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Chyulu Hills National Park

Chyulu Hills National Park, also known as the “Green Hills of Africa,” is one of the most spectacular national parks in Kenya, with vibrant scenic views of rolling lush green hills, scenic landscapes, and stunning blue skies. The hills cover a range of 150 kilometers with the highest elevation being 2,188 meters above sea level.
The park covers an area of 741 square kilometers, making it one of the smallest national parks in Kenya. The park receives rainfall of 200-700mm per year, with temperatures averaging 20-30°C. The longest lava tube in the world is also found within Chyulu Hills National Park, forming a 100-kilometer-long volcanic field.
Chyulu Hills is part of the Tsavo Conservation Area, which includes Kibwezi Forest, Tsavo East National Park, Tsavo West National Park, and Chyulu Hills National Park. It’s best combined with a trip to Tsavo West National Park.
Chyulu Hills’ rainfall feeds the great Galana and Tsavo Rivers and Mzima Springs in the surrounding valley, although there is no permanent river in the hills because the volcanic lava rock and ash are too porous to allow rivers to flow. Usually, rainwater percolates through the rocks of Chyulu Hills and then spends about 25 years before it flows down to Mzima Springs from underneath.
Entry Fee: The entry fee to Chyulu Hills National Park is $25 for foreign non-resident adults and $15 for foreign non-resident children. Foreign residents, East African citizens, and Kenyan citizens will pay 300 KES for adults and 215 KES for their children. Please note that foreign residents and East African citizens will be required to show documentation to enjoy these rates.
History: The park’s hills still show signs of their volcanic activity; it’s said that volcanic activity at Chyulu Hills started 1.4 million years ago from the northern part of the hills, eventually spreading to the south. The last eruptions of Shaitani and Chainu occurred in 1856 and are still considered active to date. They are also considered among the youngest mountain ranges in the world. In the famous film “Out of Africa,” Chyulu Hills was represented as Ngong Hills. The park was gazetted in 1983 after separating from Tsavo West National Park.
Location: Chyulu Hills National Park is located between Amboseli National Park and Tsavo West National Park in Makueni County in the southeastern part of Kenya, 150 kilometers from the Great East African Rift Valley and 232 kilometers from Nairobi. The nearest town is Kibwezi, located 30 kilometers northeast of Chyulu Hills.
Best Time to Visit: Chyulu Hills National Park is mainly composed of hills, and the main tourist activity in the park is hiking or climbing. The best time to visit would be in the drier months of June to September and December to February when the hiking trails are in good condition, making it easy to hike and do mountain climbing.
Accommodation: There is no accommodation in Chyulu Hills National Park except for Kathisayo Campsite and Kiboko Campsite. Visitors can stay in lodges around the park, some of which include Savannah Paradise Hotel, Shushan Palace, Ambokili Lodge, Camp Ya Kanzi, Ol Donyo Lodge, Finch Hattons Camp, Amboseli Getaway Hotel, Amboseli Sopa Lodge, Tawi Lodge, Kamboyo Guest House, and many others.
Animals: There are quite a number of animals that call Chyulu Hills home, and some of the examples you will see include buffalos, bushbucks, giant forest genets, leopards, elands, bush pigs, elephants, giraffes, mountain reedbucks, wildebeests, eastern black rhinos, cheetahs, steenboks, klipspringers, alongside reptiles like pythons, black mambas, and puff adders.
What to Do
Bird Watching Chyulu Hills’ green hills support a habitat for various species of birds, including the Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, White-starred Robin, Shelley’s Francolin, Orange Ground Thrush, African Gray Flycatcher, Rüppell’s Robin-Chat, Thrush Nightingale, Olive Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Secretary Bird, Helmeted Guineafowl, Scaly Francolin, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, African Olive Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Speckled Pigeon, European Nightjar, African Palm Swift, White-browed Coucal, Jacobin Cuckoo, White-rumped Swift, Black Crake, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Purple-crested Turaco, Spur-winged Lapwing, Mountain Buzzard, Pearl-spotted Owl, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Lesser Honeyguide, Grey-headed Kingfisher, African Pygmy Falcon, Eastern Black-headed Oriole, White-crested Helmetshrike, Fork-tailed Drongo, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, and Red-billed Buffalo Weaver among others.
