Attractions in Tsavo East National Park, What to see in Tsavo East Park Kenya
Attractions in Tsavo East National Park, what to see in Tsavo East Park Kenya, Wildlife Game Drive Safari Kenya, Trekking Safari, Bird watching, Lugard Falls in Tsavo East Park-Kenya, Wildlife in Tsavo East Park. Tsavo East National Park is found in Kenya which is located in the eastern region of the African continent along geographical co-ordinates of 02o46’43”S 38o46’18”E. Tsavo East is located in the south east of Kenya and its bordered by Tsavo West in the west, south Kitui national reserve in the north and Samburu and Mangu areas in the south. Tsavo east national park is part of the Tsavo Conservation Area that comprises of Chyulu hills park in the north south Kitui reserve in the south and ranches in galena, Taita Kulalu and Ambroseli and finally both Tsavo East and West National Parks. This vast expanse eco system spans over 42000sqkm and of this area, 25000sqkm is protected. Tsavo east national park covers an area of 13747sqkm, Tsavo east is separated from Tsavo west by A109 road and the Kenyan standard gauge railway both of which run from Mombasa to Nairobi through this conservation area.
Tsavo got its first encounter with foreigners as early as 700AD, as the early Swahili people traded with the natives in animal skins, slaves and ivory. this is evidenced by presence of archeological remains such as cowrie shells and beads that were documented as medium of exchange used during this early trade. However, the first Europeans to visit Tsavo areas during the late 19th and early 20th century documented it as Nyika plains and viewed the natives as hostile but due to colonialism phase, efforts were made to access the hinterland of east Africa hence a railway line in 1898 was constructed crossing the Nyika plains. This was a daring and a mammoth test for the British colonialists who encountered a lot of challenges during this expedition to connect the interior to the coastal areas of eat Africa. In the Tsavo area, the railway builders had to tussle it out with lions which stalked and hunted them as prey. History has recorded that 23 builders lost their lives to these unforgiving lions but rumor has it that the number exceeded well above 100 men. These 2 lions who had made it a habit to prey on the railway builders got nick named the man eaters of Tsavo were later on hunted down and shot by lt. col. Patterson.
Conservation in Tsavo can be traced back to 1948 when Tsavo was gazatted as a national park, the designation of Tsavo led to the displacement of the native settlers of this area called the Orma and their livestock to neighboring places such as Voi and Mtito andei. This was followed by a ban on all forms of hunting in the newly designated Tsavo game park in 1963.
Wildlife Game Drive Safari in Tsavo East National Park-Kenya
Tsavo East National Park in Kenya is one of the world’s largest game reserves, providing undeveloped wilderness homes to vast numbers of animals. The main purpose of a wildlife safari is to see Kenyan animals in their natural state. It never ceases to surprise tourists when they see birds perched near crocodiles, or gazelles grazing near big cats; however, the truth is that predators generally only kill to eat and, otherwise, the animals live together in harmony.
The most common Kenyan animals you may see during your visit to Tsavo East National Park include but not limited to; Cape buffalo, cheetahs, blue duikers, bush duiker, red duiker, African elephants, eland, gazelles, gerenuks, giraffes, African hare, African wildcat, caracal, bushbuck, hares, striped hyena, Coke’s hartebeests, klipspringer, fringe-eared oryx, spotted hyena, East African hedgehog impalas, leopards, lions, slender mongoose, black faced vervet bush baby, monkeys, Sykes’s monkeys, crested porcupines, giant rats, black rhinoceros, squirrels, warthogs, waterbucks, zebras, spectacled elephant shrew, clawless otter, ground pangolin, bush squirrel, East African red squirrel, bohor, reedbuck, cane rat, giant rat, naked mole rat, serval, ratel, striped ground squirrel, unstriped ground squirrel, lesser kudu, African hunting dog, dwarf mongoose, Egyptian mongoose, marsh mongoose, white-tailed mongoose, and springhare.
The best time to view the wildlife is early or late in the day, as the animals tend to sleep in the hot midday sun. It is recommended that you use a Prime Safaris driver/guide who must be familiar with the area, able to give you lots of information about the animals and their habitat, and know where they can currently be found and how best to approach them. However, one can opt for a self-drive safari on condition that you are familiar with the rules and regulations of the Park.
