User Reviews – Saiwa Swamp NP

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Saiwa Swamp was yet another glorious experience in an absolutely beautiful country.
Overall rating

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 spectacularly beautiful country whose people I found to be warm and friendly. I would often find myself in discussion with westerners and Kenyans about the country’s tremendous economic potential both as a tourist destination and agriculture producer to feed western Africa. All it would take, of course, is sound financial investment, strong local leadership (and perhaps a leap of faith) – but we may be a generation away from that happening!

I set out with friends from England for the 100 kilometre trip from Eldoret to Barnley’s House, which is situated just outside Kitale. Compared to the road from Nairobi to Eldoret, which is a nightmare to drive, the trip to Kitale was excellent, and the sites along the way stunning. Barnley’s House is an ideal base for exploring Saiwa Swamp and the nearby Cherengani Hills. We had dinner in the old settler's house and slept in very comfortable tent-style accommodation (both pictured).

We spent the next day walking throughout the park. After the frantic pace of city life in Eldoret, the Saiwa Swamp was an oasis of calm and beauty. As with all of the parks I visited, including Lake Nakuru, Kakamega Forest, Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria and Mount Kenya, Saiwa Swamp was without the frills that we would normally associate with many western national parks. We followed a dirt pathway around the park and marveled at the vegetation, insects, butterflies and birds. Our guidebook informed us that Saiwa Swamp was established primarily for the protection of the shy Sitatunga, which is an aquatic antelope with splayed feet. We were not disappointed: we caught site of this sometimes-elusive creature as we were preparing to end our hike.

Before returning to Eldoret, we spent the latter part of the day driving and walking through the Cherengani Hills, a spectacular way to end two fabulous days in Western Kenya.

I look forward to a future opportunity to visit this wonderful part of the world.

Fantastic add-on if you're going to Kakamega
Overall rating

Saiwa Swamp is the best small park in Kenya in my opinion. We hired a car and drove around East Africa in 2009 and this park was definitely one of our favourites. If you are going to Kakamega, another great park, you should seriously think about a few days at Saiwa aswell. It's quiet because of it's location, we only saw two other tourists in the park. You can camp in the park, we stayed at a guesthouse a few miles away. Both are good options.
The park is, as the name suggests, just a swamp with paths around it. You drive in, park up, and walk around. You can easily walk the whole park in half a day, but if I was going again I would camp overnight.
The best thing about the park is the wildlife - it is totally different to any other major park in Kenya. Sitatunga and otters are easy to see. There are lots of mongooses and plenty of monkeys. We saw colobus and a few others. I'm not a birder but there are lots of birds - swamps are generally good for birds are they not?
Entrance fee is very cheap by Kenyan standards aswell. Go now.

Overall rating

Not much here. A little disappointed. We did see many monkeys and birds were poor. It could have been a bad year or wrong time of year.

Average User Rating

  • 3.7/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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