Tsavo Buffalo Camp and Tsavo River Hill Camp Tsavo National Park
Tsavo Buffalo Camp and the Tsavo River Hill are two tented safari camps situated on the edge of the Tsavo East National Park, which measures 22,000 sq.km. Both Tsavo Buffalo Camp and the Tsavo River Hill face directly onto the banks of the River Galana and offer guests the opportunity of a safari holiday which reflects the pace of life on the Savanna, an existence in close contact with the wild animals. Tsavo Buffalo Camp is situated at the entrance of Tsavo East National Park, facing directly onto the banks of the River Galana. On a typical Green-Safari day, the wake-up call is at dawn; then breakfast and immediate departure for the first safari to watch the big cats on their hunt. After a morning Tsavo safari holiday lunch is waiting at the camp, after which you can go on a walking safari in the Savannah accompanied by a Masai guide. Learn how to spot footprints and the tracks of wild animals, experience an emotional face-to-face encounter with crocodiles and hippos lying on the banks of the river, just a few meters from the bungalows. Enjoy an aperitif around the bonfire making time to chat about the thrills of the day with a delicious dinner under the starry sky to follow.
For those who wish to continue the adventure, a night-safari can be arranged. There are eleven bungalows, furnished in a simple, highly-functional style and most importantly using locally available materials. Each bungalow has a bed complete with mosquito net and a private bathroom. The bungalows, or Bandas in Swahili, are arranged around the bonfire area at the centre of the camp. The main lounge, restaurant and bonfire area are on the riverside making meal times and cocktails a great game viewing experience. The sight of dust-red elephant wallowing, rolling and spraying each other with the waters of the palm-shaded Galana River is one of the most evocative images of Africa. Tsavo Buffalo Camp is a member of Eco-Tourism Kenya. The camp uses solar energy and is always looking for more efficient renewable energy solutions.
Tsavo National Park
The Tsavo National Park was established on 1st April, 1948 and is located about 200km south east of Nairobi and is the closest large National Park to Mombasa and makes the ideal safari location if you are staying on the Mombasa coast anywhere around Mombasa, Bamburi beach or Malindi. Split in half by the Nairobi to Mombasa road, the Tsavo National park in Kenya has an area of 8035 square miles, which means that it covers an area larger than Wales and is much bigger than the more famous Masai Mara National Park. To the east of the main Nairobi-Mombasa road lies Tsavo East and on the western side... you guest it: Tsavo West. The two parks are very different and generally Tsavo West has a more varied topography and a more diverse array of habitats than Tsavo East. Tsavo West consists mainly of semi-arid plains, granite outcrops and ancient lava fields. The highest and most impressive is the Ngulia Mountain, which stands at almost 6000ft high. It is far more visited that Tsavo East, to which much is closed to the general public although there is still such a vast amount to see this should not put you off from visiting it. Tsavo East does not have the mountains and hills of Tsavo West and the park consists mostly of dry, flat thorn-bush scrub, which is occasionally broken by the green vegetation of the Galana river and other smaller seasonal rivers that run through the National Park. For most of the year Tsavo is dry and dusty and is where the term the Red Elephants of Tsavo comes from, but after the rains the National park is transformed almost over night, with new grasses, and a fantastic array of wild flowers, like the pink and white convolvulus (morning glory's).
Man Eaters of Tsavo
Written by Colonel JH Patterson, it is a true story and tells of when he was in charge of building a bridge for the Uganda Railway over the Tsavo River in 1898. During the night some of his workers were continually being dragged from their tents and then killed by to large male lions. After some time the workers started to believe that because the lions were so fearless, it was actually the Devil in the shape of a lion that was doing this.
In December 1898, after the death toll had risen to 28 Indian workers and a large number of locals, work on the bridge was brought to a halt, until the lions had been shot. After many nights of waiting, Colonel Patterson did eventually kill the lions, which are now on display in the Chicago Natural History Museum in the USA.
The Red Elephants of Tsavo
You will often hear the elephants in Tsavo being referred to as "Red Elephants" and whist they do sometimes appear to be red, the colour of their skin is no different than that of other elephants, it is just down to the red soil that much of Tsavo is covered in and which the elephants use to cover themselves with, during their dust baths. At one time there were around 50000 elephants in Tsavo, which were having a detrimental effect on the vegetation and there was talk of culling to decrease their numbers, but before this was put in place, there was a severe drought during the late 1960's and early 70's, during which time the vast numbers of elephants ate pretty much all the edible vegetation and eventually nature took it's course many starved to death, along with many other animals including black rhino. The drought, along with a serious poaching problem, mean that today there are between five and six thousand elephants, but their vastly reduced numbers mean that the vegetation is recovering and in some places is even thicker than before. This along with good conservation means that the elephant and other animal populations are increasing as well.
