Shimba Hills National Reserve : Everything To Know : Sable Antelope can only be found in Kenya in the stunning coastal forest of Shimba Hills National Reserve. Given that Mombasa is only 60 kilometers away, a day trip to the Shimba Hills National Reserve is ideal. It has one of East Africa’s largest coastal forests and is home to a wide variety of Kenyan plant species, many of which are endangered. Many elephants can be found in the Shimba Hills National Reserve, which is also the only location in Kenya where visitors can see sable antelope.
Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) protects the 300 km2 Shimba Hills National Reserve. The reserve is well known for having a sizable population of elephants, which reached an unsustainable level in the early 2000s. It was referred to at the time as “the single largest translocation of animals ever undertaken since Noah’s ark” when KWS relocated over 150 elephants to Tsavo East National Park in 2005.
There are still more than 500 elephants in the reserve, which leads to tense conflicts between humans, wildlife, and the local subsistence farmers. The Mwalunganje Elephant Sanctuary was created to help lessen this conflict and shares a border with the Shimba Hills National Reserve, giving the elephants a migration route.
The Reserve is renowned for its fantastic opportunities for birdwatching, and enthusiasts can look for the Croaking Cisticola or the Zanzibar Red Bishop there. Game viewing is not as rewarding as on the savannahs due to the dense nature of the forest, as many animals spend their time deep in the forest. This is not necessarily a bad thing because it enhances the beauty of any wildlife encounters you do have. Late afternoon is the ideal time to go on a game drive because the cooler temperatures tempt the animals to emerge from the shade and seek water.
The late David Sheldrick, founder of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, once explored the Shimba Hills. While flying over the area, he discovered a hidden waterfall within the Shimba Hills National Reserve and subsequently had the falls named after him. The magnificent 21-meter-high Sheldrick Falls are there.
The reserve’s habitat is made up of grassland and coastal rainforest that are dotted with woodland and coastal bush. With more than 1,000 plant species, Shimba Hills is regarded as one of the most diverse forested ecosystems on the Kenyan coast. There is a lovely plunge pool at Sheldrick Falls that is great for cooling off.
SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS AND ATTRACTIONS
- The only place in Kenya where you can see Sable Antelope
- Guided forest walks up to the scenically beautiful Sheldrick Falls
- It is known for its herds of elephants.
- Visit the Mwalunganje Elephant Sanctuary.
- Scenic viewpoints and five picnic areas
WHAT TO DO IN THE SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL RESERVE?
A fantastic opportunity to observe the birdlife in the forest is the guided walk to Sheldrick Falls that the Kenya Wildlife Service offers. Even though the animals are harder to spot on the savannah, game drives are still more exciting.
Sundowners can also be enjoyed on Pengo Hill, which faces west, while you watch the sun sink below the horizon. You can see the Tsavo Plains and Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day.
If you are staying in Mombasa or Diani Beach, the Shimba Hills National Reserve is the ideal destination for a day trip. Over 50% of Kenya’s 159 rare plants, including rare cycads and stunning orchids, can be found in the Reserve, which is characterized by rolling hills covered in coastal forests.
Keep an eye out for these sizable, ebony-colored antelope with their scimitar-shaped horns, which are the last breeding herd of Sable Antelope in Kenya and are found in the Reserve.
A local Kenya Safari company such as Focus East Africa Tours can take you on guided game drives through the reserve. To navigate the roads, which are steep and undulating, you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle. A guided walk through the forest with a Kenyan Wildlife Service guide, who leads you through the forest to the lovely Sheldrick Falls, is one of the most memorable activities on offer.
You can also take advantage of some fantastic hiking trails to ramble to picnic areas and lookout points on a pleasant afternoon. It is highly advised to hire a guide to accompany you on your walk because the reserve is home to both elephants and buffalo. The guide can also point out a variety of animals and plants that you might otherwise miss.
SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL RESERVE ACCOMMODATION
We advise visitors staying in the wonderful accommodations available in Mombasa or Diani to spend the day exploring the National Park. We advise visitors to Diani to book a room at Kinondo Kwetu or Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Shimba Hills has a hot and muggy coastal climate, despite being kept cool by strong breezes, foggy mornings, and clouds. The afternoon temperature is around 29°C (84 °F). Even though the temperature drops a little at night to around 20°C (68 °F), it is still warm.
HOW DO I GET TO SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL RESERVE?
By Plane: Most travelers arrive in Nairobi after flying from Europe or North America. For travelers unsure of how to get to Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) is situated 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Nairobi.
Moi International Airport (MBA), which is situated 9 km (6 mi) west of Mombasa, is Kenya’s second international airport. You can fly domestically from Nairobi to Mombasa or Diani, which can serve as your home base while exploring Shimba Hills. The most likely requirement for entry to Kenya is a visa.
By Road: From Mombasa, Diani Beach, or any of the other beach resorts south of Mombasa, Shimba Hills is a simple day trip. Shimba Hills day trips are frequently provided by hotels in Mombasa and Diani, or you can rent a car for the day.
THE BEST TIME TO GO
It’s critical to know when to visit Kenya because this will affect lodging costs, flight costs, availability, and the weather tourists can anticipate while on a safari. The best times to visit Shimba Hills are typically from June to September and from December to March.
It is advised to take antimalarial because Shimba Hills is in a malarial area. Other safety measures include wearing clothing at dusk and using insect repellent (those with DEET are the most efficient). The peak rainy seasons, from April to May and October to November, are when malaria risk is at its highest.