Tsavo National Park Safaris
Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks combine to make Kenya’s biggest and oldest protected wildlife area. An abundance of wildlife including the Big Five reside across a variety of different habitats. A Tsavo safari holiday is a true adventure in the wild, where large herds of elephants and maneless lions live under the giant African sky alongside huge quantities of Kenya’s other wildlife.
A fantastic selection of safari camps and safari lodges in Tsavo provide the perfect start and end to an exciting day of game viewing. Plus, with the Kenyan coast just a short drive away Tsavo is an ideal place to combine a safari adventure with a beach holiday.
Tsavo East is one of Kenya’s oldest and largest parks. Semi-arid plains form the majority of the 13,747 km² national park and there is little vegetation for animals to hide behind, which makes spotting wildlife relatively easy. Tsavo East is one of Kenya’s Big 5 safari destinations and its sheer size promises a sense of adventure in the wild.
The majority of wildlife viewing in Tsavo East is south of the Galana river. The flat plains make game viewing easier than in other parks, and as a result it is common to find something that is worthy of turning your engine off and enjoying in peace.
The Yatta Plateau, Mudanda Rock and Lugard Falls are all common landmarks to visit during a visit to Tsavo East. The Yatta Plateau is an ancient lava formation along the banks of the Galana river, used by migrating birds to navigate and rest. The Mudanda Rock is a sandstone formation that catches and pools water, often visited by thirsty animals which means it’s a great place to encounter wildlife. The Lugards Falls are a series of small waterfalls and rapids that disrupt the flow of the Galana River, and further downstream is Crocodile Point where you can see these prehistoric predators bathing in the sun.
Tsavo West National Park is an undulating body of land comprising volcanic hills, swamps, wetlands and springs. This fertile land forms a rich habitat of thick vegetation, meaning that animals in Tsavo West can be harder to spot than in Tsavo East.
The Mzima Springs is a renowned landmark in Tsavo West. Water from the Chyulu Hills to the north flows down and fills the tree-lined springs, which are home to crocodiles, hippos and a variety of fish. There are some nice walking trails to explore and even an underwater viewing area.
The Shetani Lava flow is located just west of the park’s Chyulu Gate and extends for 50 kms across the savannah. There are beautiful views from this area and it’s also a great place to see predators on a luxury Tsavo safari.
Tsavo is renowned for its conservation and rehabilitation of elephants, and today there are over 12,000 individuals across both parks, with the population growing by around 5% each year. Sightings of red, dust covered elephants are common on tailor-made Tsavo safaris.
There are over 4,000 giraffe and almost 9,000 buffalo in Tsavo and sightings of both species are frequent, along with plentiful zebra and wildebeest. Lions are regularly spotted too, with over 650 living in the Amboseli-Tsavo eco-system. The lions of Tsavo are unique in that the male lions develop little or no mane. Black rhino are infrequently seen despite being known to be breeding in the park, and rarer antelope species such as the fringe-eared oryx, the lesser kudu, gerenuk and Hunter’s hartebeest are present but few in number.
Birding is excellent in Tsavo and probably best in Tsavo West, where 400 different species have been recorded. Migratory birds use the Ngulia Hills of Tsavo West as a rest stop between the months of November and April, whilst resident birds are abundant in the park. Common sightings include weavers, kingfishers, hornbills and various birds of prey.
There are a selection of Tsavo safari camps and lodges that are comfortable and well located. Speak with one of our team today to discuss visiting Tsavo and the best option for your accommodation.
Game viewing in Tsavo is best during the dry season between June and October, when thinner vegetation makes wildlife more visible. Animals in the park remain close to the river during this time so sightings are easy to predict. This is also a great time for Tsavo family safaris, to coincide with school holidays.
During the rainy season in April and May more surface water is readily available and many of the animals do not rely on the permanent bodies of water. As a result, the wildlife tends to disperse and can be harder to find.
During the construction of the Nairobi – Tsavo railway line in the 1890s a pair of lions began killing and eating railway workers, often dragging victims from their tents while they were sleeping. This story was immortalised in the book ‘The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo’ by Colonel John H. Patterson and the 1996 film ‘The Ghost in the Darkness’ starring Michael Douglas.
The estimated number of men killed by the lions ranges from 20 to 135 with modern scientific evidence suggesting the figure is likely to be in the mid-30s. The lions were eventually shot by Patterson and used as rugs before being sold to the Chicago Field Museum.
Fortunately, the lions of today don’t share the same taste for humans as that infamous duo. However, the brutal tale does add an extra element of excitement to lion sightings on bespoke safaris in Tsavo.
To discuss your Kenya safari holiday, Tsavo safari packages and tailor-made itineraries, speak to one of our Kenya experts today by contacting us here.
Take a look at our recommended Tsavo safari itineraries and hand-picked Tsavo lodges and camps for a bit of inspiration to get you started.