Shimba Hills National Reserve
The Shimba Hills National Reserve is only 60km from Mombasa is ideal for a day visit. It contains one of the largest coastal forests in East Africa and is where a great diversity of Kenya’s plant species are found, many of which are endangered. It is known for its beautiful lush green vegetation, forested landscape, sharp slopes and steep valleys. The Shimba Hills National Reserve is home to many Elephant and is the only place in Kenya where tourists can see the Sable Antelope.
Shimba Hills National Reserve is not ideal for animal safaris because the African wildlife is difficult to spot in the dense vegetation. The animals hide in the shade of the forest in order to keep cool until the early evening. However, you may see the rare sable antelope and many birds on your visit. Best views are from the eastern side of the park, near Giriama Point, as the animals move towards the rivers to drink.
One of the main attractions to the Shimba Hills is the impressive Sheldrick Falls, which cascade 25m over the escarpment. This waterfall is named after David Sheldrick, who discovered it many years ago. The walk to this attraction takes about two hours, through grasslands, bushes, and forests. Hence, carry drinking water; wear a hat and good walking shoes. Sheldrick Falls is an idyllic spot for a cool swim and a picnic.
Shimba Hills National Reserve has the last breeding herd of beautiful sable antelope in Kenya. They are among Kenya’s largest antelope, with black coats and long, scimitar-shaped horns, which they were hunted for. They may be seen grazing early or late in the day around Buffalo Ridge. In addition, there are also elephants, buffalo, waterbucks, hyenas, warthogs, leopards, baboons, and monkeys. Maasai giraffes and ostriches have also been reintroduced to the park. There are many birds, including 111 different recorded species. There are even more birds to be seen during the spring migration. Bird shooting is only permitted outside the reserve.
Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary
There are more than 600 elephants in the park and a fenced elephant corridor links the park with the elephant sanctuary at Mwaluganje Forest. Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary is a historical bull area where independent elephant bulls grow in preparation for the demanding life of breeding males.
Their families live in the neighboring Shimba Hills Reserve and Mwaluganje forest. On occasion, family groups visit males during the mating season or cross the sanctuary as they travel between feeding areas. Once or twice a year, several related elephant families join up and travel as a unit of 200 females and calves (of all ages).
They gather in the Shimba Hills and move into Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary during the rainy season (December, and March/April). Such large herds usually last for no longer than three to four days and are consequently a rare and magnificent sight to see. Like human families at the reunion, these gatherings are marked by noisy greetings (i.e. trumpeting).
Some unique things to do at Shimba Hills National Park include taking a guided night drive. You may see leopards and cheetahs, and will certainly hear the hyenas howl in the eerie darkness. You can also buy a unique souvenir at the gates, a paper that is handmade from elephant dung!
How to get to Shimba Hills National Reserve
Access by road is via Diani, 56 km from Mombasa, and there is an airstrip at the reserve.
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