Meru National Park
Meru National Park is noted for its fauna and natural beauty. It has many swamps and rivers lined with palms, as well as mountains and woodlands, and it is the setting for Joy Adamson’s book “Born Free”, which was later made into a successful film. The park is home to a large pride of lions, herds of buffalo, and hippos and crocodiles that live in the rivers.At Meru, you will find excellent views of snow-capped Mount Kenya and the park’s beautiful landscape is a camper’s paradise. The roads are suitable for vehicles and there are many rocky outcrops that provide great lookout points for the abundant Kenyan animals.
Meru National Park incorporates Bisanadi, Kora, Rahole and Mwingi National Reserves. It is situated right on the equator at an altitude of between 1000-3400 feet (304-1036meters) and covers 870km². The park was established in 1968.Meru National Park is 348km from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Its natural scenery is diverse, from the wide-open plains with many rivers, to the woodlands on the slopes of the Nyambeni mountain range, to the northeast of Mount Kenya.George and Joy Adamson pioneered research in the park by associating with cheetahs and lions, particularly “Elsa” the lioness. Joy wrote a book that was made into the famous film “Born Free”, which, in turn, brought Meru National Park to public attention.In the 1980s, the elephant population suffered greatly due to the activities of illegal ivory poachers. The Kenya Wildlife Service has since largely eradicated this problem by providing armed security patrols, and elephant numbers are now increasing.Game viewing includes elephants, hippos, lions, leopards and cheetahs. There are also some rare antelope, including the Lesser Kudu, duiker and dik-dik, a tiny African antelope that stands just twelve inches high and is notoriously shy. Meru National Park also has some of Kenya’s largest herds of buffalo, along with hartebeests, giraffes and gazelles. These animals are easily spotted from safari vehicles and, because the park is less visited than some of Kenya’s better-known parks, you do not have other vehicles of tourists sharing the sights with you. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded in Meru National Park, including the Peter’s Finfoot, the Pel’s Fishing Owl, kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and numerous weavers. There is also an abundance of ostriches, hornbills, secretary birds, eagles and other smaller birds. It is a good idea to carry a bird book to identify the many species you will see. Meru National Park borders Bisanadi National Reserve, a true wilderness. It is only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles, and it covers a further 606km². The border between the two parks is known as “Kinna” and marks the division between the lands of the Meru and Boran tribes.
Game Viewing is excellent and includes four of the “Big Five” - elephants, lions, leopards and buffalo – as well as cheetahs, antelope, hippos and crocodiles. The roads are well graded and Meru National Park is quieter than some of the other parks.
Bird Watching – over 300 species of birds have been recorded recorded within the park, including the Peter’s Finfoot, which inhabits the Murera and Ura Rivers, the Pel’s Fishing Owl, kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and numerous weavers. Larger birds include the secretary bird, ostriches and hornbills. Take a spotter’s guide so that you can identify the many species you will see.
Scenic/Walking Safari – to enjoy the beautiful scenery and landscape – stroll through or view the dense vegetation, forests and savannahs with long grass, rivers and swamps. Mount Kenya crowns the beautiful scenery of Meru National Park.
Rainfall is higher in the west than in the eastern sector of the park. It is generally cooler than the coastal plains and varies with the altitude. The west has 635-762mm of annual rainfall, and the east has 305-356mm.