Wildebeest – Attractions in Tsavo East National Park
The wildebeests are members of the antelope group and belong to the connochaetes genus. In east Africa they are 2 closely related wildebeests and that is the blue wildebeest and the black wildebeest but the blue wildebeest is the most common one in the Serengeti plains. These two species can be identified basing on few things like their coat colors and also on the nature of their horns, the blue wildebeest horns protrude to the side then curve downward before curving upwards as they come to an end, the horns of black wildebeests on the other hand curve forward first then downwards and finally upwards as they come to their tips.
The blue wildebeests also bigger than the black wildebeests, the male blue wildebeests weigh about 250kg with a standing height of 150cm, female blue wildebeest stand at 135cm at the shoulders and weigh around 180kg while the male black wildebeest stand between 112-120cm at shoulder height and weigh 180kg and their female counterparts stand in at 108cm at the shoulders with a body weight of 155kg. these wildebeests are famous for their annual migration that takes place from June- august. This migration involves these animals to trek great distances about 1500 of kilometers as they cross from the southern Serengeti plains into the southern parts of the Maasai Mara reserve in southern in Kenya.
This migration is majorly done following the rainfall season patterns in the east African region. During these migrations, the wildebeest organize themselves in large herds and trek in this group to areas of new pastures. These animals also show a high level of swarm intelligence as they perform similar function without anyone or anything dictating it to them for example, they can all decide to cross the river from the same spot regardless of whether it is infested with many predators like crocodiles or not.
Masai giraffe – Attractions in Tsavo East National Park
Masai giraffe can be distinguished from other giraffe sub species from their star-like stamped patches which are irregular and become darker especially in males as they age. The Masai giraffe is generally brown in colour with several shades of colour which can range from dried oak to orange and cream. The lower parts of their limbs are sticky like or very skinny but the upper parts of these limbs are study so as to support their massive weight. The giraffes have a unique walking pattern where as they have the ability to move both the front and hind limbs of one side of the body at once and then counter balance it by moving their long neck in the opposite direction.
The adult male giraffe has an average height of 4.3-5.7m or 14.1-18.7ft and weighs in at 1192kg or 2628ib while an adult female weighs in at 828kg or 1825ib hence showing sexual dimorphism amongst giraffes. The giraffe also has a long tongue that is measured at an average of 45cm or 18in and it has a purplish black color which is believed to protect it from sunburns. The massai giraffes have the longest tail among all land mammals which measures up to 3.3ft long. Due to their big body mass giraffes also have a massive heart that weighs up to 5ibs so as to pump 60 litres of blood needed to move around the giraffe’s body in just one minute.
Giraffes also have the ability to sleep while standing and even when they lie down, they will put their long neck on their hip. The Masai giraffe are completely herbivores and spend their biggest part of the day about 16-20 hours feeding so as to satisfy their big appetites. The giraffe has a gestation period of 14-15 months and the birth period is between 1-6 hours after which a single calf is born and the mother will give birth while standing hence the calf will have to be ready for a rough landing when it comes out. The calves are born almost ready to walk because it takes a calf between 20 minutes – 1 hour to start walking. Masai giraffes have a life span of up to 25 years in their natural habitat.
Grants gazelle – Attractions in Tsavo East National Park
Grants gazelles. the grant gazelle has a beige orange on its back and a white belly, they also have lyre shaped horns that are stout at the base and have clear rings on the horns. These horns have a length of41-81cm or 18-32in. The grant gazelles live in short grassed plains so as to have clear visibility of predators which stalk them for prey. The female grant gazelle weighs 35-50kg or 77-110ib while the male gazelle weighs 50-80kg or 110-180ib with an average standing height of 75-95cm or 30-37in.
Unlike most of the subspecies that graze towards or around water sources, the grant gazelles graze going further away from the water sources that are usually roamed by predators. The gazelles have adapted to live without water for long days and they get most of their water from the pasture they graze on. The gazelles are territorial animals and males herd territories with many females mainly for mating. Mature gazelles will settle conflicts with superiority displays hence physical interactions are quite rare among these animals.
