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

Tsavo West National Park, covering an area of about 9,065 sq. km, holds a wide range of habitats, wildlife and a young mountain scenery unique in Kenya, spectacular showcase of recent geological activities.

This vast expanse of savannah, lying equidistant between Nairobi and Mombasa and linked with Tsavo East National Park along the Mombasa Road, is a vibrant volcanic arena painted by green hills, lava flows, springs and large permanent rivers.

Tsavo West, far more varied topographically than its neighbour Tsavo East, is the more famous of the two parks, which forms, with the adjacent Chyulu Hills National Park, one of the largest national parks in the world.
Tsavo East road map
How to get there :
From Nairobi, take Mombasa highway up to Mtito Andei where is the nearest main entrance (Mtito Andei Gate).
Distance Nairobi-Mtito Andei : 233 km - Distance Mtito Andei-Voi : 96 km
From Mombasa, take Mombasa highway up to Manyani town where is the Tsavo Gate.

With the Kilimanjaro sitting on its flank, this recent volcanic area abounds in hills/moutains (like the Chyulu or Ngulia hills and Chaimu crater), in lake/rivers/springs (Jipe lake, Tsavo river and Mzima springs) and other geological particularities such as lava flows (Shetani flow), caves (Shetani caves) and outcrops rock and ridges (Roaring rocks). All these landmarks and nature treasures erupted millions years after the energic shake up of the earth of Tsavo.

Unknown by major tour-operators due to its large size and therefore a smaller concentration of wildlife compared with other parks (although wildife and birdlife is abundant), Tsavo West is an excellent place for visitors who enjoy walking and who have time to spend days visiting the surroundings and the diverse habitats that the park provides. : open plains with scattered savannah bushes and semi desert scrub, acacia woodlands, rocky ridges and outcrops and isolated hills, riverine vegetation, palm thickets and on the Chyulu hills, mountane forest.

The park has also an important history : first, for its cruel "Man-Eaters of Tsavo" story secondly, for being a major battle field in WWI where British and German troops battled for territory.
 TSAVO WEST NAT. PARK      Flash (full size) --- GIF (full Size)
Flash Tip - Click left in the map to zoom or to print


 MZIMA SPRING :   Mzima springs ("mzima" meaning alive in Kiswahili) is a peaceful oasis at the heart of red-dusty Tsavo and this magical place is not be missed. The pure water of the three Mzima's pools filtered by the porous sponge-like soil of the Chyulu and the Shetani lava flow brings life to an unique ecosystem at only 40 km away from the Chyulu Hills. With a daily supply of more than 250 millions liters of fresh water, the pool provides an oasis of green, an heaven for fishes, birds, monkeys, crocodiles and hippos. The main attractions are the two nature trails leading to an underwater viewing tank build to allow visitors to watch hippos - if your are very lucky - and fishes (the most common fishes being the "barbel" of grayish colour and the "mud sucker" with developed lips and a large mouth. Piccnic spots available

 ROARING ROCKS :   Once climbed, the Roaring Rocks will give you magnificent panoramic views, usually only seen by the eagles and buzzards that fly around these cliffs, over the plain called Rhino valley and the Ngulia Hills (1,821 m - 5,975 ft.). A panoramic map of the scenery to help you to locate surroundings hills and mountains, is available at the top. The Roaring rocks, located near the Rhino Sanctuary, has been for long an observation point for the protection of black rhinoceros and the fight against poaching. The eerie Roaring Rocks are named after the buzz of cicadas that inhabit them and the howl of wind that hits the bare rocks by producing a roaring sound.

 SHETANI LAVA FLOW AND CAVE :   The Shetani flow, a black lava flow of 8 km long, 1.6 km wide and 5 meters deep, is the remain of volcanic eruptions which were subject of tales among local communities who named the flow "shetani" meaning evil in Kiswahili after it spewed from the earth just 240 years old. Climbing the flow is not an easy task as the thick black soil is composed of uneven chunks of solid magma. The cave, located near the center of the outflow, has two large opening and one ancient tree is growing between them. Although the cave is only few meters long, the exit is not accessible (although it can be seen) as the place is too narrow.

