Meru National Park is most known for the story of Elsa the Lioness, made famous in the book Born Free. Meru forms part of a complex of protected areas along the Tana River and it straddles the equator in the central part of the country. Meru National Park is a forest reserve located 350km from Nairobi, east of Meru town. It is one of Kenya’s lesser known parks, covering an area of 87 044 hectares. Meru is part of a complex of protected areas along the Tana River that includes the Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves, Kora National Park and Rahole National Reserve.

The wetter north western sector is hilly with rich volcanic soils. Towards the east the land flattens and the soil appears grey and volcanic.

WILDLIFE EXPERIENCE

Meru offers good overall wildlife viewing and is home to the Big Five. Elephants are particularly common and relaxed. Big cat sightings are hit-and-miss. There is a chance of spotting a white or black rhino in the drive-in rhino sanctuary, although the vegetation is extremely thick. Hippos and Nile crocodiles are common along the Tana River. Most people will appreciate Meru National Park for its northern specials, which are animals that are specially adapted to arid conditions. The reticulated giraffe is distinguishable by its dramatic pattern. Grevy’s zebra occur alongside the smaller and more common Burchell’s zebra. This is one of few places to encounter the shy lesser kudu and the impressive looking beisa oryx. Most odd of them all is the gerenuk with its elongated neck.