We weren’t sure if we were going to get the long weekend for Jamhuri Day as it fell on a Saturday and here in Kenya most people work on a Saturday so they don’t move a public holiday that falls on a Saturday to the Monday after. But thankfully Jon’s boss managed to move it to the Monday which meant we all of a sudden had a long weekend to explore a bit further from home.
We decided to go to Tsavo West, together with Tsavo East the biggest national park in Kenya covering 4% of Kenya’s land mass, it is also one of the biggest national parks in the world. Tsavo is cut into West and East by the main Mombasa to Nairobi road and railway line. Tsavo West is more hilly and volcanic than Tsavo East and it is also home to Mzima Springs. This crystal clear spring originates in the nearby Chyulu Hills where the rain seeps slowly through the porous volcanic rock, emerging 50km and 25 years (!) later in Mzima Springs.
Mzima (meaning ‘alive’) Springs is home to a pod of hippos and a few resident Nile crocodiles and Nile monitor lizards. They have even built an underwater viewing room in one of the ponds so you can see the hippos dance underwater, but unfortunately the hipos no longer frequent the top pool so you can watch the fish instead.
Early Saturday morning we left Nairobi, cruising down Mombasa Rd until very quickly a huge jam slowed us down – a lot. We’re still not sure what caused the jam, but it took us an hour longer than normal to drive the 230km to the Mtito Andei gate. From the gate our game drive to get to the lodge began, and soon we realised how enormous this park is. The distance from the gate to our lodge (Severin) is nearly 50km!
The lodge wasn’t busy and had upgraded us to a tent that had 2 balconies, one on the ground floor and an elevated one with sunbeds! That was a nice surprise. As usual we didn’t have much time to enjoy the luxuries in camp though as we spend most of our time out on game drives.
We drove ourselves and were very lucky with all the animals we saw that weekend. We spotted another zorilla right beside the road, a leopard, Jude saw a glimpse of a caracal and we even came across a black rhino in the rhino sanctuary. And despite the name, most people who enter it never see one as the bush is really thick as that’s what the black rhinos like… The guide at our lodge had never seen one! We also saw a klipspringer, watched a white-tailed mongoose rummage around for a while and identified heaps of new birds (for us).
It was really nice to spend an extra night in Tsavo West, we usually only spend one night somewhere and that can sometimes feel a little rushed.It also meant we had time to hike up Chaimu (an old volcano) and drive through the Shetani lava flow, quite impressive. The flow is from a volcanic eruption but it isn’t certain how long ago this took place. There are still only very few plants growing amongst the black, jagged rocks so it can’t have been that long ago.
Despite our 3-day weekend we still had no time to try the gym, but made sure we had one dip in the fantastic swimming pool before heading home again on Monday afternoon.