Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park covers an area of 9,065 square kilometres but the terrain is much more varied than that of Tsavo East. It ranges from 200-1000m in altitude. The northern sector is bushland with scattered native baobab trees.
The park is located about 200 km south-east of Nairobi. Separated only by the Mombasa/Nairobi road from Tsavo East, Tsavo West is part of the entire Tsavo eco-system.
The Mzima Springs, with its unique underwater hippo observatory, and for the Shaitani lava flows and Chaimu volcanic crater, the park also offers plenty of opportunities to explore on foot. In addition, the park has recorded over 600 species of birds. The park also holds an important rhino sanctuary and is famous for elephant.
The railway runs along the border separating Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park. In 1898, as many as 135 railway workers were attacked and killed by man-eating lions. The pair of male, maneless lions that, unusually, hunted humans rather than livestock, evaded traps and capture for many months. The man-eaters were eventually shot by Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, but the legend lives on.
Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary: At the base of Ngulia Hills, this 90-sq-km area is surrounded by a 1m-high electric fence and provides a measure of security for around 80 of the park’s highly endangered black rhinos. There are driving tracks and waterholes within the enclosed area, but the rhinos are mainly nocturnal and the chances of seeing one are slim – black rhinos, apart from being understandably shy and more active at night, are browsers, not grazers, and prefer to pass their time in thick undergrowth.
Mzima Springs: Mzima Springs is an oasis of green in the west of the park that produces an incredible 250 million litres of fresh water a day. The springs, whose source rises in the Chyulu Hills, provides the bulk of Mombasa’s fresh water. A walking trail leads along the shoreline. The drought in 2009 took a heavy toll on the springs’ hippo population; the population is stable at around 20 individuals. There are also crocodiles and a wide variety of birdlife.
Wildlife: Wildlife densities in Tsavo West aren’t that great, but everything is there. There are many elephants, and they are often covered in red dust, giving them an eerie appearance. The park is also known for its maneless lions and big herds of buffalo. Despite poaching in recent years, black rhinos have been on the comeback in Tsavo since the late ’80s when they were close to being locally extinct. The drive-through rhino sanctuary increases your chances of spotting one.
Getting there: Tsavo West is situated in the southeast of the country, 232km/144mi from Nairobi and 250km/155mi from Mombasa. Driving to the reserve from Nairobi, Mombasa or another park is a good option depending on your plans. The distance from Lake Nakuru NP is 460km/285mi and the driving time is about eight hours.
There are daily scheduled flights to Tsavo West from Nairobi, and there are several airstrips available for chartered flights
Where to stay: Guests who desire a balance between quality and cost, we recommend three deluxe accommodations at our Tier 2 rating – Severin Safari Camp, Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge and the private conservancy based Lions Bluff Lodge. Severin Safari Camp features twenty-seven octagonal guest tents and suites that are cooled by fresh breezes flowing through mesh windows and front opening. Each guest tent has a small private patio, en-suite bathroom, personal safe and housekeeping services.