Kenya: Places to Explore

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Tsavo West

Tsavo West covers 7,065 square km (2,728 square miles), which is a little less than a third of the total area comprising all of Kenya's national parks. With its diverse habitats of riverine forest, palm thickets, rocky outcrops and ridges, mountains and plains, it's more attractive and certainly more accessible than Tsavo East. In the north, heavily wooded hills dominate; in the south there are wonderful views over the Serengeti Plains. Take a boat ride or go birding on Lake Jipe, one of the most important wetlands in Kenya. If you like birds, you'll be keen to get a glimpse of the whitebacked night heron, African skimmers, and palm-nut vultures. The lake, which lies in the park's southwest corner on the Kenya/Tanzania border, is fed from the snows of Kilimanjaro and the North Pare mountains. There's evidence of volcanic activity everywhere in the park, especially where recent lava flows absorb the rainfall. In one spectacular spot, this rainfall, having traveled underground for 40 km (25 miles) or so, gushes up in a pair of pools at Mzima Springs, in the north of the park. There's a submerged hippo blind here, but the hippos have gotten wise to tourists and often move to the far side of the pools. Because of the fertile volcanic soil and abundance of water, the park is brimming with animal, bird, and plant life. You'll see lion and cheetah—especially in the dry season when the grass is low—spotted hyena, buffalo, the beautiful Masai giraffe, and all kinds of antelope, including Thomson's and Grant's gazelle—the prettiest of the antelope.

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