The park was gazette in 1989, for its wildlife, birds and physical features. It’s situated in Kenya’s Eastern province along Kenya-Ethiopia border, along River Daua on the Mandera plateau covered with hills and valleys. The park is commonly known as one of the smallest park in Kenya that lie in the remote area. It covers 1500sqkm. The real news is that with is small size, the park has diversity of attractions, wildlife being it’s led. It also boosts in historical sites, vegetation, grassland, woodland and semi-arid bush land. The park has hot and dry climate, the surrounding areas are dominated by, Gurreh nomadic herders.
How to Access the Park
There are two ways of accessing the park. Use of road transport and air transport.
Road transport, Access will be through Mandela airstrip, take A2 Northern road to Isiolo, proceed to Moyale, east through Sara and Yabdu hills for 160km to semi-permanent village of Banissa, then head North East to Malka Mari National Park. This is very tiresome and long distance for a visitor and therefore not recommended. The roads aren’t in good shape.
Air transport, board a charter plane that can land you in Banissa airstrip or the airstrip in the park. This the recommended way of accessing the park to avoid any difficulties.
What to go with
Considering the weather condition in the park and activities enjoyed, one should pack clothes friendly to sunny weather, ideally white color. Tourists should pack, long and short sleeved t-shirts, hiking boots, sandals, sunglasses, camping equipment, a hat, a camera, binoculars, travel guide book, lots of drinking water, snacks, among others.
Things to do
There quite a number of activities in the park that are a source of total exploration of the park and source of absolute satisfaction to tourists. The most outstanding things to do that one must do are as follows.
Hot air Ballooning
This is one of the highlight of the park for the absolute fun and it creates. A few national parks have this activity so once you access it, you must take the opportunity an experience. It’s normally done in the morning, tourists get to spend quality time in the sky while viewing wildlife and birds in the park. It’s a great focal point for great views. Go with a camera and get the best shots.
Another source of fun and interest are views of wild animals. The park is endowed with a great number of these animals. Tourist are guided on drives to see the wild animals of the place. These normally roam the park, in search for grass and water. The best views of these animals are got when they are drinking water on the shores of River Daua. The likes of Somali giraffes, dik diks, antelopes, zebras, among others, will be at your disposal.
The park has hills and valleys that need to be explored. Guided tourists take time to explore the whole area. Climbing these hills and slopping the valleys will be enjoyable for the new species of birds, wildlife and vegetation that will see on your way.
Guided safaris are enjoyed by tourists. Sometimes rides don’t give enough and so, some places need to be accessed on foot. One these safaris tourists tend to explore- all corners of the park through the walk trails that were created. As you enjoy the vegetation look out for some of the wildlife in the bush.
The park is also a home for birds. These are mostly enjoyed in January where a few rains are experienced. This is where the binoculars will be needed. Guides will lead you to favorite bird spots and you will enjoy seeing more of the rare species of the place.
Visit Malka Mari Fort
These lie in the park and are must –see for the history of the country they hold. To travel also means access of new knowledge. Create time and visit these sites that have been protected and existed for year and be conversant with Kenyan history. This spot clouds are so clear and give the best views of stars at to watch the stars night.
Visit crocodiles in River Daua
The park lies along River Daua which is a constant source of water for the wildlife in the park and also a home for the Nile crocodiles. Tourists are guided to the river to have views of these creatures. You will be able to see how they feed, and how they take care of their young ones and also protection from the enemy.
Take some time and visit the inhabitants of the park. Close to the park is sparsely populated with Gurreh nomadic herders. You will interact with these people, know their culture, way of life and also be able to support them financially by buying some of the beautiful crafts they make.
When to go
The park has hot and dry weather conditions and it’s visited throughout the year.
The seasons are characterized of sunny weather most of the time and few cases of rain in the park.
Most activities are favored like game drives, bird watching in January, among others and wildlife is easily spotted along the banks of River Daua for water.
One of the recognized challenges in the park is the difficult access of road transport due to poor roads, that most tourists are used too. However much one can, to be on a safer side, it’s better to plan to use air transport to the park, to avoid inconveniences.
It should also be noted that sometimes it can be dusty in the park especially during the hot seasons.
The size and remoteness of the park hasn’t limited it from being accessed for on a different angle, the park is an adventurous ground. A total wilderness that hasn’t been explored by many. Below are the places and things you must visit a trip to be worthwhile.
The wildlife in the park awaits you. You will have clear and closer views of wild animals that have a home in this park. The likes of antelopes, hyenas, dik diks, gazelles, genets, giraffes, zebras, among others will be seen on game drives that will be taken, walk safaris, and on one of your hiking tours. These can’t be missed for the park isn’t thick with trees or grass, and River Daua is the center of attraction for these animals. All times of the year these can be viewed.
Reptiles in River Daua
The park is famous for the huge number of Nile crocodiles it possesses. These are unique and quite dangerous species to maintain. You will have a closer view of reptiles and study thesir way of life. These concentrate in River Daua. Tourists are guided on these visits. Others reptiles include, Agama lizards, and so on.
Malka Mari Fort
The park is boosts in being a historical center however much most visitors ignore it. This is a source of Kenyan history and a lot of archeological artifacts can be found. The Fort is known for having the best views of stars at night.
Valleys and hills
The park has a diversity of landscape. For a great adventurous time. All that the park has needs to be explored. Take time and tour the hills and valleys of the park. On top of these hills, you will have the most beautiful views of the park. You will also find wildlife in the valleys too.
The park is a home for different species of birds. These are most enjoyed in the start of the year when short rains are received. The likes of Magpie starling, carmine bee eater, common sandpiper, white throated bee eater, wattled starling, African pygmy Kingfisher, vultures, eagles, sunbirds, sparrows, Lilac breasted roller, Shelley’s starling, and Heuglin’s bustard, among others will be seen during day. Guides will lead you to bird’s paradise places and have clear views.
Tourists shouldn’t have worries of accommodation in the park. The park has a commonly known Hotel, Hotel De L Hortloge that offers a full packaged service with a variety of facilities and offering enjoyable activities to tourists. It offers luxury for tourists who prefer first class treatment. Besides, visitors enjoy clear views of the parks, wildlife and birds from their rooms.
They have a swimming pool, conference center, a restaurant for variety of international cuisines, a bar, self- contained rooms, sports grounds, pets are allowed, among others.
There other places of accommodation in the area but this is the most frequented place for their great services.
Tourists for moderate and budget expenditure for accommodation should stick to camping. It also offers a wonderful experience in the wilderness.
In conclusion, to exhaust the beauty of this remote area, one should consider a stay with in the park, the sounds of wild animals will remind you that you came for adventure. Also participation in the activities of the place is a source of fun.