10 Best Things to do in Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park is one of the most diverse game parks in the country. It is marked by volcanic hills, dense bushes, and beautiful scenery. Located about 238km from Nairobi and 250km from Mombasa, it offers the perfect safari escape from busy city life.
- 1 Tsavo West’s Location
- 2 Things to do in Tsavo West National Park
- 3 Other attractions in the park include:
- 4 Tsavo West National Park Entry Fees
- 5 Places to stay in Tsavo West
- 6 Things to Note about Visiting Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West’s Location
The park can be accessed from Nairobi through the Mtito Andei Gate, from Mombasa through Tsavo Gate, or from Amboseli National Park through Chyulu Gate.
The park is well marked, making it accessible to people self-driving. I would recommend using a 4WD vehicle for smoother navigation.
For those flying, there are several good airstrips in the area at Chyulu, Mtito Andei, Tsavo and Jipe gates.
Things to do in Tsavo West National Park
Going on Safari
Game viewing is the main reason why people visit Tsavo West National park. The park is home to a variety of species and you are more likely to spot buffalo, baboons, zebra, gazelles, eland, giraffe, the elusive leopard, and the famed red elephants of Tsavo. The elephants have this unique colour because of rolling and scratching themselves on the red soil covering the Tsavo area.
Tsavo West is very vast, game drives for me seemed to go on forever, and the park appeared to stretch to the horizon, into the Chyulu Hills and beyond.
You can get 360 views of the Chyulu Hills and Mt Kilimanjaro in the distance on game drives within the park.
Shetani Lava Flow
This place originated naturally about 200 years ago as a result of lava flowing after a volcanic eruption. The local community woke up to this strange phenomenon and concluded that the changes were caused by Shetani (the devil), emerging from the ground. The area resembles a garden that has been dug up and that was one of the reasons why the locals were so baffled by it. The lava expands across the Chyulu Hills for 8 kilometres and is 1.6km wide and 5 metres deep.
There’s little plant life growing in the cracks and smaller animals like dik dik and baboons can be spotted here. Predators can come by so exercise caution.
Nearby are the Shetani Caves.
Chaimu Volcanic flow
This is a hill made up of volcanic soil from Shetani Lava flow that you can hike up. The hike is beginner-friendly and takes 30 minutes to ascend and descend. The trail is not dug out and it has loose soil, making it very slippery. Chances of sliding and falling are high but I reckon that is what makes the hike fun.
Make sure you are accompanied by a Ranger because animals and poisonous snakes frequent the area. Before our hike, we were told that there was a leopard-spotted in the area days prior as well as wild dogs. We paid around Kshs.1,750 at the KWS office within the park to get a Ranger.
P.S. It is best to hike early in the morning to avoid the unbearable midday sun.
Mzima is an oasis in the otherwise hot Tsavo area. The origin of the springs is equally as impressive as Shetani Lava’s. Water is said to have sprung out of nowhere forming four beautiful pools. The clear, freshwater pools spring from underground streams coming from the Chyulu Hills. Mzima Springs are the main source of Mombasa City’s water supply.
Mzima Springs has a nature trail leading up to the pools. Along the trail is information about the animals and plants native to the area.
The third pool has an underwater tank where you can view schools of fish swimming and hippos. The fourth and largest pool, Hippo Point, is where you view hippos submerged in water, cooling their bodies, and swimming from time to time. They are surprisingly very good swimmers.
Other attractions in the park include:
- Five Sisters hills- five volcanic cone-shaped hills that form part of the park’s beautiful backdrop.
- Lake Jipe- Located by the Kenya-Tanzania border, this lake is home to various aquatic and bird species. Enjoy birdwatching on a boat ride in the lake.
- Poacher’s Lookout and Roaring Rocks- This is a spot from where you can experience panoramic game viewing.
- Ngulia Sanctuary- where the endangered black rhino roam
- First World War Site-East African Campaign- Guided tours of this area, the Crater, Kichwa Tembo, and Mzima fort will enable you to trail the real footsteps of Kenyan guerilla soldiers during the First World War.
- Ancient lands of Lions- takes you back to 1898 when the Uganda railway construction was stopped by two ferocious man-eating lions for over nine months attacked and maimed the railway builders.
To access these attractions, you do not have to pay extra. The entry fee paid at the Park’s main gate caters to these. Getting the services of a Ranger attracts extra charges.
Tsavo West National Park Entry Fees
Please note that:
The prices are subject to change and payment is cashless and is done via Mobile Money or Card.
Park fees are valid for 24 hours from the time at which the bearer enters the Park.
Places to stay in Tsavo West
There are plenty of accommodation options in Tsavo West National Park depending on budget, style and preferences.
KWS Self Catering
- Kamboyo Campsite
- Chyulu Campsite
- Lake Jipe
- Simba Campsite
- Royal Little
- Kudu Campsite
- Kenge Campsite
- Palm Tree Campsite
- Professional Campsite
Privately Owned Campsites & Lodges
- Kilaguni Safari Serena Lodge- I stayed at Kilaguni and would highly recommend it. Read more about my experience here.
- Ngulia Safari Lodge
- Kitani Severin Safari Camp/Lodge
- Finch Hatton’s Tented Lodge
- Voyager Safari Camp
Accommodation Outside the Park
- Tsavo House and Kasigau Base Camp in Voi
- Ndovu House in Tsavo Conservancy, Maungu, Taita Taveta County
Things to Note about Visiting Tsavo West National Park
- If travelling from Nairobi, factor in Mombasa Road traffic and plan accordingly.
- If self-driving, make sure you fuel your car before getting to the Park to avoid any inconveniences.
- Make sure you carry your ID or Passport with you for proof of citizenship.
- Tsavo is generally hot, have some water with you, wear a hat as well as sunscreen for heat protection.
- Observe park rules; do not litter, avoid making noise, use the designated roads.
- Enjoy your time in the park!
Tsavo West is one of the best game parks in the country and it is definitely worth a visit!
You can either book your trip yourself or enlist the services of a tour company. I reckon that the former would be more affordable however the latter is ideal for a vacation because of convenience. My trip was packaged by Jambo Africa Safaris and I highly recommend our driver and guide, Willie Wang’ombe, he is very knowledgeable and professional.
Watch what went down in Tsavo here.
For some BTS from my trip, watch the “Tsavo West” highlights on my Instagram profile. Stay tuned for the next post on the Tsavo West series and join the OCD Community below for travel resources and inspiration.
Thanks for stopping next time and until next time, tembea Kenya!