 CHAIMU CRATER :   Chaimu crater - or the devil's crater translated in Kamba (a language spoken by the Kamba people living in Machakos District) is a tall rising hill clad in the brighten black color of the lava stones. This recent volcano can be climb as there is a track leading to the top (3/4 h return walk). Climbing the hill is not easy as it can be very hot and the ground, where no vegetation are yet grown, is not very stable and slippery. You can walk safely as animals can not follow you on this uncomfortable and sharp ground. At the top, the view is again breathtaking. Note that Chaimu Crater is also called Chaimu Hill.

 NGULIA HILL/MOUTAIN :  From the Ngulia bandas, there is possibility to walk up to the top of the mountain (1,821 m - 5,975 ft.). This 4 hours walk, following game trails through a dry bush first and evergreen forest.

 NGULIA RHINOCEROS SANCTUARY :   At the base of the Ngulia Hills, this 70 km2 fenced area has been established to protect and conserve the rare black rhinoceros and is now a reserve for more than 50 rhinoceros. The sanctuary can be visited by car as few roads are crossing the reserve and black rhinoceros are often seen in the Ngulia Rhinoceros Sanctuary.

 WILDLIFE IN THE PARK :   Tsavo West National Park offers some of the most magnificent game viewing in the world with large herds of dusty-red elephants, hippopotamus, giant crocodiles, black rhinoceros and African buffalos. The park includes also the lion, the cheetah, the leopard. The "big five" can be seen in Tsavo. Other animals commonly seen in the park are the zebra, the antelopes and gazelles, the mongoose, the hyrax, the dik-dik and the lesser kudu. Birdlife is abundant as more than 600 species of bird have been recorded - See full list of wildlife seen in the park - Print a checklist for your next safari !!

 POACHER'S LOOKOUT :   The poacher's lookout is the finest observation point of the park which abounds in panoramic vantage points. As the lookout is facing the Mt Kilimanjaro, the best time to go there is early in the morning. A small rush-roofed hut sits on the top of the hill which was used in the past by K.W.S. Rangers to fight poachers.


 MAN-EATERS OF TSAVO :   In 1895, the construction of railway going from Monbasa to Kampala (Uganda) began. It took 8 years and it required 31,900 Indian workers to complete this mammoth work. In the summer of 1898, the construction of the railway suddenly stopped at the Tsavo river area as lion's attacks took place along a 80 mile stretch of railroad between Voi and Kima. It has been estimated than 28 people were killed but many believed that at least 100 peoples were victims of the devil lions. Hysteria built to a such pitch that on 1st December 1898, thousands of workers threw themselves across the railroad tracks, interrupting work indefinitely. J.H. Patterson, British Chief engineer directing the construction of the bridge over the Tsavo river, attempted night after night to catch the maneless lions by creating special traps, using poison and maintaining 24-hours watch. While most workers had fled to the coast, Patterson fired four shot on the night of December 10, killing the first man-eater lion. It measured nine feet, eight inches (3 m) from nose to tip of tail and it took eight men to carry the carcass back to camp. They also notice that the lion had a broken lower canine with an exposed root. After the first lion was shot, no more human were killed. Eighteen nights later, on December 29, he killed the second man-eater lion and life returned to the rail camps. Patterson was free to turn his attention and skills to the railroad and his thousands of men could once again work and sleep in the open.
No one knows why an animal can become a man-eater. Some believe that the dead workers left along the railroad gave an opportunity to become accustomed to human flesh. The two maneless lions are in the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, Illinois) as Patterson sold to the museum the lion skins and skulls for the 5,000 USD. The story f J.H. Patterson continues to capture the imagination today and has been made into a motion picture twice: Bwana Devil in 1952 and The Ghost and the Darkness in 1996.

