Tsavo East National Park, at a Glance

Situated in Kenya's southeast, Tsavo is near the Tanzanian border and is close to the Kenyan coast.

Named after the river that flows through the parks, Tsavo is split into two national parks, Tsavo East and Tsavo West, and is divided by the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

Tsavo East is one of the oldest, and is the largest national park in Kenya, and together with Tsavo West covers just over 20,000 square kilometres, or 4% of Kenya.

Spanning 13,747 square kilometres of pristine wilderness, it is also one of the most extensive protected areas in Kenya and has more biodiversity than any other park globally, as it marks the meeting point between northern and southern wildlife. 

It is 9 times bigger than the Maasai Mara and is well known for its mane-less lions, big herds of red dust-covered elephants, and cheetah.

Tsavo East National Park

Compared to Tsavo West National Park, the topography is flatter and drier. The vegetation is sparse, so wildlife spotting is generally easier than its more dramatic counterpart.

The Yatta Plateau, approximately 290km (180 miles) long, is the world's longest lava flow (also the oldest fossilized lava flow on Earth) and is one of the park's major features.

The park's salvation is the dense vegetation along its permanent and seasonal rivers. The Tsavo, Galana and Athi rivers are a vital part of the Tsavo ecosystem and are great spots to watch wildlife. 

Tsavo East National Park

Where Does Tsavo East Fit into Your Kenyan Adventure?

Tsavo East National Park is perfectly situated halfway between Nairobi and the Kenyan coastal resorts. This means Tsavo is perfect if you want to combine a Kenyan safari with a beach holiday

Diani Beach, located just 30km south of Mombasa and approximately a four-hour drive from Tsavo East, is a stunning tropical paradise and has been awarded the best beach destination in Africa for five years running.

Tsavo is also often paired with Amboseli National Park, which contrasts with the semi-arid landscapes of Tsavo, and is instead made up of swamps, woodland and areas of open plains.

Amboseli National park lies in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the south of Kenya and is adjacent to Tsavo. It is roughly a six-hour drive from Tsavo, with game viewing opportunities on the way and four hours from Nairobi if you plan on starting with Amboseli.

The main access routes are through Chyulu Gate from Amboseli and Mtito Andei Gate from Nairobi. Visitors from Mombasa will make use of Tsavo Gate near Manyani.

Diani Beach, Kenya

Things to Do

Game Drives

The park is home to numerous animals, including The Big Five: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and Cape buffalo.

The rivers around the park are also home to most of this wildlife, and crocodiles eagerly hide within the dark depths, waiting to pounce on anything brave enough to approach the shores. 

Game drives are best when done in the early morning or evening before it gets too hot and will often include a stop at the Luggard Falls, a series of white rapids on the Galana River and the Yatta Plateau, for a picnic lunch. 

Tsavo East National Park

Bush Breakfasts, Picnics and Sundowners

At Tsavo East, you're not limited to the dining room. Set up breakfast overlooking the Yatta Plateau or take a break from game driving with a picnic under the shade of a tamarind tree.

Freshly prepared food and drinks are kept cold in the cool box in the back of the safari vehicle, ready for when you get peckish.

Later, watch the coral sun sink behind the hills from a scenic rocky escarpment, ice-cold drink in hand. In Africa, we call these sundowners.

Maasai Mara, kenya

Bird Watching

Tsavo East has an astounding number of bird species (500+). It includes many dry-country specials which are easy to spot, including the majestic Golden-breasted starling, golden pipit and vulturine guinea fowl.

The park is also the southernmost stronghold for the Somali ostrich and is a significant wintering ground for migrant species from Europe.

Migrant birds are present from November to April.

Tsavo East National Park

Where to Stay

Nestled in an untouched corner of Tsavo East National Park, Galdessa Camp overlooking the Yatta Plateau is a luxurious and intimate eco-lodge.

Galdessa Camp accommodates 10 people across 5 raised tents, each positioned facing the Galana River, allowing you to watch the hippos, crocodiles, and other wildlife drawn to its Doum Palm-lined banks from your private shaded deck.

Alongside Galdessa Camp, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust run 4 other luxury eco-lodges in Tsavo, the profits of which go towards saving orphaned elephants. These are Galdessa Little, Umani Springs, Ithumba Camp, and Ithumba Private.

Like Galdessa, the lodges are intimate and secluded, and some are fully self-catered. However, a private chef is provided and will provide you with a food and drinks list to bring with you. 

Tsavo East National Park

Set in a small green oasis of tamarind trees in the park's heart and facing a watering hole, Satao Camp is popular with both guests and wildlife.

This mid-range lodge offers 20 en-suite safari tents with private verandas and is all tastefully decorated to fit an 'out of Africa' theme, reminiscent of the first explorers.

Ashnil Aruba is one of the largest and most established camps in Tsavo East. Set on the banks of the Aruba Dam, which attracts plenty of wildlife looking to quench their thirst.

There are 20 luxury suites in total at Ashnil Aruba – eight with interconnecting rooms, four triples, six lovely tented rooms, and two adapted for guests with special needs. All are en-suite and have a private veranda overlooking the dam, and slate or polished concrete floors help the rooms stay cool.

Tsavo East National Park

When To Visit

The best time to visit Tsavo East is in the dry season from July to September and December to March.

These months provide the best wildlife viewing opportunities as the grass is short and the animals are drawn to water sources, especially to the river banks.

It is generally advised to avoid March to May, the long rainy season and October to November, the short rains.

Access becomes more difficult due to muddy roads, wildlife viewing is more challenging and planned excursions might be affected by torrential rains during these months. 

Tsavo East National Park

Getting There

Tsavo East is in southeast Kenya, 325km/201mi from Nairobi and 250km/ 155mi from Mombasa and roughly a five-hour drive.

The main access routes are through Chyulu Gate from Amboseli and Mtito Andei Gate from Nairobi. Visitors from Mombasa will make use of Tsavo Gate near Manyani.

There are no scheduled flights to Tsavo East, but there are several airstrips available for chartered flights.

The distance from Lake Nakuru National Park is 450km/280mi, and the driving time is about 5-7 hours, dependent on road conditions and traffic.

Many choose to stop here for a picnic lunch/short game drive if travelling from Nairobi. 

Tsavo East National Park

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