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Introduction - Road - Park & Map - Places/Things to see - Pictures - Park fact - Wildlife - Fees - Climate - Camping - Lodges

Close to Mombasa, Shimba Hills National Park is a small hilly plateau situated at 33 km south from Mombasa (near Kwale Town) - See Kenya South Coast.

All hills have views points which offer splendid views of the hilly and forested countryside and far as the Indian ocean and Chale island to the East and the Tsavo plains and Taita hills to the West.

Visiting the park is a great opportunity to discover the dry red-soil of inland Kenya by doing a real safari and observing African elephants while being near the coast and still enjoying the freshness of the coastal breeze.

The park is well managed, the road is good all year round and there are plenty of signposts, to direct you. These is also a few choice of accommodation for those willing to pass the night in an equatorial forest populated by elephants or for sundowners lovers.
Shimba Hills road map
How to get there :
From Mombasa, take the ferry at Likoni to access the southern coastline where Diani and Tiwi beaches are. Then, take the main A14 coast road 10 km southwards until you join the main crossroad. Take the road climbing to Kwale Town (C106). The main gate is located at 1 km from the C106 road and 3 km from Kwale.
Distance Mombasa-Shimba Hills : 33 km

Shimba Hills is the name of the hills rising above the palm-fringed reaches of Kenya's coastline. Surrounded by a forested area of approximately 24'000 hectares, the park has a unique wooded ecosystem rich in flora but also in fauna - with all the same elephants, giraffes and the rare sable antelopes.

Vegetation is very dense therefore the few pastures and grasslands available are the best places to view animals who usually move towards rivers to drink and plains to graze. They are on eastern side of the park near the Giriama point, the Longo forest or the Buffalo ridge. Because it is very hot, animals stay in the forest during the day and no animals are seen. So very late afternoon is best time.

The main attraction of the park are the Sheldrick falls, an impressive 25 meters high waterfall of fresh spring water, and its marked foothpath in gallery forest to see the falls.
 SHIMBA HILLS NAT. PARK      Flash (full size) --- GIF (full Size)
Flash Tip - Click left in the map to zoom or to print


 SABLE ANTELOPES : This very small park is also the sanctuary of the last breeding herd of indigenous sable antelope in Kenya. This typical sabre-horned antelope is often considered as the most beautiful of the large antelopes. They are more easily seen on the central grasslands (Buffalo ridge) and around the old airstrip (near Longo forest). Best time is early morning or late afternoon. Large and gregarious animals with long scimitar-shaped horns, they have a black colour coat marked with white stripes on their face and under-parts. In the past, this African savanna antelopes were preys of many hunters and the species was almost extinct in Kenya. Even Ernest Hemingway was used to hunt sable antelopes despite the fact he was astonished by the beauty and the habits of the antelopes, both developed in his book, The Green Hills of Africa - Also in Wildlife : Sable Antelope.

elephants shimba
See two pictures
 A UNIQUE HABITAT FOR ELEPHANTS : For those who have been in safari and have seen savannah elephants under acacia cover and savannah in backdrop, the park is a good alternative to view elephants in a forested area. The tropical forests of Shimba hills is a unique habitat for elephants of the Kenyan coast. The best place to spot them is in the Elephant Hill or along the forested area such as Longo forest, but herds can be seen all over the park as there is more tha 600 elephants in the area. Note also that a fenced elephant corridor connects the Shimba Hills National Park to the Mwaluganje Forest and its elephant sanctuary (read around the park).

 WILDLIFE IN THE PARK :  Because vegetation cover is dense and the weather is very hot during the peak hours, animals are shy, stay most of the day in the forest and are very hard to see. A visit late afternoon is recommanded. Besides the elephants and the sable antelopes, the park includes buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, hyena, warthog, leopard, baboon, Sykes', vervet and colobus monkeys, serval, duiker, suni and bushpig. The Maasai giraffe and the ostrich have been reintroduced in the park and impalas and zebras have been unsuccessfuly reintroduced. Note also the presence of the rare roan antelope, a relative to the sable antelope reintroduced in Shimba Hills. This antelope can also be seen in Maasai Mara National Reserve. Birdlife is also abundant, specially during spring migration as 111 bird species have been recorded, of which 22 are coastal endemic - See full list of wildlife seen in the park - Print a checklist for your next safari !!

Sheldrick Falls Shimba
See all pictures
 SHELDRICK FALLS : Note that for safety reasons, it is recommended to be accompanied by a K.W.S. ranger as there are sometimes elephants or few buffalos along the 2 km long way-marked foothpath going to the falls. You can be escorted by a Ranger free of charge at 10am and 3pm. At ohter times, there is a fee of 300 Kshs. But, many go to falls without escort. Take a hat and drinking water as before going to the gallery forest, the path crosses steep uncovered grassplains and it is very hot. The falls were discovered by David Sheldrick (1919-1977). It is a two hours pleasant walk from the parking area to this spectacular falls which supply Tiwi and Diani with water. The track leading down to the cascade offers a scenic walk, count 45 minutes to descend and 1 hour to return. At the fall, don't try to clim on the cliff as it is slippery but take a cold shower of 25 meters high, swim safely in the cool water pool or even have a picnic by the cascades on sand. The level of the pool depends of the season : during rain season, you can easily swim in the pool and there is one fall; during dry season, the pool is tiny and there are two spring water falls.


