Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometres. The park is situated in a semi-arid area previously known as the Taru Desert and it was established in April 1948. It is located near the town of Voi.
Tsavo East National Park is 333km south-east of Nairobi, and 173km north-west of Mombasa. Its relative closeness to the beaches and tourist attractions around Malindi and Mombasa make it an ideal one-day wildlife safari destination .The slightly larger Tsavo East is generally flat, with dry plains across which the Galana River flows. Other features include the Yatta Plateau and Lugard Falls.
The park can be accessed through several gates, the Voi gate near the town of Voi, through the Manyani gate, from Mombasa through the Bachuma gate or from Malindi through the Sala gate. There are also several airstrips in the park that allow chartered light planes. Inside the park, the Athi and Tsavo rivers converge to form the Galana river. Most of the park consists of a natural area of flat, dry plains, with thorny bushes and swampy marshland near the river. It is teeming with diverse Kenyan animals including large families of giraffes, gazelles, hartebeests and zebras, as well as the buffalo, African elephants, lions, rhinos and leopards.The park is also home to a great variety of bird life such as the black kite, crowned crane, kori bustard, sacred ibis among many others.
The Mudanda Rock is a 1.6 km inselberg of stratified rock that acts as a water catchment that supplies a natural dam below. It offers an excellent vantage point for the hundreds of elephants and other wildlife that come to drink during the dry season.
The Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow, runs along the western boundary of the park above the Athi river. Its 290 km length was formed by lava from Ol Doinyo Mountain.
Lugard Falls, named after Frederick Lugard, is a series of white water rapids on the Galana river.
Aruba Dam was built in 1952 across the Voi river. The reservoir created by the dam attracts many animals and water birds.
In 1898, long before Tsavo National Park was created, a pair of maneless male lions terrorized the area. They reputedly killed 135 railway workers who were building the Kenya-Uganda railway. These man-eating lions dragged men from their tents, despite the thorn fences (bomas) built to keep them out. The maneless lions evaded traps and ambushes and were finally shot by Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson.
Tsavo East National Park is just a few degrees latitude south. The temperature is fairly constant year round, but the rainfall varies. The tropical temperature ranges from 27-31°C in the daytime and 22-24°C at night.
The long rainy season in Kenya lasts from March to May and the rainfall is heavy, making this a bad time for wildlife safaris. The short rainy season lasts from October to December, but the weather during this period is still good enough to go on safari – just expect some afternoon showers. The humidity is high from December through April.
These are the most common Kenyan animals you may see during your visit to Tsavo East National Park: Cape buffalo, cheetahs, duikers, African elephants, gazelles, gerenuks, giraffes, hares, hartebeests, hyenas, impalas, leopards, lions, mongoose, black faced vervet monkeys, Sykes’s monkeys, crested porcupines, giant rats, black rhinoceros, squirrels, warthogs, waterbucks, and zebras.
Bird watching is best between October and January, with many migratory birds including: African skimmers, red and yellow bishops, goshawks, buffalo weavers and palm nut vultures, to name but a few. Over 500 bird species have been recorded in the park, including ostriches, kestrels, buzzards, starlings, weaverbirds, kingfishers, hornbills, secretary birds and herons.