Tsavo East history and overview
In 1898, long before Tsavo National Park was created, a pair of maneless male lions terrorized the area. They reputedly killed 135 railway workers who were building the Kenya-Uganda railway. These man-eating lions dragged men from their tents, despite the thorn fences (bomas) built to keep them out. The maneless lions evaded traps and ambushes and were finally shot by Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson.
Tsavo East National Park is 333km south-east of Nairobi, and 173km north-west of Mombasa. Its relative closeness to the beaches and tourist attractions around Malindi and Mombasa make it an ideal one-day wildlife safari destination for those who do not want to stay overnight.
Tsavo East National Park is a natural area of flat, dry plains, with thorny bushes and swampy marshland near the river. It is teeming with diverse Kenyan animals including large families of giraffes, gazelles, hartebeests and zebras, as well as the “Big Five” must-see animals – buffalo, African elephants, lions, rhinos and leopards.
Climate and weather in Tsavo East Safari park
Kenya lies across the equator, and Tsavo East National Park is just a few degrees latitude south. The temperature is fairly constant year round, but the rainfall varies. The tropical temperature ranges from 27-31°C (81-88°F) in the daytime and 22-24°C (72-75°F) at night.
The long rainy season in Kenya lasts from March to May and the rainfall is heavy, making this a bad time for wildlife safaris. The short rainy season lasts from October to December, but the weather during this period is still good enough to go on safari – just expect some afternoon showers. The humidity is high from December through April.
How to get to Tsavo East National park
By Road: Use your own vehicle, take public transportation, or book an open-topped minibus tour with a tour guide. Enter from Nairobi (333km) via Voi Gate or Manyani Gate; enter from Mombasa (173km) via Bachuma Gate; enter from Malindi or the north coast via Sala Gate.
By Air: Chartered light aircrafts may land at any of the six airstrips in the south part of the park, or any of the 13 airstrips in the north.
By Railway: The Nairobi-Mombasa railway runs right through the Tsavo East National Park.
What to see and do at Tsavo East National Park
The main purpose of a wildlife safari is to see Kenyan animals in their natural state. It never ceases to surprise people when they see birds perched near crocodiles, or gazelles grazing near big cats; however, the truth is that predators generally only kill to eat and, otherwise, the animals live together in harmony.
These are the most common Kenyan animals you may see during your visit to Tsavo East National Park: Cape buffalo, cheetahs, duikers, African elephants, gazelles, gerenuks, giraffes, hares, hartebeests, hyenas, impalas, leopards, lions, mongoose, black faced vervet monkeys, Sykes’s monkeys, crested porcupines, giant rats, black rhinoceros, squirrels, warthogs, waterbucks, and zebras.
- Lugard’s Falls is a series of rapids on the Galana River where crocodiles love to bathe.
- Yatta Plateau is the world’s longest lava flow at 290km long.
- Mudanda Rock is a 1.6km outcrop of rock, with a dam at its base. This is a popular drinking place for animals.
- Aruba Dam also attracts animals and birds looking for a place to drink.
- Walking safaris are offered by several guides along the Galana River.
Bird watching is best between October and January, with many migratory birds including: African skimmers, red and yellow bishops, goshawks, buffalo weavers and palm nut vultures, to name but a few. Over 500 bird species have been recorded in the park, including ostriches, kestrels, buzzards, starlings, weaverbirds, kingfishers, hornbills, secretary birds and herons.