Tsavo East National Park in Kenya
Located about 200km south east of Nairobi, on the main Nairobi to Mombasa road, Tsavo East is dominated my the 300km long Yatta Plateau, which is the worlds longest lava flow. Tsavo East is part of the Greater Tsavo National Park that includes Tsavo East and West National Parks and the Chyulu Hills and consists mostly of miles and miles of dry flat thorn-bush, semi-arid acacia scrub and narrow woodland dominated by acacia. The wonderful Baobab trees are also a common sight in the Park. Whilst Tsavo East is huge (over 4500sq miles), most of the park north of the Galana river is closed to the general public with only a few private safari operations permitted to enter. This should not deter you from visiting as the area you are permitted to explore is still massive and has a very good network of well signposted roads. Tsavo East does not have the Mountains and hills of Tsavo West, it does have it's own beauty and because it is less visited, you do get more of the feeling and indeed you are in completely wild Africa.
With all the lush vegetation along the Voi River and in the Kandara swamp, there is plenty of game to see in this area and is a good area to visit within Tsavo East. Look out for the fantastic Voi safari lodge that sits up on a hill and makes a great place to stay if you are visiting Tsavo East National Park.
The Sheldrick's Orphaned Elephants
Between 1955 and 1976 Daphne & David Sheldrick were co-wardens of Tsavo (David was the founder Warden of Tsavo East National Park) and it was during this time that they rehabilitated back into the wild not only elephants, but also a whole host of other animals that had for one reason or another needed help. These other animals included black rhinos, buffalo, zebras, elands, kudus, impalas, duikers, reedbuck, dikdiks, warthogs, civets, mongoose and birds. For her work in this field, including being the first person to successfully hand rear a newborn fully milk dependent African Elephant orphans, Daphne Sheldrick was decorated by the Queen in 1989 with an MBE. Today their conservation work continues within the reserve. For more information: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
Just north of Voi, you can find what is sometimes referred to as the miniature of Ayers rock in Australia. Almost 2 kilometers long it juts out of the surrounding landscape. On the western side of Mudanda rock there is some parking and a pathway which you can take to climb it, from the top there are some excellent views across the park from which you can sometimes see elephant as well as other game that gather at the natural small dam / water hole below the rock, especially during the dry season.
The Tsavo and Athi rivers join together to form the Galana river, a permanent river which flows eastwards to the Indian Ocean and Malindi. Follow the road within the park that goes from the Voi gate to Sala gate and follows the Galana river as it must be one of the best drives within the park. Along the way you will also come across the Lugards falls and the Crocodile point.
Lugards Falls & Crocodile Point
Named after Britain's first proconsul in East Africa, Captain Lugard, the fallls are located about 60km north of Voi on the Galana River. The falls, which are actually a series of rapids, are at their most impressive just after the rains. There is a parking area at the falls and you can either climb around the eroded rocks or walk down the river to view the rapids. Below the falls about a kilometer further downstream is Crocodile point where you can often find some pretty large crocs as well as plenty of other wildlife including buffalo, hippo and the highly endangered Hunter's Hartebeest. This is also a great area for within the park for birding as well.
How to Get to Tsavo East
From Nairobi Take the main Nairobi to Mombasa road (A109) via Voi through the Voi gate or Manyani gate. Distance about 200km
From Mombasa Take the main Nairobi to Mombasa road (A109) and enter through the Bachuma gate. Distance is about 150km
From Malindi Go to the Sala gate on the (C103) from Malindi, this road was recently graded and is the shortest way from North Coast. There are six airstrips in the southern part of the park and thirteen in the Northern part. There are no scheduled flights to the Park but chartered light planes can be used.
Accommodation at Tsavo East National Park
There is a good variety of accommodation at Tsavo East; this includes luxury lodges, tented camps as well as public campsites
Camping safari in Tsavo National Park
Public Campsites There is only one public campsite, which is the Ndololo campsite and is located about 7km from Voi gate, facilities include water and toilets only and you should bring your own camping equipment. In case of emergency, you can camp near the main gates of the park or any other K.W.S. post; there will be no facilities however. Another alternative for cheap accommodation is to go to Voi town.
Tsavo Safari Lodges
Galdessa Camp Tsavo Galdessa Camp is located on the southern bank of the Galana River in Tsavo East. The Galdessa lodge has 14 semi-tented bungalows, all with ensuite bathroom (safari style bucket showers) and private veranda. There is a dining area and a lounge. Three of the bungalows are positioned away from the others, have private facilities and can be booked exclusively. The Galdessa safari Camp offers game drives and bush walks.
Satao Camp Tsavo Satao Camp is located near a waterhole that attracts many animals. There are 20 luxury tents in Satao safari Camp and a nice touch that not many other lodges in Kenya offer is that Satao Camp has been built to allow access for visitors in wheelchairs, and also has game drive vehicles adapted for wheelchairs.
