Overview – Saiwa Swamp 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.

Saiwa Swamp is Kenya’s smallest national park. It basically protects a swamp fed by the Saiwa River, which provides shelter for a viable population of the rare sitatunga antelope. There are several observation towers overlooking the swamp, and with some patience, sightings are almost guaranteed. The park is only accessible on foot.

Best Time to Go December to March (Little rain)
High Season December to March and July to October (Not busy)
Size 3km² / 1mi²
Altitude 1,860-1,880m / 6,102-6,168ft

Pros & Cons

  • One of the best places to see the rare sitatunga antelope
  • Off-the-beaten track and little visited
  • Unguided walking on forest trails is permitted
  • Out of the way and not on any tourist circuit
  • Little variety of mammal species
  • Very small walking circuit
  • Limited accommodation options outside the park

Saiwa Safari Reviews

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

Wildlife

The star attraction of the park is the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope. Other herbivores often on the edge of the swamp are bohor reedbuck, Defassa waterbuck, and bushbuck. Several primate species can be spotted in the canopy. The black-and-white colobus and blue monkeys are common along the trail, and Vervet monkeys can often be found near the entrance. You might come across the very rare De Brazza's monkey along the swamp’s edge.

Scenery

Most of the park is taken up by the reed-choked Saiwa Swamp fed by the river with the same name. Around the swamp are several walking trails passing through riverine forest and savanna woodland dotted with acacia trees.

Weather & Climate

As Saiwa Swamp is situated near the equator, there’s little variation in month-to-month temperature. The main influences on the weather are the area’s distinctive seasons. The Dry season (December to March) has lots of sunshine-filled days, though precipitation is still a possibility on most days. The Wet season (April to November) sees a lot of rain falling, often for days at a time.

Best Time to Visit

You can visit Saiwa Swamp at any time of year, but you’ll probably appreciate the environment more in the Dry season (December to March). This is also when migratory birds are passing through, and when offspring of the local sitatunga antelope appear. The area is best avoided from April to August, when the rain is consistently heavy.

Want to Visit Saiwa Swamp NP?

Saiwa Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Kenya’s smallest and most pedestrian friendly park
4/5

This tiny and little known park in western Kenya is not likely to ne of interest to mainstream tourists. But for more experienced wildlife enthusiasts, it offers the opportunity to see several rare creatures. Foremost among these is the...

Latest User Review
Saiwa Swamp was yet another glorious experience in an absolutely beautiful country.
4/5

As a volunteer with VSO Canada, I had the privilege of living and working in Eldoret, Kenya for six months in 2007. I used this opportunity to visit many regions of Kenya with friends and fellow volunteers from the UK. Kenya is a...