Although Tsavo West and Tsavo East were once a single mega-park, they were separated decades ago, along a line coinciding with the Mombasa highway – and they feel like quite distinct national parks with different eco-systems: the open, flat-to-undulating plains and scattered bush of Tsavo East National Park and the much more wooded, hilly landscapes, dotted with volcanic cones and dramatic, black lava flows, that characterise Tsavo West National Park.
The rugged landscape of Tsavo West is the result of both old and more recent volcanic activity. The park consists of savannah interspersed with open plains, grassland, savannah, mountains, semi-desert, cliffs and volcanic ridges.
The Ngulia Hills even reach up to 1830 m altitude. Because these heights there are several places with great vantage points. Tsavo West is best known for Mzima Springs, the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, the lava landscape and the ability to climb mountains. In the rainy season the park turns into a green landscape.
During the 1st World War Tsavo West was a major battleground when British and German troops fought for power. In some places are memorials that remind us of that time.
Every day millions of gallons of water flow under the ground of the Chyulu Hills to end up at the Mzima Springs to emerge. From the parking lot you will be escorted to the wells by a ranger. It is a popular place for hippos, crocodiles and various (water) birds.
There is an underwater observatory where you can see a variety of fish through the crystal clear water. Mzima Springs is of great importance to Mombasa and other places in the area. A pipeline connects the sources of the cities and provides them with fresh water.
The "Roaring Rocks" are so named by the howling of the wind along the cliffs. After the climb you have a beautiful view. Furthermore, you will have a great opportunity to see eagles, falcons and buzzards at this altitude, looking for prey among the rocks.
ShetaniLava Flow and Caves
The Shetani lava flow is created a few hundred years ago and lies at the foot of the Chyulu Hills. The Shetani caves were created by volcanic activity. The caves can be explored but you do need a flashlight. Occasionally there may be some hyenas.
This volcanic crater is more than 200 years old. It is possible to climb to the crater. On top you have a wonderful view over the park. The area is home to among others the small Kudu and Klipspringer.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Tsavo West consists mainly of Acacia, Baobab tree Delonix, Doum Palms, Raffia palms, date palms, papyrus plants, fever trees, fig trees and reeds.
During the rainy season dozens of wild flowers appear like Thunbergia, Ipomoea and Fire Ball lily.
Besides very big "red" elephant herds here live yellow baboon, bushbuck, buffalo, cheetah (rare), Dassie, Eland, Gerenuk, Grant's gazelle, hartebeest, Hyena, Impala, Kirk's dik-dik, Small Kudu, Klipspringer, crocodile, lion, Leopard, Masai Giraffe, Green monkey, black rhino (Ngulia Sanctuary), Hippo, Oryx, Ibex, Porcupine, vervet monkey, waterbuck, wild dog (rare), Warthog and Grevy's Zebras.
With more than 600 birds is the ultimate Tsavo West park for bird watching:
Barbets, Bateleur, Bustards, Buzzards, D'Arnand's Barbet, Fischer's Starling, Golden Pipit, golden-breasted starling, Herons, Hornbills, Kestrels, Secretary bird, Somali Ostrich, orange-bellied parrot, Rollers, Sunbirds, Weaver-birds, white -headed buffalo Weaver.
Maneaters of Tsavo
Tsavo’s lions achieved notoriety in 1898 during the building of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway. Building the iron bridge across the river (next to the highway between Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park) slowed the construction teams down for several months – the comparatively shallow but rocky ravine was a major obstacle – and two male lions began to snatch labourers (mostly Indian migrants from the Punjab and Gujerat) from their tents at night. It took nine months for Colonel JH Patterson, in charge of the bridge-building, to kill the lions, by which time more than thirty labourers had been killed by them, and the remainder had fled the railhead. It’s presumed that the crossing point, one that had been used by coastal slavers for decades, was regularly a site where human bodies were buried, and local lions had acquired a taste for the easy pickings. Today, the two maneaters (maneless, as is the norm in the region) can be seen in the Chicago Field Museum. The story still adds an extra frisson to lion sightings in either Tsavo West or Tsavo East.