Established in 1948 and divided into Tsavo East National Park and Park Tsavo West National Park by road and railway is southeast Kenya’s Tsavo National Park. The park is the namesake of the Tsavo river, which flows from east to west within the park and beyond, and its two sections jointly comprise one of the world’s largest, most scenic national parks in Kenya, at 22,000 km² (8,306 miles²).
Located east of Nairobi, Tsavo East is known for the biodiversity represented by its grasslands, savannah, waterfalls, rivers and inselberg. The Yatta Plateau—the world’s longest lava flow—forms the western boundary of the park; the visible strata of Mudanda Rock catch and cull water and wildlife; the Galana River conjures the white water rapids and crocodile-infested pools of the Lugard Falls; and Aruba Dam entices animal and bird. Elephant, dusted red by the park’s rich, rust-colored soil, are only one of the big five mammals that occupy Tsavo East—masai lion, black rhino, cape buffalo and leopard also homestead Tsavo East, as do hippopotamus and more than 500 species of bird.
Tavo West, located 240 km (149 miles) from Nairobi, is wetter, more topographically diverse, and more often visited than its eastern counterpart, from the scenery of lake and spring to the park’s ascendable cliffs. The clear Mzima Springs, fed by clear water filtered through the Chyulu Hills’ volcanic rock, are rife with elephant, hippo, crocodile and endemic fishes that can be viewed under water. On the ground, the “big five” mingle with the inhabitants of the Tsavo West’s black rhino reserve; in the air fly the 300 m (984 foot) face of Kichwa Tembo and varied species of bird.
Game viewing, camping, trekking, mammal- and bird-watching are available on both sides of the park, though large parts of the park are closed to the public; for the experienced and daring, Tsavo West is known for its rock climbing.
Tsavo National Park is accessible year-round. The heavy rains occur between March and May; visibility and accessibility may be impaired during this time.