Overview – Tsavo East 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.

Tsavo East and Tsavo West together form one of the world’s largest national parks, covering 4% of Kenya. Tsavo East NP feels wild and undiscovered; its vast open spaces are mesmerizing. The huge, semi-arid wilderness is home to most safari animals, and although wildlife densities aren’t large, spotting animals is always possible here due to the lack of foliage. The park is a stronghold for elephants, and you’ll commonly find them with a reddish appearance from the distinctive red soil of the area.

Best Time to Go June to September and January to February
High Season December to March and July to October (Not busy)
Size 13,747km² / 5,308mi²
Altitude 171-845m / 561-2,772ft

Pros & Cons

  • Good wildlife viewing with all of the Big Five present
  • Excellent birding with many dry-country specials
  • Great wilderness appeal with off-the-beaten track options
  • Beautiful landscape with scenic landmarks like the Galana river and Taita Hills
  • All tourism facilities are in a small area
  • Wildlife densities are rather low

Tsavo-East Safari Reviews

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

Wildlife

Tsavo East is home to the Big Five, but it isn’t the kind of park to mark off species from your list. Elephants are abundant, and big herds can be seen crossing the endless plains. The park is also famous for its maneless lions. The most localized of the many dry country specials that can be found in the park is the fringe-eared oryx.

Scenery

Tsavo East offers miles of open plains, bushy grassland and semi-arid shrub. The Galana river is a major feature in the park and is fringed by riverine forests. Another scenic highlight is Mudanda rock, a towering, quartzite (hard, metamorphic rock) formation.

Weather & Climate

Conditions stay hot and dry throughout the year at Tsavo, with the exception of the park’s higher altitudes where it gets progressively cooler as you head up the hills. The Wet season gets particularly hot, especially the interlude between the so-called ‘short rains’ at year’s end and those of the later ‘long rains’. The Dry season (June to September) brings a little relief from the heat.

Best Time to Visit

The park doesn’t look its best in the Dry season (June to September), when the sky is hazy from the dust, but this is the best time to spot animals. The grass is much shorter than in the Wet season (October to May), so the wildlife can’t easily disappear into the bush when your vehicle approaches. And, of course, getting wet is not an issue.

Want to Visit Tsavo East NP?

Tsavo-East Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Tsavo East – pink elephants and man-eating lions
4/5

Tsavo is fascinating. By far the largest park in Kenya, it covers about 4 percent of the country (about the same size as Massachusetts). It’s officially split into two parks, Tsavo East and West, divided by the main Nairobi-Mombasa road....

Latest User Review
5/5

Hundreds of elephants and saw 4 cheetahs! Thoroughly recommend saltlick lodge accommodation!!