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Rhino Valley Lodge, Tsavo National Park, Kenya

Rhino Valley Lodge is a tented lodge set against the backdrop of the rugged but scenic Ngulia Hills of Tsavo National Park, the Rhino Valley Lodge offers the most idyllic view of the pristine Tsavo West National Park which teams with thousands of wildlife including rhinos, These can be viewed all year round from the verandas of the Rhino Valley Lodge bandas as they frequent the water pond just a few meters below the camp. Rhino Valley Lodge was previously known as the Ngulias Bandas, Rhino Valley Lodge’s proximity to the coast – Mombasa, Malindi and Diani, makes it a perfect holiday destination for those wishing to combine beach and bush safari experience in the same vacation package. It’s the ultimate kenia safari experience. Rhino Valley Lodge is an unrivalled haven for those who love nature and a perfect retreat in the wild. The nights have their own unique ambiance, a pot-pourri of hundreds of different animal, birds and insect noises. The Rhino Valley Lodge Tsavo is designed to blend with the surrounding vegetation and landscape. From a distance, one may be forgiven for mistaking it for one of Ngulia Hills rock outcrops, Rhino River Lodge Kenya has six standard rooms, 10 luxury rock rooms, 6 self-catering bandas and a camp-site constructed to meet the needs of the discerning traveler. The rock room is one of the most unique ‘caveman’ indulgences you will not find anywhere else in the world. The self-catering bandas tastefully furnished with rugged twin beds, a well-equipped kitchenette, and a complete bathroom suite will provide with the comforts of home away from home. The Tsavo Rhino River Lodge has modern gourmet restaurant with an elaborate menu specifically designed for those who love the out outdoors. It also prides a well stocked ‘tree bar’, another extra-ordinary experience under wide starry tropical skies and in the warmth of a campfire. The camp is lit by a super-silent generator that comforts to stringent international wildlife and environmental requirements. In addition to the exotic early morning and evening game drives in the company of experienced tour guides, the Lodge offers nature walks and rock climbing up the Ngulia Hills. Here explore paths which were last trodden by the once famous Wangulia hunter and honey gatherers who roamed the expansive Tsavo wilds until the last century. The experience on the vantage tops of the rugged Ngulia Hills is unforgettable.

Rhino River Lodge Accommodation

The Rhino Valley camp is situated within the Tsavo west national park. It is set at the backdrop of the Ngulia hills making it to be easily mistakable by guests to be one of the Hills rock outcrops. The camp features; basic, standard and also luxurious accommodation. The bandas at the camp are designed to have verandas that overlook a water drinking spot. Guests can thus be able to see animals that come to drink from the pool at the same time enjoying the comfort of their room. Rhino River Lodge has six standard rooms, 10 luxury rock rooms, 6 self-catering bandas and a camp-site constructed to meet the needs of the discerning traveler. The rock room is one of the most unique ‘caveman’ indulgences you will not find anywhere else in the world. The self-catering Bandas tastefully furnished with rugged twin beds, a well-equipped kitchenette, and a complete bathroom suite will provide with the comforts of home away from home.

Rhino Valley Lodge Dinning

The camp has modern gourmet restaurant with an elaborate menu specifically designed for those who love the out outdoors. It also prides a well stocked ‘tree bar’, another extra-ordinary experience under wide starry tropical skies and in the warmth of a campfire. The camp is lit by a super-silent generator that comforts to stringent international wildlife and environmental requirements.

Rhino Valley Lodge Facilities and activities

In addition to the exotic early morning and evening game drives in the company of experienced tour guides, the Lodge offers nature walks and rock climbing up the Ngulia Hills. We have a variety of accommodation in Tsavo Hotels and Lodges, Kenya to suit all tastes and budgets. Book your Hotels, Lodging, Apartments, Motels, B&BS online. Our website is packed with tourist information so you can plan your next trip to Tsavo Hotels and Lodges, Kenya and find the best Tsavo Hotels and Lodges hotels for your requirements. Book and pay securely online and receive instant confirmation plus:


