The Taita Hills are a large series of mountains located in Taita – Taveta County. They are the most northerly of what are known as the Eastern Arc Mountains that stretch all the way into Tanzania. They are unique in that due to the fact that that they have not eroded as fast as the surrounding areas and as such jut out of the landscape creating a high-altitude isolated oasis filled with endemic species of both plants and animals. The Ngangao Forest is only 20min from town. It is the 2nd largest forest fragment in the area and covers an area of 147ha. The entire Taita hills are classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA). It is among the un-tapped tourism resources sites we have around. Yet a place like this exists, it makes no sense to be known only by researchers and locals.
The hills consist of three massifs: Dawida, Sagalla and Kasigau. The Dawida massif is the largest and tallest of the three, with an altitude of 2,228m above sea level at its highest peak, Vuria. It has three other main peaks namely Lyale, Wesu, and Susu.
This dates back to the days of Kenya’s independence struggle. At the height of the search and arrests of freedom fighters, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and the Kapenguria six sought refuge in Taita away from home. The forest became their home as the Kino caves became their bedrooms as they strategized the fight. Banana leaves were improvised as mattresses and animal skins as blankets. It is at this place; Taita elders and seers gave Kenyatta a flywhisk. They predicted his arrest, his release and him becoming a very powerful leader afterwards.
The picturesque Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary
A privately-owned sanctuary, home of world-class the Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge and Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge. The sanctuary features different species of birds, elephants, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, gazelles, zebras, impalas, waterbucks, dik-dik and various small animals. The sanctuary provides a tranquil environment for game viewing activities, bird watching, camping and nature walks.
LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary
A community-owned wildlife sanctuary located near Mwatate town. The sanctuary hosts elephants, leopards, lions, giraffes, zebras, impalas, waterbucks, gazelles, buffalos and different species of birds. It is a perfect destination for bush walks, game viewing, nature trails and ornithological walks. The sanctuary also features a community-owned tourist lodge, the Lion’s Bluff Lodge.
Lake Chala & Lake Jipe.
Lake Chala is located across the Kenya/Tanzania border in Taveta. It is a crater lake with the lake’s shore is in Kenya while the other in Tanzania. The lake is fed entirely by underground streams from Kilimanjaro, hence the normally clear waters. Chala, in turn, feeds the waters of lake Jipe, some 30km distant as the crow flies, through more underground systems features a beautiful landscape with diverse species of birds. Monitor lizards, baboons and vervet monkeys can also be spotted within the lake’s vicinity.
Lake Jipe also straddles the border of Kenya and Tanzania. The lake covers an area of approximately 30 square kilometres. The lake is mainly fed by Lumi River and streams from the Pare Mountains in Tanzania. The Lake is known for its unique water birds and other species of birds, endemic fish, lake edge swamps and wetland plants.
Tsavo National Park is one of the oldest and largest African safari parks in Kenya. It was established in 1948 and covers 11,747 km², although not all of the park is open to the public.
In 1898, long before Tsavo National Park was created, a pair of maneless male lions terrorized the area. They reputedly killed 135 railway workers who were building the Kenya-Uganda railway. These man-eating lions dragged men from their tents, despite the thorn fences (bomas) built to keep them out. The maneless lions evaded traps and ambushes and were finally shot by Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson.
Although a few Early Stone Age and Middle Stone Age archaeological sites are recorded from ground surface finds in Tsavo, there is much evidence for the thriving Late Stone Age economy from 6,000 to 1,300 years ago. Research has shown that Late Stone Age archaeological sites are found close to the Galana River in high numbers. The inhabitants of these sites hunted wild animals, fished and kept domesticated animals. Because of the sparse availability of water away from the Galana River, human settlement in Tsavo focused on the riparian areas and in rock shelters as one moves west.
The park is divided into east and west sections by the A109 road and a railway. Named for the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park, it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania.
Tsavo West National Park is more mountainous and wetter than its counterpart, with swamps, Lake Jipe and the Mzima Springs. It is known for birdlife and for its large mammals e.g. black rhino, Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, hippo and lion. There are also other smaller animals that can be spotted in the park, such as the bushbaby, hartebeest, lesser kudu and Maasai giraffe. It is also home to a black rhino sanctuary. Other points of interest include Mzaimu Hill, Grogon castle and the WW1 battlefields. Tsavo West can be accessed through Mtito Gate, Man-Eaters Gate, Chyulu Gate and one other near Maktau.
There are rest areas with restrooms and water fountains. The safari viewing lodges also provide excellent buffet lunches while you enjoy watching the animals through the huge panoramic windows. There is also a camouflaged hideout where you can view the African elephants at the watering hole.
Tsavo East National Park is 333km south-east of Nairobi and 173km north-west of Mombasa. Its relative closeness to the beaches and tourist attractions around Malindi and Mombasa make it an ideal one-day wildlife safari destination for those who do not want to stay overnight.
Tsavo East is generally flat, with dry plains across which the Galana River flows. Other features include the Yatta Plateau, Mudada rocks, Aruba dam and Lugard Falls characterised with thorny bushes and swampy marshland near the river. It is teeming with diverse Kenyan animals including large families of giraffes, gazelles, hartebeests and zebras, as well as the “Big Five” must-see animals – buffalo, African elephants, lions, rhinos and leopards.
The park can be accessed by three main 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 the diverse wildlife that can be seen. Over 500 bird species have been recorded in the area.