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Meru National Park is wild and beautiful covering 870 Sq. Kms, 348 Kms from Nairobi. It stands on the equator and watered by 13 rivers and numerous mountain-fed streams, it is an especially beautiful area of Kenya. It has diverse scenery from woodlands at 3,000 feet on the slopes of Nyambeni Mountain Range, northeast of Mount Kenya, to wide open plains with wandering riverbanks dotted with doom palms. Opened in 1968 the park accommodates lions, elephants, cheetahs, leopards and some of the rarer antelopes like Lesser Kudus, duikers and Dik Diks, one of Africa’s smallest antelopes.
Large prides of lions can be seen on a safari and some of Kenya’s largest herds of buffalo. The rivers abound with hippos and crocodiles, fishing for barbus and catfish is permitted at camp sites and along the Tana River. In the mid 1980’s, the Park suffered from poaching, however Kenya Wildlife Service armed wildlife security patrols have driven out the poachers.
The elephant populations has stabilized with breeding herds settling down.
The park is 1.000 -3,400 Ft. above sea level and over 300 species of birds have been recorded 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.
It is this Park that is the famous setting for Joy Adamson’s “Born Free” book, the story of the Adamson’s life and research amongst lions and cheetah. “Elsa” the lioness was the most well-known and her grave is marked here. One lodge and two tented camps are planned inside the Park. There are eight special campsites which must be pre-booked, one public campsite, Kenya Wildlife Service self-help banda and Leopard Rock bandas (total 120 beds).
On the border of Meru National Park is Bisinadi National Reserve. Known as ‘Kinna’, the border between Meru and Bisanadi Parks is the traditional division between the Meru and Boran tribes. The Reserve was opened in September 1979 and occupies an area of 606 square kilometers.
A true wilderness area without any accommodation it is only accessible by 4WD vehicles. There is an airstrip at Korbessa. Another area made famous by the Adamsons is Kora National Park. Opened in October 1989, 280 kilometers northeast of Nairobi, it is an easy outing from Meru National Park.
Covering an area of 1,787 square kilometers, bounded by the Tana River, George Adamson’s camp was here until he died. A feature is the sudden appearance of lush green “oases”,created by the lines of doum palms which shelter the banks of the Tana River.
Striking are the Inselbergs — isolated rocky outcrops covered in vegetation which create random islands above the plains. Kora is home to diverse wildlife with more than 20 species of fish being recorded, 500 species of insect, 33 molluscs and 40 reptiles. Species on display includes elephants, Lesser Kudus, wild dogs, striped and spotted hyenas, leopards and cheetahs.
Other regional parks that can be visited during Kenya safaris include Rahole National Reserve, offering a wide variety of plains game, hippos, crocodiles and excellent bird viewing. Also Mwingi National Reserve, formerly North Kitui has hippos, crocodiles, buffalos and warthogs among other species.