Mwea National Reserve covers a meagre 68 square kilometres of savannah ecosystem in Kenya’s Eastern province, just short of 200 kilometres from Nairobi. The reserve’s dry savannah, shrubbery, and sparse trees lie in great contrast to the contiguous green highlands characterising the region.
The reserve’s focal points are the rivers Thiba and Tana, and the Kamburu and Masinga hydroelectric dams. Both the rivers and the dams meet in the Mwea National Reserve. The reserve is a melting pot of amphibious creatures and wading birds, with birding being the main attraction of the area.
Riparian vegetation and occasional baobabs provide a welcome break from the dominant dry savannah. Rothschild’s giraffe, elephants, hippos, and buffaloes are all protected within the surrounding electric fence that envelopes the national reserve.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the closest airport for visitors and is roughly 200 kilometres from Mwea National Reserve. The Masinga Airstrip is the local destination serving the reserve.
Animals such as elephant, Rothschild’s giraffe, waterbuck, hippo, vervet and Sykes monkeys, and Nile crocodiles have a wide distribution in Mwea National Reserve. Common genets, rock hyraxes, and bush pigs are other animals to look out for.
Mwea is not a big five destination but is popular for birding—waterbirds in particular. There are over 200 recorded species of bird in the reserve, with several species being endemic to the area. This is the place to spot the threatened Hinde’s babbler, the Pel’s fishing owl, and the Malagasy pond heron.
This is a semi-arid region and provides year-round moderate weather. Because wildlife congregates around the main permanent water sources protected by fencing, there’s no safari high and low season.
Boating safaris on the Kamburu Dam provide the perfect opportunity to explore the waterways and hidden inlets of the area. This is where visitors will spot ample wading birds, passerines, and raptors.
Guided nature walks on paths that zigzag across the vegetation offer a more land-based safari experience, where visitors can enjoy a fully immersive safari experience and spot plains game and mammals on their journey. There are marked viewing points on the network of trails.
Perfectly perched picnic spots provide a chance for visitors to relax in nature, surrounded by the pristine wilderness. Hippo Point is one of the many areas to explore and it’s worth spending time here.
Mwea National Reserve is off the main safari route and only provides campsite accommodation within the reserve. Campsites are rudimentary—the reserve is mainly for day visitors.
For lodgings and luxury accommodations, visitors will need to seek alternate places in neighbouring areas.