The park is located in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya, closet to Kitale town. It’s the smallest park in the country covering only 3sqkms. It was established in 1974, to protect wildlife and in particular to be a habitat of the sitatunga antelope family. However there more wildlife, bird species, reptiles, amphibians, swamp, and forest among other things that lie in the park. It lies close to the border of Uganda and Kenya. The park is enclosed by subsistence settlements.
How to Access the Park
The park can be accessed by road and air transport.
By road transport, you can use public or private means. It lies in the North of Kitale town, from town it takes 22km to the park, From Nairobi City, it’s a 380km drive. Around Kipsaina junction, a 5km murram route takes you to the Saiwa gate which is the only gate to the park.
By air transport, you can use Jomo Kenyatta International airport and land in any of the closest airports to the park. Such as Eldoret and Kitale airstrip, which are about 27km off the park, then access the park by road.
What to bring
For a tour in this park, you will be expected to bring, bottled water, sun glasses, sun screens, a hat, long and short sleeved shirts and trousers, a camera, binoculars, camping equipment, snacks, food and utensils for self-catering, guide books, and picnic equipment among others.
Things to do
There interesting things that you can engage in to have a great feel of the place. Some activities might be draining but are worth for the excitement and total satisfaction you get. Below are the activities you should look out for:
These are arranged for tourists to be able to see mainly wildlife in the area. These are normally arranged in the morning or evening hours. On these guided drives, tourists will be able to see animal species roaming in the park, or at water sources. The most unique animal which is the sitatunga antelope will be seen clearly. Other animals will also be seen especially in the dry season. There other instances where tourists can see animals like on a guided walk safari.
This another highlight of the park are the flying creatures. The park has over 370 bird species recorded to exist in the park, inclusive of the migratory birds that visit in December up to March. Once you visit during the dry season you will catch amazing views of these beautiful creatures. You will be make good use of your binoculars and enjoy clear views. You can even take pictures of those that will be closet to you.
This is another enjoyable activity that will give you access to every corner of the park. The park has trails leading to different sides of the park. As you enjoy your guided tour, you will catch sight of the wildlife, reptiles, birds, and also enjoy the vegetation. The park lies on a small piece of land and it will amaze you knowing that you reached every corner.
The park has spacious places of camping. All you need is to get hold of your camping equipment and enjoy the activity. If you don’t have, you can use available tents in the park.
This is a must enjoy activity. If you plan to go with a group, you will enjoy this. The park has picnic grounds in the forest and other areas where you spend quality fun time are you enjoy your lunch. You can have this after a walk safari, then rest with a meal.
When to go
The park can be visited throughout the year. There two seasons in the park, that is: wet and dry season. The dry season is the most convenient and most exciting time to visit. An elaboration of both seasons will help you plan for your trip better.
The Dry Season (From December -March)
The period is characterized of mostly sunny throughout. It barely rains during this time, hence a perfect time for game drives, for wildlife can easily be spotted.
During this time trails in the park are easy to pass through for the ground is dry enough so is the park, so tourists can access any place in the park.
Still in this period, the sitatunga antelopes have their birth. Tourists have an opportunity of seeing the process and newborns.
You will be able to see migratory birds from other countries and enjoy bird watching activity.
The Wet Season (From April -November)
The period is composed of heavy and short rains towards the end of the season. On rare occasions it may shine. The period of short rains that is September to November, wildlife can still be seen.
The best views of the park can be seen during this time. There flowers, plants are all green and amazing at sight.
The period from April to August, there heavy rains and these might disorganize tourism activities.
Trails will be muddy and sometimes slippery to be accessed during heavy rains and wildlife in the area might not be seen.
The park has a number of attractions tourists should look out for. Since in lies in a remote area, tourists will have a wonderful time in the park without being disturbed. The best things to see in the park are as follows:
If you are a lover of nature and wildlife in particular, animals in this park are a must see. The park is very small that you will be able to see every animal species that has a home here. The park boosts as the only place where the sitatunga antelopes can be seen. The long legged antelopes are called ‘nzohe’ in Swahili language. These animals have a unique feet that enables them to run faster than predators. The male have longer horns compared to the females, and they walk slowly so that they can’t be noticed. They are very good swimmers and also known to be shy. The reason why they feed either in the morning, or evening. So to see them you need to be very patient.
The park is also endowed with other wildlife species that will be visible once you visit the park. The likes of fluty black and white colobus monkey, spot throated Otters, De brazza monkey, grey duiker, mongoose, giant forested squirrel, genet cats, water bucks, and bush bucks, among others will be seen on one of your game drives or on a safari.
The park is outstanding for it has over 370 bird species. Part of these are migratory birds that visit the park from December to March. Tourists will be able to see the most unique birds in Kenya and on African continent. The good news is these can be watched in the dry season, which is not common with other parks. With the help of binoculars, you will see birds such as joyful greenbul, double toothed barbet, African fish eagle, grey headed francolin, snowy crowned robin chat, Narina trogons, grey headed nigrita, lesser jacana, eastern plantain eater, swampy fly catcher, blue headed coucal brown throated wattle eye, orange tufted sunbird, African Black duck, grey heron, Hartlaubs March widow bird, Ross’s turaco, crowned crane, cape clawless, and so much more will be at your disposal.
You will need to see the park and its vegetation. The park has a forest that has the many tree species some of which you will be seeing them for the first time. You will need to explore this home for some of the animals and birds. The park has a swamp that has abundant water to sustain wildlife through the dry season. The wetland vegetation has reeds, sedges, thick groves, bulrushes, and wooded grasslands that sustain wildlife. This will be visible once you take a guided nature walk through the park.
Due to the fact that the park exists in a remote are, there limited accommodation facilities within the park although the ones available offer good service to visitors. These include: Tree top hotel, Sirkwa tented camp, Barnely Guest house, Sitatunga public campsite and Kenya Wildlife Service Camp. These provide have furnished tents and spacious rooms, comfortable resting grounds, clean bathrooms and toilets, with hot showers, electricity, with wonderful views of the park, wildlife and birds, visitors prepare their own meals.
Tourists who wish to sleep outside the park can get accommodation in Kitale. This is available in categories as follows:
Luxury include: Cranes Heaven and Muremba Retreat Kitale
Midrange include: Super break hotel, Sky nest Country Hotel, Transnzoia Country resort, among others.
Budget include: Elgon View Hotel and Bridgestone Inn.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for adventure that hasn’t been spoiled, this is it. The remoteness and the size of the park make it a perfect spot for a safari in the wilderness. You will reach every corner of this park and have a memorable time for the attractions it possesses.