About the Southeast Circuit
If you love African elephants, the South East Tourist Circuit in Kenya is the perfect destination for you. This circuit includes four of Kenya’s most popular national parks: Tsavo East, Tsavo West, Chyulu Hills, and Amboseli National Parks. It also has four conservancies; Chalongo, Taita Wildlife, and Lumo conservancies.
Stretching from the Chyulu Hills to the north, closer to Nairobi, and reaching the southern border with Tanzania, where the magnificent backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro lies, this circuit is a vast and diverse region. Here, visitors can indulge in a wide range of experiences and attractions. It is worth noting that Tsavo, the oldest national park in Kenya, was founded in 1948 and is part of this circuit. Additionally, the parks within this circuit boast the largest landmass, with Tsavo alone covering a staggering 13,747 km2 (5,308 sq mi), nearly 10 times the size of the renowned Masai Mara.
This article is part of our series on Kenya tourist circuits with the others being;
- Nairobi Circuit
- Central Rift Circuit
- Northern Circuit
- Central Kenya Circuit
- Western Circuit
- Coastal Circuit
Parks and Conservancies in this Circuit:
Known as the “Green Hills of Africa,” Chyulu Hills National Park boasts stunning landscapes with rolling green hills, vast savannah grasslands, and volcanic peaks. Visitors can enjoy game drives, walking safaris, bird watching, and camping in this beautiful park. This Park is also home to 171 species of birds including the critically endangered white-backed vultures.
The largest national park in Kenya and one of the oldest parks on the African continent, Tsavo East is a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts. It is home to the famous “Red Elephant” population, as well as the Big Five and over 500 bird species.
Located next to Tsavo East, Tsavo West offers a contrasting landscape with rugged terrain, scenic hills, and lava flows. Visitors can spot diverse wildlife, including leopards, cheetahs, and rhinos, as well as visit the famous Mzima Springs.
Known for its large herds of elephants, Amboseli National Park offers breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro and a range of activities such as game drives, walking safaris, and cultural visits to Maasai villages.
A private conservancy located on the border of Tsavo East and West, Chalongo provides a more exclusive safari experience with its luxury lodges and up-close encounters with wildlife.
Another private conservancy, Lumo is situated between Tsavo East and Amboseli. It offers a unique opportunity for visitors to participate in conservation efforts through activities such as anti-poaching patrols and community outreach programs.
Located in the Taita Hills, this sanctuary is a haven for endangered species such as the Hirola antelope and Grevy’s zebra. Visitors can also enjoy game drives and explore the nearby Grogan’s Castle.
Covering an area of 300 square kilometers, Shimba Hills National Reserve is home to diverse flora and fauna, including the rare Sable antelope. It also offers opportunities for bird watching and hiking to the famous Sheldrick Falls.
Activities in this Circuit:
- Game drives:This is the most popular activity in all the national parks and reserves in the South East Tourist Circuit. Visitors can enjoy thrilling encounters with wildlife while exploring the beautiful landscapes.
- Walking safaris: For a more up-close and personal experience, visitors can take walking safaris in certain areas of the circuit. Led by experienced guides, these safaris allow visitors to track animals on foot and learn about the smaller flora and fauna of the region.
- Cultural visits: The South East Tourist Circuit is not just about wildlife, it also offers a unique opportunity to experience the culture and traditions of the local communities. Visitors can visit Maasai villages and learn about their way of life, participate in traditional ceremonies, and even try some local cuisine.
- Bird watching: With over 350 recorded bird species, the South East Tourist Circuit is a paradise for bird watchers. From the colorful Lilac-breasted roller to the rare Taita falcon, there are plenty of opportunities to spot and admire these winged creatures.
Can you camp in this Circuit:
Our research found that there are over 10 public campsites operated by KWS spread across Chyulu Hills, Amboseli, Tsavo East and Tsavo West. I also found a few privately-operated campsites and we have mapped them on our interactive Kenya campsites map here.Note that the weather and climate in this circuit are generally hot and dry, so it is important for visitors to come prepared with plenty of water and sun protection.
When to visit this Circuit:
The South East Tourist Circuit in Kenya can be visited at any time of the year, but the best time to visit is during the dry season from June to October. This is when the wildlife congregate around water sources, making it easier for visitors to spot them. The months of January to February are also a good time to visit as they are relatively dry and the temperatures are not as hot compared to other months.
Check back soon!