Part of the Meru National Park has been fenced off to create a sanctuary for 40 White Rhino and 20 Black Rhino, making this one of the best places in Kenya to see these endangered animals.
Well off the mainstream tourist circuit, Meru is not a reserve to come and tick off the Big Five. Rather it is a wilderness experience. The horizons are endless and game wild. Huge tracts of the park have no roads and must be explored on foot. On the roads that there are, minibuses are never seen. You might see a park ranger or lion researcher in an old Land Rover but that is the extent of the traffic. Finally, Meru is perhaps best known for Elsa the lioness, who was released here and made famous by Joy Adamson’s books.
Meru National Park: The Experience
The activities offered in the national park is game viewing on a self-drive or guided game drives offered by the lodge you stay with. Elsa’s Kopje has a special licence to conduct night safaris and game walks within the park.With only one lodge operating inside the park, it will seem as if you have the park to yourself.
Elsas Kopje – This lodge is named after Elsa the Lion who was made famous by George and Joy Adamson. An elegant up-market lodge it blends into the kopje (hill) on which it is situated. Accommodation is in luxuriously appointed cottages that have stunning views. The main lodge has an open-sided bar and dining room next to an infinity pool that overlooks the Meru plains.
Meru National Park: Birdlife
With more than 300 species recorded, Meru is an excellent birding destination. It has several northern Kenya specials, including the impressive Somali ostrich, Boran cisticola and vulturine guineafowl. The noisy yellow-necked spurfowl is very common and the sought-after Hinde’s babbler can sometimes be spotted as well. The rivers running through the park offer the right habitat for Pel’s fishing-owl, the elusive African finfoot and the localized golden palm weaver as well as more common water birds.
Meru offers good bird watching throughout the year, but the best time is from November to April when the migrants from Europe and north Africa are present. This coincides with the breeding season when many species are nesting. Although good for birding, April tends to be very wet and is a less productive time for general wildlife viewing.