Safarilink operates two daily flights to Tsavo West, landing at Kilaguni and Finch Hattons airstrips in Tsavo West, and at Ol Donyo Lodge airstrip in the Chyulu Hills. These early morning flights allow passengers to connect to Safarilink’s afternoon flights to the Maasai Mara, Nanyuki, Lewa, Loisaba and Samburu.
Tsavo National Park was established in 1948, and was one of the largest national parks in the world. The park was later split into Tsavo East and Tsavo West, on either side of the Nairobi Mombasa Highway. Tsavo West National Park is famed for striking geographical formations, plentiful bird- and animal-life, and an eventful history.
Wildlife in the park includes all the Big Five, as well as a number of rare and threatened species. The Kenya Wildlife Service has recorded an extraordinary 600 bird species in the park, including the threatened corncrake and near threatened Basra Reed Warbler.
Volcanic activity in the area has formed unusual rock formations and caves. At Mzima Springs, water filtered underground from the Chyulu Hills erupts from below a lava ridge into a series of pools so clear that hippos and fish can be seen with ease. Shetani, meaning evil in Swahili, was the name given by locals to the vast flow of lava that spurted from the earth forming what is now an 8km mass of solidified lava, chunks of magma and curving caves.
Ngulia Wildlife Sanctuary is home to over 50 endangered black rhino; the Roaring Rocks, named for the buzz of cicadas, have panoramic views over the sanctuary and make a spectacular observation point from which to look for rhinos or enjoy a sundowner. The nearby Chyulu Hills, called the Green Hills of Africa by the famous author Ernest Hemingway, are strikingly attractive extinct volcanoes with a wealth of wildlife; hiking, horse riding, bird watching, game viewing and camping are all available here.
Stone age archaeological sites along the Galana River show that early inhabitants of this area hunted wild animals, kept domestic animals and fished. Cowrie shells and beads found here confirm that the area was a busy trading place from around 700 AD. In the late 19th century, the British decided to build a railway through Tsavo linking the port at Mombasa to the interior of Africa. This project, which came to be known as the Lunatic Express, took six years and cost the lives of around 2,500 labourers. Perhaps the best-known incident in this ambitious project occurred during the building of the bridge over Tsavo River when two maneless male lions developed a taste for human blood. Over three months, the lions killed about 140 construction workers, an episode immortalised by the film The Ghost and the Darkness.
Tsavo was also in the news during World War I when British forces built forts along the Tsavo River. Several battles were waged here between the British and the German army, who were based in what was then Tanganyika, now Tanzania. The film Shout at the Devil features an eccentric campaign using fleets of Rolls Royces. The troops in Tsavo surrendered three months after the rest of the world had signed an armistice. Tours of the battlefields and war cemeteries make a fascinating addition to any safari.