Tsavo East National Park in Kenya

Wildlife roam across the sprawling plains of Tsavo East, with the song of 500 birds filling the air. While the Galana river is most prominent landmark, the quartzite rock of Mudanda is truly striking.

Why Visit Tsavo East National Park

The wild riverine forest fringes the dominating Galana river, and elephants roam the open plains in large numbers. Tsavo East National Park is filled with rare wildlife such as the gerenuk and the lesser kudu. The park is a paradise for bird watchers, with roughly 500 species of bird.

Game drives are by their nature designed to bring you as close to wildlife as possible. Elephants, hippo and wildebeest can be found in large numbers here, and lions are the easiest of the predators to spot. While self-drives are acceptable, it is recommended that you use a guide, as they will know the best spots for wildlife viewing or bird watching. They also tend to know the most beautiful and scenic areas in the park.

For those adrenalin-seeking, adventurous souls, rock climbing is fantastic in the park, with eagles circling overhead, and elephant and wildebeest roaming below. Anyone who wishes to go rock climbing in Kenya, must first contact the Mountain Club of Kenya (MCK).

Pros and Cons

  • Rare wildlife species
  • The Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo
  • Rock climbing opportunities
  • Stunning landscape
  • Superb birdwatching with over 500 species
  • Wildlife population is a bit low
  • There are no night drives allowed

Best Time to Go

Tsavo East has a dry, hot climate.

The dry season is from June to September, with a shorter dry period in January and February. June to September are the ideal months for spotting wildlife. Even though the rains do slow down in January, the wildlife will still be scattered and difficult to spot due to the lush vegetation and plentiful water sources.

The Eurasian Migratory Specials usually arrive from November and stay until April. This yearly migration coincides with the mating season. This means that you will be able to see birds in their full mating plumage, and perhaps witness a hatching or two if you’re lucky. This makes November to April the best time for bird watching. The wet season is also calving season for the wildlife, and you may get to see some newborn animals.

For more information when to visit see our Botswana Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

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Wildlife and Birds

Tsavo East has great big game viewing and excellent bird watching. From Hunter’s hartebeest to the Vulturine Guineafowl, the park is home to a several special wildlife and bird species.
List of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Buffalo
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe
  • Black Rhino
  • Kudu
  • Warthog
  • Wild Dog
  • Zebra

The Big Five is present in Tsavo East, but while elephant, buffalo and lion can frequently be seen, the leopard and Black rhino are much more difficult to spot. Other notable animals include the fringe-eared oryx and Hunter’s hartebeest. June to September (dry season) is the best time to spot wildlife.

Rarel Animals:

  • Black rhino, Leopard, Cheetah, Wild dog, Hunter’s Hartebeest

Infrequntly Seen Animals

  • Lion, Buffalo, Hyena, Fringe-eared Oryx, Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Elephant, Masai Giraffe, Hippo, Zebra, Wildebeest

With an amazing 500 species of birds, bird watching in Tsavo East is spectacular. The Vulturine Guineafowl, Golden-breasted Starling and the Somali Ostrich are present here. November to April is the best time for bird watching as it is the breeding season, and migrant birds will also be present.

Endangered Birds

For a complete list of endangered birds in Kenya see here.

Endemic and Near Endemic Birds

  • African Finfoot
  • Black-faced Sandgrouse
  • Black-headed Lapwing
  • Eastern Chanting Goshawk
  • Fischer’s Starling
  • Golden Pipit
  • Golden-breasted Starling
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Martial Eagle
  • Northern Brownbul
  • Pangani Longclaw
  • Red-billed Parrot
  • Red-winged Lark
  • Rosy-patched Bush Shrike
  • Rufous Chatterer
  • Shelley’s Starling
  • Slender-tailed Nightjar
  • Somali Bee-eater
  • Somali Bunting
  • Somali Ostrich
  • Taita Falcon
  • Taita Fiscal
  • Vulturine Guineafowl

Getting There and Safety

Nairobi is the main entry point for those travelling to Kenya from North America or Europe. The most prominent airports in Kenya are Jomo Kenyatta International Ariport in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

Chartered flights are available to Tsavo East National Park. Unfortunately, there are no scheduled flights.

If you choose to travel by car, you can reach Tsavo East from Nairobi (325km/201mi) or from Mambasa (250km/155mi). Alternatively, you can also reach Tsavo East from another park, such as Lake Nakuru National Park, which is roughly a 7.5-hour drive from Tsavo East.


For the flights to Kenya, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Kenya.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Kenya.


For more information on visas see our Kenya Safari - Complete Country Guide.


There is a high risk of malaria throughout Kenya, with the risk increasing during the rainiest months (October – November and April – May).

We recommend that you speak to your healthcare provider regarding anti-malaria medication for your trip to Kenya. For added protection against mosquitoes, you should buy a good insect repellent (30% DEET or more) and keep you arms and legs covered, particularly at night. A netting covering your bed at night is also a good idea, or you could spray the room with the insect repellent each night before bed.

Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Kenya. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

What to Pack

General items:

  • Passport and visa
  • A good insect repellent is essential for Tsavo.
  • Camera
  • Spare rechargeable batteries
  • Battery charger
  • Spare memory card for camera
  • General clothing
  • Trail shoes and hiking boots
  • Personal medication
  • Small backpack (for game drives and rock climbing)
  • Toiletries

If you are visiting from October to May, wet-weather gear is necessary:

  • Waterproof backpack
  • Waterproof rain jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Waterproof hiking boots

If you are visiting in the dry season from June to September, you will need:

  • Sunscreen
  • Wide-brimmed sunhat
  • Warm clothing – nights and early mornings are chilly.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.

Drinking Water
The tap water in popular hotels and restaurants in the urban areas are safe to drink, but you should ask before drinking it if you are lodging in the park. To be safe, bottled water should be carried with you while in the park, especially on game drives and when rock climbing.

Generally, all parks and reserves are crime-free areas, and very safe to visit. Your main troubles will likely be in busy areas such as town, cities, markets and bus stations, where muggings and pickpocketing are more common – although if you are visiting as part of a tour group, you likely won’t have problems. Travelling alone always has its risks, and we advise you to be cautious if you are travelling independent of a tour group.

Inside the park itself, there is no crime. Moving through the park on a game drive is generally safe. You should always follow your guide’s instructions and don’t wonder from the group.