Meru National Park

Meru National Park is wild and beautiful. Straddling the equator and bisected by 13 rivers and numerous mountain-fed streams, it is an especially scenic area of Kenya. It has diverse scenery from woodlands at 3,000ft.

Quick Facts

Altitude 1,000 – 3,400ft.
Area 870 sq. kms
Distance from Nairobi 348 kms
Opened April 1968
Beautiful Landscape, 13 Rivers
Former Home of George & Joy
Adamson & “Elsa” the lioness
Game viewing: Elephant, Hippo, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah
Campers Paradise: Excellent views of Mount Kenya

On the slopes of Nyambeni Mountain Range, northeast of Mount Kenya, to wide open plains with wandering riverbanks dotted with doum palms. It is home to lion, elephant, cheetah, leopard and some rare antelopes; Lesser Kudu, duiker and Dik Dik, one of Africa’s smallest antelopes. Large prides of lion can be seen and some of Kenya’s largest herds of buffalo. Rivers abound with hippos and crocodiles. Fishing for barbus and catfish is permitted at camp sites and along the Tana River. In the mid 1980s, the park suffered from poaching. However KWS armed wildlife security patrols have driven out poachers and the elephant population has stabilised with breeding herds settling down.

More than 300 species of birds have been recorded. They include Peter’s Finfoot which inhabits the Murera and Ura rivers, the Pel’s Fishing owl, kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and numerous weavers.

The park is most famous as the setting for Joy Adamson’s book Born Free – the story of the Adamsons’ life and research amongst lions and cheetahs. “Elsa” the lioness was the most well-known and her grave is marked here. There is one lodge and two tented campsites which must be prebooked, one public campsite, a KWS self-help banda, and leopard rock bandas (total 120 beds).

On the border of Meru National Park is Bisanadi National Reserve known as ‘kinna’, the border between Meru and Bisanadi Parks is the traditional division between the Meru and Boran. The Reserve was opened in September 1979 and occupies an area of 606 sq. km. A true wilderness area without any accommodation, it is only accessible by 4WD vehicles. There is an airstrip at Korbessa.

Another area made famous by the Adamsons is Kora National Park. Opened in October 1989, 280 km. northeast of Nairobi, it is an easy outing from Meru National Park. It covers an area of 1,787 sq. km., bordered by the Tana River. George Adamson had his camp was here. A key feature is the sudden appearance of lush green “oases”, created by the lines of doum palms which shelter the banks of the Tana River. Striking are the Inselbergs – isolated rocky outcrops covered in vegetation which create random islands above the plains. Kora has diverse wildlife: 21 species of fish, 500 species of insects, 33 molluscs and 40 reptiles. Elephants, Lesser Kudus, wild dogs, striped and spotted hyenas, leopards and cheetahs can be seen.

Other regional parks include Rahole National Reserve, offering a wide variety of plains game, hippos, crocodiles and many birds. At Mwingi National Reserve, formerly North Kitui, there are hippos, crocodiles, buffaloes and warthogs.