Meru National Park
meru national park - the famous 'born free' location
Meru National Park is noted for its fauna and natural beauty. It has many swamps and rivers lined with palms, as well as mountains and woodlands, and it is the setting for Joy Adamson’s book “Born Free”, which was later made into a successful film. The park is home to a large pride of lions, herds of buffalo, and hippos and crocodiles that live in the rivers.At Meru, you will find excellent views of snow-capped Mount Kenya and the park’s beautiful landscape is a camper’s paradise. The roads are suitable for vehicles and there are many rocky outcrops that provide great lookout points for the abundant Kenyan animals.
Meru National Park incorporates Bisanadi, Kora, Rahole and Mwingi National Reserves. It is situated right on the equator at an altitude of between 1000-3400 feet (304-1036meters) and covers 870km². The park was established in 1968.
Meru National Park is 348km from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Its natural scenery is diverse, from the wide-open plains with many rivers, to the woodlands on the slopes of the Nyambeni mountain range, to the northeast of Mount Kenya.George and Joy Adamson pioneered research in the park by associating with cheetahs and lions, particularly “Elsa” the lioness. Joy wrote a book that was made into the famous film “Born Free”, which, in turn, brought Meru National Park to public attention.In the 1980s, the elephant population suffered greatly due to the activities of illegal ivory poachers.
The Kenya Wildlife Service has since largely eradicated this problem by providing armed security patrols, and elephant numbers are now increasing.Game viewing includes elephants, hippos, lions, leopards and cheetahs. There are also some rare antelope, including the Lesser Kudu, duiker and dik-dik, a tiny African antelope that stands just twelve inches high and is notoriously shy. Meru National Park also has some of Kenya’s largest herds of buffalo, along with hartebeests, giraffes and gazelles.
How to get there
By Road: Access from Nairobi (348 kms) is via Nyeri-Nanyuki-Meru or via Embu all weather roads. Access into the park from Maua to Murera Gate (35 km) and 348 km from Nairobi. The other access is via Embu to Ura Gate (120 km), 290 km from Nairobi
By Air: Main airstrip at Kina, Mulika next to Meru Mulika Lodge and Elsa's Kopje airstrip
What to do and see
Game Viewing is excellent and includes four of the “Big Five” -elephants, lions, leopards and buffalo – as well as cheetahs, antelope, hippos and crocodiles. The roads are well graded and Meru National Park is quieter than some of the other parks. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded within the park, including the Peter’s Finfoot, which inhabits the Murera and Ura Rivers, the Pel’s Fishing Owl, kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and numerous weavers. Larger birds include the secretary bird, ostriches and hornbills.
Take a spotter’s guide so that you can identify the many species you will see. To enjoy the beautiful scenery and landscape – stroll through or view the dense vegetation, forests and savannahs with long grass, rivers and swamps. Mount Kenya crowns the beautiful scenery of Meru National Park.
Rainfall is higher in the west than in the eastern sector of the park. It is generally cooler than the coastal plains and varies with the altitude. The west has 635-762mm of annual rainfall, and the east has 305-356mm.