Tsavo East National Park

Tsavo East National Park A Haven of Wildlife

Tsavo East National Park is one of Kenya’s oldest and largest parks, offering a vast wilderness teeming with diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes. Located in the southeastern part of Kenya, Tsavo East is part of the larger Tsavo ecosystem, which includes Tsavo West National Park. Covering approximately 13,747 square kilometers, Tsavo East is renowned for its red elephants, picturesque savannas, and the Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow. This article delves into the rich history, wildlife, attractions, and visitor tips for Tsavo East National Park.

A Brief History

Established in 1948, Tsavo East National Park was created to protect the region’s diverse flora and fauna and to promote tourism. The park derives its name from the Tsavo River, which flows through it, and has a fascinating history intertwined with the development of Kenya’s railway system. During the construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway in the late 19th century, the area gained notoriety due to the infamous “Man-Eaters of Tsavo,” two lions that terrorized railway workers.

Geographical Features

The Yatta Plateau

One of the park’s most striking features is the Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow. Stretching over 300 kilometers, the plateau offers breathtaking views and is a testament to the area’s volcanic past. The plateau is a prime spot for hiking and birdwatching, offering a unique perspective on the park’s diverse ecosystems.

Galana River

The Galana River, also known as the Athi-Galana-Sabaki River, flows through Tsavo East, providing a vital water source for the park’s wildlife. The river is lined with lush vegetation, creating a stark contrast with the surrounding arid landscapes. Visitors can enjoy scenic riverine views and spot animals such as hippos and crocodiles.

Mudanda Rock

Mudanda Rock is a massive inselberg that stretches over 1.6 kilometers in length. Acting as a natural water catchment area, it attracts numerous animals, especially during the dry season. Climbing Mudanda Rock offers panoramic views of the park and is a favorite activity for many visitors.

Wildlife of Tsavo East

The Big Five

Tsavo East is home to the Big Five: lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes, and rhinos. The park is particularly famous for its “red elephants,” which appear red due to the red volcanic soil they bathe in. These elephants are a highlight for many visitors, providing a unique sight against the backdrop of the African savanna.


With over 500 bird species, Tsavo East is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The park hosts a variety of birds, including the African fish eagle, martial eagle, ostrich, and numerous migratory species. The diverse habitats within the park support a rich avian population, making it an excellent destination for ornithologists and nature enthusiasts.

Other Wildlife

Beyond the Big Five, Tsavo East boasts a rich diversity of wildlife. Visitors can encounter giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, hyenas, and an array of antelope species. The park’s extensive network of waterholes and rivers ensures that wildlife sightings are plentiful, especially during the dry season when animals congregate around these vital water sources.

Major Attractions

Aruba Dam

Aruba Dam, constructed in 1952, is a man-made reservoir that attracts a wide variety of animals, especially during the dry season. The dam creates a picturesque landscape and is a prime spot for game viewing. Visitors can enjoy watching animals such as elephants, zebras, and giraffes quench their thirst at the dam’s edge.

Lugard Falls

Lugard Falls, named after British colonial administrator Frederick Lugard, is a series of white-water rapids on the Galana River. The falls are a stunning natural spectacle, with the river carving through ancient rock formations. Visitors can explore the area on foot and enjoy the sight and sound of the powerful rapids.

The Kanderi Swamp

The Kanderi Swamp is a vital water source within the park, attracting a variety of wildlife, particularly during the dry season. The swamp is an excellent location for game viewing and birdwatching. Its lush, green vegetation stands in contrast to the surrounding arid landscape, providing a unique ecosystem within the park.

Visitor Tips

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Tsavo East National Park is during the dry seasons, from June to October and January to February. During these periods, wildlife congregates around water sources, making it easier to spot animals. The weather is also more favorable for game drives and outdoor activities.

Getting There

Tsavo East is accessible by both road and air. The park is approximately 233 kilometers from Nairobi and 173 kilometers from Mombasa. Visitors can drive from these cities or take a scheduled flight to one of the park’s airstrips, such as the Voi or Buchuma airstrips.


Tsavo East offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. These include luxury lodges, tented camps, and budget-friendly campsites. Some popular choices include Voi Wildlife Lodge, Satao Camp, and Manyatta Camp. It is advisable to book accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Safari Tips

  • Early Morning and Late Afternoon Drives: Wildlife is most active during the cooler parts of the day, making early morning and late afternoon the best times for game drives.
  • Guided Tours: Consider hiring a knowledgeable guide or joining a guided tour to enhance your safari experience. Guides can provide valuable insights into the park’s wildlife and ecosystems.
  • Respect Wildlife: Always maintain a safe distance from animals and follow park rules and regulations. Do not disturb or feed the wildlife.
  • Stay Hydrated: Carry plenty of water, especially during game drives, as the park can get very hot and dry.
  • Binoculars and Cameras: Bring binoculars and cameras with extra batteries to capture the incredible wildlife and scenic landscapes.

Do you want to experience Tsavo East wildlife? Book a 4-Day Itinerary safari with Cherish Africa Safaris


Tsavo East National Park is a jewel in Kenya’s crown, offering an unparalleled wildlife experience and breathtaking natural beauty. From its iconic red elephants and diverse birdlife to the dramatic landscapes of the Yatta Plateau and Lugard Falls, Tsavo East provides a unique safari adventure. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor to Africa, Tsavo East promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of the wild. Plan your visit today and discover the wonders of this remarkable national park.

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