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Chyulu Hills

The Amboseli area includes the Amboseli and Chyulu Hills National Parks, as well as large Maasai communities and wildlife sanctuaries.

The Chyulu Hills National Park (meaning “The Spotted Hills”), protects a volcanic mountain range which runs parallel to the highway at Mombasa between Kibwesi and Tsavo. With distinctive rounded hills and volcanic vents that have solidified black lava flows running down at irregular intervals, the Chyulu Hills are definitely unusual.

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These hills are the youngest in Kenya at just 500 years old, and the lava flows can be walked on to fully appreciate the unusual boulders that are extremely brittle and full of air. There is a bit of vegetation on the flows, but more vegetation is found in the rocky outcrops that are home to herds of the elegant impala and the majestic eland.

Montane forest is found mainly above the 1800m contour line on the hills. There are 37 different species of orchids found in the area, mainly on the higher peaks of which the highest are in the central southern portion of the park. The mostly epiphytes are supported by the heavy mists and include the rare saprophyte Epipogium roseum.

With walking safaris, game drives and caving available in the park, including the world’s fourth largest lava tube system at the Leviathan Cave, there is plenty to do and see here. Activities also include mountain biking, rock climbing and assisting two lovely blood hounds whose main job is protecting rhino in the protection programme operated from Ol Dunyo Wuas ranch. A very good stable of horses is also maintained on the ranch which is communally owned by the local Masai and is part of the Amboseli eco-system. Two excellent horse riding safaris are available from the ranch – a six day trail around the Chyulu Hills or a slightly longer trail from the Amboseli National Park up to the hills.

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Unusually the Chyulu Hills boasts a large herd of MALE elephant, not normally seen together in large groups. Mt Kilimanjaro is usually seen in the distance and as the crow flies, is not very far from the Chyulu Hills. If you prefer to stay away from the crowds, we suggest staying at Chyulu Hills and making use of private charters to touch down at Amboselli for the day or take a scenic flight around Mt Kilimanjaro. You can also drive down to Amboseli for the day with a picnic lunch.

Species seen around the Chyulu Hills which might not be seen so easily in Amboseli as there are no night drives, include leopard, porcupine and aardvaark. Commonly seen animals include buffalo, bushbuck, eland, elephant, leopard, bushpigs, forest bushbuck, reedbuck, mountain Steinbok. Giraffe, cheetah, the rare fringe-eared oryx, the gerenuk are also present. There is also a lion research project and a bush school for younger guests. Of course you could just enjoy the scenery as there are breathtaking views from every angle.

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If you’re interested in reptiles there are the more common species in the area such as black mamba, puff adder, rock pthyon, geko’s, tortoise and lizards. You will also see a variety of butterflies, dung beetles and unfortunately some tsetse flies!

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In Kenya the Tsavo West has rock climbing, and is conveniently close to Chyulu Hills with superb game viewing, birds, scenery, safaris and activities.

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