Tsavo National Park

The twin National Parks of Tsavo East and Tsavo West together form one of Africa’s largest wilderness reserves. This single National Park is larger than the island of Jamaica. This 21,747 sq km park is divided into 2 administrative units - Tsavo East and Tsavo West. It covers a massive 4% of Kenya’s total land area. Roughly the size of Massachusetts, Tsavo National Park is huge by any standard. So it encompasses a range of habitats that in turn means that it is home to a variety of Kenya animals. So your visit to the Kenya National Parks isn't quite complete until you've been to Tsavo. Two large lions actively preyed on the railway workers as they built a bridge over the Tsavo River, claiming over 120 victims. They evaded hunters for well over a year, and the legend of the Maneaters of Tsavo was born. The sheer scale of Tsavo gives the visitor a chance to really get away from it all, and to explore the wild in total solitude. The parks are located 233 km South of Nairobi and 250 km North of Mombasa on the main Nairobi- Mombasa Road. Distances: Nairobi-Mtito Andei- 233 km, Mtito Andei-Voi: 96 km, Voi Mombasa: 153 km. From Malindi, take the western road (C103) and enter in the park via Sala gate 90 km South East Kenya, inland from the Coast. Forever immortalized in films like Out of Africa and the Ghost & the Darkness, Kenya and particularly Tsavo is an awesome safari destination. Where style and sophistication don't take a back seat to anything, not even to the vast herds of wildlife and great numbers of birdlife. Step into the shoes of an African explorer and experience the bush and its many charms for yourself. Stay in any one of these lodges in Tsavo area or choose from many other options. In Tsavo you'll see large herds of red elephants, contrary to myth they are not a separate sub-species but are covered by the thin red dust found in Tsavo, a Tsavo safari is the ideal destination for people who seek solitude and privacy as well as the chance to explore the wilderness. With its proximity to Mombasa it is also an ideal safari for those staying on the coast or wanting to visit the coast after their safari.

Tsavo Major Attractions

Tsavo is a birdwatcher’s paradise with numerous species of weavers, hornbills, sunbirds, rollers, and raptors commonly seen. One of Tsavo most interesting geographical features is the Lugard Falls, where white water rages through a series of spectacular rock formations. Also not to be missed is the volcanic Mzima springs. These natural springs produce 50 million gallons of fresh sparkling water daily. These waters are alive with shoals of barbel and Hippopotamus and waterfowl. A unique underwater observatory has been built that gives you an incredible view of this crystal clear underwater world, where massive hippos glide silently through swirling shoals of barbell. 