Grants gazelles reach sexual maturity at 18 months of age. The male gazelles will test by smelling on the urine of the female to ascertain whether she in oestrus and when the female is ready to mate, it lifts her tail signaling the male to mount her. These animals have a gestation period of 198days after which, a single fawn is usually born. The fawn is usually born while its still very weak and can’t move but it will be able to so in a few days’ time and it will follow the mother to the herd where it starts fraternizing with other fawns. The fawn is weaned after 6 months but might stay with the mother until it reaches adolescence.
Hyenas – Attractions in Tsavo East National Park
Hyenas feature in many of our savannah plains Amboseli is no exception to this canine hunter. Hyenas are closely related to canines in terms of behavior and body structure as both hyenas and other canines kill most of their prey using their teeth than their claws. They have a wolf like body structure with their fore limbs being longer than the hind limbs and the entire hind quarters are visibly lower and the back slopes downwards towards their rumps. There are two different species of hyenas i.e. spotted hyenas and striped hyenas. Hyenas can be identified from their body structure that is they have large ears, they have thick fur that is coarse and sparse and poorly developed on their underbelly.
Spotted hyena exhibits sexual dimorphism with males being large than females while striped hyenas exhibit reversed sexual dimorphism with females being larger than males. Spotted hyenas are more of hunters while striped hyenas like to scavenge from kills made by other predators. Even though in human society, hyenas are depicted as cowardly animals, this isn’t entirely true as these animals have been widely documented chasing off big and fierce predators like lions and leopards from their kills and have the kill for themselves, this doesn’t strike as an act of cowardice by any means. Usually hyenas are nocturnal animals but they have can also be seen in the morning hours doing their hunting and stocking rounds. Hyenas have a set of 9 teeth comprising of mainly canines.
African bush elephants – Attractions in Tsavo East National Park
African elephants are the largest land mammals in the world with a male elephant weighing in at 4,700-6,048kg or 10,362-13,334Ib and a shoulder height of 3.2-4.0m or 10.5-13.1ft while their female counterparts weigh in at 2,160-3,232kg or 4,762-7,125Ib and a shoulder height of 2.2-2.6m or 7.2-8.5ft. these land giants have 24 teeth in their mouths and usually lose their teeth 4-6 times in their life time which lies between 60-70 years. What sets these land giants apart from the rest of crowd is their elongated tusks which are in fact their second set of incisors. This means that the tusks are very strong as they are used to up root trees and also as weapons they use while fighting. The tusks weigh between 23-45 kg or 55-99Ib with a length of 1.5-2.4m or 5-8 ft. elephants usually live in groups called families which comprise of 10 or more closely related females with their calves and each of these families is led by an older female called a matriarch.
Elephants have the ability to distinguish and communicate with each other using low frequency infrasonic calls. With a body mass that is compared to nothing else on land, African elephants have to feed on an average of 450 kg or 992Ib of foliage to sustain their huge bodies and also drink to over 50 liters of water per day. In fact, these elephants have the ability to smell water to up to 20 km or 12miles away. Elephants have an exposed skin so in order to control over heating of their body, they flap their big ears so as to carry away the heat or bathe in water ponds. It is believed that when an elephant flaps its ears, it can lose about 10oF of heat hence always staying cool even in the hottest temperatures.
They also employ their elongated trunk to carry water and pour it over their ears to try and cool themselves. These land giants have very thin hairs around body parts such as eyes and noses and these are mainly for ensuring that germs and other bacteria don’t find it easy to enter the elephant’s body through these parts. The elephant trunk is a master piece of creation as it is equipped with 40000 muscles which is way more than an entire human body has at only 639 muscles. This makes the trunks a very strong and agile part of the elephant that can do many things. The elephant trunk is also used for breathing, snorkeling and also as an extended arm for holding, lifting or pushing anything they want to carry. A female elephant reaches sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 years and can reproduce after every 3-6 years throughout its lifetime.
