A complete guide to camping in Tsavo National Park
I’ve always wanted to go camping but never got a chance to do it.
Recently, my nine-year-old went to the boys’ only camp at Beneath the Baobab in Malindi and told me he had the time of his life.
So when the opportunity to camp in Tsavo East presented itself, I knew I couldn’t miss it for the world.
Before the travel date, I set out to buy a few camping essentials, which I will highlight later in this article. I will also give a full account of my experience and provide tips to help you plan better than I did when setting out for camping out in the wild.
In a nutshell, this article will cover the following topics in detail:
- Tsavo National Park
- Tsavo National Park entry charges
- Where to camp in Tsavo National Park
- What to pack when camping in Tsavo National Park
- What you can do while camping in Tsavo National Park
- The best time to camp at Tsavo National Park
An Overview of Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Park is the largest national park in Kenya. The park is divided into two parts, the Tsavo East and the Tsavo West. According to our tour guide, the division is only marked by the rail and highway road from Mombasa to Malaba.
He also mentioned that Tsavo East is famous for its large number of elephants and other animals like the man-eating lions, rhino, leopard, buffalo, zebra, and giraffe.
This park side is characterized by semiarid land and a savannah, making it easy to spot the wildlife. But it also has a range of other attractions, including:
- River Galana
- Yatta plateau
- Lugard falls
- Mubanda rock
- Aruba dam
- Kanderi swamp
On the other hand, Tsavo West has more natural resources like the Mzima Springs, a freshwater spring that provides water to the city of Mombasa. Tsavo West has a rugged landscape comprising mountains and wooded grasslands and is home to:
- Wildlife species
- Ngulia Rhino sanctuary
- Shetani lava flow
- Mzima springs
Tsavo National Park Entry Charges
The cost of entering and camping in Tsavo National Park is as follows:
|Park Fee (High Season) July-Feb
|Park Fee (Low Season) March-June
|Camping Fee (For Special Campsites)
|Camping Fee (For Public Campsites)
|Reservation Fee for Special Campsite Per Week
Tsavo National Park Vehicle Fee
You’ll also pay for the vehicle you’re using. Here is an outline of vehicle fees per day in Tsavo National Park:
|Less than 6 seats
Tsavo National Park Aircraft Fee Per Landing
|Less than 3 seats
Tsavo National Park Trucks and Delivery Vehicles Per Day
|More than 7 tons
Where to Camp in Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Park is the oldest and largest park in Kenya. It has plenty of campsites to fit diverse tastes and preferences. Here is a list of special and public campsites in Tsavo National Park:
Special Campsites in Tsavo National Park
- Epiya Chapeyu
- Lugards Special Campsite
- Mbololo Special Campsite
- Sobo Picnic Site
- Roka Campsite
- Wamata Rock Campsite
- Kambi Ya Chui Campsite
- Tiva Campsite
- Makoka Campsite
- Chemanyeze Campsite
- Ndololo Public Campsite
Tsavo East National Park Special Campsites GPS Coordinates
|Lugards Special Campsite
|Mbololo Special Campsite
|Sobo Picnic Site
|Wamata Rock Campsite
|Kambi Ya Chui Campsite
|Ndololo Public Campsite
Camping at the Ndololo Public Campsite
Ndololo is the only public camping site in the Tsavo East National Park. The campsite is near the Voi gate and is a great spot for those who want to experience the African bush in the company of other people.
Ndololo is equipped with a kitchen and well-maintained washrooms with running water. The campsite also rents tents for about Ksh 8,000 per night. If you’re working on a tight budget, it is a good idea to bring your tent.
What to Pack when Camping inTsavo National Park
Camping in Tsavo National Park is an incredible experience that allows you to get up close and personal with nature. The thrill of sleeping next to the wild is unmatched. It was crazy for us. When my team arrived at the camping site, two elephants (Laikipia and Bungoma) matched right across. Laikipia didn’t want to go away. The tour guide said something like it sensed some fruits in the car. It took a couple of minutes to drive it away.
Previously, I wrote an article about the safari trip essentials. You can check it out here to learn more about what you should pack for your safari.
Clothes to Pack when Camping in Tsavo National Park
When packing clothes for camping in Tsavo National Park, it’s important to factor in the day and night. You can pack light clothes for the day and some warm clothes for the night because it gets chilly in Tsavo East. It’s also a good idea to go for neutral colors like beige, khaki, and olive green as they blend in with the environment. They also won’t show dirt easily. Again, check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.