Tsavo Wildlife

Reminiscent of the 1920’s, our standarTsavo National Park is renowned for being home to the world's only red elephants. You will encounter scores of these baffling creatures wandering by. Not just the odd one but upwards of 11,600 red elephants. These African elephants are not born red. However, the fine red volcanic soil in the park permanently coats their hides. Others include Rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, pods of hippo, crocodile, and waterbucks, Kudu, Gerenuk and Hirola among many others. Because Tsavo is huge and consists of diverse habitats, it is an ornithologist's paradise. Indeed, over 500 species of Kenya birds have been recorded here. Tsavo is also located on the southern migration route of European birds so many of the visiting species can be sighted around Ngulia Lodge every November and early December. Amongst safaris to Kenya destinations, Tsavo National Park is at its own class; Tsavo National Park dies halfway between the Mombassa plus Malindi coast and Nairobi and was gazette in 1948. The Tsavo National Park is famous around the world, thanks to its infamous ferocious man-eating lions. That aside, it remains Kenya’s largest wildlife stronghold covering a vast arid region of 20,807Km2 (8,034 sq miles) almost 3.5% of Kenya. It’s a home to the largest population of elephants in Kenya, currently sustaining the lives of 6,176 elephants. The portion lying north and East of the road is designated Tsavo East National Park and that to the South as Tsavo West National Park. Both combined holds over 450 bird species and over 60 animal species have been recorded in the vast ecosystem with vegetation ranging from semi-desert towards the North to coastal Vegetation towards the South. Nothing gives you the real magic of a Tsavo Safari, Grants gazelle, Impalas, Thompson gazelles, hartebeests, Klipspringers, dikdiks, duikers and elands are numerous and distributed to every corner of the park. It also holds Mzima springs located in an oasis of shade in a hot desert of ochre. Mzima springs are a spectacular view: rushing waters surrounded by lush vegetation and trees, with spray thrown up into the air and catching the sun to make rainbows. Its crystal-clear water bubbles up from a mass of volcanic boulders from the Chyulu hills which creates a very efficient filter. The water is so clear that one can see at the bottom of the pond a good spot to include on a Kenya Vacation, while at the park, don’t fail to visit the caves where the lions (man-eaters) dragged their ill fated victims, during the building of Kenya Uganda Railway. Tsavo National Park, a vast wilderness comprising Tsavo-East and Tsavo-West, is one of the biggest wildlife parks in the world covering an area of 20,700 sq kms (8,000 sq miles), the size of Wales or Israel. The park offers tremendous views with diverse habitats ranging from mountains, river forests, plains, lakes and wooded grassland. Its south-western plains border Tanzania's Mkomazi Reserve. Tsavo-East is one of Kenya's oldest established national parks: covering approximately 40 per cent of the total area of all Kenya's wildlife parks. It is accredited as one of the world's leading biodiversity strongholds, with bushy grassland and open plains alternate with semi-arid acacia scrub and woodlands. Green swathes cross the park where river banks give rise to lush vegetation. North of Galana is a true wilderness. Tsavo-East is recommended for photographers with its fabulous light and unbelievable views, in particular the Mudanda Rock and the Yatta Plateau, the world's largest lava flow. Lugards Falls on the Galana River are remarkable for the shaped water-worn rocks. About 500 bird species have been recorded in the area, including migratory birds of prey, while buzzards stop at Tsavo-East during their long flight south. In Tsavo-West the landscape is mainly hilly bush country with the scenic Ngulia escarpment and riverine forest along the Tsavo River. At Mzima, fresh water springs gush from below ground and form a series of crystal clear pools inhabited by hippo and crocodile. A viewing observatory allows visitors to see the underwater life. Most of the well known wildlife species are found within Tsavo and you are likely to see elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo, zebra, waterbuck, impala, hartebeest, lesser kudu, gerenuk, vervet monkey, baboon, jackal, crocodile and small mammals including mongoose, hyrax, dik dik and the nocturnal porcupine. Cheetah, leopard, rhino and the rare Hunter's Hartebeest or Hirola are also present in Tsavo but harder to see. Tsavo is home to some of the largest elephant herds in Kenya and they often appear to be coloured red after having dust baths and blowing the vivid red dust through their trunks all over their bodies. In 1900 the notorious "Man Eaters of Tsavo", man-eating lions preyed on railway workers building the great Uganda Railway from Mombasa to Kampala. The carriage from which they pulled a traveller is on display at the Nairobi Railway Museum. Tsavo West also has important historical connections as a major battleground in World War I where British and German troops battled for supremacy in East Africa. The park offers tremendous views with diverse habitats ranging from mountains, river forests, plains, lakes and wooded grassland. Its plains border with Tanzania. Game includes: leopard, cheetah, buffalo, rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra, lion, plains game, crocodile and small mammals including mongoose, hyrax, dik dik and the nocturnal porcupine. Chyulu Hills National Park is an extension of Tsavo West National Park. It was opened in January 1983 to protect its unique habitat and role as a vital water catchment area. The Chyulus are a volcanic mountain range with a mix of volcanic cones and barren lava flows, of which the most interesting is Shetani, meaning "Devil" in Kiswahili. Game include: buffalo, zebra, giraffe, oryx, lion, leopard and many bird and plant species.

