Kora National Park, Tana Primate National Reserve, Tsavo East & Tsavo West National Parks, Mutejwa National Reserve

National Parks and Reserves in Kenya

51. Kora National Park

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: Adamsons 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.

52. Tana Primate National Reserve

Tana Primate National Reserve

Located 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 claases 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, which are 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.

53. Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National Park. Image courtesy of Trip Advisor

Originally established in 1949 as part of the Tsavo Conservation Area and later reestablished in 1964 as Tsavo West National Park, the 9,065 km2 park became the second National Park to be gazetted in Kenya – after Nairobi National Park. Tsavo Conservation Area was split for administrative purpose, with three main headquarters – Voi (for Tsavo East), Kamboyo (for Tsavo West) and Kithasyu (for Chyulu Hills). It borders both Makueni and Kajiado Counties. Although it is the less popular of the two Tsavo Parks, it receives no less than 90,000 holiday-makers each year, many of whom are attracted by its high diversity of big-game. Tsavo West National Park is widely-popular for its expansive open grasslands interspersed with ancient ash cones. Exploring through the magnificent Tsavo West National Park one gets a proposition of what this area might have looked like over a century ago. And for wildlife, Tsavo West’s abounding herds of “red elephants” are so well-known as to warrant no introduction here.  Interestingly, it is the activity of these elephants that did away with much of its woodland, rendering it to a treeless domain. Tsavo West National Park is a haunt of many species of wild animals, as widely cited in numerous travel books, to include its legendary ill-tempered rhinos, giraffes, buffaloes and its legions of reptiles. The Park has tremendous attractions. About 32 kms from the Mtito Andei Gate sits the highly acclaimed Kilaguni Game Lodge, so often whooped up as the pioneer safari lodge in East Africa. Only 10 kms from the lodge is Mzima Springs, one of Tsavo’s greatest spectacle. It is also home to Ngulia Lodge raised on the edge of Ndawe Escarpment where game of all kinds call in on to drink at the waterholes near the lodge. It also faces the scenically-spectacular Mount Kilimanjaro. The main gates are Chyulu Gate from Amboseli and Mtito Andei Gate from Nairobi.

54. Tsavo East National Park

Tsavo East National Park. Image Courtesy of Frate Tours

Tsavo East, separated from Tsavo West by A109 Nairobi-Mombasa Road, is the larger of the two parks (at 14,000 km2) and the largest protected area in Kenya. Famous for its size and as the dais for big-game, Tsavo East National Park also christened as “Theatre of the Wild” has larger elephant herds and its landscape wilder than in Tsavo West. This wondrous park, where the endless bushland is only transmuted by ancient hillocks, spans 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 a miscellany of flora.  Tsavo West is also guarded by the kooky imperial lava marches of the 300 kms long Yatta Plateau. Approximately 6,369 km2 of Tsavo East National Park sits in Kitui. In spite of such a big coverage of Kitui County, there are no direct benefits; just thousands of square kilometres of bushland. In a bid to open up the dull and untravelled northern area of Tsavo East, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service established Ithumba Elephant Nursery, Ithumba Camp and Ithumba Hill Camp. The Ithumba Conservation Area is located about 93 kms from the junction to Kibwezi Town. The two popular entry-points for game-viewing-safaris at Tsavo East are through Mtito-Andei Gate and Voi Gate.

55. Mutejwa National Reserve

First established in 1959 as the Mutejwa Forest Reserve in Tharaka Sub-county south and west of Meru National Park, the 13.76 km2 reserve aligning with the Nithi River, best-known for its variety of wildlife, was reestablished as Mutejwa National Reserve in 1895. It was created to protect wildlife in the dispersal area of Meru National Park. The focal point at Mutejwa is the low-lying Mutejwa Hill encircled by a navigable network of trails which for day-trippers offer an out of the ordinary safari adventure to spot wildlife including gazelles, monkeys, and ostriches. Also of interest are walking tours along Nithi River, cave exploration, birding and hiking up the Mutejwa Hills; which is the largest hillock in Tharaka Sub-county. It is not a difficult drive to get to Mutejwa National Reserve and for the traveller who has done the sought game parks it makes an interesting new trip. The C92 Kathwana-Marimanti-Ura Road passes just outside its flanks, 50 kms northeast from Kathwana Town. There’s no accommodation at the reserve.

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  1. Lake Baringo National Reserve, Lake Bogoria National Reserve, South-Western Mau National Reserve, Rimoi National Reserve, Lake Kamnarok
  2. Mount Kenya National Park, Mwea National Reserve, Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary, Rahole National Reserve, Arawale National Reserves
  3. Boni National Reserve, Ruma National Park, Bisanadi National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Shaba National Reserve
  4. Amboseli National Park, Kakamega National Reserve, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, Watamu Marine National Park, Malindi Marine Reserve
  5. Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Ndere Island National Park, Mwingi National Reserve, South Kitui National Reserve, Shimba Hills National Reserve
  6. Diani-Chale Marine National Reserve, Kisite Mpunguti National Marine Park and Reserve, Dodori National Reserve, Kiunga Marine National Reserve, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
  7. Chyulu Hills National Park, Ngai Ndeithia National Reserve, Malka Mari National Park, Losai National Reserve, South Island National Park
  8. Marsabit National Reserve and Park, Sibiloi National Park, Meru National Park, Mombasa Marine National Reserve and Park, Nairobi National Park
  9. Mount Longonot National Park, Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, Hell’s Gate National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Bonjoge National Reserve
  10. Masai Mara National Reserve, Aberdare National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Maralal Game Reserve, Lake Kanyaboli National Reserve
  11. Kora National Park, Tana Primate National Reserve, Tsavo East & Tsavo West National Parks, Mutejwa National Reserve
  12. Mount Elgon National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Central Island National Park, South Turkana National Reserve, Nasolot National Reserve