Satao Camp Tsavo Patterson's Camp is a tented camp located by a river outside the western section of Tsavo East National Park. Patterson's Camp has 20 standard safari tents with ensuite bathrooms, restaurant, bar, and gift shop.
Voi Wildlife Lodge Tsavo Voi Wildlife Lodge is a large lodge that can accommodate up to 300 guests situated just outside Voi (close to Tsavo East). It has 72 rooms plus tents. There is a restaurant, two bars, spa, health club, conference facilities, badminton, volleyball, and children's playground.
Voi Safari Lodge Tsavo As the name suggest this lodge situated just outside Voi (close to Tsavo East). It is built on a hill and offers great views. It has 52 rooms, restaurant, bar, swimming pool, conference facilities, and waterholes.
Crocodile Camp Tsavo Crocodile Camp Tsavo is Located on the banks of the Galana River in the western section of Tsavo East. There are both tents and bungalows with ensuite bathrooms. The lodge has restaurant, bar, and swimming pool.
Taita Hill Lodge and Salt Lick Lodge Situated between Tsavo East and west National Parks
Ngutuni Lodge Tsavo located on it's own sanctuary next to Tsavo East. The lodge has 48 rooms, restaurant (dress code for dinner), bar, gift shop, and a floodlit waterhole. The activities offered include day and night game drives.
Epiya Chapeyu Camp The most remote of all the camps and lodges in the park, Epiya Chapeyu Tented Camp is located near the Galana River in Tsavo East. The camp has 15 tents, all with ensuite bathroom and veranda facing the river. It has riverfront dining deck, and game viewing platforms with bar service. An airstrip is 5 km/3 mi from camp.
Tsavo East Entrance Fees
A smartcard is needed to enter Tsavo, these can be obtained and loaded at Voi gate and then used at a number of National Parks throughout Kenya including Nairobi, Lake Nakuru, Aberdare, Amboseli, Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks.
Tsavo West National Park in Kenya
Tsavo West was established in 1948 and forms part of the Greater Tsavo National Park that includes Tsavo East and West National Parks and the Chyulu Hills. It is situated about 240km south east of Nairobi and about 200km north of Mombasa on the main Nairobi to Mombasa road. Tsavo West stretches from Mtito Andei, along the Mombasa-Nairobi road and south to the Tanzanian border and consists of mostly semi-arid plains that are broken up with granite rock outcrops (kopjies) and lava fields, but also includes open plains, savannah bush, acacia woodlands, belts of riverine vegetation, palm thickets and on the Chyulu hills, mountain forest. Tsavo West shares it's North Eastern boundary along the Highway with Tsavo East National Park.
One of the main attractions in Tsavo West is the Mzima Springs, located 48km from the Mtito Andei Gate and close to both Kilaguni Lodge and Kitani Bandas. The two large pools, connected by a rush of rapids are replenished with two hundred and twenty million liters of crystal-clear water every day, from the underground streams stemming from the lava the Chyulu Hills, 40-50 kilometers away. This fresh water at Mzima forms a haven to a huge variety of wildlife including hippoa and crocodiles, but is aslo an important source of drinking water for many animals including elephants, lion, gazelles, zebra and giraffe. The upper (or long) pool is the favoured hippo wallow, while the crocodiles have retreated to the broader expanse of water lower down. There is a car park at Mzima and you are permitted to walk down to the water following a path, from here you may be rewarded with a sighting of animals coming down to the waters edge to drink as well as that of Hippos in the water. It is also worth walking around this lower pool where, if you're stealthy, you have a good chance of seeing crocodiles, just make sure there's not one on the bank behind you! A must is to look for Hippo underwater through the windows of the observation tank that has been sunk into the river, even if your luck is not in, you are sure to spot a few fish species including barbel. A tip is to arrive early in order to avoid the tour-bus feel that may disturb some o the animals. There are also two nature trails at Mzima, which are great for spotting birds.
Just west of the springs is the Chaimu Crater, this volcanic crater is less than 200 years old and composed maily from black coke. It is well worth the visit and you can climbed by foot. Animals to look out for in this area include klipspringer and the lesser Kudu antelope.
Lake Jipe is located in the southwestern corner of Tsavo West is Lake Jipe. 10km long and 3km wide it has huge reed beds and although there is game present, it is the rich bird life that is most impressive here. Pied Kingfishers, palmnut vultures, black herons and African skimmers, Purlpe Gallinule, Black Herons, the Pygmy Goose and the Lesser Jacana are all found in this area around the lake. Above the lake, the Tanzanian Pare Mountains form an impressive backdrop, especially if you are there to see it at sunset.
