Overview – Meru NP

Anthony Ham
Expert
By Anthony Ham

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Kenya.

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Anthony is the author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

This undervalued national park offers great wildlife viewing opportunities. Meru is a lot less busy than some of Kenya’s more popular parks, and has an unspoilt feel. All of the Big Five are present. Elephant and buffalo are very common, and there is an enclosed rhino sanctuary containing both black and white rhino. The park is extremely scenic with tall doum palms growing along the park’s many watercourses.

Best Time to Go June to September (Little to no rainfall)
High Season December to March and July to October (Not busy)
Size 870km² / 336mi²
Altitude 333-763m / 1,093-2,503ft

Pros and Cons

  • Good wildlife viewing with some dry country specials
  • Never very busy
  • Stunning scenery
  • Excellent birding with dry country specials
  • Great accommodation options
  • Animals aren’t very habituated
  • Predator sightings are hit-and-miss

Meru Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Meru is home to the Big Five. Elephants migrate through the park and big herds can sometimes be encountered. Big cats are more difficult to spot, but it isn’t rare to have a sighting all to yourself. Northern Kenya specials include Beisa oryx, Reticulated giraffe, and the odd-looking gerenuk. The rare Grevy's zebra occurs alongside the more common Burchell's zebra.

Scenery

Meru is particularly scenic. The Tana River on the southern boundary is the largest waterway in Kenya, and several small streams run through the park. Beautiful doum palms and baobab trees are silhouetted against the sky, and with the red soil, make a striking background for arid-adapted animals.

Weather & Climate

The levels of precipitation change dramatically over the course of a year. Most of the Dry season (June to October) sees very little rain. This changes in October, when the rainfall edges up in advance of the Wet season (November to May), leading to a peak of wet weather in April. The opposite is true of temperatures at Meru, whose location near the equator ensures consistent daytime temperatures of around 32°C/90°F.

Best Time to Visit

The lack of rain in the Dry season (June to October) makes this the best time to get to Meru. The grass doesn’t grow much, making the wildlife easier to spot, and conditions are generally better for navigating the park’s lovely landscape. In the wetter months, high grass tends to obscure the animals, and elephants depart for drier ground.

Want to Visit Meru NP?

Meru Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Where Elsa the lion roamed free
4/5

If you’re longing for a Kenyan park which the crowds have yet to find, Meru is well worth considering. You have to work a little harder to see the animals here than in, say, Amboseli or on the open plains of the Masai Mara, but the...

Latest User Review
The Complete Wilderness", far away from the madding crowd.
5/5

This was my seventh visit to Meru since 2010. It is probably the most scenic park in Kenya; criss-crossed by 13 permanent rivers fed from the Nyambene Hills which form a beautiful backdrop to the west of the park giving occasional glimpses...