Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo National Parks- Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks  

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.

Tsavo National Park is one of the main tourist destinations and oldest national parks in Kenya located in the southeastern part of the country, and it is made up of Tsavo west national park and Tsavo east national park, which are separated by a railway line.  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, unhurried and in relative solitude.


Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya, located South East of Kenya near the Town of Voi in the Taita-Taveta District of Coast Province, inland from the Coast, it is  13,747 square kilometres. The slightly larger Tsavo East is generally flat, with dry plains across which the Galana River flows.

Tsavo West National Park is located in the Coast Province of Kenya covering an area of 9,065 sq.km and was opened in April 1948. Tsavo West National Park is more mountainous and wetter than it’s counterpart, with swamps, Lake Jipe and the Mzima Springs. It is known for bird life and for its large mammal’s e.g. black rhino, Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, hippo and Masai lion. There are also other smaller animals that can be spotted in the park, such as the bush baby, hartebeest, lesser kudu and Maasai giraffe.


Both Tsavo East and Tsavo West provide park guests with an opportunity to view a diverse collection of wildlife. Tsavo East National park is one of the world’s famous home of wildlife with a huge population of lions with about 675 individuals. Other animal species include elephants, leopards, cheetah, buffalos, black rhinos, gazelle, impala, aardwolf, Grevy’s and plain’s zebra, warthog, waterbucks, warthogs, civet, dik-dik, caracal, African wildcat, African hunting dog, red duiker and blue duiker, eland, African dormouse, stripped and spotted hyena. Primates include Skye’s monkey and yellow baboon.


Tsavo East National park is a thriving and fascinating bird watching area and ranked among the most important birding area in Kenya, Tsavo East National park as a bird habitant hosts over 500 bird species recorded to live in the park, which peacefully thrive in various regions of the park. These include ostriches, kestrels, buzzards, starlings, weaverbirds, kingfisher, hornbills, secretary birds, herons among others. Among bird, species recorded in Tsavo East National park include a number of migrant species from Europe and North Africa, these birds are present in the park in the period of November to April and they can easily be spotted.


Other features in Tsavo East National park include the Yatta Plateau a 300km ancient lava flow that stretches along the east and north bank of the Athi-Galana. Its geomagnetic qualities are believed to play a role in guiding migratory birds and large numbers of Palearctic migrants can be seen in the area, and Lugard Falls a series of short falls and steep rapids on the Galana River, where relatively harder rock has created a bottleneck in the valley and impedes the river’s progress. Crocodile Point, where the big reptiles can often be seen basking in the sun, is just downstream from here.


Tsavo west national park is a remarkable national park and a resident to a reasonable population of wildlife species, the park is famous for the man-eaters and large size elephants. Tsavo West national park is the only place to spot red elephants and a few remaining individuals of hirola antelopes.

Tsavo West national park is a bird haven for birds and one of the recognized important birding Areas in Kenya, the park is a habitat to over 600 record bird species with migrant and resident birds, which live in the series of vegetation species of the park. The Migratory bird species in Tsavo West national park are available in the period of November to April.

What to do in Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo national park is a great tourist destination offering a range of adventurous and memorable safari activities, these safari activities include


Game Viewing

Game viewing is one of the adventurous safari activity offered in Tsavo National Parks, the park is a thriving home for a range of wildlife species and it is dominated by short savannah grasslands, which makes it easy to spot animals. Game viewing is offered in different sessions depending on the time of the day that is morning game viewing, evening game viewing and full day game viewing. This safari is done following trails running through the park leading to various regions of the park. Animals to spot in Tsavo East National Park include elephants, buffaloes, lions, elephants, impala, spotted hyenas, giraffes and many more from the widow of your vehicle.


The best sites to spot animals in Tsavo west national park is the savannah grasslands of the park, Lake Jipe for water animals and Mzima springs for sights of crocodiles and hippos. Other animals include zebra, hyenas, lesser kudu, klipspringers, gerenuk, mongoose, nocturnal porcupine, fringe-eared Oryx, giraffe etc.


Bird Watching

Tsavo national park is an excellent bird watching site as it is a habitat to a huge population of bird species with over 600 bird species. Bird watching experience is a chance for spotting many species such as thrush nightingale, Taita falcon, Taita fiscal, Somali bunting, Somali Ostrich, Somali bee-eater, Rufous chatterer, river warbler, Shelley’s starling, slender-tailed nightjar, and red-billed parrot.

