TSAVO EASTGEOLOGY OF GLORIOUS GAME DRIVES
Tsavo East is a vast flat lava plain, broken by the sinuous Galana River, the seasonal Voi River in the southern corner of the park and the Tiva River which meanders in the remote northern reaches. The jagged cliffs of Yatta Plateau, an ancient eroded lava flow, rise in hazy curves above the tangle of grey-green thorn bush. Amidst amazing herds of wildlife, beneath vast savannah skies, rejoin the finest of our natural world as you explore one of the last remaining absolute wildernesses on Earth, in primeval solitude.
ARUBA DAM AND MUDANDA ROCK
The beautiful Aruba dam on the north bank of the Voi River is visited by thousands of animals, making this a great game-viewing destination. The massive whale-backed Mudanda Rock has a natural dam which acts as a magnet for large herds of elephant along with a vibrant collection of water birds.
YATTA PLATEAU AND LUGARD’S FALLS
At 300 km in length, Yatta Plateau is the longest lava flow in the world. The spectacular Lugard’s Falls feature a bizarrely eroded rock neck through which the Galana River plunge into foaming rapids and crocodile-infested pools.
Tsavo East National Park is home to large families of elephants, constantly ranging over the plains and bush in search of of forage and water. Wise, old matriarchs lead the herds over expansive territories to congregate at river or, in severe droughts, to dig wells in the dry riverbeds. The sight of dust-red elephants wallowing, rolling and spraying each other with the waters of the palm-shaded Galana River is one of East Africa’s most evocative and enduring images.
Waterholes are the best place to watch for wildlife as both predators and prey come to drink, hunt and play. In the bush, watch for the darting diminutive dik diks and the regal oryx, running with their splendid horns spread back. Rolling savannah, dotted with rocky hills, are the favoured haunt of lion as they trail herds of buffalo, zebra and antelope. Giraffe frequent areas along the Galana River near troops of yellow baboon.
Below Lugard’s Falls is Hippo Point and Crocodile Point, popular sites for wallowing hippo and basking crocodile. Keep your eyes open for black rhino, especially in the Ashaka area, and for small herds of the critically endangered Hirola (Hunter’s hartebeest) which have been translocated to the park. In the dry bush banks of the Galana River, resides one of the Kenya’s most beautiful antelopes, the lesser kudu.
‘MAN-EATERS’ AND MANE-LESS LIONS
Tsavo achieved notoriety in the early 1900’s when the ‘Man-eaters of Tsavo’, a pair of rogue lions, gruesomely preyed on the builders of the Kenya-Uganda Railway. More famous today are Tsavo’s mane-less lions that patrol the plains and stalk the herbivore herds. Lion can often be spotted near Kanderi Swamp and around Aruba Dam while leopards are best spotted near Mudanda Rock.
Tsavo East’s prolific bird life with over 500 recorded species, includes the noisy flocks of orange-bellied parrots, whose clashing colours of green and bright orange are difficult to miss, and the rare Somali ostrich, with its distinctive blue legs and neck. Hunting over the savannahs are many birds of prey: the magnificent martial eagle, the lovely Bateleur and the migratory lesser kestrel. Often seen are the shy African finfoot and the white-headed buffalo weaver with its bright red rump. Around Aruba Dam is a profusion of birds, while along the Galana River you’re likely to spot the Maasai and Somali ostrich as well as the saddle-billed stork and east African speciality, the vulturine guineafowl.
REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN
Snakes abound among rocks and in the thickest of bush. They include the brick-orange red spitting cobra, numerous sand snakes and the superbly camouflaged puff adder. The Galana river is home to numerous crocodiles and the serrated hinged terrapin. Savannah monitor lizards can sometime be seen basking in the sunshine on rocks or termite mounds.
These are the most numerous of Tsavo’s inhabitants. There the characteristic termite mounds, with turrets rising into the air or clinging to the sides of shading bushes. The rains awaken veritable army of sleeping siafu who swarm over the landscape devouring all and sundry. Butterflies gather at puddles and include the delightful, Colotis, with bright-red wing-tips.
The park is mostly covered by a characteristic tangle of thorny scrub and woodland. Featuring various species of acacia and commiphora, this thorny association of tortured trees is broken area of grassy plains. Ancient baobabs with elephant-scarred trunks, rise above the tangle like beacons in a sea of red dust. Tall, branching doum palms fringe the winding rivers. The brief rains paint the charred landscape with delicate wildflowers, including lovely thunbergia, indigofera, ipomoea, numerous lilies and succulents, including aloes.
AROUND AND ABOUT
The park’s location allows visits to the many highlights of sister park Tsavo West or the verdant slopes of the Taita Hills and the relatively recent volcanic eruptions of the Chyulu Hills. Even the world’s famous Amboseli National Park is within easy reach.
HOW TO GET THERE
Entry to the park from Nairobi or Mombasa, off the main highway, is accessible through the main Voi gate, located 6 km north of Voi town or the gates at Mtito Andei (nearest to Nairobi), Manyani (38 km north of Voi) or Buchuma gate (50 km southeast of Voi town).
From Malindi, enter via Sala gate (110 km west of Malindi) on the eastern boundary of the park. Ithumba gate is accessible through Kibwezi and Kitui, but visitors are advised to use 4WD vehicles and to contact the Warden in advance to book entry at this gate.
The roads are well graded and efficiently maintained.
Entry gates Mtito Andei, Voi (main gate), Buchuma, Manyani, Sala and Ithumba.
Airstrips exist at Voi, Buchuma, Sala, Manyani, Konu Moju and Ithumba. Please consult the Wardens for further details.