Chyulu Hills National Park Kenya, safari in Kenya tour, Kenya Wildlife Safari
The Chyulu Hills is a mountain range in eastern Kenya. It forms a 100-kilometre-long volcanic field in elongated NW-SE direction. Its highest peak is 2188 meters high. The park was established and gazetted in 1983 and covers a geographical area of 120sq km (46sq mi) and the nearest city is Tsavo with Kenya Wildlife Service as the governing body. The Chyulu Hills are located about 150 km east of the Kenya Rift. The hills consists of several hundred small flows and cones. Volcanism in the area started about 1.4 million years ago in the northern parts of the hills, and over time the volcanism propagated towards the southeast. These volcanoes are still considered active, since their last two eruptions (Shaitani and Chainu) occurred in 1856. Within the hills is the Leviathan Cave, one of the longest lava tubes in the world. Kibwezi town is located 30 km northeast of the Chyulu Hills. The Chyulu Hills do not have any permanent rivers, but rainfall on hills feeds the Tsavo and Galana rivers and Mzima Springs on the surrounding plains. Chyulu hills divide the Tsavo and Amboseli plains. The area is inhabited by Maasai and Kamba people. Tucked away between Tsavo West National Park and Amboseli National Park, Chyulu Hills National Park boasts striking and diverse landscapes.
Chyulu is a rugged wilderness still showing signs of its volcanic origins and boasting some of the best views of Kilimanjaro. The reserve is a rugged clutter of ancient volcanic cones and craters, as well as the longest lava tube in the world. In addition to the breathtaking landscapes and views, Chyulu is home to a wonderful selection of game, including buffalo, antelope, elephant, leopard, wildebeest and zebra. The bird watchers’ paradise of Lake Jipe lies in the south-west corner of the reserve. The Park comprises the eastern flanks of Chyulu Hills including about half the forest area. The park boundary runs down the centre of the hills along the lines of the peaks. The remaining western portion of the hills is part of the west Chyulu Game Conservation Area and owned by several Maasai Group ranches.
The Chyulu Hills National Park (meaning “The Spotted Hills”), protects a volcanic mountain range which runs parallel to the highway at Mombasa between Kibwesi and Tsavo. With distinctive rounded hills and volcanic vents that have solidified black lava flows running down at irregular intervals, the Chyulu Hills are definitely unusual. These are the country’s youngest hills at just 500 years old! The lava flows can be walked on to fully appreciate the unusual boulders that are extremely brittle and full of air. There is a bit of vegetation on the flows, but more vegetation is found in the rocky outcrops that are home to herds of the elegant impala and the majestic eland.
Montane forest is found mainly above the 1800m contour line on the hills. There are 37 different species of orchids found in the area, mainly on the higher peaks of which the highest are in the central southern portion of the park.
How to get to Chyulu Hills National Park
By road from Kibwezi, turn right off the Mombasa Road (coming from Nairobi) at Kibwezi, onto a sign posted road that leads after 9 Kms to Kithasyo Gate and Park HQ. By road from Tsavo West: It is possible to enter the park from Tsavo West
The Park has two airstrips
WHAT TO SEE IN CHYULU HILLS NATIONAL PARK?
The Volcano Hills in Chyulu Hills National Park Kenya
Verdant rolling hills of endless green, great blue skies and spectacular landscape views are what the Chyulu Hills provide to nature lovers. Large mammals include buffalo, bushbucks, elands, elephants, leopards, giant forest hogs, bush pigs, reedbucks and giraffes along with various reptiles and insects. Horse riding, camping, mountain climbing and bird watching can be enjoyed in this hidden part of paradise.
Chyulu Hills has no surface rivers, yet it is a vital catchment area for Mzima Springs and the Tsavo and Galana Rivers. The porous peaks of volcanic ash, enables them to trap rain from moisture-laden winds. All that rain soaks into the sponge-like ash and percolates down until it hits impervious bedrock and begins an underground journey to Mzima Springs, some 25 miles away.
Wildlife in Chyulu Hills National Park
Species seen around the Chyulu Hills which might not be seen so easily in Amboseli as there are no night drives, include leopard, porcupine and aardvaark. Commonly seen animals include buffalo, bushbuck, eland, elephant, leopard, bushpigs, forest bushbuck, reedbuck, mountain Steinbok. Giraffe, cheetah, the rare fringe-eared oryx, the gerenuk are also present. There is also a lion research project and a bush school for younger guests. Of course you could just enjoy the scenery as there are breathtaking views from every angle.
If you’re interested in reptiles there are the more common species in the area such as black mamba, puff adder, rock pthyon, geko’s, tortoise and lizards. You will also see a variety of butterflies, dung beetles and unfortunately some tsetse flies.
THINGS TO DO IN CHYULU HILLS NATIONAL PARK
Explore the lava tubes of the Kisula Caves complex
Chyulu Hills National Park boasts some of the deepest known lava tube caves in the world, a feature that has placed the park on the world map, especially among geologists and volcanologists.