All elephants have a very poor metabolism and that’s why they eat a lot of food but ¾ of it will come out of the elephants undigested as dung. Due to the poor metabolic system, elephant calves have been recorded doing something bizarre and that is eating dung that has been passed out by their mothers but this is all because elephant calves can’t process raw grass hence, they have to resort to eating pre-processed food that has been passed out as dung. They have a gestation period of up to 22 months being the longest in all land mammals. Just like humans and apes, elephants are also highly intelligent species with a brain that weighs about 5kg or 11Ib which about 4 times heavier than that of human making it the heaviest brain of any land mammal. With such a brain, these land giants are believed to exhibit character traits like grief, learning, sense of humor, compassion, self-awareness, a very strong and vivid memory, play and use of tools and possibly a language.
Cape buffalo – Attractions in Tsavo East National Park
The cape buffalo is also referred to as the African buffalo and they are a very common sight throughout this park. It is usually mistaken to be a close relative to domesticated cattle but its rather related to actually other bigger bovines. Buffaloes have a coarse black coat unlike their close relatives the forest buffaloes which have a reddish coat. As the male buffaloes grow older, the bases of their horns grows closer and it can even unite forming a feature called a “boss” which is very had to penetrate even with a gun bullet of less 16mm. you can differentiate a male buffalo from a female one by observing the structure of their horns, the male buffalo horns grow while curving outwards while the ones of the female grow while curving inside. The African buffalo is a big animal with a shoulder height of 1.0-1.7m or 3.3-5.6ft. it has a body length of 1.7-3.4m or 5.6-11.2ft and its tail has a length of 70-110cm or 28-43in.
An adult male African buffalo can weigh as much as between 500-1000kg but the females usually weigh less than this. Cape buffaloes are usually found in the great plains of African savanna like Murchison falls park. Buffaloes usually stay in large herds that consist anywhere from 5-100 individuals and this is primarily for protection purposes from their predators. Although buffaloes have a very poor eye sight, this is compensated by possessing an acute sense of smell coupled with a keen sense of hearing, in fact, the buffaloes can stop whatever they are doing and stand still for many minutes or sometimes even hours just to listen even to the tiniest of sounds that may be made by any predator that may be stalking them. when buffaloes are attacked, they male buffaloes form defensive wall by being at the flanks of the herd while the females and calves are within the inner part of the herd. the male buffaloes can even sometimes turn and chase the attacking predators They have a gestation period of 11.5 months and a life span of over 25 years in their natural habitats.
Lions – Attractions in Tsavo East National Park
These can easily be found in Tsavo East National Park. Lions are part of the big cate family and are muscular, deep chested with rounded heads. Most of the African lion males can distinguished from their females by the presence of a mane around the necks and heads of male African lions which is clearly absent in females but there quite many cases in Africa where the males also don’t have a mane or have a very short and thin one. The male lions are usually bigger than the females but their sizes vary according to location. In east Africa, adult female lions have a body length of 160-184cm or 63-72in weighing in at 119.5kg or 263Ib on average while the adult males have a body length of 184-208cm or 72-82in weighing in at 174.9kg or 386Ib on average.
Lions are social animals who live in groups called prides. A pride is always led by a dominant male and their highly territorial animals controlling vast expanses that are strategic with a lot of prey and water. Male dominant lions are responsible for protecting the pride and they will fight off other male invaders, in case the dominant male is defeated by the invading lions, the victor lions will kill off all the cubs that are off springs to the defeated dominant male as a way of ending its blood lineage. Lions are carnivores and are at the top of the food chain feeding on almost all browsers and grazers within their domain due to their ability to hunt as a pride and carry out well coordinated and planned attacks which enables them to take down prey that can even be between 2-4 times bigger than them such as zebras, elephants and buffaloes.
Lions usually hunt at night because of their well-developed sense of sight especially at night where their vision is almost 6 times better than that of humans due to the presence of white patches around their eyes which enable them to absorb even the smallest amount of light available during the cover of darkness. Hunting among lions is an affair carried out by female lions mostly and juvenile males and when a kill has been made by the lionesses in a pride, it’s always the dominant male lion who will eat first up to his fill then the rest of the pride will feed on what has remained after the he has finished eating. They have a gestation period of 97 days and a life span of about 10-14 years.
