Tsavo West National Park
is the section of the enormous Tsavo conservation area which lies to the south of the main Nairobi to Mombasa road in Southeast Kenya
At 9,065 square kilometres, Tsavo West is a this very substantial conservation area is best know for its broad red plains, whose endless acacia scrub and open plains sustain dispersed populations of wildlife, which clusters around the few sources of permanent water, especially during the Jul/Oct dry season.
The main area of interest is in the northern sector, where there is a cluster of lodges close to the Tsavo River itself. The landscape here is impressive, with distant mountains and volcanoes providing the backdrop for undulating acacia covered hills and open plains, with a good range of wildlife, notably including lions and leopards. Two particular sights of interest are the well known Mzima Spring, where an underwater hide sometimes provides views of swimming hippos and the world's longest continuous lava flow at Shetani, formed millions of years ago by outflow from the Ol Doinyo Sabuk volcano.Finch Hatton's Lodge
... is the most upmarket option in this northern sector, set around a verdant spring off the beaten track on the western side of the ridge of volcanic hills.Kilaguni Serena Lodge
... is a large but relatively high quality lodge, overlooking a large and very productive waterhole.Severin Safari Camp
... is also a relatively large camp, but with a more authentic safari atmosphere, tented rooms and views out of a handful of small waterholes.
The second interesting area is further south in the Lumo Conservancy, a large protected area adjacent to the national park. The landscape down here is lovely, with a similar backdrop of mountains, but with more open grasslands and a rich range of wildlife, notably including large herds of buffaloes, lions and, as always in Tsavo, lots of elephants.Lions Bluff Lodge
... is arguably the best lodge in the Tsavo West, a very pleasantly presented small lodge set on the end of a dramatic promontory with 270 degree views.Salt Lick Lodge
... is not facility that we rate highly, but we highlight it here because it is so extraordinary, with pod rooms standing on stilts above a cluster of waterholes, a little reminiscent of something out of Lord of the Rings.
Tsavo West is not really strong enough a safari area to warrant visiting in isolation, guests tend not to include this area in flying safaris. It is much more commonly included in overland safaris, notably in lower cost excursions from the coast. The large lodges which cater for this traffic and the clusters of minivans in high season really does lower the tone of the place, whilst the fact that the park is transected and bordered by major tar roads also reduces from any sense of wilderness. But that is not to say that Tsavo West is a complete write off, if you are intent on doing an overland safari through this region, then it is well worth stopping off at one or two of the better lodges here and taking in the impressive scenery.
Overland safaris through this area are most commonly combined with lodges in Amboseli
, Chyulu Hills
, Tsavo East
and the southern coast around Malindi