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Meru National Park
Meru National Park 1

Meru National Park

Meru National Park, covering an area of 870.44 km2, is a remote national park in Kenya, Africa. This wild and beautiful park has diverse landscapes, which include open plains bordered by riverbanks, slopes such as the Nyambene mountain range, and woodland areas. Meru National Park’s 13 rivers are one of its main attractions. Besides its impressive rivers, Meru also boasts other attractions such as the Adamson’s Falls, the burial site of Elsa the Lioness, and breathtaking views of Mount Kenya from various areas within the park.

George and Joy Adamson, a husband and wife naturalist pair, brought their lioness, Elsa to Meru. When Elsa was old enough, they chose to let her experience freedom in the wild, rather than sending her to a zoo. Elsa had some trouble getting used to the wild, but eventually, the Adamsons left her in the Meru region, where she earned her place in the pride and even had her own cubs. Elsa died at age five, after contracting babesiosis, and was buried in the Meru area. Joy and George wrote books about their experiences with Elsa and she has also been the focus of various documentaries and movies. Adamson’s waterfall is named after the Adamson couple while after Joy’s death, her ashes were scattered over Elsa’s grave.

The History Of Meru National Park

1966: Meru National Park was established and managed by the energetic warden Peter Jerkins.

1980s: During the late 1980s, poaching decimated the reintroduced populations of white rhino in the park.

1990s: Kenya’s government took swift action to increase park security, driving out poachers. During these years, the park was off-limits to tourists.

2001: Kenya’s wildlife service, with help from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, moved elephants from Laikipia plateau to Meru National Park. This was the beginning of Meru National Park’s restoration. The restoration was overseen by Mark Jerkins, son of the former warden, Peter Jerkins.

2001-2010: Over the next decade, several animal species were relocated to the Meru National Park, including black and white rhinos as well as reedbuck. In 2005, Meru also became a protected area for lions.

Camps In Meru National Park

  • Offbeat Safaris: Located at the edge of Meru National Park in the Bisandi National Reserve, Offbeat Safaris is ideal for big five sightings, bird watching, guided walks, fishing, and visits to local communities, schools and rhino sanctuaries. A well-furnished tented camp, Meru uses both solar-power and tilley lamps to light the camp.
  • Elsa’s Kopje: Named after Elsa the lioness, Elsa’s Kopje is located above the George and Joy Adamson campsite, where they released Elsa. Before Elsa’s Kopje, the park was almost on its last legs, with talks about turning the land into rice plantations before the camp, with its idyllic beauty, played a key role in bringing Meru back to life. It offers cultural visits, massages, guided walks, river fishing and excursions to the Tana River as well as having a swimming pool.
  • Rhino River Camp: Rhino River Camp, much like Offbeat Safaris, is also located at the edge of the Meru National Park. The camp has a swimming pool, bar, restaurant and massage room. It offers big five sightings, game drives and bush walks.

Wildlife in Meru National Park

Meru National Park boasts extremely large prides of lions and herds of buffalo. It is also home to antelope, elephant, cheetah, oryx, leopard and zebra. Meru National Park’s rivers are teeming with catfish, barbus, freshwater turtles and Nile crocodiles as well as hippos which can be seen wallowing in these waters.

Meru is a premier bird watching destination with over 300 recorded bird species. The golden palm weaver and Hinde’s pied babbler are two bird species found only in this part of eastern Africa. Boran cisticola, golden-breasted starling, Somali ostrich, Somali bee-eater and vulturine guinea-fowl are some of the rare birds found in the park. Meru also has its share of birds of prey, including palm-nut vulture, bat hawk and martial eagle.

When to visit Meru National Park

For game viewing, the best time to visit Meru National Park is from June to September. These months mark the dry season during which it is easier to spot wildlife. During Kenya’s short and long rains, the park is covered with high grass, making it harder to spot game. Furthermore, the elephants of the park migrate out at this time of year.

For bird watchers, the ideal time to visit is from November to April. These months mark the entry of several migratory bird species from North Africa and Europe into the Meru National Park region.

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