Overview – Tsavo West NP

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.

Tsavo West together with its expansive Tsavo East neighbor form one of the largest national parks in the world. The park is home to the Big Five, but wildlife viewing can be a bit slow at times. There are, however, several landmarks worth visiting including recent lava flows and Mzima Springs with its underwater observation chamber for close-up views of hippos.

Best Time to Go June to September and January to February
High Season December to March and July to October (Busy)
Size 7,065km² / 2,728mi²
Altitude 419-1,677m / 1,375-5,502ft

Pros & Cons

  • Great wilderness destination
  • Wide variety of animal with the Big Five present
  • Excellent birding; many dry-country specials
  • A chance of seeing rare black rhino in the Ngulia rhino sanctuary
  • Short walking trail at Mzima Springs
  • Opportunity to see hippos underwater at Mzima Springs
  • Views of Kilimanjaro on a clear day
  • Wildlife densities are rather low
  • Most tourist facilities are in a small area

Tsavo West NP Safari Reviews

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  • Wildlife
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Tsavo West is a real wilderness destination. All of the Big Five are present, but wildlife densities are lower than in some of the more popular parks in Kenya. However, there is a good variety of animals with many dry-country specials, including the shy lesser kudu and the rare fringe-eared oryx. Large elephant herds can be found gathering at the waterholes.


Tsavo West has a rugged, arid landscape. In contrast with the flat plains of Tsavo East, Tsavo West is marked by a number of rocky outcrops and volcanic hills. Shetani lava flows, just outside the park, make for a great excursion. On a fine day, the park offers lovely views of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Weather & Climate

Like its sister park to the east, Tsavo West is a hot and dry place, even if temperatures drop significantly at night. The best place to escape the heat is the higher altitudes of the park, where it cools by 6.5°C/3.5°F for every 1000m/1000ft you climb. The Dry season (June to September) is characterized by bright, sunny days, and the Wet season (October to May) by afternoon showers.

Best Time to Visit

If you prefer your vegetation green instead of brown, and want a clear view of Kilimanjaro, then the Wet season (October to May) is when you’ll want to visit. Migratory birds also offer a great spectacle at this time. But for wildlife watching in general, you should really go in the drier months, when a lack of water sees animals gather at local rivers and waterholes.

Want to Visit Tsavo West NP?

Tsavo West NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Tsavo West – Kenya’s Southern Wilderness

The vast and uninhabited plains of Tsavo West is high on my list of favourite Kenyan safari destinations. Wildlife densities are much lower here than the Masai Mara or even Tsavo’s other half away to the east. But the shaggy maned lions...

Latest User Review
Family Hansson  –  
Finland FI
Reviewed: Feb 16, 2020

The nature was beautiful but very bushy which made the animals harder to spot.

Full Review