How to Get to Tsavo West
From Nairobi The main gate to Tsavo West and the best gate to take if you are traveling from both Nairobi (240km) is the Mtito Andei Gate. This is the main gate into Tsavo West and is 249 kms north of Mombasa.
From Mombasa Use the Tsavo Gate near Manyani on the main Nairobi-Mombasa road (A109) Chyulu Gate is best if you are travelling from Amboseli. Tpark can also be reached via Taveta-Voi road through Maktau, Ziwani and Jipe gates. There are no scheduled flights to Tsavo West but chartered light planes can be used and there are airstrips at Kamboyo, Kilaguni Lodge, Tsavo Gate, Jipe, Kasigau, Finch Hottons Camp, Ziwani and Maktau.
Accommodation at Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West has a good selection of accommodation including includes luxury lodges, tented camps as well as public campsites.
Camping safari in Tsavo West National Park
There are 3 public campsites with water and toilet facilities only these include the Kamboyo Campsite (8 kms from Mtito Andei gate), Chyulu Campsite (1 km from Chyulu gate) and Lake Jipe Campsite (on the lakeshore). There are also a wide selection of "special" (private) campsites are available in the park that ones at Royal Little and Chyulu Gate.
Tsavo West National Park Safari Lodges
Finch Hatton's Tented Camp Finch Hatton's Tented Camp is located in the western section of Tsavo West, and is known for its quality and comfort, with a colonial feel to it. The lodge has 35 furnished tents, a restaurant, lounge and bar areas, library, gift shop, and swimming pool. The main safari activities offered are game drives and bush walks. Finch Hattons Camp is not fenced, and wildlife may be seen in and around camp.
Kilaguni Serena Lodge Kilaguni Serena Lodge was first lodge built in a Kenyan national park, it is constructed from volcanic stone. There are about 55 rooms Mt. Kilimanjaro as do the restaurant, bar and observation decks face. A waterhole outside the restaurant attracts elephants, buffalos, zebras and other animals.
Ngulia Lodge Ngulia Lodge is located on an escarpment near the rhino sanctuary in northern Tsavo West, Nguila Lodge was built in 1969 and has excellent views of the park. There are 52 rooms, all with ensuite bathroom and balcony. The lodge also has a restaurant, two bars, swimming pool, floodlit waterholes, gift shop, and conference facilities and offers game drives in the park.
Voyager Zawani Luxury Tented Camp Voyager Zawani Luxury Tented Camp is located on the banks of a river on a private 30,000-acre farm on the western edge of Tsavo, with a spectacular view of Mount Kilimanjaro; it offers easy access to the wild attractions of Tsavo West National Park. It has 25 tents with ensuite bathroom and private veranda facing the river. There is a restaurant, a lounge bar, a gift shop, and an airstrip. The Voyager Zawani Luxury Tented Camp offers day and night game drives, bush walks, and various outings in the surroundings.
Severin Safari Camp Severin Safari Camp is tented lodge not very far from Mzima Springs in northern section of Tsavo West. Severin safari camp has 22 tents with ensuite bathrooms and private verandas. The main lodge has restaurant, bar, lounge with wireless Internet, gift shop, spa, swimming pool, and views of Kilimanjaro and a floodlit waterhole. The main safari activities include game drives and bush walks.
Self Catering Accommodation
Lake Jipe Bandas Lake Jipe Bandas are located on the lakeshore and consist of three cottages or "bandas", each with 2 single beds with nets, water and outdoor cooking area and kerosine lamps. A detached building offers showers and toilets for all visitors.
Kitani Bandas the Kitani Safari Camp consists of 8 cottages, each with a double bedroom (2 single beds with bedding's and net), hot water, bathroom and WC plus an equipped kitchen and outdoor dining area. An outdoor BBQ restaurant and bar, generator and a s basic food and beverages shop, as well as access to meals (delivery too) from the nearby sister Kitani Safari Lodge round out this site.
Ngulia Self-service Bandas The Ngulia Safari Camp has 6 self-catering cottages or "bandas", each with a double bedroom (2 single beds with bedding and nets), bathroom and WC plus a fully equiped kitchen and outdoor dining area.
Kamboyo Guest House Kamboyo Guest House is located less than 10 kilometers from the park headquarters at the Mtito Andei gate. It consists of 3 double bedrooms, 1 single, 2 bathrooms and toilets. Bedding, nets and limited kitchen equipment is provided.
When to Visit Tsavo
Personally I don't think there is a best time to visit Tsavo; you will just see different things at different times of the year. Generally the weather in Tsavo is warm and dry with the temperatures ranging from 20-40 celcius, rainfall from 200-700mm per year.
Rainy Season: There are two rainy seasons. The long rains are generally from March through to May and the weather is hot and humid. The short rains arrive in the warm months of October to December. Dry Season: January to March is hot and dry and July to October is warm and dry