Mountain Climbing With an altitude of 1,500 to 2,160 meters above sea level, Chyulu Hills makes one of the best places for mountain climbing in Kenya. There are different trails set up for mountain climbing all over the park, allowing tourists to enjoy superb views down the valley.
Horse Rides While at Chyulu National Park, you can take a horse ride into the wilderness and intermingle with a lot of wildlife, especially antelopes, in their natural habitat. The horse rides provide an excellent wildlife viewing opportunity compared to car game drives.
Wildlife Watching Chyulu Hills National Park is a habitat for various wildlife, and one of the most satisfying activities you can do while at the park is taking a game drive to explore and watch wildlife. Some of the animals in the park are black rhinos, cheetahs, reedbucks, and wildebeests, among others.
Nature Guided Walks For those that love to get close to nature, the best way to do so is by taking a nature-guided walk in the park. There are several designated trails where you can take walks, with each trail leading to a beautiful destination.
Hiking Chyulu Hills is one of the top hiking destinations in Kenya, providing an opportunity for tourists without technical mountain climbing skills. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, you can go hiking in the park with a variety of options to choose from.
Visit the People Chyulu Hills areas are inhabited by the Maasai and Kamba tribes. Both tribes have very distinctive cultures and beliefs. You can visit the people and learn about their different ways of life within their localities, enjoy African music and dance, and also join in their day-to-day activities.
Horse Riding Safaris You can try an amazing wildlife watching experience on a horseback trip offered at Chyulu Hills, giving you a unique opportunity for spotting and intermingling with lots of wildlife like zebras.
What to See/Attractions
Verdant Hills The verdant hills of Chyulu are a must-see, offering lush landscapes that capture the essence of Africa’s natural beauty.
The Leviathan Cave The Leviathan Cave, at the edge of the Nyiri Desert, consists of two sections: The Lower Leviathan, covering 2,170 meters long with a depth of 70 meters, and The Upper Leviathan Cave, covering 9,152 meters long with a depth of 408 meters. Chyulu Hills boasts the longest cave in Africa, known as The Leviathan Cave or Kisula Cave, which is about 11 kilometers long.
Sceneries The spectacular landscapes of Chyulu Hills provide some of the most breathtaking views on earth, from the green rolling hills to golden savannah valleys.
Tsavo Conservation Area The Tsavo Conservation Area, sometimes known as the Tsavo Ecosystem, is composed of Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, Chyulu Hills National Park, South Kitui National Reserve, and the surrounding areas. The total conservation area encompasses up to 42,000 square kilometers of pristine wild animal habitats.
Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary Years ago, the Tsavo area had a very high population of rhinos compared to any other place in the world, but by the end of the 19th century, the rhino populations had greatly dwindled due to heavy poaching. An area was set aside and fenced off to protect and recover rhino populations in Tsavo, and this came to be called Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. Today, Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary is one of the best places for spotting black rhinos in Africa.
Kisula Lava Caves Exploration Chyulu Hills is comprised of several lava caves, commonly referred to as Kisula Caves, which boast some of the deepest lava tubes in the world with the most recent eruptions believed to have occurred approximately 240 years ago. The Leviathan Cave, stretching up to 11.15 kilometers long, is recognized as one of the longest lava tubes worldwide. Cave exploration stands out as one of the most unique activities one can undertake in Chyulu Hills National Park.
Makindu Sikh Temple Near Chyulu Hills National Park is the historical Makindu Sikh Temple, constructed by Sikhs during the Uganda railway construction in 1926. This temple is a significant site, especially for Sikh individuals visiting Chyulu Hills National Park, as well as for anyone interested in religious tourism.
Amboseli National Park Visitors to Chyulu Hills National Park can easily combine their journey with a trip to Amboseli National Park. Amboseli offers exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities, scenic views of Africa’s highest mountain in Tanzania—Mount Kilimanjaro, hosts over 400 species of birds, and is also famous for its free-ranging elephant herds.
Mzima Springs The Mzima Springs consist of four main natural freshwater springs fed by underground water from Chyulu Hills. These springs are a magnet for a wide variety of wildlife and birds.

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