Enjoy the scenic wilderness of Tsavo National Park

Conveniently located enroute on the main Nairobi - Mombasa highway, a visit to Tsavo National Park is a must do in any Kenya travel itineary on your way to the coast. Within minutes, you shift from the traffic-infested A109 road linking Nairobi - Mombasa to a vast and silent hideout. Tsavo is an arid terrain covered in red soil, with widely spaced trees and bushes, hills, rocky outcrops, craters and rattling with wildlife.

Covered in Roadtrip Kenya's Visitors Guide about Tsavo National Park 

  • Why you should include Tsavo in your Kenya travel itinerary  
  • Highlights and things to see and do in Tsavo National Park 
  • How to get to Tsavo 
  • How much are the entrance fees?  
  • Best time to visit Tsavo? 
  • Campsites and best places to stay in Tsavo 

Why you should include Tsavo in your Kenya travel itinerary 

Tsavo is located in the Coast Province, and for ease of administration, it’s split into two parks: Tsavo East and Tsavo West. Combined, Tsavo is Kenya’s biggest park and, at 22,000 km² one of the world’s largest game sanctuaries.

Tsavo sees far less tourists than the Maasai Mara and therefore allows for a more affordable and authentic safari experience with lower priced lodges away from the crowds. 

Highlights and things to see and do in Tsavo National Park 

Tsavo East alone comprises the biggest national park in Kenya, about 14 times bigger than the Masai Mara. Luckily, wildlife concentrates along the river banks of the Galana and Voi, so those are the tracks to go for. You will find lots of pools with hippos and crocs and surely get a chance to see big herds of elephants heading to the river. A highlight of Tsavo National Park is the spectacular Mzima Springs, where crystal-clear water flows through volcanic rock. Lugard falls is a pretty waterfall along the Galana river. Another highlight in Tsavo East National Park is Mudanda Rock, which looks a bit like the famous Australian Uluru. You can climb Mudana Rock to an outlook overlooking a waterhole. It gives you an overwhelming sense of space. Leopards are regularly spotted here!

In Tsavo West, wildlife is concentrated in the triangle of the Chyulu gate, Mtito Andei Gate and Tsavo Gate. The Rhino Valley is a great spot for game drives and also one of the most appealing. The Shetani Lava Flow exposes the landscape to a bleak lava stream, which dried up around 200 years ago. The Mzima springs is a freshwater pool with an underwater view point, where you can spot swimming hippos, if you’re lucky.  It’s one of the only spots in Tsavo where you can walk around unguided.

If you’re a fan of elephants, Tsavo is the park to visit. Other wildlife prolific in Tsavo are lions, Maasai giraffe, cheetah’s, zebras, wild boars (not to be mistaken by warthogs), ostriches and antelope, such as the spiral-horned lesser kudus, the long-necked gerenuks, and the tiny and skittish dik-diks.

How to get to Tsavo and where to combine it in my Roadtrip Kenya travel itineary 

Tsavo East can be accessed through four gates: Manyani, Voi, Buchuma, and Sala. Most Roadtrippers coming from Nairobi enter through the Manyani gate, which is a 300 km journey, and takes approximately 6 hours. If you’re coming from Mombasa or Diani beach, the distance to Manyani gate it just over 100km, which takes, depending on the traffic, 4 hours.

Tsavo West can be accessed through Chyulu, when coming from Amboseli and from Mtito Andei Gate, when coming from Nairobi. The drive from Nairobi to Tsavo West is 240 kms and takes approximately 5 Hours. 

Access routes to Tsavo West coming from Mombasa are Lake Jipe, Mtito Andei (Kamboyo HQ), Chyulu, Maktau and Ziwani. The distance from Mombasa to Tsavo West is approximate 250 Kms. 

How much are the entrance fees of Tsavo National Park? 

Tsavo is under management of the Kenyan Wildlife Service. For an up -to-date, detailed cost overview, also cross check the tariffs page at the KWS website

Best time to visit Tsavo on your travels in Kenya

The best time of the year to spot wildlife is during the arid months from June to September. The lack of verdant vegetation during this season makes spotting animals easier, and the waterholes become popular meeting points for mammals. Just keep in mind that during the dry season, the environment is very dusty. If you are an avid bird-watcher, however, the best time to visit is from November to May when the rain comes.

Suggested places to stay in Tsavo National Park 

Suggested places to stay in Tsavo West are Rhino Valley Lodge, a mid-range lodge with superb views, and the self-catering Kitani Bandas, which is a budget option offered by the next-door Severin Safari camp, close to the Mzima Springs.

In Tsavo East, Voi Safari Lodge is a comfortable place to stay. Its only 4 kms from Voi Town. It’s a retreat on top of a rocky hill above a permanent water source, where, especially during the dry season, animals come to quench their thirst. The lodge lacks a wilderness feel though, and the grand set up of this place will not appeal to everyone. 

There are a lot of campsites in Tsavo West National Park. For an overview of sugegsted accmodations and campsites, also check the KWS website, here.