Tsavo West National Park covers approximately 30 per cent of Kenya’s park area, and contains a diversity of habitats, wildlife and a mountainous scenic landscape. The park is a vast expanse of savanna stretching from Mtito Andei, along the Mombasa-Nairobi road and south to the Tanzanian border. The north-eastern boundary along the highway adjoins Tsavo East National Park, but Tsavo West has a more varied topography and a more diverse array of habitats than its neighbour. The park’s habitats include open plains alternating with savannah bush and semi desert scrub, acacia woodlands; rocky ridges and outcrops and more extensive ranges and isolated hills; belts of riverine vegetation; palm thickets and on the Chyulu hills, mountain forest.
There are numerous rocky outcrops and ridges and part of the park, towards the Chyulu Hills, is of recent volcanic origin with lava flows and ash cones including the Shetani lava flow, an example of a recent volcano. In the far south-western corner on the Kenya Tanzania border is Lake Jipe, part of which is in the park.
This very attractive lake is fed by runoff from Mount Kilimanjaro and the North Pare mountains. At Mzima Springs, in the North of the park, water that has filtered underground from the Chyulu Hills gushes from below a lava ridge into a series of clear pools.Visitors have an opportunity to view animals under water through a glass house, man eaters – caves where 2 lions were shot in Tsavo West by Col. Patterson, railway bridge forms boundary.
Climatic conditions – Temperature ranges from 20-30°C and rainfall between 200 and 700mm. Two rain seasons: long rains in March and April and short rains – November and December.
Major attractions – Recent volcanoes, lava flows and caves with potential for geological and cave exploration, and hiking. Mzima Springs and underwater hippo and fish watching, Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, Lake Jipe, Mount Kilimanjaro, elephant, diverse bird and plant species.
Wildlife – Leopard, cheetah, wild dogs, buffalo, rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra, lion, plains game, crocodile, mongoose, hyrax, dik-dik, lesser kudu and porcupine. Prolific birdlife features 600 recorded species
Access – Roads: The main access routes are through Chyulu Gate from Amboseli and Mtito Andei Gate from Nairobi (240 km) and Mombasa. Visitors from Mombasa also use Tsavo Gate near Manyani. The park can also be reached via the Taveta-Voi road through Maktau, Ziwani and Jipe gates. Air: Kamboyo, Kilaguni, Tsavo Gate, Jipe, Kasigau, Finch Hattons, Ziwani and Maktau airstrips are in good condition.
Accommodation – Lodges: Ngulia Lodge, Kilaguni Serena Lodge, Severin Safari Camp/Lodge, Finch Hattons. KWS self-catering accommodation: Kamboyo Guest House.
Best time to visit – All year round
Activities – Boat excursion at Lake Jipe; bird watching at Lake Jipe; annual bird ringing at Ngulia lodge; hill and rock climbing at Chaimu and Ngulia Hills; caving at Shetani Caves.