Attractions in Tana River County
1. Adamsons Falls Bridge
The narrow steel and timber truss Adamson’s Fall Bridge, linking Kora National Park with Meru National Park and Mwingi North Reserve, was named after the explorer and reformist George Adamson, famous for his gutsy effort to improve and revamp Kora National Park. The steel fabricated bridge fashioned between 1986 and 1990 is crossed from Meru National Park, the traditional jumping-off place to Kora National Park. It is a universal welcome to land of “Born Free” – one of the world’s fairy tales on wildlife conservation recounted in the self-same titled bestseller penned by Joy Adamson. The Adamson’s Fall Bridge also serves as a useful observation deck to sight the Adamson’s Rapids and Falls situated about 100 ms from the bridge. A lovely picnic site and walking trail have been in existence for years although seldom used. It crosses the mighty Tana River – Kenya’s longest – which also marks the northern frontier of both Kora National Park and Tana River County. From here, the mighty R. Tana forms the natural eastern boundary of Tana River County before terminating at the Indian Ocean.
2. Kora National Park
Surrounded and linked to Mwingi National Reserve (west), Meru National Park (northwest), Bisanadi National Reserve (north) and Rahole National Reserve (east) at the northernmost corner of Tana River County, the remote 1,700 km2 Kora National Park, marked by dense dry bushland with sweeps of grassland, once held great numbers of elephant and rhino. However they were victims of the poaching wave which raged during the 1970’s, thereafter rendering it to a massive grazing rangeland. Kora’s claim to fame is that is was the base for the last of Kenya’s great eccentric – George Adamson. It is here that he lived out his twilight years releasing lions back to the wild. “Africa has strange tales to tell, but no greater paradox than that enacted by Adamson, for he lives in a cage and the lions lived outside it! While what he does is doubtful value for conservation, it is nonetheless something that will survive for centuries as an illustration of the unusual.” After Adamson’s death in 1989, Kora National Park deteriorated fast, with little game on show only for those prepared to search for it on foot. Of a recent development, efforts are underway to spruce up Kora’s infrastructure. For now, and much the same as Rahole and Mwingi National Reserves on either side, it is without accommodation. Highlights include: Adamson’s Falls Bridge and Kora Rapids, Tana River, Adamson’s Camp or Kampi ya Simba (the former home for George and Joy Adamson) and pretty inselbergs. The park has good parkways. The most popular activity at Kora National Park is hiking up the epic and conspicuous Kora Rock. The easiest way to get to Kora National Park is via Meru National Park. It can also be accessed via Kaningo Gate through Mwingi.
3. Adamson’s Monument
“On August 20, 1989, at high noon, gun shots rang out at the Kampi ya Simba, also known as Lion Camp, within the Kora National Park. George Adamson, fondly nicknamed Bwana Game after his 1968 biography, had died in a hail of bullets fired by Somali “shifta” bandits together with his two camp assistants”. George Adamson died saving the life of a German visitor to Kora National Park. On that fateful day, Kenya and the world lost a hero and an iconic reformist, who had dedicated his life to preserving this harsh natural habitat for wildlife, especially lions. George Adamson spent most of his productive years restoring the 1700 km2 Kora National Park from an untamed beyond to a wildlife prolific park. The simple Adamson’s Monument earmarks the final resting place for one of Kenya’s most-celebrated conservationists; in company with his two wardens.
4. Arawale National Reserve
Situated 203 kms from Kora National Park and 124 kms south of Garissa, the 513 km2 Arawale National Reserve, composed of a gesture of arid bushland on the eastern flank of River Tana, is crossed by the B8 Malindi-Garissa Road on the western flank. The inter-territorial Arawale National Reserve (shared with Garissa County) was established in 1974 as the pioneering wildlife sanctuary in Kenya set up primarily to conserve the relic Hunter’s Hartebeest, locally known as Hirola, which is a critically threatened gazelle population endemic to north eastern Kenya and southwest parts of Somalia. There is no accommodation and the adventure-makers who visit Arawale National Reserve must have a strong wish to venture off-the-beaten-circuits. The gate is located 12 kms east of Hola.
The Hirola or Hunter’s Hartebeest is a very local from of the Hartebeest whose horns are longer than those of the true Hartebeest and bear some resemblance to those of the impala. It is far smaller than the common Kongoni, being only slightly larger than the impala. It has a long, ungainly face, a red coat and lyrate horns similar to the impala’s.
5. Hola Monument
The Hola Monument (at Hola) commemorates the 11 Mau-Mau prisoners killed during the 1959 Hola-Massacre at Hola Prison. The BEA Colonial Government had build the Hola Prison to detain hard core Mau-Mau fighters, in the isolated and semi-arid area of Hola. Hola Prison would later spook the nation with lots of horror stories of cruelty and ruthlessness on the part of the British Forces. At the peak of its calamities, Hola Prison housed 517 detainees, in deteriorated and appalling conditions. On March 3, 1959, all hell broke loose at Hola Prison. The protests by inmates over living conditions and iniquities was met with fury and destructive brutality. 11 inmates were clubbed to death by the sadistic wardens.
6. Bura Irrigation Scheme
Located on the west bank of River Tana about 490 kms east of Nairobi through Garissa, the 7 km2 Bura Irrigation Scheme fitly getting underway in 1977, with financial assistance from World Bank, supports almost 6,000 families in Bura; a predominantly arid area. The idea of Bura Irrigation Scheme was mooted to grow and promote this remote and famine prone region. It also aims to create jobs and steady food supply. Although Bura Irrigation Scheme has never hit its optimal stride, or achieved its yearly output projection, it remains one the most ambitious and epochal farm and irrigation schemes in Kenya and in East Africa.