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Reticulated giraffe.
  Meru NP
Size: 870 km2/336 sq mi.
Wildlife and attractions: Reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx, gerenuk, Grevy's zebra. Undisturbed wilderness.
Getting there: 6+ hours from Nairobi. Most of the way is fair tarmac road, followed by bush road.
There are airstrips in the park. The flying time from Nairobi is roughly one hour.
Meru map
Meru map.
Kenya map
Kenya map.
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By Kenya Birds.
Safari glossary
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Meru National Park
Meru National Park (870 km2/336 sq mi) may be of interest especially to safari-goers wishing to stay away from the crowds. The park is situated on the equator east of Mount Kenya, somewhat off the main beaten track, and has comparatively few visitors.

Meru has several types of nature, including savanna, wetland and forest, offering habitats for a good wildlife. A good number of permanent rivers flow through the park. These allow for fishing and rafting, in additional to game viewing.

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Wildlife in Meru
Like in Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves in the same region, you may see reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx and Grevy's zebra, which are absent in the parks further south in Kenya. Leopards and cheetahs are seen regularly, and there are also lions, elephants, African buffalos, some black rhinos, hippos, antelopes and other mammals.

20–30 years ago, Meru was haunted by poachers and bandits. Since those days, conservation, wildlife translocation and security efforts have turned Meru into a park that offers a good safari experience. White rhinos were reintroduced in the early 2000's. Other species, including elephants, have also been translocated from other areas in Kenya. The formerly very poor roads in the park have been much improved. Meru cannot compete with for example Masai Mara as to wildlife densities, but has a great deal fewer visitors, a good size, and the Big Five.

Lioness Elsa
Meru is known for Joy Adamson, who raised the lioness Elsa there and later reintroduced it in the wilderness. The story is told in her book Born free.

Kora, Bisanadi, Rahole and Mwingi
Meru borders four parks that are fairly undeveloped for tourism: Kora National Park (1,787 km2/690 sq mi), Bisanadi National Reserve (600 km2/230 sq mi), Rahole National Reserve (1,270 km2/490 sq mi) and Mwingi National Reserve (former North Kitui) (745 km2/288 sq mi). You need a permit to visit these parks.

The wildlife is mainly the same as in Meru, although the numbers of animals are lower. In Kora, which is mainly covered by dense woodland and scrub, some 50 mammal species, 200 bird species and 40 reptile species have been recorded. The mammals include classic safari species such as lions, elephants and giraffes. The rare African wild dog is also observed occasionally.

Four-wheel drive is required to visit these parks. Kora National Park has some passable roads, while there are only few and very poor roads in the national reserves. Bisanadi can be accessed from northern and southern Meru.

You may fish in the Tana River, where some 20 species of fish have been recorded. Other activities in the area are bush walks and camel tours. Camping is the only accommodation available apart from the lodges and camps listed for Meru below.

Kora map.

Lodges and camps
Leopard Rock Lodge is an upmarket lodge on the border between Meru National Park and Bisanadi National Reserve in the northern part of Meru. The lodge has 15 cottages (5 of these are family cottages) with ensuite bathrooms, private verandas, Lamu style furniture and Persian carpets. There are dining and lounge areas, bars, a swimming pool (with a glass partition for watching crocodiles from the pool), jacuzzi, and conference facilities. The activities include game drives, bush walks, fishing, camel walks and bird watching. The lodge recommends formal dress for dinner.

Web site:

Elsa's Kopje is an elegant lodge in the middle of Meru National Park, built in an elevated position on Mughwango Hill and offering good views of the park. The overall style is that of a traditional bush lodge, with materials such as stone, wood and thatch, but all with a contemporary touch. The lodge has 9 individually designed cottages, all with en suite bathrooms. There is a dining room, an open bar, a lounge and a pool with views of the plains. Elsa's Private House is set apart from the rest of the lodge for privacy. It has three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, living area and private swimming pool. The main safari activities are game drives and bush walks. The lodge employs certified KPSGA guides.

Web site:

Offbeat Meru Camp is a small tented camp in Bisanadi, on the border to Meru National Park. The camp has six tents with ensuite bathrooms (safari style bucket showers), solar lighting and the bush right outside the canvas. There is also a mess and lounge tent, a camp fire, and an infinity swimming pool with views of the Bisanadi River. The camp offers game drives, bush walks and fly fishing in the rivers. Contrary to Leopard Rock Lodge, which is set in the same part of the area, Offbeat offers an informal atmosphere and a bush style safari experience.

Web site:

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Page updated 7 August 2010