TSAVO EAST NATIONAL PARK
Vast Herds of Red Dust Elephants
Lions? Leopards? And Chimps
The giant elephants of Tsavo like to roll about in the rosy-hued soil, giving them a makeover and a great display of color for the park’s visitors.
At first glance, Tsavo East is massive, dry, and dusty. But as you safari over these wide plains, you’ll discover many unexpected contrasts in this the largest of Kenya’s many national parks.
Dotted throughout Tsavo are various watering holes providing sustenance to the park’s lions, leopards, buffalos, elephants, and many smaller species like gerenuk, impala, and Masai giraffe. You’ll also discover the oasis of the Galana River drawing a green line through the park with its banks of lush foliage.
Perhaps the park’s greatest attraction, you’ll find herds of elephants slaking their thirst alongside the rivers and at various waterholes. As mentioned, they like to roll on the ground, giving themselves dust baths in the deep red soil. If you’re lucky you’ll also be treated to a water show as the large pachyderms playfully spray each other, completing their grooming ritual.
Other Big Game
The park is home to hundreds of lions, but Tsavo Lions are characteristically different. The adult males lack the distinctive lion’s mane entirely giving them a unique look.
Safari through the fields of acacia scrub and you’ll also come across Cape buffalo, leopard, herds of giraffe, and along the rivers – hippo, crocodile, and waterbuck.
But the plains and oases of Tsavo also present visitors with a vast palette of birdlife – over 500 species have been spotted. It is said the best bird watching is from October through January – it is then that migratory birds like skimmers and goshawks, and vultures are easily seen.
But you’ll also find buzzards, ostriches, starlings, kingfishers, hornbills, herons, and some unique avian life like the lovebird, sacred ibis, and the crowned crane.
Lugard’s Falls – Set on the Galana River, this natural rock structure captures the river’s waters in a narrow groove, then spits out a torrent, spilling into rapids and the pools below.
Aruba Dam – An attractive man-made dam, spanning the Voi river, its waters bring in great populations of wildlife including prides of lions.
Mudanda Rock – A rock formation 1.6 km (.99 mi) in length, this whale-shaped structure is a water catchment for the natural dam below. Hundreds of the park’s elephants are drawn to the waters making it a perfect viewing spot.
Yatta Plateau – This is the remains of the longest lava flow in the world. Over 300 km (186 mi) long, it runs through the western edge of the park above the Athi River.
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: Tsavo East
The largest park in Kenya, Tsavo covers an area of 11,747 sq km (4535 sq mi). It is also one of the oldest parks, founded in 1948.
Location: The park lies between the capital of Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa. Fairly close to the Kenya coast, it’s an easy safari from either city.
Climate: This is a hot and dry environment – expect temperatures of 31°C/88°F during the day and 20°C/68°F at night. The rainy seasons are in April and November.
Best time to visit: The park is open throughout the year, but the best viewing season is during the dry months from June to October and January/February when the animals congregate at the rivers and watering holes.
Operating hours: 6 am to 6 pm. Hiking is only allowed in the presence of a Kenya Wildlife Service ranger.
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.
By air: The park offers a number of nearby airstrips.
By rail – Hop aboard the Madaraka Express, Kenya’s newest luxury train. We can make all the arrangements.
This is Tsavo East
This large, wild, park is fairly untouristed – you’ll almost have all the wildlife to yourself. Let the crowds go to the other parks. You can say you’ve been to Tsavo!
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