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.
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.