The sight of elephants walking on the road, spraying the blue waters of the Galana River on themselves is one you’ll cherish throughout your life. This is one of the most beautiful images of Africa and it is yours for the taking at Tsavo East National Park. Tsavo West might be associated with those ferocious man-eating lions of the early 19th century, but it was in the Tsavo East National Park section that the incidents took place. The Tsavo was divided into two different parks much later.
Tsavo East Vs Tsavo West is a debate for another time, as there is no clear winner between the two. Both parks are incredibly similar, yet strikingly different. Tsavo West is more about its geological features and natural beauty while Tsavo East presents a similar experience, but also brings you closer to as many as 10000 dust-red elephants and all kinds of African birds and animals you can possibly imagine.
The Tsavo East National Park stretches over 13700 sq. kms. and it is almost 9 times bigger than Maasai Mara, the most popular park in Kenya. Dust-red elephants are a huge draw at Tsavo East, but there is another thing that makes it so unique. Since Tsavo West explorations are concentrated to a smaller area, it feels more crowded. On the other hand, it is entirely possible to explore the wilderness while on a game drive and not come across another vehicle for the entirety of your stay in Tsavo East. It is much more remote and there are fewer lodges here. And that’s what makes it so special, so magnificent.
- Wildlife Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- Scenery Rating: 3 stars out of 5
- Bush Vibe: 5 stars out of 5
- Altitude: 229 to 2,000 meters
Another major difference between Tsavo West National Park and Tsavo East National Park is that while Tsavo West is full of hilly expanses, Tsavo East is relatively flat. Its sandy soil switches between woodlands, semi-arid acacia scrubs and vast open plains and its most picturesque section can be seen along the striking Galana River. Tsavo East National Park also receives a lot of attention thanks to the Yatta Plateau, a historic lava flow that stretches over 300 kms and is famous as the largest lava flow on the planet. It is considered to be responsible for attracting large populations of migratory birds to the area. Other popular landmarks at Tsavo East are the Lugard Falls and Crocodile Point. Crocodile Point is where you see numerous crocodiles basking in the sun, oblivious to your presence, or simply too lazy to care.
Other animals seen at Tsavo East National Park include the giraffe, cheetah, lion, serval cat, leopard, oryx, gazelle, buffalo, antelope, lesser kudu, kongoni, stripped hyena, impala and approximately 500 species of birds. Tsavo East is also home to two iconic trees, the baobab and the doum palm. Baobab can be easily recognized by its stumpy branches and huge trunks and can also be found in Tsavo West. However, the doum palm presents a far more interesting sight. While the tree is still young, it looks like a cluster of bushy leaves, but as it grows, its trunk becomes stronger, and bifurcates two or three times to create beautiful images of intertwining palm trees.
The wildlife density of Tsavo East National Park feels lower compared some of the smaller parks in Kenya, but you never come back disappointed. Predator sightings are common and the elephants make sure that you never feel lonely.
- One of the most evocative scenes of Africa, the sight of dust-red elephants spraying each other with water can be seen in Tsavo East
- Easily accessible by air or road
- Longest lava flow on the planet
- Perfect bush vibe
- Remote location
- Limited accommodation
- Animal sightings are not as frequent due to the park’s size
Accommodation at Tsavo East National Park is extremely limited. You only have two options to choose from – the unfenced Satao Camp and the beautiful Galdessa Camp. Satao overlooks a popular waterhole and provides luxury tents that have their own verandahs, the best places to see elephants come to the waterhole for a drink. Galdessa is located on the banks of the Galana River. The camp is surrounded by beautiful doum palms and it always provides luxury accommodation and a true bush experience.
Since it is located close to the equator, Tsavo East National Park has a moderate climate which ranges between 20 to 30 degrees C. Tsavo experiences two wet seasons – the main season of March to April and the shorter season of November to December. It is best to avoid Tsavo during these months as wildlife sightings become difficult and the animals tend to stay hidden from view. The best time to visit Tsavo is during the months of June to October, a period that coincides with the dry season, which also means that the vast open plains are teeming with wildlife.
Mtiti Andrei Gate, the main gate of Tsavo East National Park, is located at a distance of 233 kms. from Nairobi. The African powerhouse is sure to be your point of entry while visiting this beautiful national park, so it always makes sense to spend a few days there exploring its sights and attractions. You might also want to think about adding a Tsavo West tour into your itinerary.