Shimba Hills National Reserve is just 33km south of Mombasa. It was created as a national forest in 1903 and is now one of the largest areas of coastal rain forest in East Africa covering 24,000 hectares.
There are 153 km (95 miles) of roads within this national park. The climate is hot and humid, with an average annual temperature of 24°C (75°F), but the area benefits from coastal breezes which also create mist in the mornings.
Shimba Hills National Reserve is known for its beautiful lush green vegetation, forested landscape, sharp slopes and steep valleys. It is not ideal for animal safaris because the African wildlife is difficult to spot in the dense vegetation.
The animals hide in the shade of the forest in order to keep cool until the early evening. However, you may see the rare sable antelope and many birds on your visit. Best views are from the eastern side of the park, near Giriama Point, as the animals move towards the rivers to drink.
Pengo Hill is 450m (1476 feet)) high and offers a magnificent view of the local landscape. Sheldrick Falls in Shimba Hills National Game Reserve Elephants may be viewed through binoculars. The Tsavo plains can also be seen, along with Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day, and ocean views as far as Chale Island.
One of the main attractions to the Shimba Hills is the impressive Sheldrick Falls, which cascade 25m (82 feet) over the escarpment. There is a scenic 2km (1 mile) footpath that takes up to an hour to walk each way.
Take a hat, sunscreen and water to drink and keep a sharp lookout for elephants. A ranger will accompany hikers without charge from 10-3pm daily. Sheldrick Falls is an idyllic spot for a cool swim and a picnic.
The park has the last breeding herd of beautiful sable antelope in Kenya. They are among Kenya’s largest antelope, with black coats and long, scimitar-shaped horns, which they were hunted for. They may be seen grazing early or late in the day around Buffalo Ridge.
There are more than 600 elephants in the park and a fenced elephant corridor links the park with the elephant sanctuary at Mwaluganje Forest.
In addition to elephants, there are also buffalo, waterbucks, hyenas, warthogs, leopards, baboons and monkeys. Maasai giraffes and ostriches have also been reintroduced to the park.
There are many birds, including 111 different recorded species. There are even more birds to be seen during the spring migration. Bird shooting is only permitted outside the reserve.
Some unique things to do at Shimba Hills National Park include taking a guided night drive. You may see leopards and cheetahs, and will certainly hear the hyenas howl in the eerie darkness. You can also buy a unique souvenir at the gates, a paper that is handmade from elephant dung!
Accommodation is available at Shimba Hills Lodge, and there are two campsites within the park. There are also plenty of hotels in Mombasa which is close enough to make it possible to go on a day trip from Mombasa to Shimba Hills.