Nestled in Kenya’s heart, Tsavo East and West National Parks combine to form one of Africa’s largest wildernesses. Covering over 20,000 square kilometres, these twin sanctuaries promise an unadulterated safari experience.
Tsavo East, known for its vast savannahs and the iconic red elephants, captivates with its raw beauty. Nearby, Tsavo West wows with its rugged terrains, the shimmering Mzima Springs, and the majestic Chyulu Hills. Both parks play host to the Big Five and are alive with the melodies of over 500 bird species.
Here, the sun sets in hues of orange and gold against the silhouette of the ancient volcanic cones, offering honeymooners a dreamy, untouched slice of African wilderness.
In Tsavo East & West, the culinary scene is deeply rooted in traditional Kenyan flavours, albeit with a touch of international influence. Visitors can expect to savour dishes like “nyama choma” (grilled meat), often served with “ugali” (a maize meal staple) and “sukuma wiki” (collard greens sautéed with spices).
Bush breakfasts, set amidst the wild, offer a delightful combination of local fruits, fresh pastries, and Kenyan tea or coffee. Many lodges and camps also curate a fusion of continental and African cuisines, presenting dishes like coconut fish curry or spiced lentil stew.
With the backdrop of the vast wilderness, dining in Tsavo is as much about the ambiance as it is about the delectable flavours.
The best time to visit Tsavo East & West is during the dry seasons: January to February and June to September. These months offer optimal wildlife viewing opportunities. As water sources diminish, animals converge around the remaining waterholes, making them easier to spot.
The vegetation is less dense, further improving visibility. Roads and tracks are also more navigable, ensuring smoother game drives. Moreover, the risk of malaria is lower during the drier months.
While the parks are open year-round, the short rains in November and the long rains between March and May can make some routes impassable. Although the green season does paint the landscape in lush hues and welcomes migratory birds, it’s advisable for first-time visitors aiming for prime game viewing to target the drier periods.
Tsavo is famed for its unique “red” elephants. But they aren’t inherently red; they bathe in the park’s red dust and mud, which acts as sunscreen and insect repellent. Observing these magnificent creatures lumbering through the terracotta landscape, with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, is an iconic African image.
This oasis in Tsavo West produces millions of litres of fresh water daily. The springs are a lifeline for wildlife, especially during dry spells. The underwater observation chamber provides a unique perspective, offering visitors a chance to watch hippos and crocodiles in their natural habitat.
Tsavo’s sheer size, making up 4% of Kenya, offers an uncrowded safari experience. Its vastness ensures that every game drive is a unique experience, with the wild, untouched landscapes giving a sense of the authentic Africa.
The Shetani Lava Field, meaning “devil” in Swahili, offers an eerie, moon-like landscape. The cooled lava flows and caves from ancient volcanic activity are fascinating for geology enthusiasts and provide a stark contrast to the typical savannah scenes.
From the Yatta Plateau, one of the world’s longest lava flows, to the palm-fringed Galana River and the verdant Chyulu Hills, the parks’ terrains are varied and breathtaking. This diverse habitat ensures a wide variety of animal and bird species.
Tsavo has a rich colonial history, particularly the tale of the ‘Man-Eaters of Tsavo,’ two lions that notoriously preyed on railway workers in the 1890s. The story has inspired books and films and adds an intriguing dimension to the park’s allure.
With over 500 recorded bird species, from ostriches to hornbills, Tsavo is a birdwatcher’s haven. The varying habitats, from riverine to grassland, attract a broad spectrum of avian life.
Tsavo is home to pioneering conservation projects, especially concerning elephants and rhinos. Several lodges and camps within the parks actively participate in and support these initiatives, allowing visitors to learn about and contribute to conservation efforts.
Beyond game drives, Tsavo offers bush walks with experienced Maasai guides, giving an up-close and personal experience of the wilderness. There’s also the chance to camp under the stars, surrounded by the nocturnal sounds of the African bush.
Visits to neighbouring Maasai villages offer an insight into the traditional way of life of this iconic tribe. From dances to crafts, these interactions provide a holistic view of the region, complementing the wildlife aspect of the trip.