Shimba Hills National Reserve is one of the largest forest reserves found in the coastal area of East Africa. This is one of the other Kenya National Reserves with quite a number of wildlife species. The reserve s more rich with flora and fauna hosting the highest number of Forest Elephants not only in Kenya but entire Africa. The reserve is located just 33 kilometers away from the Mombasa coast in the South. The Shimba Hills national reserve was established in 1968 and its governed by the Kenya Wildlife Services.
The reserve is mostly dominated by woodland, rainforest, and grassland. It is considered one of the key areas for plant biodiversity with over 50% rare plants of the country found at the Shimba Hills national reserve. The tree species are more than 159, for example, Cycad, orchids, and others. The reserve is a home of great birdlife with both forest and open savannah grassland birds like Red-necked-spur fowl, cisticola, Zanzibar red Bishops and others. The most scenic part of the reserve is Sheldrick falls and the dense Mwalugaje forest.
Shimba Hills national reserve is well known for its high population of Elephants with over 700 elephants. In the early 2000’s the Elephant populations was becoming unmanageable which prompted the Kenya Wildlife Services to transfer some of the Elephants around 150 to Tsavo East national park. This was the largest translocated ever made in the history of animal planet but all this was done in order to reduce animal and human conflicts at the reserve.
Accessing the Park
The 300 square kilometers Shimba Hills national reserve can be accessed from the coastal area of Mombasa. The reserve can be accessed from Diani beach or Mombasa through good tarmac road that takes only 1-hour drive. If one is in Nairobi it takes 9 to 10 hours to drive via Mombasa Road also known as A109.
Alternatively, one can catch up with daily flights from Jomo Kenyatta international airport or Wilson airport that takes you to Mombasa and you will join your one-hour drive to the reserve. This is the most convenient way due to that long-distance drive.
Attractions in Shimba National Reserve
Gazetted as a national Forest reserve in 1903, Shimba Hills national reserve started gaining its great popularity when more grassland was added into the reserve in 1924. The small Shimba Hills national reserve offers great wilderness and wondrous waterfalls amidst the equatorial forest. It is well breathing place that offers fresh cool air after your warm temperatures of the Indian Ocean coastal tour.
The key attractions at the Shimba Hills national reserve include:
Wildlife: Famous for the largest number of Elephants, Shimba Hills national reserve is great wildlife destination. The reserve habits rarer animals like Sable Antelope, Forest elephants, African elephants, Giraffes, Leopards, Hyenas, bush pig, buffalo, Bushbaby, Blue Duiker, Galago and many more. All these wildlife species attract travelers.
Birds: Shimba Hills national reserve is also a home of great birdlife with over 100 bird species recorded at the reserve. Out of the total bird species, 22 bird species are coastal endemic species like Ostrich Eagle, Falcon, Cuckoo, Guinea-fowl, Honeyguide, Hornbill, quail, Uluguru and others.
Sheldrick falls: The 21 meters high Sheldrick falls is located at the heart of Shimba Hills national reserve. It is one of the key attractions at the reserve named after the conservationist Sheldrick who first visited the falls.
Marere Dam: The dam is a key water catchment area for wildlife, more games can gather here especially during the dry season making it easy to spot the wildlife at the park.
The Elephant Hill: Named after the great concertation of Elephants around the hills. It’s a viewpoint where one can have close and an aerial viewpoint of large herds of Elephants. One can be escorted by the armed game ranger to hike the hill.
Forest: With almost half of the Shimba Hills national reserve covered by forest, the reserve has over 1100 tree species. Most shrub researchers travel to the reserve for only research purposes and identifying different tree species.
Activities in Shimba Hills National Reserve
Game viewing: Enjoy the great game viewing with over wailing number of Elephants at the park. One can enjoy the great view of animals like Hyenas, giraffes, elephants, bush babies, leopards and many more. The reserve is gifted with a variety of wildlife that makes your trip to the reserve more enjoyful and remarkable. Shimba Hills national reserve is one of the best wildlife destinations one can enjoy the best game viewing with its small size makes it easy to do short rewarding game drives.
Birding: With over 200 bird species at the reserve, Shimba Hills national reserve has more than 20 endemic birds which are very rare. The rain forest which is characterised by different tree species has created a good room for different bird species. The warm and cold weather has attracted more water animals to the reserve as a breeding point. Some of the birds at the reserve include Zanzibar Red Bishop, Cisticola, Guinea fowl, falcons, African Hawks, Fish eagle, hornbills, king fishers, sunbirds mention but a few.
Hiking: The reserve has a more different topography which is characterised by hills and forests. Hiking is done with the guidance of the park ranger. The different hills are good viewing points for animals especially the large herds of Elephants and also to have an aerial view of the reserve. The most prominent hills are Shimba hills and Elephant Hill which guests hike after their game drives at the reserve.
Visiting the falls: Nature walks are allowed especially hike to visit the 21 meters high spectacular falls called Sheldrick falls. The falls were named after great renown conservationists in Kenya. One can enjoy the sightseeing at the falls, swimming at the foot of the falls and others.
Wildlife experience at Shimba Hills national reserve is never undermined by its size as it is a home of beyond its capacity in wildlife. This is a gateway to the mixed coastal tours with wildlife safari. It’s the best destination for honeymooners who will enjoy the gates of nature in a mixed romantic way.