Meru Kenya National Park is a fascinating place to visit. The fact that
the number of travelers to the park have increased tenfold over the
last several years is an indication of Meru’s attraction. Taking a
safari in this park may be a little more challenging than in other
parks but for those who enjoy adventure travel, it will be well worth the effort. You will need a visa. Click here to apply for your Kenya visa online.
Meru National Park- Meru Kenya Wilderness Park-Best Kenya Animal Park
This national park is the cornerstone of the Meru Conservation Area, a
4000-sq-km expanse that also includes the adjacent Kora National Park,
and Bisanadi, Mwingi and North Kitui Nation Reserves (which are
closed), covering the lowland plains east of Meru town.
KWS has big plans for this park. In the 1970s the population of
rhinos and elephants could pull in up to 40,000 visitors a year, but
banditry and poaching during the 1980s effectively put paid to tourist
here, wiping out the white rhinos and leaving the area almost abandoned
until in the 1990s.
Today, substantial foreign investment, notably from French
development agencies and the international funds for Animals Welfare
(IFAW), has enabled a flurry of rehabilitation projects: a new rhino
sanctuary opened in 2001 and now houses 25 rhinos (24 of them white), a
new sealed access road is half completed, all the main park roads have
been upgraded, and there’s now a bridge across the Tana River at
Adamson’s Falls (worth a visit) accessing Kora National Park.
With security long since settled, these improvements are
starting to payoff and visitor numbers are steadily climbing, from a
meager 1000 in 1997 to well over 10,000 in 2004. With two luxury lodges
and some of the best budget option in any Kenya’s national parks,
Merus’ fortunes should soon be on the up again. Visit soon and you’ll
still feel like you have this blissful to yourself.
This resurgence is definitely is a good thing, as the park is a
complete constant to the nearby savannah reserves of Samburu, Buffalo
Springs and Shaba. Abundant rainfall and numerous permanent
watercourses flowing down from the Mt Kenya massif support a luxuriant
jungle of forest, bush, swamp and tall grasses, which, in turn, provide
fodder to a wide variety of herbivores and shelter to them and to their
This is one of the geographically diverse parks in Kenya and a
favorite with the Safari cognoscenti; you need to spend a few days here
to fully appreciate what the park has to offer.
While on the rise, wildlife is still not as abundant here as in
other parks. To make things more challenging, the limited elephant
numbers have led to an increase in vegetation cover, making it
difficult to sport those species that do exist. However, with a little
patience you can see elephants, (often found in the marshy Bisanadi
plains in the north of the park.)
Leopards, lions and cheetahs along with, lesser kudus, elands,
waterbucks, gazelles and oryxes. Buffaloes, reticulated giraffes, and
gravy zebras are common while monkeys, crocodiles, and a plethora of
bird species, including the palm nut vultures and Marshall Eagles, can
be found in the dense vegetation along the water courses. A drive
through the overgrown jungles that shadows the Tana River is well worth
the trip to Meru alone.
Meru National Park Information
Entrance to Meru National park (adult/child US$60/40) doesn’t
entitle you to enter the adjacent Kora National Park (child/adult
US$60/40). Visit into Kora must be prearranged with Meru’s warden.
At present you need to have a 4WD or be on a tour to visit.
Most road junctions are numbered, so KWS’ Meru National Park map, sold
at the gate, its essential if you want to find your way around.
Accommodation in Meru National Park
Bwatherongi Bandas & Campsite, perhaps the best KWS camp in
all of Kenya, has great showers, toilets, barbecue pits, a swimming
pool and an askari (security guard) in attendance.
There are also four excellent thatched bandas with shady
verandas, twin beds, kerosene lamps, mosquito nets, decent bathrooms
and small sofas.
Special Campsites – there are about a dozen of these bush
campsites (on Facilities) located through out the park. The gate will
let you know which are currently open.
Murera Education Centre – this center’s bandas by the main gate
should only considered if Bwathereongi’s bandas are full. Ask at the
gate for details.
Elsa’s Kopje – wake up to glorious panoramic views and sweet
breezes in this gorgeous open-fronted thatched cottages that blend
seamlessly into in the upper ranches of Mughwango Hill.
This place is the definition of sensitively designed luxury. A
rock out crop seemingly burst through the floor of cottages number one,
where steps lead down to a stunning outdoor bathtub hewn into the cliff
itself. The pool and surrounds are equally sublime. The hefty prices
include three wildlife drives (one at night), walking safaris, fishing
Leopard Rock Lodge – with landscape gardens, a stilled
restaurant on the Murera River and comfortable cottages, this lodge
would shine anywhere else in Kenya, but here its entirely outmatched by
the stunning beauty of Elsa’s Kopje. The lodge arranges similar
activities to Elsa’s, but charges extra.
Getting there and away
Simply put, there’s no point reaching the park without a
vehicle. If you don’t want to join a tour, your cheapest option is to
acquire a 4WD (and drive) from a local in the village of Maua, which is
31km from the gate. Regular matatus service Maua from Meru town.
Air Kenya (tel 020-605745; www.airkenya.com) connects Meru to
Nairobi and Samburu. From Nairobi to Samburu with a stopover in Meru.
Give your lodge your flight details for pick-up.
Robert is a tour consultant in Kenya and has planned business
and vacation safaris for over 10,000 tourists in the East African
region. For more information please visit: Landmark Safaris
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