One of Kenya’s larger parks, Tsavo West National Park comprises a huge variety of landscapes including swamps, natural springs, rocky peaks, extinct volcanic craters, rolling plains and sharp outcrops blanketed by greenery. Close to Kenya’s coast, Tsavo West National Park is easily combined with a beach holiday.

Tsavo West National Park, at a glance

Tsavo West National Park covers just over 9,000 square kilometres and over 21,000 square kilometres when combined with Tsavo East, Kenya’s largest protected area.

Its diverse topography of riverine vegetation, vast grasslands, dense acacia woodlands, rocky outcrops and semi-arid desert shrubbery are the perfect habitats for Kenya’s northern and southern species.

Toward the Chyulu Hills, the landscape is of recent volcanic origin and includes some striking lava flows.

Situated in Kenya’s southeast, Tsavo is near the Tanzanian border and is close to the Kenyan coast, perfect if you want a beach holiday after your Tsavo West safari.

Named after the river that flows through the parks, Tsavo is split into two national parks, Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Park, and divided by the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

Tsavo West National Park lies to the south of the road, while Tsavo East sits to the north.

The northern region of Tsavo West National Park, close to the Chyulu Hills, is especially scenic. It is possible to drive up to some brilliant vantage points like Poachers Lookout, where you may see as far as Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day.

Head to the clear waters of the Mzima Springs for a glimpse of crocodiles and hippos in an underground lookout, or to the Ngulia Rhinoceros Sanctuary, one of the few places in the country where it is possible to view the majestic black rhino.

How Does Tsavo West Fit in Your Kenyan Adventure?

Tsavo West National Park is ideally located halfway between Nairobi and the Kenyan coastal resorts.

So if you want to combine a beach holiday with a Kenya safari, Tsavo is the perfect safari destination either before or after.

Diani Beach, located just 30km south of Mombasa and approximately a five-hour drive from Tsavo West, is a stunning tropical paradise and has been awarded the best beach destination in Africa for five years running.

Tsavo is also often paired with Amboseli National Park, lies in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro in the south of Kenya.

It is roughly a six-hour drive from Tsavo, with game viewing opportunities on the way and four hours from Nairobi if you plan on starting with Amboseli.

Combining these two parks is ideal for elephant lovers, as both parks are famous for high densities and large herds.

The stunning white sands of Diani Beach

Things to Do in Tsavo West National Park

Mzima Springs

Situated in the west of the park, Mzima Springs is a green oasis. Originating in the Chyulu Hills, it produces over 200 million litres of water a day, supplying the majority of Mombasa’s freshwater.

Walking along the shoreline, you can see hippos and crocodiles soaking in the clear waters of the large pond.

At the end of the short trail, there is an underground viewing station, where you can watch the Hippos walk along the rocky bottom of the springs, as well as primordial looking fish and crocs brave enough to enter hippo territory.

Game Drives

Tsavo West offers one of the most exclusive game drive experiences in Kenya. Due to its vast size, you are unlikely to see any other vehicles when out in the bush.

Home to all of the Big Five and many rare northern Kenya species, there are plenty of animals to spot.

Tsavo West is slightly more challenging than Tsavo East and other national parks in Kenya due to low animal densities, thick shrubbery and dense woodland. However, experienced guides and drivers can increase your chances of finding wildlife, as they know all the best spots.

Early morning and evening game drives are recommended, as wildlife is more active during these times.

Tsavo West is also a great park to choose if you are travelling on the cusp of the rainy season. Due to its semi-arid climate, rainfall is infrequent, meaning roads and excursions are unlikely to be affected by the rains. 

Bush Breakfasts, Picnics and Sundowners

At Tsavo West, you’re not confined to the dining room. Have breakfast by a watering hole or take a break from game driving with a picnic under the shade of a Baobab tree.

Freshly prepared food and drinks are kept refrigerated in the cool box in the back of the safari vehicle, ready for when you get hungry.

Later, watch the peach sun sink behind the Chyulu hills from the scenic Poachers Lookout on the rocky cliff, ice-cold drink in hand. In Kenya, we call these sundowners.

Accommodation in Tsavo West National Park

Finch Hatton’s

Finch Hatton’s echoes a former era of exploration with its glamorous ‘out of Africa’ colonial-era inspired tented camp.

Named after the explorer Denys Finch Hatton, this camp offers guests only the best luxuries and comfort.

Set at the foot of the Chyulu Hills, Finch Hatton’s has 17 elegant raised canvas tents with hardwood floors, which overlook a clear spring, popular with hippos and other wildlife, which you can enjoy watching from your private deck.

Nestled within an acacia woodland on the edge of the savanna, Severin Safari Camp is another fantastic luxury choice.

Severin Safari Camp

Although on the larger side for a lodge with 27 suites, it has managed to keep its wild feel. Many animals are drawn to the watering holes in front of the camp, which you can observe from the spacious open-air lounge.

Kilaguni Serena

Perfectly situated in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro and surrounded by the volcanic splendour of the Chyulu Hills, Kilaguni Serena, is a mid-range classic stone-built lodge. It is the largest lodge, offering 56 guest rooms. It overlooks the savanna plains and is ideally placed for visits to all the park’s prime attractions.

When to Visit Tsavo West National Park

The best time to visit Tsavo West is in the dry season from July to September and December to March.

These months provide the best wildlife viewing opportunities as the grass is short and the animals are drawn to water sources, especially to the river banks and watering holes in front of lodges.

It is generally advised to avoid March to May, the long rainy season and October to November, the short rains.

However, Tsavo West is a semi-arid climate, and rainfall is more infrequent than other parks, so this is a great park to choose if you are travelling on the cusp of the rainy season.

Getting to Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West is situated in the southeast Kenya, 232km/144mi from Nairobi and 250km/155mi from Mombasa, and rough takes 4-6 hours driving.

Driving to the reserve from Nairobi, Mombasa or another park is a good option depending on your itinerary. If coming from Nairobi, many choose to stop at Lake Nakuru National Park for a short game drive and picnic lunch.

There are scheduled flights to Tsavo West from Nairobi Wilson Airport, and several other parks including Maasai Mara and Amboseli. There are also airstrips available for chartered flights.