Meru National Park, Bisanadi and Rahole National Reserves and Kora National Park
Meru National Park is, of course, the lonely wilderness which became world famous as the place Elsa, the lioness, was returned to the wild; the story of which was told in Joy Adamson's book Born Free. The park is about 80 km east of Meru town and reached via a reasonable road passing through luxuriant, partly forested, far eland on the Nyambene Hills.
Of all the Kenya parks Meru presents the widest variety of landscapes and habitats. Forest, swamp and savannah are pierced by 15 perennial rivers all rising on Mount Kenya and all destined to reach the Tana River which, just south of the equator, forms the park's lower boundary.
In this marvelous sanctuary a great variety of wildlife exists, some in huge quantities. All the Big Five are here and the park is one of the best in which to locate cheetah and leopard. Meru's proximity to Mount Kenya and the Nyambene Hills (which reach to 2515 m) ensures reasonable rainfall in the western half of the park, but in the eastern portion it is generally dry and can be extremely hot.
A visit to the Tana River will take a whole day and involve a descent from 675 m at Meru Mulika Lodge to about 300 m at the river. Despite the heat this journey is a truly wonderful wilderness experience. Meru is a park which deserves to be more visited but its solitude and big-diversity make h a certain destination for the discriminating and environmentally conscious visitor.
The nearby Bisanadi, North Kitui and Rahole National Reserves and Kora National Park form protective screens to the east and south of Meru allowing the latter's wildlife more freedom of movement at the same time restricting human encroachment. All four of these sanctuaries are under-developed; roads are virtually non existent and even access is limited. There is no accommodation for visitors. Kora was the last home of the celebrated George Adamson, Bwana Game, where he continued his work on the rehabilitation of lions until his murder by bandits in 1989.
Special thanks to the Kenya Association of Tour Operators for helping GORP develop Kenya parks information.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication