Meru National Park (870 sq km – 336 sq miles)

Wild and scenically beautiful, dotted by picturesque small and larger hills, bisected by the equator and thirteen rivers and numerous mountain-fed streams, this park is a great favourite of all who love Kenya’s north, where the light always seems at its most intense, more so than anywhere else in the country. It is an exciting landscape, much favoured by photographers and artists.

Entry from the west is by the Murera Gate, by the Bisanadi Gate from the north-east, and by the Ura Gate from the south. Two airstrips serve the park in which there are eight special camp sites — which must be pre-booked with the Kenya Wildlife Service — and one public camp site, or there is accommodation at Meru Mulika Lodge and at Leopard Rock Lodge, at which latter there is also pleasant self-service accommodation in KWS bandas. As most of the driving is on infrequently used tracks, a 4-WD vehicle is essential.

The diverse landscape includes thorny bushland in the north, woodlands at 914 metres (3,000 feet) on the slopes of the Nyambene Hills north-east of Mount Kenya, and the Punguru, Kiolu, Kindani, Rhino, Mughwango, Murera, Bisanadi, Kinna and Mulika plains in the park’s west, where the banks of the meandering rivers are dotted with doum palms. Dense forests of doum and raffia palm grow along the watercourses. Sedges occupy the riverine swamps. The rainfall in the west of the park is almost double that in the east. One area has been designated a wilderness, where no tourists are allowed to enter, nor are there any trails there to follow.

Mammals include buffalos in herds said to be among the largest in the country, prides of lions, elephant, cheetah, leopard, lesser kudu, zebra, black rhino, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, Grant’s gazelle, duiker and antelope including Africa’s smallest, the dik dik.

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