Straddling the equator and bisected by thirteen rivers and numerous streams, Meru National Park is a complete wilderness in Kenya. It is geographically located about 350km from Nairobi city. After its establishment later this Park was affected by severe poaching in the early 1980s and lots of Wildlife species were lost.
Between 2000 and 2005, the park was restored by Kenya Wildlife service and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
This was majorly done through putting much efforts in fighting poachers through the law enforcement park department. After all that, it is not hard to understand the reason why this Park is still existing with high numbers of Wildlife species.
The conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness who was among the top selling books and award-winning movie. Elsa the Lioness was buried in this park and part of Joy’s ashes were scattered on her gravesite. This also turned Meru National Park to be more known globally.
With its lush habitats that consist of acacia woodland, dense bush and tall grasslands, Meru covers a total area of 870 square kilometers and receive enough rainfall that ranges from 305 -356 mm in the east of the Park and 635 – 762 mm in the west of the Park.
Meru National Park is inhabited by a wide range of animals such as lions, African leopard, cheetah, eastern rhinoceros, giraffes, southern white rhinoceros, Grevy’s zebra, hippopotamus and African bush elephants.
Apart from Wild animals, Meru is also known for its diverse species of birds. It is recorded with over 300 bird species.
Some of these birds are Pel’s fishing owl, Kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings, weavers, brown-backed woodpecker, sunbirds Peter’s Finfoot, Heuglins courser and Red-necked falcon
How to get there.
By road, there are two routes to use from Nairobi city. The first option is the main road via Nyeri, Meru and Nanyuki. The section route is via Embu – Meru road. For best views of the Park consider using the Ura gate. The best road from Meru winds through Kangeta and Mathara towards Maua where you turn left on the Kinna road leading you to the Park’s entrance.
By Air, all tourists land at Mulika Lodge Airport in Meru National Park. If not that, you can land at Kiina Airstrip, this airstrip is just one hour from Wilson Airport.
Other Attractions in the Park
Found on River Tana, these falls run through Meru National Park and they were named after the great conservationists Joy Adamson and George Admson. Its setting that consist of cascading waters with a backdrop of towering rocks and lush vegetation is a must see in the park.
Meandering for about 1000 kilometers, Tana River is the longest in Kenya. Its major tributaries are Thika and numerous smaller rivers that flow during the rainy season. This river is great in Kenya for many reasons. Some of them include; provides hydroelectric power and it’s a main water source to country’s population and wildlife in the Park.
What to do in the Park
This is the best way to appreciate all that Meru has to offer. You can either do a morning, evening or night game drive. A full day drive to the southern part of the Park rewards a lot. You are most likely to have close encounters with several wild animals in the Park.
Animals to see include large herds of buffalo, large prides of lions, duiker, dik dik, lesser Kudu, elephants, cheetah, black rhino, leopards, zebras, gazelle, Oryx and some aquatic species like crocodiles, hippo and water birds.
This is for lovers of culture, it is one of the most fascinating experiences in the park. You will learn about the way of life and explore the rich and ancient culture of the Ameru people. These people are traditional farmers who mainly depend on subsistence farming of crops like sorghum, millet, maize, beans, fruits and cabbages.
One of the tribes to associate with are the Tharaka, these people will invite you into their distinctive roundhouses where you will meet women dressed in leather skirts and long aprons along with men dressed in animal skin cloaks.
This protected area on the western boundary near the main gate of the park covers a total area of 80 square kilometers. The sanctuary is fenced and this creates free space for smaller animals and odd rhinos to move around. It is home to over 40 white rhinoceros. All of them are monitored and fully habituated.
Meru is a birders’ haven. It is recorded with over 300 species of birds. Lovers of birds have a chance to see plenty of these species. Common birds in the Park are sunbirds, Red-necked falcon, Huggins courser, brown-backed woodpecker, golden-breasted starlings to name but a few.
Visit Joy Adams and Elsa the Lioness’s Grave Yards
Joy Adams and Husband Gorge Adams contributed much towards restoring Meru National Park. These conservationists were the first explorers to visit Meru National Park. Joy Adams raised Elsa the Lioness who died in 1961 and later also Joy Adams was murdered in 1980. Their home and burial site are a great attraction in the Park.