Sources :
"The End of the Game" by Peter Hill Beard (1961) - Chronicle Books.
"The Man-eaters of Tsavo" by Lt. Col. Patterson (1996) Pocket Books, N.Y.
2002 The Field Museum, www.fieldmuseum.org - Man-eaters of the Field Museum
Other resources :
See the original book + 120 pictures (4 Mb)
See the original book with one image
See all resources available about Tsavo man-eaters

 W.W.I BATTLE FIELD :  In 1914, the first World war was developing in the trenches and on the battlefields of Western European. Neither British and German colonists, too busy to develop their new territories, particularly wanted any involvement in the war. However, events culminating in the Battle of Tanga in November 1914d threw the opposing British and German armies into war. "The Battle of the Bush" began.
The German force of the Schutztruppe, led by General von Lettow-Vortbeck, invaded most British East Africa (now Kenya) from the south (Tanzania) and set up strike posts on the numerous rocky outcrops of Tsavo East and West. German trained special troops, composed of two European and height African soldiers, to attack the Uganda Railway. Between March and May 1915, 32 trains and 9 bridges were blown up by the German.
The British troops finally succeeded in repelling the German invaders in March 1916. Thereafter started one of the most cunning games of cat and mouse as Lettow-Vorbeck, knowing that German troops could never succeded the battle, led them on a 4,000 miles chase across Africa. Lettow-Vorbeck surrendered on November 25th, 1918 in Northern Rodhesia after German's defeat in Europe.

Sources :
"Discovery Guide " by Taita Discovery Centre


 CHYULU NATIONAL PARK (CHYULU HILLS) :  The Chyulu National Park, located at only 190 km of Nairobi, is dominated by the Chyulu hills (1,510 m - 4,954 ft.). Of a relatively recent volcanic origin, the hills are composed of ash cones and craters and, despite they hold no permanent surface water, feed many permanent fresh water sources in the Tsavo West National Park, notably Mzima springs and the Tsavo and Galana rivers, by filtering rainfall percolating through the porous sponge-like rock. The hills, undisturbed and shelter of indigenous vegetation, such montane forest and low forest areas on its eastern flank. The western half is part of the West Chyulu Game Conservation area, owned by several Maasai group ranches.
 Visit our Tsavo East National Park page for more information regarding this park.
 TAITA HILLS (and other private ranches) : Taita hills, located at 24 km from Voi town, is an enchanting place with hills, gorges, patches of forests, rivers, falls and cultivated field everywhere. The hills are densely populated as well. The main town called Wundanyi town is located between the two summit of the hills, that is the Iyale summit (2,149 m - 7,050 ft.) and the Vuria summit (2,209 m - 7,240 ft.). If you wish to stay longre in the hills to do walking, birdwatching or climbing, there is a small hotel at the town (or you can stay at Voi town). Taita hills count more than 12 falls or rapids and possess rare species of bird endemic to the area. The endigenous forests of Taita hills (Ngangao, Ronge and Mbololo forests) are semi-dry submontane forests and there are only 11 fragments left (between 1200 to the top) as most forest have been cleared for farm land. Classified by IUCN and WWF as a global center of plant biodiversity and the cloud forests are home to plant and animals species, such as the Classen's Aloe and the Taita Thrush, which can not be found anywhere else in the world. Amongst the 453 forest species recorded, at least 13 are site endemics.

There are many private ranches or conservation center around the hills. The Taita Discovery Centre (TDC), south-east to the Taita hills, is a purpose to build, in partnership with its neighbor the Rukinga Wildlife center, an African village of 16 traditional rondavels. But they can organised nature walks in and around the Rukinga ranch with experienced guides. The Discovery Guide is an informative guide about the TDC with maps.