Tsavo East National Park

Tsavo East National Park is one of the world's largest and oldest game reserves, providing undeveloped wilderness homes to vast numbers of animals and birdlife. The Park measures approximately 11,747 square kilometers making it the largest conservation block in the country. Opened in April 1948, it is located near the village of Voi in the Taita District of Coast Province. The park is named for the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park. Its beautiful landscape and proximity to the Coast make it a popular safari destination. The park has three main access gates, from Voi through the Manyani gate, from Mombasa through the Bachuma gate or from Malindi through the Sala gate. There are also several airstrips in the park that allow chartered light planes. Inside the park, the Athi and Tsavo rivers converge to form the Galana River. Most of the park consists of semi-arid grasslands and savanna. It is considered one of the world's biodiversity strongholds, and its popularity is mostly due to the vast amounts of diverse wildlife that can be seen, including the famous 'big five' consisting of masai lion, black rhino, cape buffalo, elephant and leopard. The park also is also home to a great variety of bird life such as the black kite, crowned crane, lovebird and the sacred ibis. Tsavo East is generally flat, with dry plains across which the Galana River flows than its mountainous and wetter counterpart Tsavo West. Beginning in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, the British began a concerted effort to colonize the interior of Kenya and built a railroad through Tsavo in 1898. Legend has it that "man-eating lions" terrorized the construction crews; however modern scholarship attributes the Waata for kidnapping and killing Indian and British laborers in an attempt to stop the unwanted intrusion into their territory. Inevitably, the British colonial authority bolstered security for the construction effort and the railroad was built. Tsavo remained the homeland for Orma and Maasai pastoralists and Waata hunter-gatherers until 1948, when it was gazetted a national park. Hunting was banned in the park in 1963 and currently attracts photo-tourists from all over the world interested in experiencing the vastness of the wilderness and incredible terrain. In addition to its vastness, unbelievable views and plentiful wildlife, other interesting and stimulating attractions at the park include the Mudanda Rock and the Yatta Plateau, the world's longest lava flow run; Luggard's Falls on the Galana River with its remarkable shaped water-worn rocks and white water rapids; plus interesting archeological digs.

Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National Park is located in the Coast Province of Kenya. The park covers an area of 9,065 square kilometres. The western part is a more popular destination on account of its magnificent scenery, Mzima Springs, rich and varied wildlife, good road system, rhino reserve, rock climbing potential and guided walks along the Tsavo River. Tsavo West National Park has a variety of wildlife, such as black rhino, cape buffalo, elephant, leopard and masai lion. There are also other smaller animals that can be spotted in the park, such as the bush baby, hippo, hartebeest, lesser kudu and masai giraffe. Chief among Tsavo West National Park's are the marvel of Mzima Springs, replenished with two hundred and twenty million liters of crystal-clear water every day, from the underground streams stemming from the lava massif known as the Chyulu Hills, 40-50 kilometers away. Mzima forms a haven for a rich wildlife pageant with elephant soaking half immersed in the waters, light footed but ponderous looking hippo, apparently weightless, tip-toeing across the bottom, crocodiles basking on the bank or swirling through the water; gazelles, zebra and giraffe wandering around the banks through the thick acacias and raffia palms together with hundreds of chattering monkeys and birds. Tsavo West National Park's landscape is dominated, especially off the hills by the giant baobab, a tree that is reputed to live a thousand years. After the rains, Tsavo West National Park is showered with white and pink ipomea, the morning glory family, and the acacia trees are festooned in feathery masses of white and pink blossom. The desert rose, somewhat like a miniature baobab, produces fuschia-pink flowers of striking beauty at almost any time of the year. The Chyulu Hills inside the park are one of the world's newest mountain ranges; the most recent volcanic peak was formed only 500 years ago. A four-wheel drive track leads to this peak -Shaitani- from the Chyulu gate near Kilaguni Lodge and it is simple to walk to the caves on the side of the volcano. It is a breathtaking landscape of rampant ferocity and the vistas to Kilimanjaro are unbeatable. At the other end of Tsavo West, in the south-west corner, lies Lake Jipe. Bisected by the border with Tanzania; it is a favorite haunt of bird watchers and boats are available for ardent ornithologists. In the lake area is a small herd of Grevy's zebra, translocated from northern Kenya in 1977. Tsavo West National Park Safaris
Tsavo West National Park has more than 2,000 kilometers of well maintained, all weather, roads with good signposting which direct visitors from one attraction to the next wonder. Most Tsavo West safaris usually focus on a relatively small but essential 1,000km² areas in the park north of the Tsavo River known as the Developed Area. Most of the visitors to Tsavo West as it are on short safaris from Mombasa and Malindi to the area’s lodges. This is attributed to the relative proximity of Tsavo to the Mombasa and Malindi beach coast making it an ideal Kenya safari destination for those staying on the coast, or wishing to combine a Tsavo West safari and beach holidays. Tsavo West lodge safaris would normally include two or three nights at one of the four main safari lodges in the Developed Area. Unlike Tsavo East safaris, however, you’re not restricted to road access (or flying in by quite expensive chartered light aircraft) as there are two main airstrips that are frequently used by the scheduled Tsavo safari airlines, either as part of longer safari incorporating some of Kenya other parks, or as a stand-alone safari in Tsavo add-on, either from Nairobi or from the Mombasa. We use all the Tsavo west lodges in the region and outstanding tented camps and cottage lodge in a wildlife-rich location close to Mzima Springs, and a spectacularly sited lodge in Lumo sanctuary to the south of the park. There are many tourist attractions while on Tsavo West safaris, from excisions to see the red-skinned elephants, to bird watching safari and hill hiking, to caving and boating. There are many Kenyan animals in the park, including elephants, African lions, hippos, cheetahs, hartebeest and buffalo. Tsavo West safaris are the best way to see Tsavo West National Park wildlife close-up in its natural environment. From Lake Jipe, on the Tanzanian border, to the mountain forests of the Chyulu Hills, the wide range of landscape offers protection to many endangered African wildlife including the black rhinoceros, Cosen's gerbil, upon entering Tsavo West National Park Kenia, the park warden will give you several commonsense rules. For example: do not get out of your vehicle, except at designated spots; do not harass the animals in any way; keep to the tracks; no off-road driving; and remember that the animals always have the right of way. When driving along the red-earth tracks, keep your eyes open for movement and signs of African wildlife. The more you look, the more you will see, and it increases the camaraderie and excitement of the trip to Tsavo west as you point out the wildlife, and pull to a halt. Don't forget to enjoy the sights in real-life, not just through the lens of your camera or video recorder! It is amazing to see Kenyan wildlife living in close proximity to one another. A bird may sit within a snap of being eaten, yet, unless it is hungry, the predator will ignore it completely. See the huge anthills, the sparse shrubs, and the tortoises plodding along the edge of the track. Keep your eyes open for giraffes - they are surprisingly well camouflaged as they nibble the tops of the trees. Look under the shady trees to find lions sleeping after lunch, and be ready to stop as gazelles or cheetahs stroll across the road in front of you. Our safaris to Tsavo West are fly-in safaris, based around hops in light aircraft out of Nairobi or Mombassa and staying at small to medium-size safari camps and safari lodges. You may be under canvas, but you’re definitely not camping in the normal sense of the word: Tsavo safari camps consist either of very large, permanent, fully furnished luxury tents with built-in bathrooms, or are built around the concept of imaginative open-air rooms incorporating thatched roofs, twisting branches, extensive deck areas, outdoor showers and ‘loos with a view’. Not only does Tsavo west National Park offer terrific wildlife safaris but it is also home to Akamba tribe, Tsavo west Kenya well-justified popularity means it has some very large and busy lodges, as the it plays host to some of the most popular safaris in Kenya, certain areas can be especially busy at key times from July to September and over Christmas and New Year. This is where our depth of knowledge is invaluable. We’ll help you design a Tsavo west trip that avoids many of the crowds while advising about the Tsavo west climate and highlighting Tsavo National Park best features: superb camps and lodges, good infrastructure, and breathtaking wildlife encounters in some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. We have taken time to develop our Tsavo west holiday programs and we’re confident that the range of locations, safari lodges, camps and Tsavo hotels offers an unrivalled programme of tailor-made safari. We're able to advise you about these with genuine expertise, on the basis of personal experience. On safaris in Tsavo west with us you will be met and transferred at each stage, usually by a driver-guide in a 4WD vehicle from the safari camp or lodge where you’re spending the night or our own vehicles. Game drives, bush walks and other activities are conducted by the host or guides at your camp. Sometimes you will have exclusive use of a vehicle (this partly depends on the size of your group), but usually you will be sharing a safari vehicle with other guests or we offer vehicles on exclusive basis. Depending on the style and size of the camp, meals on safaris in Tsavo west are eaten either at individual tables or hosted by the camp manager with other guests. If you prefer to eat separately, join up with others, or have dinner on your veranda, these options can usually be arranged. Stylish informality is the hallmark of many tented camps in Tsavo west and you are encouraged to let us know about your preferences. It is a long, hot day on a safari to Tsavo West, so wear cool, comfortable clothing, and a sunhat. Remember to bring your camera and binoculars, sunglasses and water to drink.

