+254 755 555 555 info@mountkilimanjarosafaris.com

Meru National Park

About Hell’s Gate National Park

Come to Meru National Park, one of Kenya’s best-kept safari secrets, to enjoy a wildlife adventure like no other!  Meru National Park is remote, rugged and completely unspoilt, the perfect safari destination for those who want to escape the crowds and get up close to a wide variety of wildlife in an outstanding setting.  Join Africa Point on a classic Kenyan Big Five safari to Meru!

On the lowland plains east of the town of Meru, the Meru National Park is a complete contrast to the more northernly reserves of Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba where the open bush is the norm. In Meru, abundant rainfall and numerous permanent streams flowing down from the Mount Kenya massif support a luxuriant jungle of forest, swamp and tall grasses which, in turn, provide fodder and shelter to a wide variety of herbivores and their predators. As in other parks, such as Marsabit, where the vegetation is dense, the wildlife is not so easily sighted, so you need to spend a few days here if you are to fully appreciate what the park has to offer. Unfortunately, this area was one of the worst hitten by poachers and shift, and so there is not the abundance of wildlife that you find in other parks. With some difficulties, elephant, lion and cheetah can all be seen. Buffalo and giraffe are more common, and eland and oryx are the main antelope to be seen. Monkeys, crocodiles and a plethora of bird species are common in the dense vegetation alongside the watercourses. Meru National Park was also the home of Kenya’s only herd of white rhinos which were imported from the Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Jealously guarded 24 hours a day by rangers to protect them from poachers, these huge animals were quite unlike their more cantankerous cousins, the black rhino, in being remarkable docile and willing to allow their keepers to herd them around the campsites and park headquarters area during the day and pen them up at night. Sadly, that is all gone now. Heavily armed poachers shot the lot of them and, for good measure, killed their keepers too. The park is also famous for being Joy and George Adamson’s former base where they raised orphaned lion and leopard cubs until they were old enough to be returned to the wild. Both paid for their efforts with their lives. Joy many years ago when she was murdered in Meru park by poachers, and George in 1989 when he too met the same fate along with two of his assistants in the nearby Kora National Reserve. Security in the park has been beefed up since George Adamson was murdered but there is still a small risk of encountering poachers and bandits here so you need to bear this in mind, especially if you are driving your own vehicle. It is true to say, however, that the chances of running into bandits are just as great in Masai Mara or Tsavo as it is in Meru National Park. The one major plus about Meru is that you are unlikely to come across another safari vehicle anywhere in the park except at the lodges. The tracks through the park are well maintained and signposted though it is a good idea to have a copy of the Survey of Kenya’s Meru National Park map with you.

When to Visit Meru National:

June to October and January to February are the dry months.

Welcome to Magnificent Meru

Meru National Park occupies a unique corner of Northern Kenya, far off the traditional Kenya safari circuit.  In the 1960’s Meru National Park was one of Kenya’s most visited safari destinations, as over 30,000 visitors arrived each year to see the home of the Lioness Elsa, of “Born Free” fame.  However, rampant poaching almost wiped out the wildlife during the 1980s and 1990s, and it is only during recent decades that foreign financial assistance has “rescued” Meru.  Large numbers of animals have been re-introduced and strict security and management have resulted in the park once again taking its rightful place as a thrilling Big Five safari destination.

Meru straddles the equator, covering around 870 square kilometres and its western boundary is formed by the Nyambeni Hills which form a formidable water catchment area.  No less than 13 permanent rivers spring from these mountains and make up a network of life-sustaining streams in an otherwise arid region, which provides Meru with a unique range of habitats which include:

  • Wide rolling savannah grassland
  • Swamps and wetlands
  • Riverine forests
  • Thick bush
  • Sparse, semi-arid vegetation

Such a diversity of eco-systems is seldom found in a single National Park, and this is why Meru is such a draw-card for a very wide variety of wildlife.

Meru National Park forms the hub of a much large conservation area, made up by the adjacent Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves and Kora National Park, which together make up a massive 4000 square kilometres of wildlife paradise.  Find peace, solitude and an enormous diversity of habitats and wildlife as you come with us to visit one of the most rewarding safari destinations in Kenya.

Best Time of Year to Visit Meru National Park?

June to October and January to February are the dry, hot months when vegetation is fully grazed and the animals are easy to spot. During the dry season, the rivers and swamps are simply teeming with wildlife.  January to February is particularly good for bird-watching when the local species are joined by many northern migrants.

Safaris in Meru National Park – What to Do

Meru National Park will reward patient visitors with one of Kenya’s most authentic wilderness safari experiences, far from the usual tourist throng. There is an abundance of wildlife to see, but this is no zoo-like setting and the animals have a vast range, which means you will need to seek them out!  The best way to see a wide variety of animals is to combine several of these activities:

  • Day and night game drives
  • Guided walks
  • Fishing expeditions
  • Bush picnics, breakfasts and sunset drinks in the wilderness (Sundowners)
  • Day trip to Adamson’s Falls
  • Cultural visits to local Boran communities
  • Relaxation

The full range of activities available will depend on which camp or lodge you choose.

Game Drives

Early morning and afternoon game drives in safari vehicles, accompanied by very knowledgeable guides who know the region extremely well, are the very best way to enjoy Meru.  The early morning game drive is often your best opportunity to see the Big Cats on the move, while the late afternoon game drive combines magical African sun-sets with excellent game viewing opportunities, especially around the water holes and rivers. As dusk falls you will often see some of the shy nocturnal animals become active as you head back to camp.  Some of the lodges have permits allowing them to conduct night game drives within Meru National Park and the surrounding reserves, and this would be a great highlight of your visit.

