A remote and rugged wilderness
Few places offer a more genuine wilderness ambience than the remote and rugged Meru and Kora National Parks. Little visited, utterly unspoilt and easily the most geographically diverse Parks in Kenya, they are the favourites of safari professionals and wildlife experts alike. Brilliantly painted on a magnificent scale, these sister Parks feature luxuriant jungle, coursing rivers, verdant swamp, khaki grasslands, gaunt termite cathedrals and an ever-evolving dance between clouds and sky. The two present superb wildlife viewing opportunities.
Altitude - Meru: 366-914 meters above sea level.
Altitude - Kora: 250-440 meters above sea level.
Area - Meru: 870 sq km
Area - Kora: 1,787 sq km.
Location - Meru: Meru District, Eastern Province.
Location - Kora: Tana River District, Coast Province
Distance from Nairobi: 348 km north-east of Nairobi, Kora is a further 35 km east of Meru.
Gazetted - Meru: opened 1968
Gazetted - Kora: opened 1989
Climate: The Parks are part of the semi-arid zone and have irregular rainfall. The wet seasons are April-June and November-December.
Vegetation: Mainly thorny bushland in the north, wooded grasslands in the west and open grasslands elsewhere. The Parks also feature dense riverine forests of doum and raffia palm.
Wildlife Includes: buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, zebra, rhino, giraffe, hippo, lesser kudu, oryx, gerenuk, hartebeest and gazelle.
Reptiles: python, puff adder and cobra.
Birds: More than 300 recorded species.
Roads: 4WD is essential during the rainy seasons and recommended at other times to best enjoy the Parks.
What to see
Meru National Park
A classic savannah landscape
A fine example of the classic savannah landscape, Meru's character is defined by the rivers that form its perimeters: the mighty Tana to the south, the Ura to the south-west and the Rojeweru to the east. The Park is also scored by 15 permanent streams which drain off the nearby Nyambeni Hills.
A rich diversity of habitats
Thanks to the huge diversity of its habitats, Meru offers unique wildlife watching
The northern plains: one of the most rewarding areas for wildlife viewing, the northern plains boast elephant, lion and cheetah. Both species of zebra, Grant's and Thomson's gazelle, impala, beisa oryx, kongoni and reticulated giraffe are also easily seen.
The southern plains: the dense woodlands shelter gerenuk, common eland, Kirk's dik-dik and warthog. They also make an ideal habitat for one of the Park's highlights, the lesser kudu.
The kopjes: Meru is renowned for its rocky outcrops (known as inselbergs or kopjes), where baboon cavort and leopard lurk among the boulders.
The swampy grasslands: are grazed by Defassa waterbuck and shifting herds of buffalo.
The rivers: Hippo and Nile crocodile are common in the slower streams of the Tana River.
A brilliance of birds
Meru's birds are abundant and colourful; common river birds include ibis, heron and African fish eagle while the riverine acacia woodland shelters the smallest of the long-tailed sunbirds, the black-bellied sunbird. Flocks of glorious golden-breasted starling are also often encountered as well as loudly honking groups of hornbills. Bird watching here can be very rewarding, making it a birding paradise!
The setting for ‘Born Free'
Meru is where Joy and George Adamson released their most famous lioness, Elsa, back into the wild. Her tale is told in the book and the film ‘Born Free'. The Park was also the site of their later experiments with orphaned cheetahs.
Kora National Park
Meru's sister Park, the adjoining Kora National Park (1, 787 sq km) is famous as the former home of naturalist George Adamson. A vast area of acacia bushland from whose alluvial plains rise stark granite kopjes and low hills, it is bordered to the south-east by the Mwitamisyi River, which supports an abundance of lizards, snakes, tortoises and crocodiles.
Where to stay
Meru National Park
Lodges and tented camps
Elsa's Kopje Tented Camp: this exclusive lodge offers 9 stone and thatch cottages, international cuisine, swimming pool and game viewing.
Leopard Rock Lodge: overlooking the Murera River, this authentic lodge offers African and international cuisine, swimming pool and game viewing.
Murera Bandas: Four simple stone chalets located by the main gate.
Bwatherongi Bandas: Four simple wooden chalets, 22 km from Murera Gate and next to the Bwatherongi River.
The public campsite: 18 km from the Main Gate (near the old Park HQ) this site lies on a stretch of open ground beside a wooded stream. Lavatories and showers are provided.
‘Special' campsites: a number of ‘special' campsites are seasonally located along the rivers. Special campsites: have no facilities and must be booked on an exclusive basis (in advance) through the warden or KWS HQ Nairobi.
Kora National Park
There are no lodges, tented camps or self-catering options in Kora National Park
For information on campsites in Kora National Park please consult the warden.
When to go
The Parks are accessible all year round.
What to take with you
Drinking water and picnic items (and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight). Also useful are: binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellant and guide books.
How to get there
By road: take the Nairobi-Embu route (320 km) to Ura Gate (this route may be difficult in the rains) or take the Nairobi-Nanyuki-Meru route (348 km) to Murera Gate. Note: there is no fuel in the Park (last fuel station is at Maua).
By air: the Park has several airstrips.
To get to Kora NP: a bridge across the Tana River leads from Meru National Park into Kora National Park at Adamson Falls.
Kenya Wildlife Service information
The Parks open daily 6am - 7pm.
Note: Current entry charges may be obtained by visiting website www.kws.org or email email@example.com or calling Tel: (Nairobi) +254 (0)20 501081/2, 602345. At present the Parks do not operate the SmartCard system. Entry is by cash only (Ksh or US$). The warden: Meru: PO Box 11 Maua, Meru. Tel: Mobile: 0733 662439 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The warden: Kora: As above.