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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

Safari in the Tsavo East National Park – Kenya

Leoni, Safari nello Tsavo Est, Kenya

Personally, the idea of ​​the Safari has never particularly impressed me, yes it had to be a nice experience but not the one I dreamed of. Well, I was totally wrong and I had to change my mind for the second time during this trip. As I looked at the breathtaking view from my Jeep, I found myself thinking: "why the hell didn't I do it before?". During the Safari you really understand the meaning of African sickness. Although it was not my first trip to this continent, Africa has entered me for the first time. In more than a moment I found myself marveling at nature and animals with shining eyes and goosebumps, only by living it you will understand what I mean. The wonder of this place is inexplicable. So, if you happen to be in Africa, don't go home without going on a Safari.

Leoni al tramonto, Tsavo Est, Kenya


Tsavo East Natural Park

The ideal approach to the safari or for those who want to spend more time on the beach holiday is the two-day and one night safari in the Tsavo East National Park and its magnificent sceneries of red earth, just two hours by Jeep from Watamu, it is easily accessible and perfect for those who, like us, had only 8 days available in Kenya.

Tsavo East Natural Park, Safari, Kenya

With a total area of ​​21,812 km², Tsavo is the largest natural park in the country. Famous for the huge herds of elephants, for the big cats and for the great variety of gazelles and antelopes. The park takes its name from the Tsavo River, which flows through it. It was opened in April 1948 and was divided into Tsavo East National Park (Tsavo East National Park) and Tsavo West National Park (Tsavo West National Park). The two parks are divided by the road from Nairobi to Mombasa and the railway.

The presence of animals is huge throughout the territory and all over the year. The best periods, however, are from June to October and the months of January / February. There are over 600 bird species and 60 mammal species. Despite the absolute ban on hunting, poaching continued to rage until the 1980s. Elephants have been decimated in quantity, in the name of the ivory trade, and so have rhinos, victims of the most unbridled and irreducible poaching. Today, in the central area of ​​the park, there is a fenced area where black rhinos were led to better protect them and where it is hoped they can rebuild a larger community.

On safaris in Africa, the expression Big Five refers to the five great animals of the savannah; it originated in the culture of the safari intended as a hunt and referred to the five most dangerous animals to hunt and, consequently, to the five most coveted trophies by hunters (Big Five Game). The expression seems to have been introduced in South Africa, but it is widespread in all of Africa's parks (Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, etc.).

Elefanti nello Tsavo Est, Kenya

The five animals he refers to, both in the context of photographic and big game safaris, are: - Elephant - Lion - Leopard - Rhino - Buffalo. Safaris are carried out with safe vehicles (jeeps or minibuses) led by drivers/guides able to find the best scenarios of wild life. One of the rules to be respected is the absolute prohibition of leaving the track; animals are everywhere and can be a danger to us, as we can be to them when we frighten them. The presence of the guides is reassuring, given their competence.

Our Safari

Safari means travel in the Swahili language and it was a real journey to discover Africa.

Orme di Leone, Safari nello Tsavo Est, Kenya


We booked the Safari through Gledis, the girl who works in the excursion office of our resort, Jacaranda Beach. We chose an option a little more exclusive than the standard one generally offered by both the resort and the travel agency in Italy, with accommodation in the Ashnil Aruba ****, a Luxury Safari Lodge in the middle of the natural park for 280€ each.

Included services: the Jeep (for six customers, we were together with two Italian couples), lunch and dinner at the Lodge on the first day, breakfast and lunch on the second day (lunch in a field just outside the park to make the most of the morning in the name of exploration). Jacaranda for this Safari lean on Malik Safari, a very experienced guy who was on tour with us but in another Jeep, he took care of everything in the best way, nothing is left to chance. So if you want to have this experience, contact him, super recommended.

Alternatively, I recommend you take a look at SafariBookings: a search engine for Safari where you will find thousands of options and agencies to build your dream safari. Just enter the destination, dates and number of people to get a nice list of alternatives with various costs based on the services offered. Ask for some free quotes and compare the options! I'm sure you'll find what's right for you!

SafariBookings covers Safaris throughout Africa but, in this case, you just need to access the Tsavo East Safari section directly to limit your choices to the Tsavo East National Park!

Day 1

Scuola, Kenya

Wake up early in the morning, to leave at 8 a.m. from Jacaranda aboard a Jeep to reach the park before lunch. On the way we stopped at a mini-market to buy biscuits and flour which we left at a school along the way. For those who have never been to Africa, being close to such a poverty typical of these places is an experience that leaves its mark. Unfortunately, this year, taken from other things, I have not brought anything from Italy, but I usually keep some space in my suitcase with clothes that are now small and I no longer use, notebooks and pencils to leave in schools and villages. It's not much, but it sure is something, and people will be extremely grateful to you.

Safari in Jeep, Tsavo Est, Kenya

We reached Tsavo East National Park around 12 p.m., the entrance ticket was included in the price, so after checking the documents (don't forget to bring your passport, as it almost happened to us) we got on board of the Jeep driven by Juma, our guide-driver, nicknamed Polipoli by us (from Pole Pole, which in Swhaili means slow slow).

