Overview – Shimba Hills NR

Anthony Ham
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.

Shimba Hills protects one of the last large coastal rainforests in East Africa. It is a stronghold for the rare subspecies of sable antelope: Roosevelt's sable. This is not a Big Five reserve, but several of the usual safari animals, as well as some interesting forest animals, can be found here.

Best Time to Go July to September and January to February
High Season December to March and July to October (Not busy)
Size 300km² / 116mi²
Altitude 119-442m / 390-1,450ft

Pros & Cons

  • Rare coastal rainforest habitat
  • Rare forest wildlife
  • Little visited and it never gets busy
  • Guided walks available
  • Stunning scenery
  • Excellent birding with forest specials
  • Easy daytrip from Mombasa and beach resorts
  • Limited variety of the usual big game animals and few predator sightings
  • Only one lodge inside the park

Shimba Hills NR Safari Reviews

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


Shimba Hills is a refuge for many forest species. Elephant and buffalo are the only Big Five animals you’re likely to see. Predator sightings are rare, but Masai giraffe has been introduced and many interesting antelope species occur here naturally. Some of the delightful smaller inhabitants include the red-bellied coast squirrel and the Greater galago, both of which have become habituated at Shimba Hills Lodge.


The reserve’s habitat consists of coastal rainforest and grassland interspersed with woodland and coastal bush. Shimba Hills is considered to be one of the most diverse of the forested ecosystems on the Kenyan coast, supporting over 1000 plant species. Sheldrick Falls has a lovely plunge pool, perfect for cooling off.

Weather & Climate

An ever-present breeze tends to take the sting out of Shimba Hills’ heat and humidity, though it never really gets that cool. Even at night it stays warm. You can’t fully escape the rain here, but it’s more pervasive in October and November, and can really pelt down in April and May. Sunny days are typical in the intervening dry periods.

Best Time to Visit

The drier seasons (December to March and June to September) see the animals congregate around local water sources, making them easy to find. You can still track them in the wetter months, but it takes greater effort as they’re more dispersed. You won’t really be bothered by other tourists here at any time of year, as the park doesn’t tend to attract crowds.

Want to Visit Shimba Hills NR?

Shimba Hills NR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Sables, squirrels and bushbabies

Though it doesn’t compare with Kenya’s finest in terms of overall game viewing, this small hilly reserve offers much to wildlife connoisseurs and it’s also a great overnight add-on ’to a beach holiday, situated less than an hours...

Latest User Review
MARK R  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Jan 17, 2016

Again just one day in this park super scenery and wildlife again.

Full Review