The Shimba Hills National Reserve gives safari-goers to Kenya the best of both worlds—the bush and the sea. Despite its small size of 192 square kilometres, it has varied scenery and numerous unique fauna and flora species. And the Kenyan coastline is a mere 15 kilometres away.
The habitat of the reserve is a mix of grassland, woodland and coastal rainforest (one of the largest in East Africa) where more than half of Kenya’s 159 rare plants are found. It is the only wildlife area in the country where the majestic sable antelope can be spotted while the reserve also has the highest concentration of elephants in that part of the African continent.
The incredible 25 metre high Sheldrick Fall is a standout feature in the park. It is named after famed Kenyan park warden, major David Leslie William Sheldrick, that made the discovery after a flight over the reserve.
Just 60 kilometres from Mombasa and Diani Beach, the Shimba Hills National Reserve is easy to access and ideal for a day visit. Visitors can board the ferry at Likoni and then take the main coastal road south to Kwale town. The main entrance gate is just three kilometres away.
What the Shimba Hills National Reserve lacks in size, it makes up with mixed and particular wildlife species that will leave travellers astonished. The endangered Roosevelt's sable antelope have found refuge within its borders together with more than 500 elephants.
Other species that can be spotted include the yellow baboon, Angolan colobus monkey, greater and lesser bushbaby, the red-bellied coast squirrel and the knob-bristled Suni shrew. More than 110 bird species have been recorded like the cuckoo, honeyguide, African hawk, greater hornbill, and blue quail.
The ideal time to visit Shimba Hills National Reserve is in the drier months of June to September and December to March when wildlife viewing is at its best. During the rainy season in April and May, and then again in November, navigating the roads in the park may get a little tricky. Annual day time temperatures throughout the year are in the mid 20 degrees Celsius.
The location of the Shimba Hills National Reserve is ideal for a handful of safari activities. Guided game drives can be arranged, while others can walk through the forest to the breathtaking Sheldrick Fall where cool waters will invite visitors for a leisurely swim. There are also various other hiking trails that lead to higher points with stunning views of the landscape. A visit to the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary is a prime example of community-based conservation.
Being so close to Mombasa and Diani Beach, there are plenty of options for visitors to Shimba Hills National Reserve outside the reserve. Inside the reserve, there are various campsites, two self-catering establishments and also a couple of luxury lodges.