Contact : Taita Discovery Centre - P.O. Box 48019, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: +254 (0)20 331191 / 229009 - email: 2taita@bushmail.net

Note also the existence of two lodges - the Salt Lick Lodge and the Taita Hills Lodge - which are both managed by the Hilton chain. If you wish to obtain more information on activities and things to do in Taita hills, you may visit the Hilton private ranch and lodges which are very near the "Taita Hills private game sanctuary". Of an area of 112 sq. km, this sanctuary is well protected by game rangers and many wild animals can be seen in the protected area. Other ranches are the Taita ranch, the Kabanga ranch, the Galla camp...
 Visit our Amboseli National Park page for more information regarding this park. There is a road (C103) going from Chyulu gate (Tsavo West National Park) to the eastern gate of the Amboseli National Park and passing at Oloitokitok town.

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 Altitude : 150 - 1,821 m (492 - 5,975 ft.)
 Area : 9,065 km²
 Localisation : 240 km km from Nairobi
 Entrances : The park has two main entrance (Mtito Andei and Tsavo gates) and five secondary entrances (Chyulu, Jipe, Maktau, Mbuyuni and Kasigau gates) and 4 major airstrips.
 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 April 1948. Drought in the 60s. Poaching in the 70s and 80s. Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary opened in 1987. Conservation and protection management in the 90s.
 The Warden : Senior Warden, Tsavo west National Park. P.O. Box 71, Mtito Andei - Kenya, Tel: +254 (0)45-622483/622120.
 Attractions :
   o Mzima Springs and its underwater observatory - one of the most important fresh water spring of Kenya.
   o Roaring Rocks - outcrops rocks erected on the Ngulia plains and used for Rhino observation.
   o Shetani lava flow and Shetani cave - huge lava flow and its cave.
   o Chaimu Hill - tall black volcanic hill rising.
   o Black rhinoceros Sanctuary.
   o Large herd of elephants, black rhinoceros, crocodiles and ostriches.
   o Landscape viewing - panoramic view of the Kilimanjaro peak and Chyulu Hills.

 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) :
Bushbuck - Dik-dik (Kirk's) - Duiker (Blue) - Duiker (Common) - Eland - Gazelle (Grantís) - Gazelle (Thomson's) - Gerenuk - Gnu (White-bearded) - Hartebeest (Coke's) - Impala - Klipspringer - Kudu (lesser) - Oryx (Fringe-eared) - Steinbok - Suni - Waterbuck (Common) -
Other ungulates and mammals :
Buffalo (Cape) - Elephant (African Bush) - Giraffe (Maasai) - Hippopotamus - Hyrax (Bruceís) - Hyrax (Eastern Tree) - Hyrax (Rock) - Hyrax (Southern Tree) - Rhinoceros (Black) - Warthog (Common) - Zebra (Common) -
Carnivores :
Aardwolf - Caracal - Cat (African Wild) - Cheetah - Civet (African palm-) - Civet (African) - Dog (Hunting) - Fox (Bat-eared) - Genet (Large-spotted) - Genet (Small-spotted) - Hyena (Spotted) - Hyena (Striped) - Jackal (Black-backed) - Jackal (Common) - Jackal (Side-striped) - Leopard - Lion - Mongoose (Banded) - Mongoose (Bushy-tailed) - Mongoose (Dwarf) - Mongoose (Grey) - Mongoose (Marsh) - Mongoose (Slender) - Mongoose (White-tailed) - Otter (Clawless) - Ratel - Serval - Zorilla -
Primates :
Baboon (Savannah) - Bushbaby (Lesser) - Galago (Large-eared greater) - Galago (Small-eared greater) - Monkey (Blue/Sykes/Diademed) - Monkey (Green Vervet) -
Others (rabbits, hares, insectivores) :
Aardvak - Pangolin (Temminckís ground) - Hare (Cape) - Hare (Spring) - Porcupine (Crested) -
Vegetation :
The park has a large variety of habitats including open plains with dispersed savannah bushes and semi desert scrubs, acacia woodlands; rocky ridges and outcrops and isolated hills; belts of riverine vegetation; palm thickets. Note also the presence of montane forest on Chyulu hills (Chyulu N.P.). Most of the northern section are characterised by acacia bushlands with scattered acacia trees and baobabs. The southern section is mainly composed of open grasslands and plains. Dense riverine vegetation and riverine forest are found along the permanent Tsavo river. Particularities are : in the Ngulia hills where dense low-woodlands are found; in the Jipe area where the permanent swamps are bordering the lake; and the Mzima springs where palm trees (ivory palm, doum palm) and raphia can be seen. Finally, during the 1960's, the impact of fire and large elephants on vegetation was dramatic as 45,000 elephants converted 16,000 sq. km of dense Comniphora into grassland.

