Tsavo West National Park covers 7065km² but the terrain is much more varied than that of Tsavo East. It ranges from 200-1000m in altitude. The northern sector is bush land with scattered native baobab trees.
A wildlife safari is the best way to see Kenya's wildlife close-up in its natural environment. Tsavo West is home to the largest population of red-skinned elephants as well as to members of the rest of the "Big 5" African animals (buffalo, African lions, leopards and rhinos). There is also a host of Kenyan birds and other animals, both large and small, to see.
What to see and what to do at Tsavo West National park
Tsavo West National Park offers many activities and tourist attractions, as well as wildlife safaris.
Lake Jipe attracts a lot of wildlife and is a good place for bird watching. It is fed by the run-off from Mount Kilimanjaro and the North Pare Mountains. Take a boat excursion on the lake, or explore the swamps at each end
Mzima Springs is at the north end of Tsavo West. Water from the Chyulu Hills runs from beneath the lava ridge and forms several natural pools. Fringed with palm trees, these pools are popular watering holes for birds and African wildlife.
You can also watch the hippos bathing underwater here.
Visit the Lava Flows and Caves for geological interest; explore the caves or hike along the lava flow.
Bird watching safaris are best between October and January, featuring many migratory birds including African skimmers, red and yellow bishops, goshawks, buffalo weavers and palm nut vultures, to name a few. The swamps on Lake Jipe and the acacia woodlands also attract many birds. In fact, over 500 bird species have been recorded in the park, including ostriches, kestrels, buzzards, starlings, weavers, kingfishers, hornbills, secretary birds and herons.
The cliff faces in Tsavo West offer some of the best rock climbing in Kenya. The views over the savanna plains are spectacular, and Mt Kilimanjaro can also be seen on occasion. Visit the 300m high, east side of Kichwa Tembo, the Great Tsavo Chimney and the Ivory Tower on Elephant Rock. Climbing can be arranged through the Mountain Club of Kenya.
How to get to Tsavo West National park
By air: There are several good airstrips for chartered aircrafts at Chyulu, Mtito Andei, Tsavo, Jipe, Maktau, Kasigau and Ziwani gates.
By Road: From Amboseli (52km), head for the Chyulu Gate. From Nairobi (272km), enter using the Mtito Andei Gate. From Mombasa (188km), use either the Tsavo Gate near Manyani, or the Mtito Andei Gate. There are also entrances at Maktau, Ziwani and Jipe, depending upon where you want to be within the national park.
Best time to visit Tsavo West National park
January and February are good months to visit Tsavo West, as well as June to September. Visiting during the heavy rainy season of March to May should be avoided as the roads become very muddy. There may be some rain from October to December.
The best months for birdwatchers to see migratory birds are October to January. The best times to view the park's animals are early and late in the day, as they tend to sleep in the hot afternoon sun.