Tsavo West National Park

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  1. Where is Tsavo East National Park ?
  2. Who manage Tsavo West National Park
  3. History of Tsavo West National Park
  4. Coming of Arabs in the Coast Of Kenya
  5. Attractions in the Tsavo West National Park
A visitor at Tsavo West National Park. Kenya

Where is Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National park is found in Kenya Taita Taveta county,  the park was separated from Tsavo East National park for easy administration in 1948. Tsavo East National park covers an area of nine thousand and sixty-five square kilometres 9,065 square kilometres. Tsavo East National Park, Tsavo, West National Park, Amboseli National park, and Chyullu hills form what is called the Tsavo conservation area. There are two roads that you can use the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway and the Voi Taveta Highway which will take you to the united republic of Tanzania.

Airstrips in Tsavo West National Park

There are more than one airstrips that you can use to access the Tsavo west National park, they include Tsavo Gate, Ziwani, Finch Hottons and Maktau.

Best time to visit Tsavo West National park

You can visit Tsavo West National Park during the dry seasons (peak seasons), these months are from January to March, you have the advantage to see many wildlife animals in the Tsavo West National Park. The rain seasons (off-peak seasons), are in April May and June. You won’t be able to see much wildlife during this time of the year, trees will be green and animals will be hiding mostly in the bushes. Another pick season is between July to September, the trees will be very dry and many animals can be seen browsing on the African savannah. It is the best time for you to see the big five and big nine: elephants, hippopotamuses, buffaloes, lions, rhinos, Masai giraffe, Zebras, hippopotamuses, cheetahs and crocodiles. Point to remember, during the peak season, the temperatures are very high and the roads are very dusty. We have a detailed page showing the best time to visit Kenya here.

How can you access Tsavo West National Park?

You can access Tsavo West National Park by using the Mombasa- Nairobi highway by road, there is more than one gate you can use to access the Tsavo West National park if you are coming from Mombasa can use the Tsavo gate in Manyani, If you are coming from Taveta you can use the Maktau gate, in Mwatate sub-county of Taita Taveta, When you are in Tavatea Ziwani gate is the most preferred gate. When you are in Lake Jipe you can use the lake Jipe gate.

Who manages Tsavo West National Park?

Kenya wildlife services are responsible management of the Tsavo West National Park

There are many attractions in the Tsavo West national park that you should not miss see when you do a safari in Kenya, the attraction in the Tsavo west national park is: Wildlife animals which include the big five wildlife animal and the big nine wildlife animals, Chaimu crater, Lake Jipe, Ngulia wildlife sanctuary also called the Ngulia project

History of the Tsavo West National Park

The tribes of people who live around this national park are the Taita or the Wadawida and the Wataveta, The Wadawida (Taita) are the majority and the Taveta are the few. The Wadaida are now days called the Taita, most of them are brown Africans found in Taita Taveta County, The Taveta are black Africans found in Taveta.

The tribes around the Tsavo area migrated from Sungwaya in the democratic republic of Congo, they migrated because they needed more land for their animals, water shortage, more land for agriculture, internal conflicts, diseases others moved just because they saw others moving.  The tribes came and settled in the Tsavo area, the Wadawida kept domestic animals and farming with few of them started to hunt animals and making beehives but there is no evidence that they killed elephants for ivory before the coming of the British to colonize East Africa. The Wataita’s or Wadawidas have been living with wildlife for man-years. They claim that 60 percent of their land was gazetted a national park by the colonial government.    The Wadawida moved and settled on Taita hill and only came to the low lands (semi-arid) which they call Nyika to look after their herds of Cattle, goats, and sheep.  

Breeds of Cattle around Tsavo West National Park

The people kept zebu cattle, the zebu cattle are cows that can live in very drought areas of Africa, they also resist many diseases caused by parasites like ticks and tsetse flies.

Zebu cows are the cows that were kept by local people around Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Parks

The cattle were kept in the lower semi-arid areas they call a semi-arid place ” Nyika” those who are farmers lived in the Taita Hills. The Ranch is called a Maranuin Taita language.  

During the rainy seasons which lasted for three months, the women will come to the low lands “Nyika” to cultivate cereals like corn, cowpeas after harvesting they would carry the food to the hills on their heads and donkeys.  The houses that they build were round thatched with grass on the roof. The cooking pots were pots made of clay.

Women in a village, cooking pots

The coming of Arabs in coast and Tsavo West

 During 1700 AD Arabs started to arrive in Mombasa, some came because of, political and religious persecutions others came to trade on the coast of Kenyans, since most of the Arabs were bachelors they married African women and spread their culture on the coast of Kenya that culture is what we call the Swahili culture. 

The Arabs started to do business with the interior of Kenya, the goods they traded with were cowries’ shells, beads, ivory, and cat skins and later they started the slave trade, most people of the Tsavo were taken as captives.

The sultan was the one governing the entire coast of Kenya, from the Indian ocean to sultan Hamud on your way to Nairobi.

By the 19th Century the British came to East Africa and they wanted to colonize Kenya, they first settled in Mombasa and learned Kiswahili, then they started to move to the interior of Kenya,  majority of them came with more sophisticated weapons than the Africans and started to hunt the big five in Tsavo area,

In 1898 the British started building the Kenya Uganda railways in Kenya from Mombasa to Uganda.  The communities that lived around the Tsavo West area did not cooperate with the British because they thought that the British could take their land, on the other hand, they had seen people being taken as slaves. The communities revolted against the British government, the British government had to bring Indians to build the Kenya Uganda railway.  

