area include klipspringer and the lesser Kudu antelope.
Located in the southwestern corner of Tsavo West is Lake Jipe. 10km long and 3km wide it has huge reed beds and although there is game present, it is the rich bird life that is most impressive here. Pied Kingfishers, palmnut vultures, black herons and African skimmers, Purlpe Gallinule, Black Herons, the Pygmy Goose and the Lesser Jacana are all found in this area around the lake. Above the lake, the Tanzanian Pare Mountains form an impressive backdrop, especially if you are there to see it at sunset.
Animals at Tsavo West
Tsavo West is home to all of Africa's Big 5 animals (elephant, buffallo, lion, leopard and rhino) At Mzima Springs, there are Nile crocodile and hippo. Masai Giraffe, gerenuk, oryx, zebra and impala range through most of the park and you may also see Coke's hartebeest, lesser kudu, eland, water buck, Steinbuck, Kirk's Dik Dik, Grant's gazelle and kingspringer. Primates include baboons and vervet monkeys.
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.
How to Get to Tsavo West
The main gate to Tsavo West and the best gate to take if you are traveling from both Nairobi (240km) is the Mtito Andei Gate. This is the main gate into Tsavo West and is 249 kms north of Mombasa.
Use the Tsavo Gate near Manyani on the main Nairobi-Mombasa road (A109)
Chyulu Gate is best if you are travelling from Amboseli. Tpark can also be reached via Taveta-Voi road through Maktau, Ziwani and Jipe gates.
There are no scheduled flights to the Park but chartered light planes can be used and there are airstrips at Kamboyo, Kilaguni, Tsavo Gate, Jipe, Kasigau, Finch Hottons, Ziwani and Maktau.
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. The temperature ranges from 20 - 30 degrees celcius and rainfall ranges from 200mm - 700mm.
Rainy Season: There are two ran seasons, with the Long rains from March to May & Short rains - Nov/December.
Dry Season: January to March is hot and dry and July to October is warm and dry
Tsavo West has a good selection of accommodation including includes luxury lodges, tented camps as well as public campsites.
Camping at Tsavo National Park
There are 3 public campsites with water and toilet facilities only these include the Kamboyo Campsite (8 kms from Mtito Andei gate), Chyulu Campsite (1 km from Chyulu gate) and Lake Jipe Campsite (on the lakeshore). There are also a wide selection of "special" (private) campsites are available in the park that ones at Royal Little and Chyulu Gate.
Finch Hatton's Tented Camp
This tented lodge is located in the western section of Tsavo West, and is known for its quality and comfort, with a colonial feel to it. The lodge has 35 furnished tents, a restaurant, lounge and bar areas, library, gift shop, and swimming pool. The main safari activities offered are game drives and bush walks. Finch Hattons is not fenced, and wildlife may be seen in and around camp.
Kilaguni Serena Lodge
The first lodge built in a Kenyan national park, it is constructed from volcanic stone. There are about 55 rooms Mt. Kilimanjaro as do the restaurant, bar and observation decks face. A waterhole outside the restaurant attracts elephants, buffalos, zebras and other animals.
Located on an escarpment near the rhino sanctuary in northern Tsavo West, Nguila Lodge was built in 1969 and has excellent views of the park. There are 52 rooms, all with ensuite bathroom and balcony. The lodge also has a restaurant, two bars, swimming pool, floodlit waterholes, gift shop, and conference facilities and offers game drives in the park.
Voyager Zawani Luxury Tented Camp
Located on the banks of a river on a private 30,000-acre farm on the western edge of Tsavo, with a spectacular view of Mount Kilimanjaro, it offers easy access to the wild attractions of Tsavo West National Park. It has 25 tents with ensuite bathroom and private veranda facing the river. There is a restaurant, a lounge bar, a gift shop, and an airstrip. The camp offers day and night game drives, bush walks, and various outings in the surroundings.
Severin Safari Camp
A tented lodge not very far from Mzima Springs in northern section of Tsavo West. Severin safari camp has 22 tents with ensuite bathrooms and private verandas. The main lodge has restaurant, bar, lounge with wireless Internet, gift shop, spa, swimming pool, and views of Kilimanjaro and a floodlit waterhole. The main safari activities include game drives and bush walks.
Self Catering Accommodation
Lake Jipe Bandas
These are located on the lakeshore and consist of three cottages or "bandas", each with 2 single beds with nets, water, outdoor cooking area and kerosine lamps. A detached building offers showers and toilets for all visitors.
The Kitani Safari Camp consists of 8 cottages, each with a double bedroom (2 single beds with bedding's and net), hot water, bathroom and WC plus an equipped kitchen and outdoor dining area. An outdoor BBQ restaurant and bar, generator and a s basic food and beverages shop, as well as access to meals (delivery too) from the nearby sister Kitani Safari Lodge round out this site.
Tel: 041 5485 0015
Ngulia Self-service Bandas
The Ngulia Safari Camp has 6 self-catering cottages or "bandas", each with a double bedroom (2 single beds with bedding and nets), bathroom and WC plus a fully equiped kitchen and outdoor dining area.
Kamboyo Guest House
Located less than 10 kilometers from the park headquarters at the Mtito Andei gate. It consists of 3 double bedrooms, 1 single, 2 bathrooms and toilets. Bedding, nets and limited kitchen equipment is provided.
Tsavo West Entrance Fees
A smartcard is needed to enter Tsavo, these can be obtained and loaded at the Tsavo West Mtito Andei Gate and used at a number of National Parks throughout Kenya including Nairobi, Lake Nakuru, Aberdare, Amboseli, Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks.
Adult non resident - US$23 Children non resident - US$10
Safari Guide Services
If you wish to explore the park on foot, the service of a KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) ranger is required due to the potentially dangerous wildlife. A KWS ranger may be booked in advance through the warden.
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Tsavo National Park
The combined parks of Tsavo East and West and Chyulu hills cover that make up the Tsavo National Park, cover an area greater than Wales. Located on the main road between Nairobi and Mombasa, it makes an iseal location for a Safari during your visit to Kenya.
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.
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
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