Attractions in Tsavo National Park (East and West).
Tsavo East National Park together with her sister park Tsavo West is among the oldest and the biggest National Park in Kenya having been established in the year 1948. It is indeed very popular with guests staying in Kenya’s coast and prefer to experience the wild side of a Kenya Holiday. Here are five attractions in Tsavo you should visit while on a Tsavo West or East Safari.
Shetani Lava Flow
About 4km west of the Chyulu gate of Tsavo West National Park, on the road to Amboseli, are the spectacular Shetani lava flows. ‘Shetani’ means ‘devil’ in Kiswahili: the flows were formed only a few hundred years ago and local peoples believed that it was the devil himself emerging from the earth. This vast expanse of folded black lava spreads for 50 sq km across the savannah near the Chyulu Hills, looking strangely as if Vesuvius dropped its comfort blanket here.
The last major eruption here is believed to have taken place around 200 years ago, but there are still few plants among the cinders. It’s possible to follow the lava flows back from the Amboseli–Tsavo West road to the ruined cinder cone of Shetani. The views are spectacular, but you need to be wary of wildlife in this area, as there are predators about.
Nearby are the Shetani Caves, which are also a result of volcanic activity. You’ll need a torch (flashlight) if you want to explore, but watch your footing on the razor-sharp rocks and keep an eye out for the local fauna – we’ve heard rumors that the caves are sometimes inhabited by hyenas, who don’t take kindly to being disturbed. Some of the Tsavo West lodges charge US$50 per person for guided excursions out here.
One of Kenya’s least-visited parks, Chyulu Hills National Park is a line of pretty green hills that rise above the arid plains between Amboseli and Tsavo West. Chyulu Hills form a line of pretty green hills of extinct Volcanoes that rise above the arid plains between Amboseli and Tsavo West.
Chaimu crater, or “the devil’s crater” in Kamba tribe language, is a tall rising hill clad in the bright black color of the lava stones.
You will be surprised by how suddenly the road turns from Red to Black as you approach this attraction. If you have more time you can plan to climb it as there is a path that leads to the top. You should, however, be careful as the hill is made up of loose volcanic soil and also may be home to some poisonous snakes.
Mzima Springs is an oasis of green in the west of the park that produces an incredible 250 million liters of freshwater a day. The springs, whose source rises in the Chyulu Hills, provides the bulk of Mombasa’s freshwater. 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.
There’s an underwater viewing chamber, which gives a creepy view of thousands of primeval-looking fish. Be careful here though, as neither hippos nor crocs are always confined to the water. Impressive it may all be, but it’s not quite up to the hyperbole of the inscription at the entrance to the site and which claims Mzima Springs to be ‘undoubtedly the greatest attraction in Tsavo West National Park, if not the whole country
Towering over a natural dam near the Manyani gate, this towering natural formation runs for over 1.5km. It attracts elephants in the dry season and is reminiscent of Australia’s Uluru (Ayers Rock), albeit on a much smaller scale. Leopards and elephants are among the wildlife to watch out for here.
The Mudanda Rock, in Tsavo East National Reserve in Kenya, is an ancient rock. The rocky base is composed of weathered Precambrian basement rocks, aged 570-4,550 million years old.
This massive, whale-backed looking rock is 1.5 kilometres long.
The Waliangulu and the Akamba tribes of Kenya used Mudanda Rock for drying strips of meat – mostly elephant meat. They would lay the strips on the smooth surface of the rock.
Running through the heart of the park and marking the northernmost point in the park that most visitors are allowed to visit, the Galana River, which combines the waters of the Tsavo and Athi Rivers, cuts a green gash across the dusty plains. Surprisingly few visitors make it even this far and sightings of crocs, hippos, lesser kudus, waterbucks, dik-diks and, to a lesser extent, lions and leopards are relatively common. Watch out also for the distinctive Somali ostrich.
There are several places along the flat-topped escarpments lining the river where you can get out of your vehicle (with due caution, of course).
Lugard Falls and Crocodile Point
The wonderful landscape of water-sculpted channels and striated rocks, and Crocodile Point, where you may see abundant crocs and hippos.
The trail that runs from the falls back to Voi follows a river and is good for wildlife-spotting, but the track is often impassable after rain.
The area north of the Galana River is dominated by the Yatta Plateau, a vast prehistoric lava flow which is estimated by some to be the longest lava flow in the world at 300km.
It’s only accessible at present for those with a special permit.