Wedged tightly between Tsavo West National Park and Amboseli National Park is the distinct Chyulu Hills National Park. Undulating emerald green hills, volcanic in origin, provide a textured landscape that inspired Ernest Hemingway’s novel, “The Green Hills of Africa”.
Diverse landscapes of ancient montane forest, impenetrable thickets and narrow belts of indigenous forest greatly contrast the rolling volcanic soil plains. This national park offers the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro, giving rise to one of the most archetypal Kenyan scenes.
Because of its volcanic origins, the landscape is littered with craters, lava tubes, granite kopjes and solidified remnants of volcanic eruptions. A highlight of the area is the Upper Leviathon Cave, one of the world’s longest lava tube caves.
On the open plains dwell the usual suspects: lion, giraffe, leopard and wildebeest. In the heart of the forested hills, expect to see a bush pig, giant forest hogs and a selection of birdlife. This area is protected by the Maasai, who runs an innovative lion guardianship and conservation program that started in this section of Kenya.
It is a 40-minute flight to Chyulu Hills from the Nairobi Wilson or Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit Chyulu Hills is during the dry months, which is from June – October and January – February. From June – September, temperatures can drop to 11 degrees Celsius.
Accommodation is mainly situated on the outskirts of the park, on ranches. There are a lot of cattle farms on the perimeter of Chyulu Hills, which means accommodation types are generally ranch-style properties.
Although there is a low density of game within the park (high altitude), there is still a wealth of species thriving in this habitat, although they do tend to move about. The best time to view game is early in the morning.
Buffalo, antelope, giraffe, wildebeest, and elephant are the most commonly spotted mammals in the plains of the park. In the dense montane forests, bush pigs and forest hogs can be found.
In Chyulu Hills National Park, the black rhino is a protected species. There’s a strong Maasai presence on the outskirts of the park, a community that guards endangered species within the park.
There are 171 species of bird thriving in this biodiverse region, making it an absolute bird-lovers paradise. Martial eagles, southern-ground hornbills, and secretary birds are just a few of the birds to spot in Chyulu. The main birding area in the park is on Lake Jipe.
The park is small and remote, so visitors can enjoy a game drive without seeing another vehicle for quite some time.
The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit Chyulu Hills is during the dry months, which is from June to October and January to February. From June to September, temperatures can drop to 11 degrees Celsius.
The main wet season is April to May, which isn’t ideal for game viewing. Short bursts of rain arrive in November, which is outside of peak safari season.
Guided horseback excursions through the rugged wilderness of Chyulu allows visitors to spot wildlife from a unique vantage point. A horseback safari in Kenya ranks as one of the top things to in the country and Chyulu is the home of the horseback safari
Exciting guided game drives in open safari vehicles take place in the plains of the park. The best time of day to spot wildlife is in the morning—the park opens at 6 am, allowing a window of opportunity of game viewing.
There are numerous hiking trails in the area, offering up spectacular scenes of volcanic landscapes and exquisite Mount Kilimanjaro. If hiking is too strenuous, there are guided bushwalks that can be arranged.
Mountain biking is yet another activity drawcard of Chyulu Hills National Park, an adventurous way of exploring the rocky terrain.
Accommodation is mainly situated on the outskirts of the park, on ranches. There are a lot of cattle farms on the perimeter of Chyulu Hills, which means accommodation types are generally ranch-style properties. Within the park, there are two luxury establishments at the base of the foothills.