Bird watching experiences are more amazing in the period of November – April and in this period migratory bird species are present in the plains of Tsavo East National park for the most thrilling experience, it is best to carry equipment’s like binocular, a camera and many more.


Bird watching in Tsavo west national park is great throughout the year and resident bird species are easy to spot, for tourists interested in migratory bird species they are easily spotted in the period of November to April and the peak months are October and November.


Hot Air Balloon Safaris

Hot air balloon safaris is a trilling safari activity offering tourists a tour of Tsavo East national park from a hot air balloon sailing up in the sky, this safari offers an eye view of the park’s animals and scenic views. From the sky you will get sights of animals like elephants, leopards, cheetah, buffalos, black rhinos, gazelle, impala, aardwolf, Grevy’s and plain’s zebra, warthog, waterbucks, warthogs, civet, dik-dik, caracal, African wildcat, African hunting dog, duikers and many more.


Nature Walks

Tsavo west national park is a scenic national park with beautiful landscape and physical features such as the Shetani lava flow, nature walks in the park is best experience to enjoy the park and it is done on foot with guidance of a safari guide. On your walk enjoy sights of many animals and visiting Shetani lava flow will make the experience more memorable and worth participating in.


Volcano Hiking

Tsavo west national park is a perfect destination for volcano hiking experience; the park consists of Chaimu volcano with a crater lake on its summit, which is reached during hiking. Hiking Chaimu crater takes approximately 15 minutes under the guidance of a tour guide.

WhEN TO VISIT Tsavo West National Park

Best Time to visit Tsavo National Park is that time of the year when a traveller finds it very convenient to visit the park and explore the wildlife attractions. Tsavo national park can be visited any time of the year though the variations in weather make it one of the key factors to consider when choosing the best time to visit.  Tsavo national park is nestled along the famous Taru desert hence making the park to be dominated by the semi-arid climatic conditions. The park weather is Hot and wet throughout the year. This gives the great opportunity to be visited any time of the year.


The dry season at the park remains best time to visit Tsavo National park. The park receives longer dry spell that ranges from June to October and later from December to February. You can choose to visit the park any time of the dry months. During the dry months, the grass is short and dry hence making it easy for game viewing. This is good especially for sighting the rare leopards and black Rhinos who are all shy for direct eye contact with humans. The open savannah grasslands dotted with Acacia trees are good for the best game viewing during dry season. All animals wake up early as they catch up with the dues before the sun hits up. During the hot hours of the day, animals are found near the river and other water catchment areas.

The other reason why dry months are considered as the best time to visit Tsavo National park is because the park is easily accessible. All the game viewing tracks are good and hard where all the vehicles can access close to the animals.


During the rainy months, the animals are compact in one area very healthy grazing the green grass. Water is in abundant hence animals do not move far areas around the park to look for water. The game drives are very brief but much rewarding always. It is easy to view all the African big five during the rainy season. Compared to the dry season when animals move for good distances in search for water and fresh grass. You will have longer game drives during the dry season but the good news is that the animals will be found in water catchment areas.


For bird lovers, the best time to visit Tsavo National park is during the rainy season when the birds are breeding. This is also the time the park receives some migratory birds across the world.

HOW TO GET To Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo East Park Access

By road. The park has 3 gates, Mtito Andei gate is 233km south of Nairobi and 250km north of Mombasa on the main Nairobi-Mombasa highway. From Mombasa, there is a voi main gate 153km of Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

From Malindi take the western road (103) and enter in the park via Sala gate.

By Air. Tsavo East National Park has several Airstrips:

Vio, Aruba, Satao, Sala, Ithumba, Sangayaya, Mopeo, Bachuma and Cattar.


Tsavo West Park Access

By Road. The park can be reached via Taveta road through Maktau, Ziwani, and jipe.
Mtito Andei gate, which is 240km from Nairobi and 250km from Mombasa.
Visitors from Mombasa can also access the park through Tsavo gate near Manyani.

By Air. There few Airstrips: Tsavo gate, Ziwani, Finch Hattons, Kamboyo, Kilaguni, Jipe and Kasigau.