Meru National Park

Meru National Park is Kenya at its most wild and beautiful, and it’s still off the mainstream tourist trail. This is where Elsa, the orphaned lioness hand-reared by the Adamsons, was released into the wild.

  • Grevy's zebra, seen on a Saruni lodge game drive, Samburu, Kenya © PietroLuraschi,Saruni Lodges

    Grevy's zebra, seen on a Saruni lodge game drive, Samburu, Kenya

  • Reticulated giraffes in Meru National Park, Kenya © LScott,Shutterstock

    Reticulated giraffes in Meru National Park, Kenya

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Meru National Park’s popularity began back in the 1960s when Born Free was released in cinemas documenting Elsa being raised and released back into the wild. With a chequered history of neglect and poaching in the 80s and 90s, things have made a turn for the better and Meru National Park is a choice destination once more. Visitors can expect an authentic, rugged safari.

Fresh flowing rivers and streams criss-cross the park, a lifeline for the wildlife. Dotted throughout are huge baobabs and tall swaying palm trees with the Nyambene Hills in the background.

  • Wildlife of Meru: Meru National Park is a great place to see some more unusual species such as reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebras as well as Burchell’s zebras, and even lesser kudus, gerenuks and the beisa oryx.
    It is home also to the sought after Big Five. Elephants are particularly common here, and you can see rhinos in the sanctuary. Some of the buffalo herds are amongst the largest in Kenya. In addition, you should come across hippos, and wildebeest and perhaps one of the big cats though sightings are not very common.
  • Meru Rhino Sanctuary:  The sanctuary looks after over 50 white and around 25 black rhinos within its 48sq km of wilderness. This is a good place to see these endangered animals in the wild.
  • Birding:  Meru’s swamps, rivers and woodlands provide habitat for over 300 species of birds, including Pel’s fishing owl, eagles and Peter’s finfoot.
  • Walking in Meru: Game walks are a fantastic way to view wildlife. It’s an altogether different experience to a game drive.
  • Safari Combinations:  Meru combines with a safari in the Masai Mara quite brilliantly – it’s a wonderful contrast in many ways, not just the landscape. It’s a little harder to spot wildlife here, but this is a safari destination as it was in yesteryear. There are so few people, it feels so remote and wild, it’s a rewarding safari experience, and one that is slowly gaining in popularity (making it the perfect destination now)!
  • When to visit Meru: You can visit all year, but the dry season is best, so perhaps avoid March to May, and maybe the short rains in November too. Many elephants tend to roam out of the park in the rainy season.
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Meru National Park

Grevy's zebra, seen on a Saruni lodge game drive, Samburu, Kenya

Meru National Park is Kenya at its most wild and beautiful, and it’s still off the mainstream tourist trail. This is where Elsa, the orphaned lioness hand-reared by the Adamsons, was released into the wild.

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