Leone, Tsavo Est, Kenya, Safari

The Big Five, Tsavo Est, Kenya

Both we and the two couples traveling with us were a little anxious because all the people in our resort who had done the Safari in those days came back without seeing all the Big Five. Actually, our Safari got off to a great start with the sighting of a lone male lion that we reached by taking an off road (prohibited by the Safari regulations, but the guides makes an exception for lions and leopards) and two leopards hiding in the bushes that we were able to see in the distance because they were more shy and afraid than the lion. The Safari consists specifically in wandering through the typically red dirt roads and already beaten in search of animals; the guides in the car have special radios with which they communicate with each other, indicating the herds sighted.

Jeep, Safari nello Tsavo Est, Kenya

Pushing us towards the center of the park to reach our Lodge we broke a wheel, in the middle of nowhere and under the scorching sun of 2 p.m. in the afternoon, but Polipoli, reached by Malik, replaced the wheel within 20 minutes and we left for our camp, which we reached around 2.30 p.m., where we were able to have lunch in the refreshment area beautifully set up in a wooden gazebo. Here we enjoyed an excellent lunch with typical Kenyan dishes but also some taste of Italian cuisine. Here, too, we have no scruples in gorging ourselves on vegetables and fresh fruit without fear, they are very careful to make all food proof of the most delicate European intestines.

Lodge nel Parco Naturale dello Tsavo Est, Kenya

The lodge is fenced in with electrified wire that keeps animals away, especially at night, so it's extremely safe. The buildings are masonry and have all the comforts, from a splendid swimming pool with a breathtaking view of the savannah, to a boutique and a laundry. After lunch we settled into our bungalow and freshened up and changed clothes. It is very hot in the park, the clouds are very rare, and despite traveling in the Jeep, the roof is opened and you still risk sun exposure, so I recommend a hat. We were advised to wear long trousers and a short-sleeved T-shirt, but in reality you cannot get out of the Jeep so even a short shorts will allow you to stay calm and cool. For the afternoon game drive I took on a white long-sleeved linen shirt, which allowed me not to feel cold in the hours close to sunset when the sun goes down and the temperature drops slightly.

The afternoon game drive started at 3:30 p.m. and lasted until 7 pm, when the sun goes down and it is mandatory to return to the fields, as in the dark many animals come out and it becomes dangerous to go around the park . Fortunately, we had chosen the option with the camp inside the park, thus gaining a few more hours of exploration: many lodges are located outside, implying an early return and a lot of time lost in the transfer. On our way back to the lodge we were lucky enough to spot a lion and a lioness on the roadside, who let themselves be approached and photographed without running away. A truly unique experience.

Ashnil Aruba, Tsavo Est, Kenya

Once back, we gave us a nice regenerating shower and went to dinner. The only negative note of the evening: the insects. So immersed in nature it is impossible to keep them away, and as soon as the sun goes down the area is filled with grasshoppers, crickets and other beautiful big beasts that offer a not too fun experience. For this reason we had a quick dinner, took advantage of the free wifi and escaped to the room safely. There are no bugs in the rooms, and the lodge staff closes the bed area of ​​each room with mosquito nets in the afternoon, so we slept peacefully.

Tramonto nello Tsavo Est, Safari, Kenya

Day 2

Bufalo all'alba, Tsavo Est, Kenya

In the morning again we wake up early, at 5 a.m., a quick breakfast and we left for the third game drive at 6 am. Getting up early is really worth it, as in the morning, being cooler, you can see many more animals. We had a lot of luck again spotting a family of lions complete with cubs, and a leopard mother with her puppy, who hadn't seen each other for almost 5 years.

Safari nello Tsavo Est, Kenya

We were able to see the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants and buffaloes, the rhino is now extinct due to poachers and can only be seen in a protected and fenced area. We also saw ostriches, hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, antelopes, giraffes, zebras, water antelopes, hyenas, jackals, toucans, gazelles, golden eagles and meerkats. We couldn't really complain. It was magical and exciting. But beyond the animals, believe me, the Safari is worth doing even if you do not see many animals, the spectacle that nature offers is breathtaking: the landscape is very varied, from the oases around the lakes and the river, full of greenery, to the savannah, more arid and drier. You will touch the places of the Lion King with your hand and they will enter them.

At the end of the game drive we left the park and had lunch in a tented camp outside the camp, before heading back to the resort.

Safari nello Tsavo Est, Kenya

What to say? A magical experience, difficult to describe in words, but I still hope to have transmitted some of the emotions experienced in these two days. Surely one of the things to do: only when you live it will you be able to understand the magnificence of these places and you will fall in love with them.

Elefanti, Safari nello Tsavo Est, Kenya

Sickness of Africa We hear so much about it, what is the Sick of Africa? The only disease from which it is impossible to heal, real nostalgia, experimental at the soul level even before the mind. Mal d'Afrique is the breath you feel suddenly fail and that poignant melancholy that seizes you. There is no precise definition, precisely because the feelings that these places arouse are so subjective and individual, so intimate that one can only think of living them and consequently try to explain, with evident poor results. The discovery of a deep sense of attachment, belonging and return to origins, a strong call to the African land, its people, its colors. A state of mind whereby in those lands - even if so remote and different from those we are used to - we feel at home, in the right place and finally at peace with ourselves.

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