A Luxury Safari in the Chyulu Hills

Chyulu Hills is a region of former volcanic hills and caves, wonderfully sandwiched between Tsavo East and Amboseli national parks in southern Kenya. Just like in Amboseli, the skyline to the south is dominated by the massif of Mount Kilimanjaro, but this is a quite different region.

Staying in the area opens up a world of opportunities to experience Chyulu Hills during your luxury Kenyan safari. It’s the ultimate bush playground, with plenty of activities for adults and kids alike.

First familiarise yourself with the area by doing a few game drives. As well as the usual suspects, your guides will help you track down less common creatures, such as bush pig and mountain reedbuck. When you’re ready to stretch your legs, try a walking safari – you can even explore the lava-tube caves if you’re feeling adventurous.

Round off your safari experiences by taking to the trails for mountain biking, or enjoy a morning’s horse riding – the calm, patient Chyulu Hills steeds are suitable for novice riders as well as experts.

Finally, when you need some downtime, relax and let the wildlife come to you by spending time in an open-air log-pile hide. If your kids can’t sit still for too long, send them off to play bush volleyball or soccer while you wait for the perfect shot.

You must also try the ‘million-star’ accommodation of the local rooftop star beds. I found that sleeping under the stars is truly an exceptional experience.

When to Go

If you want to visit the Chyulu Hills National Park area, this is a good time to go. The weather is dry and cool, and as the bush gets progressively sparser (following the long rains of April and May) the wildlife get easier and easier to see. A trip to Chyulu Hills at this time of year is best combined with a visit to the Masai Mara, where you’ll be able to see the Great Wildebeest Migration, which returns to Kenya from July to September.

In this period, following the short rains, the dry season takes hold, and the vegetation thins out completely. In this water-scarce area, animals congregate around the remaining springs and rivers, making for excellent game viewing. Plus, as this is outside of high season, you’ll find there aren’t as many crowds to share your viewings with. A good idea would be to visit Tanzania now too, to catch the Great Wildebeest Migration, and the wildebeest’s dramatic birthing season.

Chyulu Hills National Park and its surrounding areas have long rains, which fall steadily throughout April and May. They’re followed by short rains in November – generally quick afternoon bursts. While muddy roads can make getting around a bit tricky, as it’s a quiet time for tourism the wildlife experiences are very exclusive. Also, as the vegetation is in a growth period the game sightings are plentiful. You’ll get good-value holidays during this time, but pack your sense of humour (and your gum boots!).

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