Hippopotami – Attractions in Tsavo East National Park
Hippos in Serengeti national park are commonly seen in Grumeti river in the north west of the park. Hippos are large animals only behind the African elephant that can weigh anywhere between 1300-1500kg or 2870-3310ib for both sexes. The hippos are semi aquatic as they both live on land and in water. Hippos are herbivores animals can come on land in the evening to graze, they can be easily identified basing on barrel shaped body, short legs and long muzzles or mouths, their body is hairless with a purplish gray to blue black color which is also thick about 2in or 6cm. due to lack of body hairs, hippos secret an element that is reddish orange to brown to act as a protective layer both from the scotching sun and bacterial infection.
This phenomenon is referred to as “blood sweating” hippos have a very powerful jaw which can open as wide as 180o and its filled with monstrous teeth with their incisors growing up to 40cm or 1ft4in and canines growing up to 50cm or 1ft8in. despite their short legs and big sizes hippos can burst to 30km/hr in short distances. Hippos are highly territorial while in water but not on land, they have a gestation period of 243days and can live up to 40-50 years.
Birds in Tsavo East National Park in Kenya
Tsavo east national park features over 500 bird species and these include black headed lapwing, eastern chanting goshawk, African finfoot, golden breasted starling, martial eagle, rufous chatterer, Shelley’s starling, pangani longclaw, somali ostrich, taita falcon, golden pipit
Black headed lapwing: This bird has a black head but it has a white crest across rear end of the head and nape area and its fore head is also white. This bird has a brown rufous colour on the upper plumage while its underparts are mainly white. Its bill and legs are red but the bill has a black ending. This bird displays black flight feathers with brown coverts and white underwings. It has a body length 25cm with the female weighing around 100g. the diet of these birds consist of insects, larvae and gastropods.
African fin foot: The African finfoot is has a long neck, red striking bill and red webbed feet. This bird has a dark blue-black upper plumage and generally pale white underparts. This bird is usually an underwater bird who is capable of submerging in case it notices unwanted human attention. This bird has a body length of 65-67cm. it mainly feeds on small insects and over hanging water vegetation.
Golden breasted starling: This bird has a its head, crown, nape, chin, throat and cheeks in a glossy greenish blue color, while its breast area is golden yellow just as its name suggests, it has its upper plumage in a purple blue color, it has a white eye ring. Its tail long narrow and graduated in a pale grey color. The golden breasted starling has a body length of 30cm and weighs between 46-63g. this starling makes an extended warbling alarm call of “chair” sound. These birds eat insects such as ants and beetles and fruits of commiphora and dobera.
Taita falcon: The taita falcon can be easily likened to the African hobby but the taita falcon is somewhat distintive given its white throat, its underbelly is clearly rufous while its upper parts are pale grey. This falcon has a body length of 25-28cm with males weighing 212-233g while females weigh 297-346g and a wing span of over 61-72cm. they mainly feed on small birds like swallows and swifts.
Somali ostrich: Although quite similar to its other relatives throughout the south of sahara, the somali ostrich has grey blue skin on the throat, neck and thighs, its tail feathers are white. This bird still is very much similar in size to other ostriches but its females are larger than the males and also have a browner plumage.
Activities in Tsavo East National Park Kenya
Game drives in Tsavo East National Park
Game drives in Tsavo east are a rewarding encounter as you get to meet and greet with your eyes not hands some of Africa’s wilderness finest mammals like Africa’s big five which include the king of the jungle the lions, elephants, cape buffaloes, leopards, and the black rhinos, others inhabitants of Tsavo east include yellow baboons, bat eared fox, African wild dog, klipspringer, spotted hyena, rock hyrax, impalas, vervet monkeys, naked mole rat, stripped jackal, bush baby, African wildcat, cheetah, civet, dik dik, lesser kudu, gerenuk, black backed jackal, aardwolf.
Trekking Safari in Tsavo East National Park-Kenya
While in the spectacular sceneries with abundant wildlife, it feels like another world as you explore Tsavo National Park on foot. Your experienced guide will lead you through the various geological phenomena that make up this diverse park, introducing you to various fauna and flora and explaining how they thrive in this challenging environment. At Tsavo you can walk on the world’s longest lava flow at the Yatta Plateau, walk between rugged volcanic cones and marvel at the clear waters of the Mzima Springs, which emanate from beneath the Chyulu Hills.
