highlights and main attractions of meru national park

Arguably Kenya at its most untamed and further removed from some of the more mainstream areas, Meru National Park was established in 1968 and is referred to as a ‘remote and rugged wilderness’. The area is famed for its connection to the orphaned lioness Elsa, who was hand-reared here by George and Joy Adamson, who subsequently wrote the popular non-fictional book Born Free.  Despite being subject to some poaching during the 1970s and 80s, it is now popular once more.

Meru is still one of the most invitingly uncrowded and unspoiled parts of the country to view wildlife.

where is meru national park?

habitat and wildlife

Covering an area of 1810 square kilometres starting northeast of Mount Kenya’s foothills and spreading eastward, the park is located 370 kilometres northeast of Nairobi and straddles the equator. The striking scenery of the park includes Commiphora and Acacia bushland, vast open plains, swampland, doum palms and belts of tropical riverine forest. The 13 rivers and network of mountain springs that feed into the Tana River are the lifeblood of the park and a terrific water source for the animals that roam its plains.

wildlife

Although the area is not one for ticking off the ‘Big Five’ game they are all found here, but it requires a little more patience and a keen eye to locate them in the grassier and bushland areas (which our expert guides will assist with). The general consensus is that big cat sightings are improving each year, including Meru’s ‘bush’ lions; leaner, scarred and lacking the bushy mane of the lions found in the Mara, with more Mohican-style tufts instead. Cheetah sightings can be good here too in spite of the mix of habitats, although leopards are rarely spotted. Other animals in the park include elephant, Grevy's and plains zebra, oryx, giraffe, hippo, herds of buffalo, lesser kudu, hartebeest and Grant's gazelle. The healthy population of both black and white rhino is protected in an extensively fenced area, due to the threat of poaching which is taken very seriously here. 

The birdlife in the park is also impressive with approximately 300 species, including Somali ostrich, palm-nut vulture, vulturine guinea fowl, the red-necked falcon and Pel's fishing owl.

On safari here you feel like a true explorer, navigating dirt roads through the wilderness. Our chosen lodges in this area will organise some exhilarating day and night game drives, guided bush walks and Boran tribal community visits. The classic tented Offbeat Meru Camp is situated on the edge of Meru’s reserve, whilst Elsa’s Kopje Lodge is located opposite George Adamson’s original campsite and offers more luxurious cottages.  

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