Walking and Hiking

Guided walks, led by armed guides, are a wonderful way to see all the smaller creatures and the local vegetation that would usually be missed on a game drive – learn about tracks, insects and many other interesting small creatures.  This is also an ideal way to enjoy bird-watching.

If you have the energy, hiking to the top of Mughwango Hill will reward you with stunning 360-degree views that stretch from snow-capped Mount Kenya in the west to the vast plains of Meru to the east.


Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy spending a few hours along with one of the many rivers, where fishing for Catfish, Tilapia and Barbell is both fun and rewarding.  This is also an excellent opportunity to see some of the many birds found along the river banks, including Heron, Finfoot and many varieties of Kingfishers.  Ask your lodge to pack you a picnic lunch.

Sundowners and Alfresco Meals

For one of the most memorable experiences while on safari in Meru National Park, enjoy a wonderful bush breakfast, set up on the wide-open plains, surrounded by wildlife.  Equally unforgettable is watching the sun paint the wide African skies a myriad of colours as it sets over the plains, while you enjoy refreshing drinks in a specially selected scenic bush location.

Adamson’s Falls

These are a series of cascades where the rapidly-flowing Tana River forces its way through some hard rocky terrain.  They are quite remotely situated, which is why this excursion is usually undertaken as a day trip, with a packed picnic lunch.  Getting there is half the fun and you will see plenty of game along the way.

Visiting a Borana Village

If you would like to find out more about the colourful and very traditional life of the Borana pastoralist communities we can arrange for you to visit a local village.

Relaxing at Your Lodge

Spending the mid-day hours relaxing at your lodge is a great antidote to all the early morning wake-up calls for game viewing, and late nights spent socializing around the campfire.  While the wildlife relaxes in the shade during the hot midday hours you can also take time off to enjoy the pool, relax on your private deck or even enjoy a revitalizing massage.

Wildlife at Meru National Park

The Big Five, the Northern Five as well as an excellent representation of other animals and birds call Meru home.

Although there is great emphasis on simply getting back to Nature in an outstandingly scenic setting, most people who come on safari to Meru are there to see plenty of wildlife including the Big Five.  Meru will not disappoint.  In addition to the Big Five, you can also keep your eyes peeled for the Northern Five, which are made up of:

  • Reticulated Giraffe
  • Grevy’s Zebra
  • Beisa Oryx
  • Lesser Kudu
  • Gerenuk

Predator sightings are fairly common and you have a good chance of coming across Cheetah and Lion, while the Leopard is also around, but remains elusive.

The northern parts of the park have several permanent swamps, such as Mulika, Mururi and Bwatherongi. These swamps attract some of the largest herds of Buffalo you will encounter anywhere in Kenya, as well as very good numbers of Elephant. These swamps are particularly rewarding during the dry season when there is less water elsewhere in the park.

The Meru Rhino sanctuary is situated on the western boundary near the main gate of the park and covers around 80 square kilometres.  Here the precious inhabitants are protected and monitored around the clock and are thriving. They are well habituated to humans and you will have the chance to get fairly close to them for some excellent photo opportunities.

Last but not least, Meru is also a particularly rewarding destination for birding, and there are around 500 recorded species to be spotted.  Some of the regionally threatened species you may be able to spot include the Saddle-billed Stork, the Martial Eagle, Finfoot, Pel’s Fishing Owl and Grant’s Woodhoepoe.

Meru Accommodation Options

To truly experience the essence of Meru National Park you need sometimes! We suggest you spend 3 or 4 nights, perhaps splitting them between two Lodges into different parts of the Park.

At the top end, Meru boasts one of Kenya’s most romantic luxury lodges called Elsa’s Kopje (meaning Elsa’s Hill), named after the regions’ most famous Lioness. This superb award-winning eco-lodge is widely renowned as an outstanding wilderness retreat and offers the very best hospitality and atmosphere you could wish for.

There are a handful of other camps and lodges, both inside the Park or just beyond the boundaries, which are a little less luxurious but still perfectly comfortable, such as: Offbeat Meru Camp, Rhino River Camp, Ikweta Safari Camp or Leopard Rock Lodge. All of these offer an authentic safari experience in very comfortable under-canvas or traditionally styled accommodation.

If you are on a strict budget or enjoy the freedom of camping, you can choose a self-catering “banda” or campsite.

How to Get There

Meru National Park is situated in the north-eastern corner of Kenya, approximately 350 km from Nairobi. You can reach Meru by road in around 6.5 hours, and get to see some of the scenic rural Kenyan landscape along the way. If you are short of time, however, get your safari off to a flying start by choosing to fly to Meru from Wilson Domestic airport in Nairobi. The flying time is just 90 minutes, which means that you have extra time to spend admiring the landscape and wildlife.

Are you ready for the safari of a lifetime in Meru?   Let our Africa Safari Experts put together the perfect personalized itinerary and let the adventure begin!

Would you like to know more about a typical safari in Kenya? Find out more about what to expect on your safari, what to pack and when to travel.

Meru National Park Safaris

Wildlife at Meru

Want to visit Meru National Park?

an adventure into rural, wild Africa…. with a touch of luxury, of course