Tana River County

Attractions in Tana River County

7. Bura Mission Church

Raised by Holy Ghost Fathers in 1892, Bura Mission Church merits celebration as the first inland Catholic Mission in Kenya. It was founded by Monsignor De Courmont – an Apostolic Vicar – and Father Jean Flick of Holy Ghost Fathers. Monsignor De Courmont had decided to move up and build a Church in Bura, away from the missionary-busy Mombasa, bringing into being a mission post in the undeveloped and remote hinterland. They travelled for 11 days and nights to Bura with a caravan made up of 1 Muslim cleric, 6 askaris and 16 Taita porters, who carried a 40 kg load each. On September 30th, 1896, Bura Mission Church was unveiled and the first mass was celebrated on the same day. More than 120 years later, this stands proudly as the oldest Catholic Mission Church in Kenya.

The Bura Catholic Mission in Bura Town. Image Courtesy of Nation

8.  Tana Primate National Reserve

Situated 202 kms from Garissa and 60 kms south of Bura, the 170 km2 Tana Primate National Reserve, of a semi-arid savanna with a 13 km2 fragment of riverine and forest fragment, is home to a good mix of intriguing wildlife most notably of the Tana magabey, after which the park is named.  The forest patch in Tana Primate Reserve support more than 57 mammal species, 261 avifauna species and 175 classes of flora. It was established to protect both the riverine forest and the rare mangabey and red colobus monkeys. The highlight at the Tana Primate is spotting the abounding Tana magabeys, enlisted as one of the world’s most endangered primates and endemic to this forest fragment found along the 61 kms stretch of the lower Tana River. The budget-friendly Mchelelo Bandas are the most convenient accommodation for explorers to Tana Primate.

Tana magabeys are one of the world’s most endangered primates and are almost endemic to this forest fragment. Mangabeys, any of 10 species, are fairly large monkeys. They have odd cheek pouches with deep depressions under the cheekbones. They are highly social, vocal, and nimble.

9. River Tana Basin

River Tana is, without question, the longest river in Kenya, flowing for over 850 kms, with a catchment area of about 95,000 km2, thence draining at the Indian Ocean at the Ungwana Bay in Kipini. It travels over five Counties of Kenya from its source in the Aberdare Mountains, west of Nyeri, with a river basin draining 21% of the Kenya’s land surface and sustaining 18% of the country’s population. All along its course, it provides a vital lifeline for both the wildlife and for the people who live nearby Bura and Tana Delta Irrigation Schemes – which draw from River Tana.  Further upstream, River Tana Power Project, momentously known as the Seven Folk Project, is Kenya’s all-important hydro-electric source. At its tail end, debouching into Indian Ocean, Tana accounts for 50% of Kenya’s river discharge, draining four billion litres of fresh water yearly.  In Tana River County, the red muddy river flows parallel to its east border. One of the basin’s salient ecosystems is the River Tana Delta. This biodiversity hotspot is home to a great many endangered species, and was designated as a Ramsar site in 2012.

Spartial Distribution of the Tana River Basin in Kenya. Image by Wiki

10. Delta Dunes Lodge

Situated 35 kms north of Malindi en route Garsen and Lamu, this is probably the only place in the Coast Region of Kenya which properly showcases the Tana River Dunes at the river’s mouth juxtaposed with virgin beaches and the open ocean. Once a tiny lodge with just one cabin in 1982, Delta Dunes Lodge is now famous for its pretty vistas, spectacular bird life, comfortable ambiance and all-round unique adventures. The lodge has seven-open fronted cottages perched on top of sand dunes on the side of Kipalo Hills, with a large central common area, and is the perfect location to experience these rare natural thrills for a day or two before heading out to Lamu. “It has fabulous views overlooking the Tana River on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. Delta Dune is an Island Lodge”. Access to the lodge is from the B8 Malindi-Garsen-Garissa Road. After an hours drive from Malindi you reach a pick-up point where the host with a small boat waits for you to get you across Tana River. In 20 minutes, you are at the commendable Delta Dunes Lodge formerly known as the Tana Delta Lodge.

Views from the Tana Delta Dunes Lodge.  Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor
Views from the Tana Delta Dunes Lodge.  Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor

11. Kipini Conservancy

Located near Lake Kenyatta, the expansive inter-territorial Kipini Conservancy (shared by Tana River and Lamu Counties) is among the best preserved coastal areas, with an ecological medley that’s both wondrous and quite unique, skirted by Tana River Delta and parts of Witu Forest Reserve. It is, also, a shelter and wintering habitat for loads of migratory bird populations. Kipini also offers a safe haven for the vulnerable indigenous shore birds. Moreover, archaeological sites containing the ruins of a stone cemetery, minarets and varied intriguing historic buildings are enticing for a great historical adventure. The forest itself, consisting of purely of natural trees and vegetation, is rich in terms of resources thanks to its rare trees having multiple uses to include timber usage, medicinal value, among others. Some of the trees thriving in Kipini Conservancy include Dume plams, Triclulia Emetia, Mvule, Terminalia, black palms, elephant tree, among others. Additionally, Kipini has a diversity of marine life associated with more than 1,000 coral fish and turtles. Several species of whales, dolphins and the globally threatened dugong can also be sighted. It’s located near Mpeketoni.

Spatial Location of Kipini in Tana River County
Spatial Location of Kipini in Tana River County

12. Tsavo East National Park

Tsavo East, on the other side of Mombasa Road, is the larger of the two Tsavo Parks, and, capping 14,000 km2, is the largest protected area in Kenya. Famous for its size and as the dais for big-game, Tsavo East National Park, christened “the Theatre of the Wild.” has larger elephant herds and its landscape wilder than in Tsavo West. This invaluable wildlife harbuorage, with endless bushland transmuted by striking ancient hillocks, is found over four counties: Kitui, Taita Taveta, Tana River, and a small portion in Makueni. It is patrolled by over 60 species of mammals, 400 species of birds and miscellany of flora.  The park is also guarded by the imperial lava marches of the 300 kms long Yatta Plateau. Tana River hosts 30% of Tsavo East National Park at its south-western frontier.