Meru National Park is a park situated east of Meru, 350 km from Nairobi, Kenya. Covering an area of 870 km2, Meru is one of four neighbouring parks and reserves with Bisanadi National Reserve forming the extension of the Park eastwards and the North Kitui National Reserve as well as the much larger Kora National Park lying to the south, on the other side of the Tana River. Because of the trellis-like system of the dozen or so south-east-flowing streams, the major part of the Park feels like a collage of islands sitting between the streams.
Although Meru National Park is mainly flat, the drier parts of the south and east of the Park are dotted with craggy ridges and kopjes including the Mughwango Hill. The Park is also bisected by 13 rivers and several streams feeding into Tana River and all these create a varied landscape, ranging from forests on the slopes of the Nyambeni Mountain Range, to broad open plains with winding riverbanks with thick riverine forests of Doum and Raffia Palms, to thorny bushes, to the Mulika, Mururi and Bwatherongi swamps in the northern part of the Park and to the Adamson’s Falls.
Meru National Park is home to various types of game including the Lion, the Leopard, the reticulated Giraffe, Elephant, Black Rhino, Cheetah, Buffalo, fine-striped Grevy’s Zebra, Dik Dik, Gerenuk and Grant’s Gazelle, Lesser Kudu, Beisa Oryx, the Bohor Reedbuck, Hartebeest and the Duiker. The Hippo, Crocodile, freshwater Turtle, Barbus and Catfish flourish in the waters. The Park also houses snake like the Cobra, Puff Adder and Python.
Birdlife in Meru National Park is incomparable, with more than 427 bird species recorded in the Park. These include the Red-necked Falcon, the Kingfisher, Heuglins Courser, the Roller, the brown-backed Woodpecker, the Bee-eater, the black-bellied Sunbird, the golden-breasted Starling, Peter’s Finfoot, Pel’s Fishing Owl, the Guinea Fowl and the Weaver.
Meru National Park can be reached by road through two routes from Nairobi. In the first option, one travels on the main road through Nyeri, Nanyuki and Meru whilst on the second, one takes the road that goes via Embu-Meru road. Driving from Nairobi to Meru town takes about eight hours. There are three airstrips for use by visitors in order to reach the Park by air.
Meru offers its visitors one lodge with 132 beds, two tented camps, eight special campsites which must be pre-booked, one public campsite, self-help bandas and more.
These include Elsa’s Kopje, built into the side of Mughwanga Hill in Meru National Park. The Camp, made from wood, stone and thatch, offers 10 cottages and a private house with each thatched cottage having an en-suite bathroom and opening out onto the plains below and the Private House, a two bedroom double and twin house, having its own dining room, lounge and swimming pool. Elasa’s offers a range of local and international dishes at an exceptional service.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Meru National Park is during the dry months where the climate is generally hot and dry during the day and is pleasantly cool during the nights. As vegetation would be thinner, game spotting would be easier at this time of the year.
Weather and Climate
The summer months in Meru are from December to March whilst the winter months are from July to September. The rains fall between March and May as well as between November and December. In the western side of the Park, rainfall is abundant, with 635 to 762 mm and scarce in the east with 305 to 356 mm.
Other Safety Considerations
As Meru is a malaria risk area, visitors to the Park are reminded to take the necessary precautions to stay safe. These include wearing light long sleeved clothing and long trousers at dusk, using an effective insect repellent, sleeping under treated mosquito netting, screening doors and windows against mosquitoes as well as taking malaria prophylaxis.