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Arabuko Sokoke
Malindi Marine NP
Tana River Primate Reserve
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More parks: South-eastern Kenya
Just like the south-west, where prime parks such as Masai Mara are found, south-east Kenya offers good game viewing. This part of the country borders the coast, which means that safaris can easily be combined with beach holidays around for example Mombasa or Malindi.

A few main parks receive the most visitors, offer the best wildlife and have infrastructures for safari tourism that make them comparatively easy to visit. These main parks are:

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Amboseli NR
Tsavo NP
Shimba Hills NR

More parks to visit
South-east Kenya also has other parks, which may not have wildlife good enough to be of interest to most safari-goers, but may attract visitors that are looking for places off the beaten track or places offering special features.

The parks and areas described below are all such alternative places to go. They have by far fewer visitors than the main parks, and generally offer a less developed infrastructure. The roads may be very poor, the options for comfortable accommodation fewer or absent, etc.

Arabuko Sokoke National Park
Arabuko Sokoke National Park (15 km2/6 sq mi) is a tropical rainforest close to Malindi, and some 60 km/40 mi north of Mombasa. A number of trails (not marked very well, so a map comes in handy) lead through the forest, where the forest itself and the birds are the main attractions. Some of the birds are rare or not found at all in other parts of Kenya, for example Fischer's turaco, sokoke pipit and amani sunbird. Two rare mammals inhabit the forests: Ader's duiker and golden-rumped elephant-shrew.

Arawale National Reserve
Arawale National Reserve (533 km2/206 sq mi) is situated on the northern shore of the Tana River, 40 km/25 mi upstream from Tana River Primate National Reserve in eastern Kenya. The park was established to protect the rare Hunter’s hartebeest (an antelope that is, despite its name, closer related to topis than to hartebeest), also known as hirola. There are also zebras, elephants, lesser kudus, African buffalos, hippos and crocodiles. The bird life is rich and varied.

There are no lodges or tented camps in Arawale National Reserve, and roads are close to non-existent, so four-wheel drive and camping is required.

Boni & Dodori National Reserves
Kiunga Marine National Reserve

Boni National Reserve (1,339 km2/517 sq mi), Dodori National Reserve (877 km2/339 sq mi) and Kiunga Marine National Reserve (250 km2/97 sq mi) are clustered on the northern Kenyan coast, close to the border to Somalia. Boni and Dodori are on the mainland, while Kiunga incorporates some 50 islands and coral reefs.

The nature in Boni and Dodori varies from sandy beaches, mangroves and coastal forests to savannas and grass plains. Dodori was originally established to protect the local topi population, and also has some elephants, gazelles, zebras and lions. Boni has good numbers of elephants during dry seasons, and also has populations of Ader's duiker, African buffalo, giraffe and gerenuk.

Turtles, fish and dugongs
The islands in Kiunga vary in size up to 1 km2/0.4 sq mi, and have little vegetation apart from shrubs, grasses and aloes. There is virtually no mammal wildlife, but some seas birds. Turtles, fish and sometimes dugongs may be seen.

There is no accommodation available in the parks. A coastal resort, Kiwayu Safari Lodge, is some 10 km/6 mi from Dodori. The parks have undeveloped road networks, so four-wheel drive is required. Boni and Dodori may be accessed by road from the south, and there is an airstrip in Dodori. Kiunga can be reached by boat from for example Lamu Island.

The proximity to the Somali border makes this area vulnerable to bandit and rebel activities. You may want to check the local security status before going there.

Chyulu Hills National Park
Chyulu Hills National Park (471 km2/182 sq mi) borders north-western Tsavo West. The wildlife isn't very rich, but antelopes, African buffalos, elephants, eland and leopard inhabit the area and may be seen. There are also reptiles such as mambas, puff adders, rock pythons and tortoises, and a fair bird life.

The Chyulu Hills were formed through volcanic activity only 500 years ago, and is one of the youngest mountain areas in the world. Grass, thickets and patches of mountain forest cover much of the landscape. You may drive into the mountains in a four-wheel drive vehicle, to be rewarded by great views of Kilimanjaro in the south-west. The only accommodation available is camping. Nights may be cool and moist, even though the days are often hot and dry.

Ol Donyo Wuas is a small lodge in a private concession in the north-western part of the Chyulu Hills. There are seven spacious cottages, all with ensuite bathroom, solar powered lighting and water heating, and veranda facing Kilimanjaro. A central building has sitting and dining room. There is also a swimming pool, and a waterhole where animals come to drink. The lodge offers activities such as game drives, bush walks, and horse riding.

