Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo East National Park is by far the biggest of Kenya’s parks. At more than 13,700km², Tsavo East is nine times bigger than the Maasai Mara National Reserve: indeed you could fit the whole of the Mara reserve into the southern tip of Tsavo East National Park, south of the Voi River. Most famous for its huge herds of dust-red elephants, more than 10,000 of them bulldoze their way around this vast park.
Tsavo East has another big draw: you can set off on a game drive across the seemingly empty wilderness and return to camp three hours later without having seen a single other vehicle. There are very few camps and lodges here and, relatively speaking, almost none, with the majority of them close to Voi in the west, near the Mombasa highway. You often have the park to yourself, watching the wildlife under a huge sky: no matter what you’re looking at, Tsavo East always feels like a big spectacle.
When considering a Tsavo East safari, it's worth knowing that nearly all safaris take place in the south of the park, south of the Galana River. The enormous northern region of Tsavo East was closed to the public for many years and, although it is now open again, distances are vast up here and there is virtually infrastructure. In practice, it's an area for adventurous explorers, not game drives.
Incidentally, although Tsavo East and Tsavo West share a name – and a common border, coinciding with the Mombasa highway – they are two distinct national parks with different eco-systems: the wooded and hilly landscapes, dotted with volcanic cones and dramatic, black lava flows of Tsavo West National Park and the much flatter, more open plains and scattered bush that characterise Tsavo East National Park.