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Tsavo West National Park
african hunting dog (Picture: Sigurd Treske)
african hunting dog (Picture: Sigurd Treske)
Bordering the South Serengeti Plains in Tanzania lays the Tsavo West National Park in Kenya. Covering a large area consisting of diverse terrains, the park stretches 9,065 square kilometers at a distance of about 240 kms from Nairobi. It provides diverse habitats for its animals as altitude ranges from 500 ft to 6,000 ft above sea level. Thus there are rivers, forests, lakes, wooded grasslands and mountains, each harboring a distinct set of animals.

The park became famous through the notorious "Man Eaters of Tsavo" incident at the turn of the century, when man-eating lions were preying on the workers building the great Uganda Railway. In fact, the carriage from which they pulled a traveler is now on display in the Nairobi Railway Museum. This incident was also depicted in the popular movie "Ghost and the Darkness."

termite hill (Picture: Günter P.)
termite hill (Picture: Günter P.)
The park is popular among visitors due to easy accessibility - it is located off the main Nairobi-Mombassa road and was opened in April 1948. Visitors can enjoy long walks along the nature trails and explore the Chaimu volcanic crater. They can also explore the Shetani Lava Flow and a variety of caves in the park.

There is quite a variety of wildlife and birdlife in the park. Over 600 species of birds have been recorded. Moreover, game viewing is fairly easy. Animals include the leopard, cheetah, buffalo, rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra, lion, crocodile, mongoose, hyrax, dik dik and porcupine.

lion (Picture: Michael Nikolai)
lion (Picture: Michael Nikolai)

The Mzima Springs is a major attraction for visitors. There is a pool of natural spring water with underwater viewing hides from which one can observe the hippos. The Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary is another safe haven for rhinos. Finally, the park offers excellent views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

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