The building of the Kenya Uganda railway started in Mombasa, as it reached Tsavo National park a human-wildlife occurred and has been documented even acted on films like Ghost in the dark.

The Indians who had no idea how to live in a land with many big five wildlife found themselves in Tsavo where they had to face devouring lions. It is In Tsavo East National Park where the man-eating lions were killing the railway construction workers, During the night a coalition of two maneless lions would come and kill a worker at the camp. After killing the victim the two lions would carry the corpse to a cave about one and a half kilometres in the Tsavo West National Park, remember the two national parks are separated by the Mombasa Nairobi highway.

A British administrator Colonel Petersen was given duties by the British government to supervise the construction of the Tsavo Bridge and the Railway in Tsavo River found himself in a dilemma when he saw his workers being killed. The railway was stopped for about nine months.

12 December 1898 is when Colonel Petersen used bait and shot the two man-eating lions of Tsavo, two weeks later he shot the second lion. In the historic site, you will see the cave, the camp where people were staying, the railway line, also the houses (ruins) of Administrators that were built in 1898. If you would like to book for this safari you can have a one day tour of Tsavo East National Park or Tsavo West National Park, a Two-day tour of Tsavo East National Park and Tsavo West National Park, or a three-day tour of Tsavo East National Park Tsavo West National Park and Amboseli National Park.

Wildlife in Tsavo West National Park: Elephants,lions,hipos, bufaloes,rhinos and the leopard

East African Rhincerous of Tsavo West National Park

Black rhinos exist in Tsavo West National Park (Ngulia)

In 1970   hundreds of thousands of rhinos were in the Africa savannah, due to the high demand for rhinoceros horns in Asia, many rhinoceros were poached and killed, today there can be 20,000 rhinos in the world.  

In 1971 efforts were put in place to rescue the rhinos, conservation experts came together and started a rhino sanctuary in the Tsavo West National Park, it started with only fourteen Eastern African  Black rhinos. These rhinoceros are a subspecies of the black rhinos; the East African black rhinoceros have a characteristic of long, leaner, and more curved horns.  They are very aggressive are good at eating grass during the day. They get the water from natural water holes but during the very dry seasons, an artificial water hole is created to supply them with water.  

  Today the number of rhinos has increased to a total of 80 black rhinos in conservation.   

The Ngulia Rhino sanctuary has helped in protecting the engendered rhinos in Kenya, As you see this wildlife you can view mount Kilimanjaro.

African Savannah Elephants

Red dust elephant in Tsavo West during a dry season

Tsavo West National Park is home to many African savanna elephants Tsavo also known as the Red dust elephants, the African savanna elephants are the largest elephants in the world, during the day you will see them roaming the Tsavo West National Park, they are also called the red dust elephants of Tsavo. They can be easily seen in the water holes and lakes.  Sometimes elephants from the Tsavo East National Park and Amboseli National Park migrate to Tsavo West National park. A herd of elephants is lead by a cow; the cow is called a Matriarch.

Lions of Tsavo West National Park

Lions in Tsavo West National Park

The Tsavo west national park is a home pride of lions, the kind of lions you will see in the Tsavo west national Park are the Maleness lions,  they are very good stoking skills, this enables them to live in a semi-arid national park.  Two lions in that national park killed a total of 135 railway construction workers around Tsavo River and Tsavo Bridge. 

There is also a cave where the man-eating lions used to hide during the day. Lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, and rhinos are what we call big five wildlife.

Buffalos of Tsavo West National Park

Buffalos in Tsavo West National Park

Buffalos are big five wildlife mammals,  buffalos mostly don’t see clearly during the day, so they are very active during the night,  they are herbivores and can be see browsing during the night.  they have a very good sense of smell. Their main predators are lions.

Zebras of Tsavo West National Park

A family of Zebras in Tsavo West National Park

Zebras are wildlife mammals that belong to the horse family, they look like donkeys in shape but they are very large in size, they have beautiful patterns of black and white but all patterns are very unique, no two zebras can have a similar pattern, zebras are territorial mammals, each family of Zebras as a stallion, the stallions are always at the back. The stallions are for defence and mating with the females.

Mzima spring in Tsavo West National Park

The mouth of Mzima Springs in Tsavo West National Park

Mzima spring is a natural reservoir in the national park, the sources of the spring are in Chyullu hills, Chyullu is a composition of volcanic rocks and ash,   the volcanic rock is porous allowing rainwater collected in Chyullu hills to flow to Mzima springs, it takes about twenty-five years for the water to reach the Spring.  

Hippopotamuses in Mzima Springs

A lot of water life exists in the Mzima springs, hippopotamuses, Nile crocodiles, and fish live in the Mzima springs.   Trees search as date, raffia palms, strawberries, and figs grow around the lake, the fruits are a source of food to monkeys.

Crocodile swimming in Mzima Springs

One can go to the Mzima spring and see underwater creatures in a glass-like container.

Shetani Lava flow in Tsavo West National Park

Matt at Shetani Lava flow

200 years ago in Tsavo west national park, a volcanic eruption took place, and Lava spewed from the earth, this caused the people to think that it is an act of the devil because they believed that God could not do such a thing. They called the place Shetani meaning devil in the Kiswahili language.

Map of Tsavo West National Park

You can book a safari with us in the Tsavo East and West National Park, please feel free to contact us for safaris in Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park. Contact us now or read about a family safari in the Tsavo conservation area

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