ABOUT CHYULU HILLS NATIONAL PARK
Chyulu Hills National Park was gazetted in 1983. The park is part of the Tsavo conservation area which covers Tsavo West National park, Tsavo East National park and the Kibwezi forest. The Park comprises the eastern flank of the hills and is operated by the Kenya Wildlife Service. The hills in this park hold no permanent surface water but rainfall that percolates through the porous rocks providing water to many permanent water sources in the surrounding plains. These hills are of volcanic nature and range from ash cones, craters as a result of volcanic eruptions which occurred over 240 years ago. Chyulu hills are also a water catchment area for Mzima springs, Tsavo river, and Galana river.
CLIMATE IN CHYULU HILLS NATIONAL PARK
The Temperatures in Chyulu Hills national park ranges from 20-30 c and rainfall from 200mm – 700 mm. Two rain seasons are experienced, long rains in the months of March and April and short rains in the months of November and December.
The park shelters indigenous vegetation which vary ranging from the forested area in the eastern part of the hills to the ungazetted western part of the Chyulu game conservation area which is owned by several Maasai groups. Different forms of vegetation can be seen dotted along the slopes of the Chyulu hills such as rough grassland and thicket, patches of montane forest as well as large tracts of forest. The dense thickets in Chyulu hills national park are also a water catchment area for wildlife, livestock and the neighboring communities as well as shelter for the different wildlife species in the national park.
ATTRACTONS IN CHYULU HILLS NATIONAL PARK
Caves – Chyulu Hills National park is a good place to visit if you like exploring caves. The levithian tube (also known as Kisula caves) is about 11 km long. One of the longest caves in Kenya and also Africa. It is best visited during the sunny periods January to March and also as from June to September.
Wildlife – The park is like a dark kingdom of stealth and twist where the animals are quite elusive and challenging to encounter but on a good day, amazing sights should grab your attention.
WILDLIFE AND BIRDS
Wildlife encounters in Chyulu Hills national park include Eastern Black Rhinos, Cape Buffaloes, Bushbucks, Elands, Elephants, Bushpigs, Masai Giraffe, Leopards, Lions, Mountain Reedbucks, Steinbok, Wildebeests and Grant’s Zebras. Cheetahs are found at the plains of Chyulu Hills. Various snakes inhabit the hills, like black mamba, puff adder and rock python. There are various bird species on the hills with some endemic races. Bird species include: Francolinus shelleyi, Pogonocichla stellata, Zoothera gurneyi, Bradypterus cinnamomeus, Hieraaetus ayresii, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Polemaetus bellicosus and Cinnyricinclus femoralis.
ACTIVITTIES IN CHYULU HILLS NATIONAL PARK
Activities for tourists to engage in during a visit to Chyulu Hills national parks include the following;
- Birding watching – It involves sighting different bird species which can be seen in the endless plains of Chyulu Hills national park. Bird species range from the endemic species to native species. Forest birds can also be seen including the Abyssinian crimson wing, terrestrial pigeon, the cinnamon dove and many other species. Excellent birding spots include Lake Jipe located at the southwest corner of the park.
- Game viewing – Game watching here is best done in the morning. Cheetahs can be sighted at the plains of the Chyulu hills. The different wildlife species can be seen as they move around the national park in search for water and pasture. During the dry seasons, the wildlife concentrate around swamps and other water sources as they compete for pasture and water with the livestock owned by the local communities. The wet season disperses the wildlife to find water in the outlying plains.
- Hiking – Hiking in this park rewards the tourists with volcanic scenery and the beauty of the wild which are one of the youngest ranges in the world. The hikes in this national park range from magnificent grassy plains to the higher green and misty peaks. Chyulu hills provides the view of the Mt. Kilimanjaro ranges in the backdrop which is an exciting experience for the hikers. There are numerous and convenient trails crisscrossing the park used to explore the park’s wilderness. The Chyulu hills have a slope that is suitable even for the less experienced hiker and it provides a satisfying and less strenuous hiking experience to the tourist.
- Horse riding – Travelling through the diverse landscape of Chyulu Hills national park on horse back is a unique game viewing experience with a close encounter with wildlife species.
- Cultural experience – The communities around Chyulu Hills national park are mainly farmers and pastoralists. Interacting with the local community which consists of the Maasai will help you understand that they depend upon the land and defends it. The Kamba people are also residents in this area.
- Bushwalks – Engage in the walks with different sights for tourists to experience such as green acacia woodlands below. Different plant species can also be sighted among the heavy mists of the Chyulu hills.
ACCOMMODATION IN CHYULU HILLS NATIONAL PARK
Within the park, there are two lodges Kiboko and Kathisayo while the rest of the accommodation facilities are located outside the national park and they are classified into luxury accommodation, midrange accommodation and budget accommodation. Luxury accommodation in Chyulu hills national park includes; Campi ya Kazi, Ol Donyo lodge which are the only available accommodation options within this national park in the western slopes of the hills. Marvel in the majestic greenery and spectacular landscape views of Kenya’s most picturesque terrain, Chyulu hills as you visit the green hills of Africa.