Saiwa Swamp National Park home of the rare Sitatunga antelope. Its nicknamed as “Sanctuary of the Sitatunga antelope”. It’s the little paradise of nature mixed with great evergreen forests filled with nice beautiful exotic flowers, trees and grass. The park is Kenya’s smallest national park which covers and protects only the Saiwa swamp with its banks which is fed by the famous Saiwa River. The Saiwa swamp national park got its name from the River Saiwa which is the main source of water at the park.
Its located near Kitale in Trans-Nzoia county which is along with the Rift valley province of Kenya. The park covers only 3 square kilometres and it was established and gazetted as a national park in 1974 with the main aim to protect and conserve the rare Sitatunga Antelope. This is among the few parks where these rare aquatic antelopes are found. The Saiwa swamp national park are also a home of rare De Brazza’s monkey which leaves in the tropical wetlands of the park and in Riverine forest.
The park is managed by Kenya Wildlife Service, located in the Northwest of Nairobi. Its 385 kilometres away from the capital city Nairobi close to Uganda Kenya Border. It’s the neighbouring park to Mt Elgon National park making it best for the remix of the two parks to form one great safari experience. One can enjoy great nature walks at the park with no clear roads inside the park but only walking trails which run up to 18 kilometres. Bird watchers can enjoy the park more with over 372 bird species present at the park. The tree canopy platforms are the watching towers of the rare Sitatunga Antelope.
How to get to Saiwa Swamp National Park
One can access Saiwa swamp national park by both Road and air. By road, the park is 385 kilometres away from the capital Nairobi driving through good tarmac road to the Northwest. The drive is very scenic as you pass through different small towns watching locals doing their daily village garden works till you reach Kitale town. There are public shuttles that depart Nairobi daily to Kitale or one can book his or her full package tour with more reputable tour operators in Nairobi. The Saiwa swamp national park is 22 kilometres away from Kitale town where you reach to Kipsaina junction and you turn to the 5 kilometres murram road that takes you directly to the main gate of the park.
For the flights, there are daily flights from Wilson airport that service the Kitale airstrip which is only 27 kilometres away from the main gate. Your driver-guide will meet you at the airstrip where you will be transferred to the lodge.
Attractions at Saiwa Swamp National Park
Mammals: Saiwa swamp national park is a home of rare animal species, the park is not for any guest looking for African big 5 but the best place to spot rare animals. Originally the park was set and reserved as a protection area for rare only Kenya’s population of Sitatunga Antelopes. Other animals at the park include black and white colobus monkey, Brazza’s Monkey, Bohor Reedbuck, defassa waterbuck, bushbuck and other forest and water animals.
Birds: There are over 372 bird species recorded at Saiwa swamp national park. Out of the 372, the 22 are endemic bird species. The park habits both forest, water and swamp rare bird species like Crowned crane, cape clawless, spot-throated otters, Marsh Tcagra, Marsh widowbird, Mosque Swallow, Narina Trogon, Blue-headed Coucal, Rose turaco, African blue flycatcher and others. However small the park is but it gives the highest impression for birders as the environment is quiet and simple hence making it easy to view and spot birds.
Flora: The Saiwa Riverbanks is a good fertile soil which has contributed to the rapid growth of the rainforests. The little Saiwa swamp national park is a home of different tree species which are both medicinal plants and others. The trees act as a home for the wildlife especially the primates as well as the viewing towers for the special sitatunga. There are no open roads or tracks inside the park that makes only possible for walking trails which are enjoyed by the guest. Inside the park are Riverine forests that are found along the tropical wetland, Acacia woodlands and sedges with dense grass beds and rushes. The bronze and purple eulophia horsfallii, crimson satyrium sacculatum orchids, fleshy pink satyrium crassicaule orchids, greny-white flowers, and many more.
Insects: The swamp is more exceptional and rich with different kinds of insects. The most common seen insects at the park include dragonflies, butterflies, damselflies, African mocker swallowtail, Papillion Dardanus and others.
Activities in Saiwa Swamp National Park
The cool shades at the park offer the best walking safaris that can be done throughout the day. The key attraction at the park is the rare unique Sitatunga antelope though other attractions give guests more options to utilise the park.
Game viewing: It is unfortunate that Saiwa swamp national park is not a destination for tourists who look for African big 5. One can enjoy classic secrete healthy and fresh safari in the park. It’s the only place where one is assured of spotting the Sitatunga Antelope. The park is unique in that there are no tracks for game viewing but one can use the constructed towers for game viewing. You have to be well prepared with good binoculars, camera, hat and enough water since the whole journey is walking. The park is a home of rare forest primates like Bazza’s monkey, Blue monkey, black and white Colobus monkey and other small forest animals.
Bird watching: Saiwa swamp national park is a simple lovely birding paradise with over 372 bird species. The home of crowned crane, Rose turaco, sunbirds, Lesser Jacana, grey heron, Narina trogons, bishop, window bird and others.
For all nature lovers, Saiwa swamp national park is the best-forested paradise which is filled with more beautiful flowers, exotic trees species, birds and unique blue monkey. The park can be visited year-round though the best months are the dry months. It also acts as a good breathing and refreshing area after a long hike to Mt Elgon national park.