Kilaguni, an isle of beauty in Tsavo West National Park 

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Discover. Fulfilling experience in the calming countryside where nature manifests its abundance Edgar R. Batte

A mother and two aunts slowly and peaceful took steps, walking side by side of little Melinda whose agility and bounce in paces, showcases her opportune excitement. 

When they arrive at the waterhole, with no borderline but defined by murky wet earth, the older animal folks guide her, first drinking and then gently patting her on the back to urge her to draw her dark contoured trunk close for an opportunity to quench her thirst too.

In a few minutes, a herd of elephants can be seen approaching through the semi-arid savannah woodland stretches with dots of the acacia trees. There seems to be hierarchy in the natural serving because as the elephants lazily leave the dingy waters, a zeal of zebras, obstinacy of buffaloes, a confusion of wildebeests, sounders of warthogs, a mustering of marabou storks, and more residents of the Tsavo West National Park seem to make their way, each group at a time. 

The wildlife is a satisfying sight as seen from the well-positioned terraces of Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, the first lodge to be constructed in a national park in 1952. 

The park was established four years prior- in 1948. You might want to know that Tsavo is a Ngulia local language word to mean slaughter. It was derived from the wild animals that attacked the builders of the ‘Lunatic Line’ as they went about their work. 

Indeed, Kenya’s biggest national park, which was split into Tsavo West and Tsavo East in 1949 andwas initially a sport hunting spot. It was separated by the Kenya-Uganda railway and the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.

Zebras in Tsavo West National Park, Kenya. PHOTO | EDGAR R. BATTE

And speaking of the railway, I got to the park by train, having travelled from Mombasa’s north coast terminus to Mtito Andei terminus for KShs1,520 first class. Divide that about 30 to convert it to Ugandan shillings.

A Ugandan traveller can travel to Nairobi by road or air. There is a train from Nairobi to Mtito Andei and into Tsavo. The park entrance is only five minutes from the train station stop. 

The park is generous and minutes past the entrance gate, were saw five elephants stretching their trunks to feed on leaves from the roadside shrubbery. 

Then warthogs, kobs, giraffes, zebras and in a distance rugged horizons that would draw a traveller’s curiosity. 

My guide, Douglas was happy to drive up to the Shetani Lava, a formation from volcanic eruptions that left rocky black debris at the Chyulu Hills. There, life is limited but a vintage point for the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets a photographer would ever want to capture on their digital devices or (naked) eyes.

As the winds fanned the black dust, it was quiet and peaceful, and voices from my guide’s narrative precisely audible for the legend that describes the 200 or so years old eruptions christened Shetani- Swahili word for devil. 

As the sun quickly sunk into the colourful clouds, your photographer clicked away, with admiration of its golden rich outlook animated by flying birds through the vegetation and trees lining the skyline. 

Back to the lodge, was some therapy after the day’s activities. The staff were friendly and warm which makes visitors feel well. The art lover would befascinated by traditional, beautiful camouflagerepresented in the architecture and interior décor of the Serena lodge that befittingly resonates with some of the people of the area- the Akamba- who build their houses using stone and stick with artistically thatched roofs. 

From the compound to the reception and into the lounge, restaurant area and rooms, you will feel at home with the wild in small and life-size awesome creative wood and metallic carvings that area admirable for the precision in detail 

guest can learn quite a bit about the park, its rich history and heritage of the traditional inhabitants of the semi-arid lands from the photographs hanged at different points of the safari lodge. 

One imposingly beautiful picture is an old one of Mzei Jomo Kenyatta, during his visit to Kilaguni as part of his efforts to encourage Kenyans, and East Africans to visit the country that has since been christened ‘Magical Kenya’. 

The magic stretches into the horizon, and from the terraces of the resort, the eye is fed on the beauty of Mountain Kilimanjaro juxtaposition by umbrella-like acacia leafy green trees in the foreground.

There was some therapy during the visit to Mzima Springs that’s quite the opposite of Shetani Lava Flow. The spring nourish and nurture life with some green and gushy, clear waters thar feed recreational souls as well as fish of different colours and shapes in one of the caves where they swim and seem to put up a show for tourists. 

The waters which originate from Chyulu Hills, find a peaceful bed where hippos freely swim and birds rest on tree stems and branches. 


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