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Tsavo West National Park adventure

The Tsavo West National Park; Most maps claim it’s only 240km from Nairobi, but this is only true if you use the Mtito Andei gate. Due to its sheer size Tsavo National park spreads across both sides of the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway (Tsavo East and Tsavo West) and because of this there’s at least 6 gates (that I know of, probably more) spread across different locations.

Our plan was to camp at the Lake Jipe Campsite, which is at the Lake Jipe Gate. To get there, the road takes you via the sleepy town of Emali (on the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway), the snow-cap peaking Oloitoktok and the sparse but friendly Taveta. There’s a host of other little shopping centers and towns along the way, most of which make for very pleasant watering and fueling points as well. By my account, this is the more scenic route, shorter but by no means the more comfortable one. Here’s what it might look like on your way there:

Tsavo West, Chala

 It is advisable to use printed maps or GPS, Google Maps is too dependent on a working data connection that would probably render us stranded in the event of no network signal.

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 Having left the last trace of tarmac about 20km ago (last sighting, Oloitoktok), the road from Illasit to Taveta is dotted with countless seasonal rivers. The road is not tarmacked, and in some cases shares the same path with rivers – a situation which inadvertently leaves the road in terrible condition.

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 That pocket of magnificence nestled atop that hill is The Lord Grogan Castle in Taveta. It has a whole romantic tale about how a lovelorn Lord Grogan (yes, Grogan in Ngara is named for him) made this his fortress of solitude after the heartbreak of unrequited love from one lass named Gertrude (you guessed it, Gertrude Children’s Hospital). Gladly, it was converted to a lodge after a period of neglect. They also have a campsite if you fancy a night out with bonfires, fire flies and other flying things.

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 Now to the right of the picture lies Lake Jipe, this explains all the gullies, because the entire “road” from this point happened to run along the flood plain of the lake. Those electricity poles were our only saving grace because that’s what we used to “find” the road. The views of Pare and Usambara mountains in neighboring Tanzania though, amazing distraction!

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, ChalaThe crew.

And our awesome driver Chris who was unwavering in his goal to get us to our destination, though no one knew what lay more than 30 meters ahead of us at any one time.

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

Two hours. That’s what it took us to get through the last 1.3km of the trip (4 hours for the first 300km, just for comparison), seeing as we were driving in what was essentially a river. The sunset that awaited us just before pitching camp though, made it all worth it.

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

Of course that inspired us to wait up for the lilac-orange union of light at sunrise the next day:

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

Campsite was right on the shore of the lake. Therefore those visits from the hippos were numerous, birdlife aplenty.

Tsavo West, ChalaHippos grazing

.

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Tsavo West, Chala

However tempting it may be though, swimming in the lake is not a very smart idea. If the amazingly muddy shore doesn’t dissuade you from taking a dip however, the hippos that hang around here will entirely wipe that idea out of your mind.

 

Tsavo West, Chala

 

Charge Sheet

Camping – KES 150 Citizens/Residents USD 10 for other nationals. Carry your own camping gear if you intend to camp.

Bandas – KES 3,000 a night each for Citizens/Residents USD 50 for other nationals. Three bandas, sleep two people each, self-catering.

This is a guest post courtesy of Samora.

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17 Comments

  1. keniamoja
    November 4, 2013 at 2:37 am — Reply

    Amazing pictures, i have also learned the origin of the grogan name.

  2. mkenyasasa
    November 4, 2013 at 3:19 am — Reply

    the pix are priceless! bumped unto ur webpage and check it almost weekly for new adventures. this is by far my fav after chyulu n wanjohi pix. lovely! just lovely…nuff said.

  3. November 4, 2013 at 10:57 pm — Reply

    Beautiful images! Can’t wait to visit Africa! You guys didn’t have any safety issues camping in the tents? No roaming hippos in the middle of the night?
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted…Exploring Nicaragua’s Past at Convento de San FranciscoMy Profile

    • TheF1Croc
      November 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm — Reply

      The hippos DO roam the place at night, but the rangers (who have their base about 250m away from the campsite) advised that they don’t get feisty unless they’re provoked. In case you want them to totally stay clear though, a bonfire will do the trick.

  4. November 5, 2013 at 5:06 am — Reply

    Wow, the photos are breath-taking, seriously and I felt like I was there with you. Again, the sunrise is just stunning and I wish I was there :(((((((((((((
    Agness recently posted…5 Must Do Things In Macau On The CheapMy Profile

  5. November 7, 2013 at 10:34 am — Reply

    You see the most amazing sunrises and sunsets. I love all that gorgeous scenery. I’d be so happy to see those hippos just grazing. beautiful photo collection.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted…London Day Trip: Windsor Castle and the Changing of the GuardsMy Profile

  6. November 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm — Reply

    Beautiful photos 🙂
    Muza-chan recently posted…A Japanese Song per Day: SKE48 – Utsukushii InazumaMy Profile

  7. November 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm — Reply

    Quite an adventure! Great picture-story

  8. November 7, 2013 at 11:46 pm — Reply

    Love the wide open spaces and those sunsets — two of my favorite things about Africa!! Can’t wait to visit Kenya and East Africa.
    Marcia recently posted…A Meeting and Music at The Cloisters MuseumMy Profile

  9. November 9, 2013 at 3:03 am — Reply

    Hi Rachel, that sounds and looks like a massive park! Very stunning, too, I love the goldness of the sand. The sunset and lake shots are divine. Wished I was there with you.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted…The Mystic of Prayer Flags and Prayer WheelsMy Profile

  10. Manesha
    November 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm — Reply

    I’ve been to Tsavo East and needless to say it was kind of far though the road was pretty good, tarmac up to Mtito then entry to the park a few KM’s from the road, I was very impressed how KWS has marked the park so clearly,..better than the Mara where there are like 5 dirt roads leading to seemingly nowhere..Is the “Grogan castle” considered as semi or luxury accommodation ..seems like a good place to try out, I just cannot not do tents unless its a “luxury” tented camp, though at the end I prefer a hotel :). Super post even better pictures, btw it interesting to finally learn where the rough sounding Grogan name came from, I’m sure the Lord turns in his grave every time a kikuyu pronounces his name. LOL

    • TheF1Croc
      November 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm — Reply

      The Grogan Castle, not luxury but well above average. And as for the camping, it’s nowhere near a luxury camp, all they give you is space on the grass 🙂 You’ve got to carry everything else you’d need.

  11. Kamuche
    November 13, 2013 at 10:01 pm — Reply

    Amazing piece, love the story flow and clarity of the pictures,very well put together, and ohh my goodness that sunset view is breathtaking.

  12. November 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm — Reply

    Stunning pictures!
    Especially sun rise and sunset pictures are awesome. camp at rivers edge with hippo it’s very interesting.
    nice post.

  13. January 5, 2014 at 11:46 pm — Reply

    The scenery is absolutely stunning, wow great photos ! love it. I really hope to go there one day.
    Freya recently posted…Looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014My Profile

  14. March 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm — Reply

    These pictures are great. But I can’t see the pictures of elephants that make the fame of Tsavo West.

  15. January 24, 2015 at 5:02 pm — Reply

    […] Our tour guide mentioned that since the sanctuary borders another conservancy and also is near Tsavo West National Park the animals randomly traverse the vast savanna in search of food and […]

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