Name of plants below are provided by the K.W.S. Tsavo West and K.W.S. Chyulu Hills webpages.
Norhtern section : Acacia commiphora, baobabs Adansonia digitata and Delonix elata.
Chyulu and Ngulia hills : ficus spp, Neoboutonia macrocalyx, Tabernaemontana stapfinaa, Prunus africana,
Strombosia scheffleri, Cassipourea malonsana, Olea capensis, Ilex mitis and Erythrina abyssinica.
Other characteristic trees : Juniperus procera, Commiphora baluensis, Chionanthus mildbraedii,
Podocarpus usambarensis.
Lake Jipe : Typha.
Mzima springs : Raphia farinifera and Phoenix reclinata palms.
Tsavo river : Acacia elatior and Hyphaene compressa
Taita hills : Aloe classenii and Hyphaene compressa

Smartcard is needed to enter.
Smartcard can be loaded (but not obtained) at Mtito Andei gate.
Smarcards can be obtained and loaded at Voi gate (Tsavo East N.P.).

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

The weather in Tsavo West is very hot and temperature can rich 40oC in hot season (January-February). There are two rain seasons : the long rains from March - May and the short rains from October - December. Rainfalls are more important in the South-western part (700 mm/year) than the North-Eastern part of the park (200 mm/year).

There are officially three public campsites (offering water and altrines only), which are :
o the Kamboyo campsite located at 8 km from Mtito Andei gate.
o the Chyulu campsite near the Chyulu gate
o the Lake Jipe campsite on the lake shore.
But nevertheless, in case of emergency, there is always to camp (with no facilities) near the main gate of the park (like near the Kasigau and Tsavo gates for example) or any other K.W.S. post. Finally, there is also possibility (if booked in advance through the warden or the K.W.S. Headquarter) to use other special or private campsites available in the park.
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 accommodation 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.

Lake Jipe 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

Lake Jipe bandas comprises 3 bandas. Each one can accommodate 5 persons. The kitchen is not equipped.
Maximum capacity is 15 persons (3 bandas - 5 persons each)
Low (January - June) and high season (July - December) prices are identical :
Kshs 500 per person for residents & Kshs 1,000 for non residents.

Kamboyo Guest House :
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

Kamboyo guest house comprises 3 bedrooms with double beds, one bedroom with single bed and 2 bathrooms. Bed linen, towels, kitchen with utensils and cutlery are provided.
Maximum capacity is 7 persons (3 double rooms and one single room)
Low (January - June) and high season (July - December) prices are identical :
Kshs 5,000 for the whole house and Kshs 1,000 per person (for residents & non residents).

Ngulia Safari Camp :  Quotation by Let's go travel - Visit Let's go travel page
Ngulia Safari Camp, Loitokitok. Tel: +254 (0)45 622484
Booking via Let's go travel, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 4448016 or 4447151 or 4443359 - Email:info@letsgosafari.com

"Located near the Ngulia mountain, these 6 self-catering bandas comprising a bathroom with shower, basin and toilet, bedroom with three beds with mattresses, pillows, bedding and mosquito nets, verandah with chairs and table, small kitchenette with double ring gas cooker, crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils. Lighting is by gas wall lamps and kerosene lamps. The bandas offers a panoramic view across the Ngulia Valley and a waterhole immediately below is often visited by game."