Panoramic view Shimba
See two pano
 OCEAN VIEW POINT & GIRIAMA POINT & OTHER VIEWPOINTS : There are many view points in Shimba Hills, all with views over the forested hills and the grassplains. These viewpoints are used to observe elephants so binoculars is a must. The eastern side of the park have more viewpoints than the western side and the scenery is more contrasted with forests and plains. At the western side of the park, the Pengo hill (450 m) is the highest point of Shimba hills and on a very clear day, the Tsavo plains and the Taita Hills can be seen (and perharps the Mount Kilimanjaro).

Ocean view point offers a panoramic views over the hilly countryside and as far as the Kenyan coast and the Chale Island and there is a picnic site. The Giriama point is on the way towards Sheldrick Falls (see pano).


Mwaluganje Shimba
See all pictures
 MWALUGANJE FOREST (ELEPHANT SANCTUARY) : Located at approximatively 14 km from the main gate of Shimba Hills N.P., the Elephant sanctuary is linked with the National park by a fenced elephant corridor, so there are chances to see elephants crossing the main red-soil road. The sanctuary was created in 1993 to fight against deforestation by protecting unique gallery forests running alongside a large rivere. The sanctuary is dedicated to the elephant protection by minimizing human-wildlife conflict and enhance the socio-economic development in the area. The forest is also home for endemic bird species and indigenous trees species such as Mbambakofi (Afzelia quanzensis), Mgurure (Milicea execelsa) and Mvule (Combretum schumanii) and six species of Cycad, a fan-like plant which evolved 300 million years ago (Eucephalartos hildebrantii) and is listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), are found in the sanctuary). You are sure to see elephants and spectacular dry sceneries. The circuit is 9 km long and can be done with any car. Note that unfortunately, guide at the gate are not available so unless you are real specialist, it is impossible to find these unique tree species and there is not much to see ? But, you can purchase paper handmade from elephant dung at the gate to promote the project. - Visit their website
Fees resident : Adult - 100 Kshs, Child - 50 Kshs and Car - 150 Kshs
Fees non-resident : Adult - 15 USD, Child - 2 USD and Car - 150 Kshs

.  PICTURES GALLERY - DIAPORAMA.        See the picture's list for Shimba       SEARCH: in
Animals (2 pic.)
Elephants (2)
Landscape (15 pic.)
View & panoramics (5) - Sheldrick Falls (10)
Other pictures (7 pic.)
Mwaluganje (6) - Other (7)
Elephant at Mwalungaje Sheldrick Falls at Shimba Zebra at Amboseli

 Altitude :120 - 450 m
 Area : 321 km2
 Location : 33 km South from Mombasa - District of Kwale (Coast Province)
 Distance :33 km from Mombasa
 Entrances : one main entrance and three secondary gates (Kivumoni Gate, Kidongo Gate, Shimba Gate). One small airstrip.
 Open : Daily from 6.00 am to 7.00 pm. No entry is allowed on foot and visitors will not be allowed in the park after 6.15 pm.
 Historic : Gazetted in September 1968. Rainforests are protected areas since 1903 and grasslands were incorporated in 1924.
 The Warden : P.O. Box 30 Kwale, Coast Province. Tel: +254 (0)40 4159 - Email:sable@africaonline.co.ke.
 Attractions :
   o Large rainforest surrounding the park (Mkongani and Mwaluganje forests).
   o Possibility to do safari easily accessible from Mombasa : elephant, giraffe, buffalo, roan antelope and leopard.
   o Unique presence of the sable antelope.
   o Splendid views towards the Indian Ocean and Mt Kilimanjaro.
   o Sheldrick Waterfalls (25 meters high).
   o Possibility to go for walk at the falls and to plunge in the pool.
   o Picnic sites, camping sites and self-catering accomodation available.

 WILDLIFE/VEGETATION  --> Just click on the name to see snapshots and a fact sheet of the animal...
!! Print a checklist for your next safari !!
Antelopes and gazelles (per alphabetic order) :
Antelope (Roan) - Antelope (Sable) - Bushbuck - Duiker (Blue) - Duiker (Common) - Duiker (Harvey’s) - Steinbok - Suni - Topi (Coastal) - Waterbuck (Common) -
Other ungulates and mammals :
Buffalo (Cape) - Giraffe (Maasai) - Pig (Bush) - Warthog (Common) -
Carnivores :
Hyena (Spotted) - Leopard - Lion - Serval -
Primates :
Baboon (Savannah) - Bushbaby (Lesser) - Colobus (Eastern Black-White) - Galago (Large-eared greater) - Galago (Small-eared greater) - Monkey (Blue/Sykes/Diademed) - Monkey (Green Vervet) -
Others (rabbits, hares, insectivores) :
Vegetation :
The vegetation is unique and composed of coastal rainforests and grasslands interpersed with woodlands and coastal bushes. Undulating hills are patched with bushes, small grasslands and riverine forests running alongside the water springs/rivers of the hills. Large rainforests are surrounding the hills and bordering small escarpments. They are unique as they are one of the last remaining coastal rainforests on earth and are home to more than 1,100 plant's species, of which 280 are endemic to the ecosystem, and 19 endangered species of tree. Finally, two of Kenya's most beautiful orchids flowers are found in the park - the Eulophia linvingstoniana and cacullata in April, and the Eulophia wakefieldii in July and August.