The expansive Yatta Plateau is a fascinating formation created from molten rock from Ol Doinyo Sabuk Mountain. Seek out Mudanda Rock, a rugged rocky outcrop that sprawls 1.6 kilometers along the plains. An original water hole at the base of this fine geological structure bustles with wildlife slaking their thirst. Mzima Springs is a magnificent water body teeming with animals. At Mzima springs, rumpled elephants stand guard at the shoreline, slumbering hippos bob gently in the water, wily crocodiles drift past surreptitiously and zebra and giraffe tread a network of paths in the mud. Monkeys swing and play in the broad acacias and colorful birds chat and squeak from high palms.
Bird watching in Tsavo East National Park-Kenya
Tsavo East has an impressive checklist of over 500 bird species. The great East Tsavo has many dry-country specials which are easy to spot, including the magnificent golden-breasted starling, golden pipit and vulturine, Guinea fowl, African finfoot, African orange-bellied parrot, Black-faced sandgrouse, Fischer’s starling, Golden pipit, Golden-breasted starling, black-headed lapwing, Lesser kestrel, Martial eagle, Northern brownbul, Pangani Longclaw, Eastern chanting goshawk, Rufous chatterer, Red-winged lark, Shelley’s starling, Slender-tailed nightjar, Somali bee-eater, Somali golden-breasted bunting, Taita falcon, Taita fiscal weaver birds, kingfishers, hornbills, secretary birds and herons. The park is also the southernmost stronghold for the Somali ostrich. The park’s huge area is a significant wintering ground for migrant species from Europe.
Migrant birds are present from November to April. The peak months in the short and long rains are November and April with heavy rain a possibility, leading to bird-watching activities being disrupted.
Lugard Falls in Tsavo East National Park-Kenya
Named after the British captain Frederick Lugard who was said to have stopped here in the early years of colonization when he was traveling for the British East African Company, Lugard Falls in Tsavo East National Park-Kenya are located about 60 km north of Voi town on the Galana River. Lugard Falls are not waterfalls in the classical sense but a variety of rapids, which flow in a gorge-like slope to the Galana River. Over time, the water has formed deep gorges in the relatively soft rock, plunging into the Galana River, the second largest river in Kenya.
The narrow gorges have depths of 5 to 20 meters. The rocky landscape around the Lugard Falls is one of them and is a fascinating alternative. one can experience the sight of the finely polished rock itself, because it is the only point in the National Park where every safari tourist can get out of the car for a rest or a short walk. You should take advantage of this opportunity and let it take effect in order to enjoy the moments of an impressive landscape. However, after heavy rains, Lugard falls are not entirely safe when the water shoots incredibly fast downstream through narrow gaps with very high pressure. The Lugard Falls are seldom driven by one-day Tsavo Safaris, but the time is too short, as other game drives are a priority in the tight safari program. Therefore, my tip, take advantage of the possibilities of a multi-day safari through Tsavo, it is always worth exploring the diversity of Tsavo East National Park-Kenya.
Accessing Tsavo East National Park in Kenya
Tsavo East National Park in Kenya can be easily accessed by both road and air transport
Road transport: Tsavo East National Park is about 325km or 201miles from Nairobi city, Kenya’s capital, it’s also about 240km or 155miles from Mombasa town Kenya’s coastal town. A road trip to Tsavo east park will be quite a comfortable one as its crossed by the A109 road and now the standard gauge railway passes through it so you can easily make it to Tsavo without much of a hustle.
Air transport: Tsavo East National Park doesn’t have scheduled domestic flights but still you can charter a private plane to carry you to Tsavo east with ease as its dotted with a number of airstrips. If you visit Kenya from abroad and overseas, your entry point is likely to be Jomo Kenyatta international Airport as it’s the biggest airport in this region of Africa, the other airport is Moi international airport in Mombasa. These airports have numerous international airlines that have frequent scheduled flights.
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