Tsavo West National Park | Background Info

The Tsavo West Natinal Park is strikingly beautiful, particularly in the northern section close to the Chyulu Hills. It is possible to drive up to some fabulous vantage points such as Poacher’s Lookout where on a clear day it is possible to view Mount Kilimanjaro. One of Tsavo West’s main attractions is the Mzima Springs, where sparkling crystal-clear springs are home to hippo and crocodile that can be watched from an underground lookout. In addition, the Ngulia Rhinoceros Sanctuary is a 70 square kilometre fenced reserve, established to protect the black rhino, and this is one of the few places in the country where it is possible to view this incredible creature.

The game in Tsavo can vary considerably throughout the year and is at its best at the end of the dry season. In general it is not a reserve to come and tick off large numbers of big game, but predators are not uncommon and it’s also possible to see large herds of elephant as well as buffalo, common waterbuck, eland, gerenuk, fringe-eared oryx, impala and Maasai giraffe. Birdlife is wonderful, and during a stay in the park you can expect to see starlings, parrots, barbets, rollers, storks, herons and more.

Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary

Tsavo West NP now holds 18% of Kenya’s black rhinos, within the highly protected sanctuary.

Surrounding the Ngulia Sanctuary is the 3,000km2 IPZ that has been identified as representing the most viable area in Kenya to recover rhino numbers and help support the Kenya Government to achieve its vision of 2,000 individuals in the wild by 2050. Kenya remains one of the key strongholds for Eastern black rhino, making this population globally important. Every effort is required if we are to conserve this critically endangered species for the future.

In an effort to support “rhino activities” in the Tsavo West NP rhino areas, Tsavo Trust has partnered with the Kenya Wildlife Service by establishing a unique “Rhino Viewing Platform” at one of the main waterholes within the NRS. The aim being to offer visitors a rare and exclusive opportunity to view rhino close up with the backdrop of the prehistoric-looking Ngulia cliffs.

Ngulia is a rhino sanctuary in Kenya, home to about 80 black rhinos. Project Ngulia is a public-private partnership that aims at developing innovative cost-efficient technical solutions to assist the park rangers to monitor rhinos and combat poaching.

Experience Tsavo West National Park

Wildlife Highlights

Tsavo West is a real wilderness destination. All of the Big Five are present, but wildlife densities are lower than in some of the more popular parks in Kenya. However, there is a good variety of animals with many dry-country specials, including the shy lesser kudu and the rare fringe-eared oryx. Large elephant herds can be found gathering at the waterholes.

The park is one of the best places to see the skittish lesser kudu. The rocky terrain is also a good habitat to look for klipspringers, often found in pairs. Antelope that thrive in arid conditions can also be found here, including the very localized fringe-eared oryx and gerenuk. The drive-through rhino sanctuary increases your chances of spotting the elusive black rhino.

Excellent Birding

Tsavo West’s prolific birdlife features over 400-recorded species. Ngulia Hills, one of the landmarks in the park, is situated along one of the world’s busiest avian migration routes. Bird ringers make an annual pilgrimage here between October and January. Ngulia is the site of Africa’s foremost bird-ringing (tagging to enable individual bird identification) project. More than 100 migrant and resident species have been ringed here – the most prolific being marsh warbler, river warbler, red-backed shrike, thrush nightingale and common whitethroat.

Tsavo West National Park offers great bird watching in all seasons. Many of the more unusual specials are resident and can be spotted any time. Migratory birds, a real feature of the birding in the park, fill the trees, waterways and skies from November to April. Peak migration months are October and November. November and April are peak months for rainfall – good to keep in mind if birding is your primary interest here.

Tsavo West National Park habitat includes open plains and savannah bush, semi-desert scrub, acacia woodlands, numerous rocky ridges and outcrops and swathes of riverine vegetation. Toward the Chyulu Hills, the landscape is of recent volcanic origin with some spectacular lava flows.


Tsavo West has a rugged, arid landscape. In contrast with the flat plains of Tsavo East, Tsavo West is marked by a number of rocky outcrops and volcanic hills. Shetani lava flows, just outside the park, make for a great excursion. On a fine day, the park offers lovely views of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro. Tsavo West National Park landscape is dominated by giant baobabs reputed to live a thousand years. After the rain, Tsavo West National Park is showered with white and pink ipomea and acacia trees of white and pink blossom. The desert rose, somewhat like a miniature baobab, has pink flowers of striking beauty at almost any time of the year.

tsavo west national parkBirding at the Tsavo West National Park