The both Tsavo National Parks are roughly kidney shaped and 7,930 Sq. Miles (20,812 Sq. Kms) are bisected in the middle by the Mombasa road. For administrative convenience, the part north-east of the road is called Tsavo East with headquarters near Voi and measures 11,747 Sq. Kms and the part southwest of the road is Tsavo West with wardens' offices near Mtito Andei and measures 9,065 Sq. Kms. Overall, this famous park covers a vast section of the 200 miles of thorn scrub, spiked with bulbous trunks of baobab trees, that separate the tropical vegetation of the Coast from the great central plateau of the African continent. It was the endless thorn scrub here that kept the peoples of the interior remote from western civilization for so many centuries. Try walking through it as the early missionaries did and you will soon understand. It has various names - the Nyika, which means thorn country, the Nyiri Desert and the Taru desert. Much of the year, it's burnt dry and dusty by the sun. Then overnight the rains transform it into a paradise of convolvulus flowers that burst out white and purple, the grass seed germinates and the bushes are suddenly green. Explorers hated it for the very reason that makes it an attraction today - the game. 'Full of wild beasts, such as Rhinoceros, Buffaloes and Elephants,' the German missionary Rebmann, noted in his diary on May 11, 1848. Indeed it is full, though overgrazing has depleted the vegetation in parts and the Elephant population is now only an estimated 15,000 to 20,000. They are fairly accustomed to cars now, but if you meet one on the road, drive cautiously.
Tsavo's lions also described as “The Man Eaters of Tsavo” due to how they obstructed the building of the railway in the 1900s by the simple expedient of eating the linesmen.
In Tsavo west, which is rather hillier, the volcanic area where the Mzima Springs and other waters rise attracts most species of game. The springs, 40 km (25 miles) from Mtito Andei, form a series of clear pools. An observation tank in the top pool enables you to watch Hippo and Crocodile from underwater. Other major viewing places are at the Kangethwa Dam, the Kilaguni waterhole and an artificial spring right in front of the Kilaguni Lodge. Other camps and lodges found in Tsavo West are Ngulia Lodge, Taita Hills Lodge, Kitani Lodge, Tsavo Safari Camp, and Salt Lick Lodge.
Tsavo East is less hilly with the exception of the dramatic line of the Yatta Plateau which rises almost parallel to the Mombasa road. Beyond this escarpment, to the east, is a seemingly endless expanse of low lying semi-desert, spiked with thorn bushes, most of which you can only visit by special permission of the Park Warden. All roads north of the Galana River, which cuts across Tsavo East, are closed to the public. Lugard Falls and Crocodile Point on the river are worth a visit, though the best places to see animals are unquestionably Aruba. The former is a great hump of rusty coloured rock overlooking a huge waterhole making a natural amphitheatre. At the end of an exciting day, you can always relax at the Voi Safari Lodge, the Tsavo Safari Lodge, Ashnil Aruba Lodge, Voi Wildlife Lodge and the famous Crocodile Camp.
Both National Parks are managed separately, but together they form the largest reserve in East Africa. The Northern part of Tsavo East may not, however, be visited by tourists.
Nevertheless, the Tsavo National park, founded in 1947, is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Kenya. In spite of its arid countryside and savannah vegetation, about 60 species of mammals and 400 different species of birds are to be found here. The Tsavo is particularly famous because of the “red elephants” which owe their color to the dust prevalent in this area.
As well as lions and cheetahs, there are many antelopes (Oryx, kudus, and Grant’s gazelles and giraffe gazelles), zebras, Masai giraffe, baboons and vervet monkeys. Of the birds, the most impressive is the Masai ostrich. Where there is water, such as Mzima springs, crocodiles and hippos can be seen.