highlights and main attractions of Tsavo

Split into two parks covering the East and West, the combined area of Tsavo National Park represents one of Africa’s most vast tracts of wilderness and at a gargantuan 21,000 square kilometres is Kenya’s biggest national park. Such a large area is inevitably characterised by huge contrasts in its topography, with soaring volcanic hills, open savannah plains, rolling grasslands and shrub-land offering a vast and rugged area of exploration, but surprisingly this is not a place to come and search for the ‘Big Five’, nor savour the thrill of an active Kenyan safari.  It is somewhere you can enjoy seeing wildlife in its most pure and unhurried, and in relative solitude.

Sitting midway between Nairobi and Mombasa, the parks are dissected by the main road that connects both these central hubs. To the north of this road lies Tsavo East and to the south Tsavo West, and both have marked differences. 

The park in general has a rich history, as the setting for battles between Britain and Germany during the First World War and was indeed one of Kenya’s first established parks. 

where is tsavo national park?

east and west

Tsavo West covers 9,000 square kilometres, bearing the scars of volcanic activity, such as outcrops and lava flows, of which Shaitana, meaning ‘devil’ in Swahili is the most significant. Despite being the smaller of the two parks, it is visited more and is most famous for its Mzima Springs; a network of four unfeasibly clear natural springs that take the Chyulu Hills as their source. Providing much of Kenya’s water source, Mzima is also famous for underwater hippo observation as well as crocodiles and barbels. The Chaimu volcanic crater is another area of interest, particularly for birders who can witness eagles, buzzards and falcons, and it may be explored on foot through some excellent hiking trails. Wildlife you might encounter in Tsavo West includes elephants, buffalo, lion, rhino, cheetah, leopard, giraffe and zebra and the scenery has instant appeal, with a mountainous backdrop and picturesque Lake Jipe on its Tanzanian edge.


As the much quieter of the two parks, Tsavo East is where whole herd of elephant roam the wilderness plains with no other sight or vehicle around. Geographically one to consider for those looking to combine a safari with a stay on Kenya’s east coast, the landscape is flat with dry plains, cut by the Galana River. The Yatta Plateau is one lofty exception, and at 100 feet high it is the world’s longest lava flow. Lugard’s Falls is another highlight, whose waters run like a series of rapids along the Galana. 

Amongst the wildlife found in Tsavo East are black rhino, elephant, lion, leopard, giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, vervet monkey and mongoose.

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