Getting There

By Air -- Tsavo is close to both the Malindi and Mombasa coast and the Chyulu Hills, which by private charter takes approximately 35 minutes. A 50-minute flight will get you from Nairobi to Tsavo West; Safarilink has daily flights departing the capital at 7:30am, Note that the return flight takes 70 to 80 minutes. Mombasa Air Safari flies from the coast to the private airstrip at Finch Hattons in Tsavo West. There are no scheduled flights to Tsavo East, but 6 airstrips in the southern part of the park and 13 in the northern part are available for charter flights -- your ground operator will make arrangements for you to be dropped at the one nearest your lodge or camp, and land transfers will be organized, too.
By Road -- Thanks to the Mombasa-Nairobi highway and its proximity to the coast, many people visiting Tsavo do so as a sidebar to seaside holidays. By road, Tsavo East is 3 1/2 hours from Mombasa and 4 1/2 hours from Nairobi -- of course, traffic can be scary if you have no control over the speed at which your driver decides to tear along the highway. Coming from Nairobi, Tsavo East is accessed via the town of Voi (where KWS has its headquarters) through either of two gates: Voi or Manyani. From Mombasa, entry is via Bachuma Gate, whereas if you're on the road from Malindi, you'll arrive via Sala Gate. Such details aren't likely to affect you, though, as your driver and ground operator will conspire to make sure you get there in the quickest possible time -- in fact, better to request a more modestly paced drive, if you can. For Tsavo West, the main access points are Chyulu Gate, if coming from Amboseli, or Mtito Andei Gate if approaching via the highway from either Nairobi (240km/149 miles) or Mombasa. Visitors from Mombasa also use Tsavo Gate near Manyani.
Park Fees - Entry to either park is $75 per day for adults and $40 for children ages 3 to 18; if you want to see both parks in a single day (although, given the enormity of each of them, you should have no reason to do this), you will need to pay twice. Access to either park is by means of a KWS Smartcard, which your ground operator can purchase and load for you in advance of your arrival; don't arrive without a prepaid card, as this will mean making a time-consuming detour to park headquarters to pick up a new card.

Climate in Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West National Park is just a few degrees south of the equator. The temperature remains the same throughout the year at 27-31°C (81-88°F) during the day and 22-24°C (72-75°F) during the night. Humidity is high from December through April. The rainfall defines the seasons. The long rainy season, or monsoon season, is from March to May. The shorter rains come in October through December. Best Time to Visit January and February are good months to visit Tsavo West, as well as June to September. Visiting during the heavy rainy season of March to May should be avoided as the roads become very muddy. There may be some rain from October to December. Temperatures stay at a pleasant 27-31C (81-88F) during the day and 22-24C (72-75F) at night year round. The best months for birdwatchers to see migratory birds are October to January. The best times to view the park's animals are early and late in the day, as they tend to sleep in the hot afternoon sun.

Tsavo West Guides

We are known worldwide for employing the finest naturalists on the planet! In Kenya, rather than using less qualified local camp guides at each stop, or an inexperienced safari guide as a tsavo trip escort, our Tsavo west National Park safari guides are the most highly trained guides in Africa, and equally devoted to providing highly personalized service tsavo tours. On our Tsavo west National Park safaris our travel guides are also expert photographers, constantly by your side to help you get the best possible pictures. With our groups from beginning to end, our tour guides average more than 15 years' guiding experience each, and their training is further enhanced by our premiere scientists. Our philosophy on this is simple: an African safari is only as good as the safari guide, so we must provide the very best! We will explore the wilds of Kenya in custom-built, durable 4x4 Toyota Land Cruisers or Land Rovers. We limit our vehicles to only six guests per vehicle plus the guide giving all travelers a window seat and extra access to one of three separate roof hatches, or one large one that can be opened to maximize photo opportunities or closed during inclement weather and longer transfers. In certain areas of Savo west National Park, open sided vehicles with a canvas roof are used, offering an open field of view and protection from the elements. Built to withstand the rigors of rough roads, they provide a comfortable ride and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities for travelers. Reinforced suspension systems and spacious interiors enhance the vacation to Tsavo experience. Amenities available in each vehicle include a car fridge or cool boxes with water and soft drinks, bird and mammal reference guides, bean bags for camera stability, and Maasai shuka blankets for added warmth on cool morning and evening drives. Our vehicles truly enhance our safari experience!

