Chyulu Hills Kenya : Chyulu Hills is a mountain range in Makueni County, South Eastern Kenya. It forms a 100 kilometer long volcanic field in elongated North West-South East direction, its highest peak is 2188 meters high. The Chyulu Hills stood in for Ngong Hills for the filming of out of Africa. Chyulu hills National Park is also one to visit if you like the levithian tube (also known as Kisula caves) which is about 11km long. One of the longest caves in Kenya and also in Africa, it is best visited during the sunny periods January to March and also as from June to September.
Chyulu Hills are located about 150 km east of the Kenya Rift Valley. The hills consist of several hundred small flows and cones. Volcanism in the area started about 1.4 million years ago in the northern parts of the hills, and over time the volcanism propagated towards the southeast. These volcanoes are still considered active, since their last two eruptions (Shaitani and Chainu) which occurred in 1856. Within the hills is the Leviathan cave, one of the longest tubes in the world. Kibwezi town is located 30 km northeast of the Chyulu Hills.
The Chyulu Hills do not have any permanent rivers, but rainfall on hills feeds Tsavo and Galana Rivers and Mzima Springs on the surrounding plains. Chyulu hills divide the Tsavo and Amboseli plains, the area is inhabited by the Maasai and Kamba people.
Lower parts of the hills are composed of grassland and thicket, while above roughly 1800 meters is dominated by the montane forest. The forest contains Neoboutonia macrocalyx, Tabernaemontana stapfiana, Prunus Africana, Strombosia scheffleri, Cassipourea malonsana, Ole capensis and llex mitis. Some isolated parts are dominated by Erythrina abyssinica. Lower parts of the forest are dominated either by Juniperus procera or Commphora baluensi.
Chyulu Hills inhabit mammals found include eastern black rhinos, cape buffaloes, bush backs, elands, elephants, bush pigs, Maasai giraffe, leopards, lions, mountain reedbucks, steenbok, wildebeest and Grant’s Zebras, as well cheetahs are found at the plains of the Chyulu Hills. Various snakes inhabit the hills like the black mamba, puff adder, rock python and many more.
Chyulu Hills are relatively recent volcanic origin, and the range is composed of the ash cones and craters. The hills hold no permanent surface water, but rainfall percolating through the porous rock feeds many permanent fresh water sources in the surrounding plains, notably Mzima Springs and the Tsavo and Galana River.
The Chyulu Hills inhabit various bird species on the hills, with some endemic races. Bird species include the Francolinus shelleyi, Pogonocichla stellate, Zoothera gurneyi, Bradypterus cinnamomeus, Hieraaetus ayresii, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Polemaetus bellicosus and Cinnyricinclus femoralis.
There is wild Khat growing on the hills, which is picked by local people. There is also some cultivation of Khat around the hills. Hat from Chyulu hills is known as Chyulu, as opposed to Mirra, which is cultivated in the Meru County.
Chyulu Hills is usually visited as a side trip from Tsavo west national park, it is located 232km/144mi from Nairobi and 250km/155 mi from Mombasa.
Best time to visit Chyulu Hills.
Chyulu Hills can be visited year-round, but wildlife viewing is usually best in the dry months from June to October and January to February. Visits during the peak of the short rains (November) and especially during the long rains (April and May), might be challenging.
Chyulu Hills are home to the Maasai people, small-holder farmers and the regions of the iconic wildlife-including some of the largest populations of elephants in Kenya. They are also beset by unsustainable land use and deforestation. In the face of these struggles, anew plan is afoot to restore these famous hills.