If you’re looking for a classic safari without the crowds, we recommend Meru. Remote and alluring, Meru National Park lies east of Mount Kenya. The mix of savannah and woodland, woven together by a network of rivers, creates the perfect sanctuary for a huge range of wildlife. The game viewing is excellent and the rivers provide the perfect environment for hippo, crocodile and fish-eagle.
In Meru you’ll be able to track the Big Five and you can expect to see plenty of hippo and crocodile. Cat lovers will be in their element, as Meru is a great place for sightings of lion, cheetah and leopard, who are drawn to the region by the prospect of food. They are particularly partial to the huge herds of lumbering black buffalo that roam the savannah.
The poacher-proof Rhino Sanctuary, within Meru National Park, is another big draw. Here you will see white rhino and if you’re lucky black rhino too, although having a more nervous disposition, they can be quite shy. The fenced enclosure covers around 3% of the park’s total area and is one of the best places in Kenya to spot rhino.
The many rivers are a feature of the landscape and watching pods of hippo and basks of crocodile enjoying the water, is one of our favourite sights. The birdlife is exceptional and there’s also the chance to see some of the rare northern species, such as the tall and handsome Grevy’s zebra and the reticulated giraffe, with its polygon patchwork coat.
But Meru is probably most famous for the conservation work of George and Joy Adamson. It’s where Joy released Elsa the lioness back into the wild, a story immortalised in both a book and film. Just hearing the opening bars of Matt Monro singing Born Free is enough to send tingles down our spine.
The lack of mainstream tourism makes Meru a wonderful place to stay. With few other visitors, it’s a chance to experience feeling ‘born free’ and is the perfect park to enjoy whole days on safari without seeing another person or vehicle.