Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometers. Situated in a semi-arid area previously known as the Taru Desert, it opened in April 1948, and is located near the town of Voi in the Taita-Taveta County of the former Coast Province. Named for the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park, it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park, and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania. Inside Tsavo East National Park, the Athi and Tsavo rivers converge to form the Galana River. Most of the park consists of semi-arid grasslands and savanna.
It is considered one of the world’s biodiversity strongholds, and its popularity is mostly due to the vast amounts of diverse wildlife that can be seen, including the famous ‘big five’ consisting of lion, black rhino, Cape buffalo, elephant and leopard. The park is also home to a great variety of bird life such as the black kite, crowned crane, lovebird and the sacred ibis. Tsavo East National Park is generally flat, with dry plains across which the Galana River flows. Other features include the Yatta Plateau and Lugard Falls.
BEST TIMES TO VISIT
A trip to Tsavo East is best planned in June to October and January to February, when conditions in the park are favorable for wildlife watching. During the peak of the short rains (November) and the long rains (April and May) conditions can be more challenging. The vegetation at these times is denser and animals spread out, which makes spotting them more difficult.
There are many luxury lodges which include;
- Voyager Ziwani safari camp
- Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge
- Lions Bluff Lodge
- Severin Safari Camp
- Hunters Lodge
- Man-Eaters Camp
- Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge
- Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge and others.
There are many mid- range lodge at Tsavo east national park and they include:
- Severin Safari Lodge
- Ashnil Aruba, Voi Safari Lodge
- Ngutuni Lodge mention but a few.
Lodges under Budget are;
- Fich Hattons camp
- Severin Kitani Bandas
- Lake Jipe Safari Camp
- Galdessa Camp
- Osteria Swara Camp
- Galana Crocodile Camp and many more in Tsavo East National park.
Things to do
It’s composed of a number of tourist activities that seem to attract tourists whenever they visit the park.
- GAME DRIVES OR GAME VIEWING.
These are designed to take you close to wildlife and it’s an opportunity given to view wildlife in its natural inhabitants as they go in their daily activities. It’s done in three shifts Morning game drives, Evening game drives and Full time game drives. Although Morning is the most rewarding because of its activeness in nature and it’s when the big cats are busy to start the day with a hunt. Evening game drive is done to catch up with the shy and nocturnal animals who by that time come from their hide places they both take 2- 4 hours. Full day game drive is more rewarding because it combines both the morning and evening game drives. Drive once no returning back to the lodge for lunch instead you enjoy parked lunch. The park is gifted by nature with good population of wildlife. During the game drives you will have an opportunity to encounter the wildlife population like Rhinos, Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffes, Zebras, African hunting/wild dogs, Crocodiles, Lesser Kudu, Cheetahs, Hippos, Wildebeests, Gazelles, Oryx, Eland, Leopards and many more.
- BIRD WATCHING.
Birdlife in Tsavo East National Park are the various bird species recorded in Tsavo East National Park that travelers can encounter while on a birding safari in the park. Tsavo East National Park is one of the best birding safari destination in Kenya and the entire East African region. Tsavo East National Park is one of the prime Kenya national parks that travelers can visit all year through to enjoy various tourist activities among them bird watching. Tsavo East National Park is predominantly of simple thick thickets and savannah grassland which support the life of various bird species. There are over 500 bird species recorded to inhabit Tsavo East National Park, including the dry savannah specials as well as water birds. Birdlife in Tsavo East National Park include the Somali bee-eater, Somali Ostrich, Taita falcon, Vulturine guineafowl, Slender-tailed nightjar, Rufous chatterer, Red-bellied parrot, Northern brownbul, Pamngani longclaw, Martial eagle, Lesser kestrel, African Finfoot, Fisher’s starling, Black-faced sandgrouse, Golden pipit, Golden-breasted Starling, among so many other bird species recorded in the park.
- NATURE WALKS OR HIKING.
The guided nature walks are done under the guide of the park ranger who is armed to protect the guests from any danger at the park. There are specific places at the park where the walking safaris are done like Mudanda rocks, Lugard falls, Aruba dam, Yatta plateau, Crocodile point among others. This doesn’t only bring you close to the animals but also makes you experience the special wilderness of the park. The park is explored on foot which is a great experience that you won’t forget.
- BALLON SAFARIS OR HOT AIR BALLON.
This is a delightful experience, drifting slowly and silently over the vast African plains. As the sun breaks over the horizon, spread beneath you is a panorama of Africa, vast herds of animals oblivious to your presence above. The Balloon leaves just before sunrise when the breeze on the plains is still cold. Once airborne, the balloons are blown by the prevailing winds across the broad landscape. Apart from the hiss of the burners, the flight above the Maasai Mara plains is magically silent. The pilot controls the height of the craft by regulating the flow of hot air into the balloon. Sometimes the balloon will descend over the plains for a close up view of the wildlife; on other occasions, it rises to clear a tree canopy and rise over the riverine forest.
- VISITING LOCAL VILLAGES.
Kenya is one of the best destinations with regard to Cultural tours. Most of the national parks are bordered by the local Maasai people who have unique cultures which has never been diluted with the current modernization. Cultural tours in Tsavo are some of the activities and experience guests can enjoy. Visit the locals in their home settlement patterns which are gazetted and well fenced with local materials like thorns. They have dance, plays, songs and many more cultural experience.