Kitani Safari Camp :  Quotation by Let's go travel - Visit Let's go travel page - Severin webpage
Severin Kenya, P.O. Box 82169, Mombasa. Tel: +254 (0)41 485001/5. Email:severin@severin-sea-lodge.com
Booking can be done via Let's go travel, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 4448016 or 4447151 or 4443359 - Email:info@letsgosafari.com

"Situated just 49 kms from Mtito Andei gate, these bandas have a majestic view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and are ideally placed for visits to some of Tsavos highlights, such as Mzima Springs, Poacher's Lookout and the lava flows. Each of the 8 bandas has running water, supplied from a nearby natural spring, en-suite bathrooms with shower and W/C. Well equipped kitchens, with 2 burner cookers. There are 2 beds in each banda and a maximum of 2 more can be added for families. Linen, towels and mosquito nets are provided. Meals can be taken at the Severin Safari Camp, which is close by."

 LODGES, TENTED CAMPS & HOTELS (in/around the park) Report broken link - Keep me up-to-date
Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Serena Hotels, 4th Ngong Avenue, P.O. Box 48690, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 2710511 or 2711077.
"Located on a ridge that commands magnificent sweeping views of the Chyulu Hills at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, this lodge was the first ever to be built in a national park."

Ngulia Safari Lodge :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Kenya Safari Lodges & Hotels Ltd, Mt Kenya Rd Offlinks Rd, Mombasa.
Tel: (Mombasa) +254 (0)41 471862 and (Voi) +254 (0)43 30091, 30000, 30140.

"Ngulia safari lodge is located in Tsavo west national park situated spectacularly atop on the edge of the Ndewe Escarpment, offering a vast panorama of Tsavo's sweeping plains."

Finch Hatton's Tented Lodge :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Finch Hattons, PO Box 24423, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 310335 or 36 and 312557.
"Finch Hatton's camp, a privately owned and managed one man's dream to create the ideal, offers guests a unique opportunity to relive the golden era of the safari in absolute elegance, 5 star comfort."

Severin Safari Camp :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Severin Kenya, P.O. Box 82169, Mombasa. Tel: +254 (0)41 485001/5.
"The Severin Safari Camp and the nearby affiliated Kitani Bandas (built in 1954) are nestled between Acacia trees with a majestic view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa."

Voyager Tsavo Safari Camp :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Heritage Hotels, P.O. Box 74888, Nairobi. Tel: +254 (0)20 4446651 or 4447929.
"Situated in the shadow of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro on the edge of Tsavo West National Park, Voyager Safari Camp sits on the edge of a small dam on the Sante River."

Lake Jipe Lodge :
Shariff House 2nd Floor, Street: Kimathi Street, PO Box: 31097, Nairobi. Tel:(254-20)2227623 or 2218376.
"Lake Jipe Safari Lodge is a lodge located near a volcanic lake and is a peaceful and rewarding spot, and a paradise for ornithologists"

Hunter's Lodge :  
Kimathi Hse Kimathi St, Nairobi. Tel:(254-20)2222229.
"Hunter's Lodge is set in gardens under the shade of thorn trees and lawns edge a small dam and offers good birds viewing."

Salt Lick Safari Lodge :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Hilton hotels, Mama Ngina Street, P. O. Box 30624, Nairobi. Tel : (254-20) 250000.
"Salt Lick Safari Lodge lies in the heart of Hilton International's private game sanctuary, south of Tsavo West National Park, 7 kms from Taita Hills."

Taita Hills Safari Lodge :  
Hilton hotels, Mama Ngina Street, P. O. Box 30624, Nairobi. Tel : (254-20) 250000.
"Taita Hills Safari Lodge lies in the heart of Hilton International's private game sanctuary, south of Tsavo West National Park, 7 kms from Taita Hills."

Ziwani Tented Camp :  Booking/Contact - Visit their webpage
Prestige Hotels, Nairobi.
"Located between Ziwani tented camp has simplistic beauty and charm. Located in the majestic shadows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, between the famous Amboseli game reserve and Tsavo West Game Park."

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