Tsavo East National Park is part of the Tsavo National Park in southern Kenya. In the dry, hardly tree-covered thorn bush savannah, wild animals are particularly easy to spot, especially when they gather at the water holes at the end of the dry season.
Tsavo East National Park is Kenya’s largest national park, covering nearly 11,800km². It was founded in April 1948 as Kenya’s second national park under the name “Tsavo National Park”. One year later, for administrative reasons, it was divided into the Tsavo East National Park and the somewhat smaller Tsavo West National Park.
Flora and Fauna in Tsavo East National Park
The landscape in Tsavo East National Park is not as varied as that of Tsavo West and consists mostly of grass and thorn bush savannah, which changes to semi-desert steppe in the north. In addition to acacias, baobabs, some of which are over a hundred years old, grow from the endless plains again and again.
Tsavo East is less forested than Tsavo West National Park, so it is easier to find the wildlife that congregates at the well-known waterholes, especially in the dry season. Especially elephants and buffalos live in large numbers in Tsavo East.
The wildlife in Tsavo East National Park is characterized by the largest elephant population in Kenya and the number of lions is also impressive. By the way, the male Tsavo lions are interesting because they have no or extremely sparse manes, which is attributed to the hot climate.
Besides lions, elephants and buffalos, in Tsavo East you can see oryx antelopes, giraffe gazelles, black rhinos, zebras, baboons, kudus, impalas, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs, leopards, wild cats, guenons, Nile crocodiles, hippos, ostriches, secretaries, buzzards, herons and another 600 bird species. Thus the famous “Big Five” lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant are all represented.
The secret stars of Tsavo East National Park are the so-called “red elephants.” Naturally gray as well, these pachyderms protect themselves from the scorching sun and pesky insects with a layer of dust reddened by iron oxide.
Tip: The best chance for good animal photos is before 11 am and after 3 pm. For this reason alone, you should plan at least one overnight stay in Tsavo National Park.
Visit Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo National Parks are not on Kenya’s standard safari route and are therefore not as crowded as, for example, the famous Masai Mara. The north of Tsavo East National Park from the Galana River onwards is not accessible to visitors and is therefore a valuable retreat for Africa’s wildlife. Especially the black rhinos can recover there, which were almost extinct at the beginning of the 1990s because of their horn.
Tsavo National Parks are located only 100km from Mombasa and can be reached by road from Mombasa to Nairobi within about 2 hours. Entry into Tsavo East is through three main gates, Manyani gate coming from Voi, Bachuma gate coming from Mombasa and Sala gate coming from Malindi. Small planes can land on the airstrips in the national park.
Highlights in Tsavo East
The Yatta Plateau on the western border of Tsavo East National Park bears witness to the volcanic past of this region. At 290 kilometers, it is the longest lava field in the world.
The Mudanda Rock is a nearly 2km long inselberg that acts as a natural dam. In the dry season, hundreds of elephants and other wildlife gather at the waterhole created in this way. Something similar happens at the Aruba Dam on the Voi River, but this was built by humans in 1952. The Galana River also has a highlight to offer: the Lugard Falls, a series of raging rapids over bizarre rock formations that are a foaming attraction, especially after the rainy season.