Chyulu Hills National Park
Rising at an altitude of 2188m asl and 150m long, Chyulu Hills National park is a rugged wilderness still showing signs of its volcanic origins. Some of its volcanic eruptions occurred as recently as 240 years ago. Ancient and new volcanic cinder cones and craters dot the landscape with black lava flow spilling down their flanks.
Chyulu Hills National Park has no surface rivers, yet it is a vital catchment area for Mzima Springs and the Tsavo and Galana Rivers. The porous peaks of volcanic ash, enables them to trap rain from moisture-laden winds. All that rain soaks into the sponge-like ash and percolates down until it hits impervious bedrock and begins an underground journey to Mzima Springs, some 25 miles away.
Chyulu Hills National Park has some of the deepest known lava tube caves in the world, a feature that has placed the park on the world map, especially among geologists and volcanologists.The numerous lava tube caves, collectively known by the local community as Kisula Caves, criss cross the depths of Chyulu Hills. The Upper Leviathan Cave has been extensively explored and at 11.5km long, and has been established as one of the longest caves in the world.
Getting to the caves from the park entrance will involve a 15km hike through rugged wilderness that should take you three to four hours one way. The route is also motor-able the whole way – an option if you want to avoid the long hike.
The Chyulu Hills offer the quintessential African landscape experience and more. Far to the north-west lies the elephant country of Amboseli. Volcanic summits of Tsavo National Park recede over the horizon while straight ahead, straddling the Kenya/Tanzania border looms the splendid vista of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Chyulu is a vital dispersal area – a corridor for animals that live in Tsavo and Amboseli. The park shelters a wide variety of wildlife which includes the critically endangered eastern black rhino, the cheetah, antelopes such as gerenuk and lesser kudu, huge concentrations of plains game such as wildebeest, zebra and eland as well as elephants which normally wander in from neighboring Amboseli.