The wide grasslands, hills and valleys and thick
rainforests of the Shimba Hills National Reserve are a
sharp contrast to the arid, flat plains of many other of
the Kenyan parks. Much of the Reserve has beautiful
views over the Indian Ocean, as Shimba Hills lies less
than 50 kms from Kenya’s coast. In spite of this
proximity to the ocean, it lacks the coastal region’s
tropical climate; at up to 500m above sea-level, the air
is cool and refreshing.
Elephant, giraffe and buffalo all live in this tranquil
spot, along with rare roan and sable antelope, black and
white colobus monkeys, warthogs, and serval cats.
Bird lovers can spot a wealth of species, including
woodpeckers, sunbirds, honey guides and turacos. The
area is also botanically rich, with two of most
beautiful types of orchid in Kenya found here, and more
than 250 different species of butterflies live in the
rainforest. Also found within the forest are the
spectacular Sheldrick Falls, which are over 25m high.
The Shimba Hills are home to the Mijikenda, including
members of the Giriama, Duruma and Digo tribes. Central
to these peoples’ fascinating culture are Kayas
– elevated forest glades that once held sacred objects
–and two of these are located within the Reserve.
Adjoining Shimba Hills is the Mwalugange Elephant
Sanctuary, linked by a game corridor and run by the local
Duruma people this is a fine example of wildlife and
people working together. The Duruma whose small holdings
used to suffer destruction by elephants now receive
income from the sanctuary (which is partly fenced, so
protects their crops). The Mwaluganje River runs through
the sanctuary and though small, this is a very scenic
area with the Golini escarpment in the background and
large baobab trees dotting the landscape.