Clothes for Hiking
You’ll like hiking while camping, so you want to pack comfortable and absorbent clothes. I recommend leaving your tight jeans and fancy white dress at home. Instead, go for:
- Hiking pants
- Bandana to cover your hair from dust
- Breathable underwear and socks
- Spare t-shirt
- Spare underwear
- Spare socks
Camping Sleepwear in Tsavo National Park
Sleeping in the bush can be chilly at night, so it’s important to pack some warm clothes. I recommend packing:
- Long-sleeved shirt or blouse
- Long pants
- Pajama pants or long skirt
- Sleep socks
- Hat or beanie
- Sleep mask to block out the light
- Jacket or blanket (optional)
Camping Footwear in Tsavo National Park
When it comes to camping footwear, you want to pack shoes that are comfortable and can protect your feet from the elements. I recommend packing:
- Hiking boots or shoes
- Comfortable sandals or flip-flops
- Extra socks
Toiletries to Pack when Camping in Tsavo National Park
Just because you’re camping in the bush doesn’t mean you have to forego your personal hygiene. I recommend packing:
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Bug spray
- Lip balm
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- First-aid kit
- Personal medications
- Toiletries bag
Electronics to Pack when Camping in Tsavo National Park
Even though you’re going to be spending most of your time outdoors, there are some electronics you might want to bring along. These include
- Extra batteries
- Portable charger
- Laptop or tablet (optional)
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Extra memory card and batteries
- Solar-powered lantern (optional)
What to Pack for Food when Camping in Tsavo National Park
One of the best things about camping is enjoying fresh, delicious food cooked over an open fire. However, there are no supermarkets or shops near the campsites – and you are not allowed to kill any game animal. So, it’s a good idea to bring your food. Here’s what I recommend you bring:
- Non-perishable food items like granola bars, nuts, and dried fruit
- Fresh meat or poultry
- Flour or rice
- Canned food like beans, soup, and tuna
- Cooking oil
- Salt, pepper, and other spices
- Condiments like ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise
- Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate
- Bottled water or water filter
- Cooking utensils like pots, pans, plates, and cups
- Eating utensils like forks, knives, and spoons
- Can opener
- BBQ grill (optional)
What to Pack for Entertainment when Camping in Tsavo National Park
When camping in the bush, there are no TV or internet cafes. So, you’ll have to find other ways to entertain yourself. Please note that you’re not allowed to play loud music as this may disturb the wildlife. I recommend packing:
- Magazines or newspapers
- Cards or board games
- Musical instruments
- Sports equipment
Other Camping Essentials
In addition to the above, there are some other camping essentials you should remember to pack. These include:
- Tent (if not provided)
- Sleeping bag
- Torch or lantern
- Mat or foam sleeping pad
- Insect repellent
- Bug spray
- First-aid kit
- Guidebook, map, or compass
- Watch or alarm clock
What you can do while Camping in Tsavo National Park
There is a reason why Tsavo National Park is referred to as the “theater of the wild.” The park is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, giraffes, and cheetahs. You can also see various birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Now that you know what to pack for your camping trip let’s take a look at some of the things you can do at Tsavo National Park.
- Game viewing
- Bird watching
How to Access the Tsavo National Park
The best way to get to Tsavo National Park is by car. But you can also use a helicopter because there’s a runway inside. The park is halfway between Nairobi and Mombasa, on the A109 highway. It takes about 3hrs 55minutes (233.1 km) to drive from Nairobi to Mtito Andei and 3hrs 59minutes (254.3 km) to drive from Mombasa to Mtito Andei.
- If you’re traveling from Nairobi, you can use the Mtito Gate
- If you’re traveling from Mombasa, use the Buchuma, Manyani, or Voi gates
- If you’re traveling from Malindi, take the western road (C103) and enter the park via the Sala gate.
Access Gates to Tsavo East National Park
- Manyani Gate
- Buchuma Gate
- Sala Gate
- Voi Gate
Access Gates to Tsavo West National Park
- Man-Eaters Gate
- Mtito Gate
- Chyulu Gate
- And one other nearMaktau.
The Best Time to Camp at Tsavo National Park
The best time to camp at Tsavo National Park is between June and October.
This is the cool, dry season when the weather is perfect for camping. The days are warm and sunny, and the nights are cool. There is also very little rainfall during this period.
While you can visit the park at any time of the year, it is not a good idea to do so at the height of the wet season, in April, May, and November. This is because the roads often become impassable and the campsites can be waterlogged.
- Best Time: Jan to Feb and June to Sept are best for general wildlife viewing because of the little rainfall.
- High Season: Jul to Oct and Dec to Mar
- Low Season: April to Jun, where you get to enjoy the best rates
- Wettest Month: April
- Best Weather: Jan to Feb and Jun to Sept
How to Choose the Right Tour Guide for your Camping Trip
When planning your camping trip, it’s important to choose the right tour guide. This is because they will be responsible for ensuring your safety and having a good time. Here are some tips for choosing the right tour guide:
- They should have experience taking people camping in Tsavo National Park: I cannot emphasize this more. Our event organizer was amateur and didn’t anticipate any shortcomings. We ended up getting fewer tents and not enough food for everyone.
- Check their reviews: Before booking a tour guide, read reviews from previous clients. This will give you an idea of what to expect.
- Check their activity lineup: A good tour guide will have a variety of activities planned for your trip. The last thing you want is to drive straight to the camp and back to the city.
- Ask about their safety procedures: Any reputable tour guide should have safety procedures in an emergency. Make sure to ask about these before you book. A reputable tour guide will be responsible for ensuring your safety and having a good time.
- Get a recommendation: If you know someone who has been on a similar trip, ask for a recommendation.
What to do if you Encounter a Dangerous Animal while Camping in Tsavo National Park
If you encounter a dangerous animal while camping in Tsavo National Park, the best thing to do is stay calm and avoid sudden movements. If you’re in a vehicle, stay inside and keep the windows up. If you’re on foot, try to make yourself as big as possible by holding your arms out and making noise. And remember, never approach a wild animal, no matter how tame it may seem.
I hope you enjoyed this article about camping in Tsavo National Park.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.