The numerous lava tube caves, collectively known by the local community as Kisula Caves, criss cross the depths of Chyulu Hills. The Upper Leviathan Cave has been extensively explored and at 11.5km long, and has been established as one of the longest caves in the world. Getting to the caves from the park entrance will involve a 15km hike through rugged wilderness that should take you three to four hours one way. The route is also motor-able the whole way – an option if you want to avoid the long hike.
View Mt Kilimanjaro
The Chyulu Hills offer the essential African landscape experience and more. Far to the north-west lies the elephant country of Amboseli. Volcanic summits of Tsavo National Park regress over the horizon while straight ahead, straddling the Kenya/Tanzania border emerges the impressive panorama of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Go hiking in Chyulu hills National Park
There are no set hiking trails on Chyulu Hills, however numerous animal trails crisscrossing the park provide convenient routes to take as you explore the wilderness. With the mountain range spanning over 100km from one end to the other, you will be spoilt for choice for areas to hike. Unlike some mountain ranges where you encounter dramatic cliff drops, the Chyulus provide a gentle gradient, suitable for the novice hiker.
Wildlife and birdwatching
Chyulu is a vital dispersal area – a corridor for animals that live in Tsavo and Amboseli. The park shelters a wide variety of wildlife which includes the critically endangered eastern black rhino, the cheetah, antelopes such as gerenuk and lesser kudu, huge concentrations of plains game such as wildebeest, zebra and eland as well as elephants which normally wander in from neighbouring Amboseli.
The park is also home to a variety of birdlife with an especially excellent bird watching site in Lake Jipe in the south-west corner of the park. The lake is fed by run-off from Kilimanjaro and the North Pare mountains. It is bordered by extensive beds of Typha and has large permanent swamps at its eastern and western ends.
Horse riding in Chyulu Hills National Park
Wonder at the voluptuous backdrop of Chyulu Hills while riding on horseback. Horseback riding also offers a distinct and unremarkable way to view wildlife, in that the wildlife see you as just another animal in their environment.
Accommodation in Chyulu Hills National Park
The western portion of the hills is part of the game conservation area that includes luxury lodges owned by several Maasai group ranches with the money raised from tourism helping to maintain the environment and traditional Maasai way of life.
Bountiful Safaris offers tailor made safaris at Chyulu either at a luxury safari lodge or at one of the camping facilities in the park
Campi ya Kanzi
Campi ya Kanzi meaning ‘Camp of the hidden treasure’ is a community project with the local Maasai on their Group Ranch of 400-square miles. The land includes a number of different environments from the grasslands of the savanna to green river woodlands to cool mountain forests; and the volcanic Chyulu Hills flank the property.
The camp is centred around Tembo House, which is the clubhouse at the heart of the camp, and is constructed of local materials such as lava rocks and grass for the roof, collected locally with high respect for the environment. Tembo House is an open-plan dining and living room with a huge vista to many different views. It is open to the outdoors, and from its terrace you’ll have a spectacular view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Tembo House has a large lounge where you can enjoy our books about Africa, relax with a refreshing drink after your safari, listen to classical music while watching wildlife drinking at the nearby waterhole, and much more. Italian and Maasai décor are tastefully combined. The cooks have been trained in the preparation of fine Italian cuisine, which is featured along with international and local dishes.
Campi ya Kanzi offers accommodation in six luxury tented cottages, Hemingway and Simba tented suites, and Kanzi House. Each cottage or suite enjoys a different view, and accommodates one or two guests. An extra bed can be added for a child. Four of the tented cottages feature twin beds, and the remaining two cottages and the suites have a king-size bed, all with feather mattresses and specially made linens imported from Italy. The tented cottages and the suites are conveniently located, with ample distance from one to the other, to guarantee every guest’s privacy.
If you prefer the privacy of a villa in the bush, then Kanzi House is ideal. Kanzi House accommodates a maximum of 10 guests, in three double rooms and two twin rooms. It features a Jacuzzi for four and a large swimming pool.
Campi ya Kanzi lays in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Over and above the big game and plains game the area offers many rare and interesting species such as the wild dog, fringe-eared oryx, lesser kudu, gerenuk, black rhino and cheetah. There are also more than 400 bird species on the Ranch.
Ol Donyo Lodge
OL Donyo Lodge lies in the foothills of the Chyulu Range, halfway between Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks. We have a concession on 300,000 acres of communal Maasai owned land, which is also part of the Amboseli eco-system.
There are 7 individual cottages built with local materials with spectacular views of Kilimanjaro. Each cottage has an en-suite bathroom, the electicity and hot water is generated by a solar system. Two of the cottages have an additional bedroom for guests with young children.
Ol Donyo Lodge has the exclusive use of over 300,000 acres of wilderness – 21,000 acres per guest. Kenya is renowned for its beautiful landscapes – ol Donyo Lodge and the Chyulu Hills are considered to be some of the most dramatic. ol Donyo Lodge is situated on private Maasai owned land. This gives opportunities for cultural interaction, horse riding, open-vehicle game drives, night game drives and walking. ol Donyo Lodge has recently been Highly Commended for the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Awards for our community projects and eco-friendly practices.
If you have a tent, you can pitch on selected campsites. Facilities at the campsites include tap water, a sheltered kitchen, toilet and a shower.
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Map Showing Chyulu Hills National Park Kenya