Read also below the vegetation description provided by the K.W.S. Shimba webpage.
      "The Shimba Hills hold one of the largest areas of coastal rain forest in East Africa after Arabuko Sokoke. The vegetation consists of forested scarp slopes and undulating grasslands interspersed with woodland clumps and ribbons of riverine forest in the steeply cut valleys.
      "The biggest single patch of the forest is in the south western sector. Tall milicia forest is found on the deep soils of the plateau top and the western escarpment and mature Afzelia erythrophloeum forest cover much of the eastern and southern escarpment where the plateau drops to a low-lying area. On steep scarp slopes to both east and west is forest dominated by Chlorophora and Paramacrolobium, a relic forests from an era of much heavier rainfall in Kenya.
      "Further east and north the forest breaks up into a a mosaic interspersed with scrubland dominated by Lantana and Vernonia, wooded grassland with Syzygiumand Hyphaene and open grassland with numerous species including orchids. In the lower western sector of the plateau is coastal bushland with Manilkara combretum forest.
      "A total of 1,100 plant taxa are recorded, around 280 of which are endemic to the area and 19 threatened tree species. Notable tree species include polyceratocarpus sp, uvariodendron sp, cephalosphaera usamabarensis, diospyros shimbaensis, phyllanthus sacleuxii, pavetta tarennoides, synsepalum kassneri, bauhinia mombassae."

Smartcard is NOT needed to enter. Entry may be paid in cash (US or Kshs).
Do not hesitate to consult the K.W.S. website for up-to-date information
as more and more parks are included in the K.W.S. Smartcard scheme

Source : K.W.S. park tariffs
Adult resident - 500 Kshs
Children resident - 200 Kshs
Adult non resident - 23 US
Children non resident - 10 US

Less than 6 seat - 200 Kshs
6 to 12 seats - 500 Kshs

There is one special campsite and one public campsite in the reserve and both are in an excellent setting.
The Public Campsite offers a forested camping area with as well excellent views over the surrounding forests. There is no water on site. A pit latrine is available.
The Special Campsite (called also private campsite, as it must be booked in advance on an exclusive use basis) offers a broady grassy area with maginificient views. Water, latrine and a seating area are available.

Reservation through the warden (see park facts) or at Nairobi K.W.S. Headquarter.

Note also that the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary seeks to expand a new and spacious picnic site is under development and will cater for a large number of visitors with state of the art camping facilities
Lastly, there has been a real commitment by K.W.S to open and run bandas and special campsites in order to provide medium budget accomodation to attracts foreign as well as local visitors wanting to experience a closeness to the wild away from the beaten track. Bandas are welcome and popular, therefore booking in advance is a must.

Sable bandas :  
Reservation through the warden (see park facts) or at Nairobi K.W.S. Headquarter.
For up-to-date information, consult the K.W.S. website

Sable bandas (at only 3 km from the main gate) comprises 4 self-catering "bandas" (simple circular chalets) each with one bedroom (2 single beds with bedding, mosquito nets and kerosene lamps), bathroom (towels, cold shower and water closet) and covered verandah with dining area. Facilities also include a caretaker and fully equipped communal kitchen with gas stoves and BBQ area.
Maximum capacity is 8 persons (4 bandas - 2 single beds per banda)
Low (January - June) and high season (July - December) prices are identical :
Ksh 750 per person (for non residents & residents).


Travellers Mwaluganje Elephant Camp :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, Diani, South Coast, P. O. Box 167 Kwale. Tel : (0127)4121
"This camp is owned by the Travelers Group of Hotels and is the only lodging facility within the Sanctuary. It comprises of 20 twin bed tents complete with private verandah and cold and hot water shower. It offers full catering service for resident guests. It is booked through Travelers Beach Hotel Tiwi or Mombasa."

Travellers Manolo River Banda :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, Diani, South Coast, P. O. Box 167 Kwale. Tel : (0127)4121
"These Banda consist of a full catering unit with both kitchen and dining areas. It is only used for providing food and refreshments mainly lunch to visitors instead of going to the camp. It overlooks Manolo River and thus the name. This facility is also run by the Travellers group of Hotels and mainly caters for the visitors coming through the group."


 LODGES, TENTED CAMPS & HOTELS (in/around the park) Report broken link - Keep me up-to-date
Shimba Rainforest Lodge :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Block Hotels, Lusaka Road, P.O. Box 40075, Nairobi. Tel:(254-20)5540780 or 5535412.
"Set discreetly in the heart of a tropical rain forest, located near the main gate of the park at just 45 minutes from Diani's beaches, Shimba Rainforest Lodge blends perfectly with the luxuriant vegetation of the Shimba Hills National Reserve."

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