Web site:

Campi ya Kanzi is a tented lodge in a large Maasai group ranch at the western foot of the Chyuly Hills. There are eight tented cottages, including two suites. All have ensuite bathroom, a veranda with a view, and solar powered electricity. The main building has restaurant, lounge, and a terrace facing Kilimanjaro. There is an airstrip nearby. The lodge offers game drives, bush walks, fly camping, and bird watching.

Web site:

Gede Ruins National Monument
Gede is a ruin city close to Arabuko Sokoke and Malindi on the Kenyan coast. The city was abandoned for unknown reasons during the 1500's, and was engulfed by vegetation until re-discovered in the early 1900's. The site (0.2 km2/0.1 sq mi) was made a national monument in 1920.

The surrounding areas of tropical coastal forest has a variety of primates, including greater galago, blue monkey, black-faced vervet monkey, baboon and black-and-white colobus. A few duiker (a kind of antelope) species can be found, as can the rare golden-rumped elephant-shrew. There are also lizards and snakes, including the black mamba.

Kisite & Mpunguti Marine National Park
The coastal parks Kisite Marine National Park and Mpunguti Marine National Park (39 km2/15 sq mi) are situated south of Mombasa, close to the Tanzanian border. Just like in Malindi/Watamu, the main attraction is the life below the surface. Coral reefs offer very fine snorkelling. Turtles, dolphins, morays, parrotfish and much more may be seen. To get there, you may go by taxi or bus (picking up from many of the hotels along the southern Mombasa coast) to Shimoni, and from there on by boat.

Malindi & Watamu
Malindi/Watamu Biosphere Reserve (261 km2/101 sq mi) is a 30 km/19 mi long and 5 km/3 mi wide area along the coast outside Malindi some 90 km/55 mi north of Mombasa. The area includes four bordering marine parks: Malindi Marine National Park, Malindi Marine National Reserve, Watamu Marine National Park and Watamu Marine National Reserve.

Most visitors come for the snorkelling, or for watching the fish and corals from glass bottom boats. There are also many coastal birds, such as sandpipers, plovers and terns. The mud banks and mangroves of nearby Mida Creek also offer nice birding.

Mida Creek
Mida Creek (approximately 5 km2/2 sq mi) is an almost enclosed bay not far from Watamu National Park, offering good birding. The low tide exposes mud banks that are favoured by different waders, and the mangroves surrounding the bay offer further birding, and cover to approach the birds. Curlew sandpipers, common greenshanks, lesser sandplovers, sanderlings, greater sandplovers, whimbrels and other species may be seen. Different bee-eaters are often found in the mangroves. The best time for birding is from March until May, when many migrants pass the area.

Ngai Ndethya National Reserve
Ngai Ndethya National Reserve (212 km2/82 sq mi) is a park established to protect the migration corridor between northern Tsavo West and western Tsavo East, and to protect the local populations of elephant, lesser kudu and African buffalo. The landscape is a mix of rocky hills, forests, thickets and savanna. There are no roads or lodges, but accommodation is available in Tsavo Inn just outside the park border, on the main road between Nairobi and Mombasa.

South Kitui National Reserve
South Kitui National Reserve (1 833 km2/708 sq mi) borders northern Tsavo East and is an area of thickets, grasslands and acacia savanna. The varied mammal wildlife is roughly the same as in Tsavo, and includes lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe and lesser kudu. There is no safari tourism in South Kitui.

Taita Hills Game Sanctuary
Taita Hills Game Sanctuary (113 km2/44 sq mi) is a well kept private park some 20 km/12 mi east of Tsavo West. The wildlife of this area includes elephant, lion, African buffalo, cheetah and other species.

Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge in Taita Hills Game Sanctuary has an unusual design with rooms in two-floor chalets built on high stilts, and walkways high above ground leading between the chalets and the main building. There are 96 rooms, all with ensuite bathroom. Many rooms face a waterhole. There is also an underground hide for viewing animals, accessed through a tunnel. The lodge has restaurant, bar and lounge. The lodge offers day and night game drives.

Web site:

Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge in Taita Hills Game Sanctuary has 60 rooms and two suites, all with ensuite bathroom. There is restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and conference facilitie. The lodge offers day and night game drives.

Web site:

Tana River Primate National Reserve
Tana River Primate National Reserve (169 km2/65 sq mi) is a small park along the Tana River, some 100 km/60 km from the northern parts of the Kenyan coast. As indicated by its name, the park was established to protect the local primate populations. Two species are found nowhere else in Kenya: the Tana River red colobus and the Tana mangabey. There are also baboons and other monkeys, all in all seven monkey species.

The park is a mix of savanna and forest. Other mammals that may be seen are elephants, lions, duikers, giraffes, Grevy's zebras, oryx, African buffalos and lesser kudus. The river is home to crocodiles, hippos and many birds.

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Page updated 18 February 2009