MERU NATIONAL PARK
A Revitalized Wonderland
Lions? Leopards? And Chimps
This is the turnabout story of a once vital park falling into ruin and neglect, and then improbably rising from the dead. This out-of-the-way park has once again become a thriving reserve filled with roaming lion, elephant, cheetah, crocodile, hippo, and especially buffalo and rhino. Meru National Park has been reborn as an unspoiled expanse of acacia woodland and tall grass savannah practically devoid of tourists. Your safari here will echo an Africa of long ago – just you alone with the wildlife.
This legendary park holds tales of another Africa – it’s where Joy and George Adamson brought Elsa the lioness of “Born Free” fame to be set loose in the wilds. Here too, safari-goers can visit Elsa’s grave in a remote area on the park’s southern border.
Hundreds of bird species, the greatest herd of buffalo in Kenya, and one of the largest numbers of rhinos make Meru a must see. What Meru lacks in tourist traffic, it more than makes up for with its bountiful wildlife.
A Park Reborn
If you visited Meru in the 1970s or 80s it would be hard to imagine the 40,000 yearly visitors who used to flock to the popular park. But neglect and heavy poaching decimated most of the Meru’s larger wildlife. Almost all its elephants were killed as were more than 80% of its rhinos.
Fortunately, in 2000 the Kenya Wildlife Service and the International Fund for Animal Welfare stepped in and reversed the park’s fortunes. A large force of anti-poaching rangers flooded the reserve with a mandate to protect the wildlife. The park’s infrastructure was revitalized and so began a return to restore Meru to its former glory.
The Park Within a Park
The rhinos are thriving at Meru because of an innovative rhino sanctuary – literally a park within the park. This 80 sq km (30 sq mi) reserve is a secure area that allows smaller animals to freely pass through but keeps the rhinos safe, protected, and monitored by the rangers. The 60 white and 20 black rhinos are thriving as their numbers continue to increase. Though the big brutes are shy, you should be able to get close enough for some memorable photos.
Sharing this land flocked with distinctive acacia trees are the Maasai people, nomadic herders from whom the park takes its name. They construct traditional villages surrounding the reserve and live as they have for eons, herding their cattle and pushing back at an ever-encroaching modern world.
Known for their brightly colored shukas and deft beadwork, the Maasai are a living link to a past that stretches back beyond colonial Africa, to an era when the entire continent was wild and untouched.
Riverland – Thirteen rivers and numerous streams course the woods and savannahs of Meru Park. The rich wetlands have been described as jungle-like with doum palms dotting the riverbanks.
Rojewero – This is a good viewpoint for spotting the birdlife such as ostrich, guineafowl, and red-necked falcon along the riverine forest. Look also for hippo and crocodile.
The Rhino Sanctuary – Home to dozens of endangered black and white rhinos, you’ll be able to spot them in a natural setting.
Elsa the Lioness – Meru was the final home of Elsa the Lioness, internationally known from the book and movie, “Born Free”. Here she was set free to live out her life as the Adamsons intended. You can visit her grave in a remote area at the park’s southern border.
Mount Kenya – Africa’s second-highest peak borders the park and views of its snow-capped summit are an accessible treat.
These reserve-based projects help the livelihoods of the nearby rural communities.
- Education for local students, including computer skills training
- Healthcare – providing medical supplies to the local health centers and mobile clinic
- Energy – providing hundreds of local families with energy-efficient stoves – reducing the need for firewood.
Ol Pejeta Eco-Facts
- Sanctuaries to protect endangered chimpanzees, oryx, hartebeest, Grevy’s zebra, and bat-eared fox
- Home to the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos
- The largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa – the rhino population has increased by over 100 in the last 25 years.
Survey: Meru National Park
With its acacia woodland, marshes, and riverine forest, Meru Park is especially beautiful. It stretches 870 sq km (340 sq mi), at an elevation of 1,036 m (3,400 ft).
Location: North of Mt. Kenya, Meru is 350 km (220 mi) from Nairobi.
Climate: The park is warm and can be wet. Expect daytime temperatures of 320C (900F). The wet season from November to May will bring in the heaviest rains.
Best time to visit: The park is open year-round, but the best animal spotting is during the dry season from June through September.
Getting there: You can Book a tour with Africa Kenya Safaris. And you’ll go in style – a specially outfitted 4 x 4 safari Jeep.
This is Meru Park
Once more a beautiful park, Meru is waiting for you with its abundant birdlife plus lots of small and large wildlife. The fact that you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself will just make your safari that much more special.
Let’s Get Started