Think you know all about Kenya’s national parks with their great expanse of plains, savannah, and rolling hills? Come to Shimba Hills to discover a different sort of landscape and wildlife experience.
Imagine a rainforest not far from the Kenya coast, where offshore breezes waft through woodlands and rich green forests. This is a reserve that never fails to surprise curious adventurers on their African safari.
Perhaps it’s the elephants. This unexpected park is home to over 700 elephants, holding the greatest density of the majestic creatures in Kenya. And then there’s the antelope. Not just any, but the exquisite sable antelope, distinguished with its elegant horns. Shimba Hills is the only place in the country where you’ll find them.
Discover the Wildlife
The park’s elephant population is so thick with the resident pachyderms that their numbers threatened to overwhelm the compact park’s resources. A nearby sanctuary was created in which the elephants could forage and help sustain the reserve and the animals.
Here in the park, just a short drive from the coastal beaches you’ll come upon many other species of wildlife, like Masai giraffe, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, monkeys, and some safari-goers have even spotted the elusive leopard.
The Rainforest Calls
Straddling the Kenya coast at some 400 m (1323 ft) above the ocean and not far from Diani Beach and the port city of Mombasa, Shimba Hills is a cool and misty enclave where you’ll find birdlife that befits such a rich rainforest.
The woods and sky are filled with some 230 species of avian life such as African hawks, fish eagles, falcons, hornbills, guineafowls, kingfishers, and golden palm weaver. Adding still more color and texture, hundreds of butterflies adorn the park’s lush greenery.
A Cool, Shaded Spot to Trek
Not all African parks offer visitors the chance to leave their Jeep and set out on foot in the shade of dense vegetation. But at this refreshing retreat, you’ll follow paths through exotic plant life and flowers leading to waterfalls and stunning vantage points.
You can walk to Sheldrick Falls, a stunning plunge – 21 m (60 ft) – of cascades misting bordering vines that makes an ideal picnic spot. Swim in the pool there while birds and butterflies circle overhead.
Take a trip up Elephant Hill to view the wildlife below and gaze out toward the endless vista of the sparkling Indian Ocean.
At the Marere Dam, you’re certain to spot the park’s wildlife drinking at its cooling waters while surrounded by the call and colors of the reserve’s rich birdlife.
Just 30 km (18 mi) from Mombasa, Shimba Hills National Park may be Kenya’s easiest wildlife getaway. So take a break from the dry savannah or the beach and soak up this hidden world of elephants, birds, and butterflies.