Tsavo Rhinos

When it comes to traditional national parks, few have such an important role to play in rhino conservation as the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, deep inside Tsavo West National Park in south-eastern Kenya. There are 78 black rhinos here in a fenced off 90-sq-km portion of the park — sightings in the dense undergrowth can be elusive but such is the density of rhinos here that it is worth persisting. Rhinos released from the sanctuary into the wider Tsavo Park can also be seen in Rhino Valley that runs through the heart of the park. Tsavo West National Park is more mountainous and wetter than its counterpart, with swamps, Lake Jipe and the Mzima Springs. Mzima Springs produces 250 million gallons of fresh water per day, filtered down from the Chyulu Hills. Through pipelines it provides water to all of Kenya from there to the Coast. The springs are an oasis that is home to abundant Nile crocodiles and hippos and a popular drinking spot for elephants, zebras and gazelles whilst blue and vervet monkeys cavort in the surrounding acacia trees. Tsavo West is also home to the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. In the 1960’s Tsavo had the largest population of black rhinos in Africa (between 6,000 and 9,000) and they were a common sight within the park. By 1981, however, Tsavo’s rhino had been poached to the brink of extinction and only 100 animals remained. Today most of Tsavo’s surviving rhino have been moved to the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary where an electric fence surrounds an area of 70 sq miles and holds approximately 56 rhino.
The Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, is a 35 acre electrically fenced enclave within Tsavo West National Park where the remaining rhinos within the Tsavo ecosystem and others moved from human settled areas, are kept under tight security having been brought together for breeding purposes in an attempt to retrieve the species from annihilation through rampant poaching for their horn. When the Tsavo National Park first came into being in l949 it was the bastion of Black Rhinos, home to 8,000 out of a total Kenya wide population of some 20,000. However, by the early nineties, rampant and uncontrolled poaching reduced Kenya’s Black Rhino population almost to the brink of extinction and it was during the mid eighties, when Bill Woodley was Warden of Tsavo West National Park, that 24 square miles just below the Ngulia escarpment was first electrically fenced to house the survivors. When over the years the rhino’s population within the Sanctuary reached 70 plus, recently some of them were moved out to free range, since a core population was secured within the Sanctuary. Any disturbance to an established rhino population is very disruptive to such a fiercely territorial species, and could possibly be a reason for why the mother of baby “Maalim” rejected her calf. The Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) holds the largest elephant population in Kenya. While Tsavo holds the largest elephant population in Kenya, the number of elephants has dwindled from 45,000 in the 1960’s to 11,500 in 2012. In the 1980’s, there were steep declines due to drought and poaching which brought the population down to under 5,000. It has increased since that time, but the rate of increase is lower than the rate at which elephants are dying. Due to poachers, and an increased ivory industry in China, the number of elephants continues to decline at an increasing rate – 2011 was the worst year in history for elephants in Africa since before the Ivory Trade Ban in 1989. Some projections estimate that if these patterns don’t change, African elephants could be extinct by 2025. Elephants are the keystone species that allows Tsavo’s entire ecosystem to sustain itself and upon which many other organisms depend. Their eating and travel habits clear pathways, and keep the grasslands and savannas intact. They find and open water holes in dry riverbeds in drought, and help plant trees and bushes through their dung. Without elephants, Tsavo would change irreversibly. They are giant “canaries in the mine shaft” that indicate whether an environment can support life. Black rhinos in African have suffered huge reductions in the past, mainly due to poaching. Listed as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List, there are currently about 5000 animals remaining in the wild (there were 65,000 in 1970). As part of WWF-UK’s support work to raise numbers and improve security around the species – and in light of renewed poaching activities – we took time to review what has been done in Kenya in the last four years to re-adjust plans and make them more effective.