In this comprehensive guide, I’ll be reviewing the seven best safari lodges in Tsavo East and West.
Kenya is one of the best countries in Africa for going on safari. With its vast landscapes, winding rivers, and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, it’s also one of my favourite countries on the continent.
But with so many options, it can be difficult to decide which lodge is right for you. That’s why I’m here to help! I’ve travelled extensively throughout Kenya and have put together this guide to the top Tsavo lodges.
Overview of Tsavo East and West, Kenya
Kenya’s Tsavo East and West national parks are two of the most popular destinations in Africa for spotting wildlife and enjoying an authentic and immersive safari experience.
Together, the two parks are known as the “Tsavo National Park ecosystem“, which spans an area of around 22,000 square kilometres (8,500 square miles). It’s the biggest game park in Kenya and one of the largest protected wilderness areas in Africa.
As well as offering some of the best game viewing on the continent, the parks have a magnificent range of diverse landscapes, from rugged mountains to vast savannahs and lush forests.
Tsavo West is slightly smaller than Tsavo East and has dramatic volcanic landscapes and red soil (which helps give its elephants their distinctive red colour). Tsavo East is known for its rolling green hills and acacia woodlands.
Both parks offer spectacular opportunities for game viewing, with large populations of elephants, lions, cheetahs, and giraffes, not to mention a rich variety of birdlife.
While not usually as easy to spot, you also have a pretty decent chance of seeing rhinos and leopards here too.
Regarding accommodation, the lodges in Tsavo West tend to be more expensive and luxurious than those in Tsavo East, although East usually receives fewer visitors than West so can be a great option for peaceful, undisturbed game viewing.
Whichever Tsavo national park you choose to visit, you’ll find a range of accommodation options, ranging from simple campsites with basic facilities to luxury safari lodges.
Read on for my pick of the best places to stay in Tsavo East and West.
** If you need a visa to visit Kenya, I recommend using iVisa.com. Their online visa processing service is quick, secure, and easy to use. **
Best Lodges in Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West boasts some of the best lodges for those who want to experience the thrill of the African bush, while also enjoying first-class levels of comfort.
All of the following lodges offer excellent facilities, beautiful views, and knowledgeable safari guides who will help ensure you have an unforgettable stay.
Finch Hattons Luxury Lodge (one of the top luxury lodges in Tsavo)
Finch Hattons is a world-famous tented camp that’s known for its luxurious tent suites, on-site spa, and fine dining restaurant. It offers guests an exclusive, five-star experience, and is widely considered to be one of the best safari lodges in Kenya.
The lodge is located in a large private concession, next to a natural spring that feeds a series of pools that are used as watering holes by the local wildlife. You’re likely to see hippopotamus lazing in and around the pools, as well as crocodiles and other reptiles.
The tents are located with perfect views of the water, giving you an unparalleled opportunity to view wildlife and birds. There are no fences and the animals can come and go as they please.
Key features of Finch Hattons Lodge:
- Exclusive location: the lodge is situated on a vast concession area, providing a superb private experience. The location is also known for its diverse range of wildlife.
- Large and beautifully-designed safari tent suites with elegant antique furniture, en suite bathroom, hot and cold water, and a minibar fridge.
- Each tent has a large verandah with tables, chairs, and fantastic panoramic views of the watering holes.
- A superb fine dining restaurant where you’ll enjoy 6-course dinners.
- There’s also a comfortable private lounge, a library, and a well-stocked bar, as well as other facilities.
- Swimming pool with bar service, plus a large outdoor terrace and seating area with spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro.
- The largest bush spa in East Africa, with open-air massage pavilions, a hammam, a yoga deck, and a gym.
- Private airstrip.
Salt Lick Safari Lodge
Salt Lick Safari Lodge is another superb lodge in Tsavo West. This place really stands out due to its distinctive architecture and fantastic location within the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, on the edge of Tsavo National Park.
The lodge has a range of luxurious rooms that stand on stilts and are connected by a series of elevated walkways, providing excellent views of a local watering hole and the surrounding bush.
It’s common to spot a wide range of wildlife (especially elephants) from the comfort of your room.
Overall, Salt Lick Safari Lodge is a unique and impressive lodge that offers an experience that’s totally different from most other Kenyan safari lodges.
Key features of Salt Lick Safari Lodge
- The whole lodge complex has amazingly unique and innovative architecture, with the various buildings linked by raised walkways offering uninterrupted views.
- Double rooms, twin rooms, and executive suites, all built on stilts and with panoramic views of the surrounding area and its wildlife from the rooms and private balconies.
- Great facilities, including an on-site restaurant, bar, and lounge, as well as a wellness spa, with a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
- The lodge is located in the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, which is particularly scenic and home to a wide range of wildlife, including large numbers of elephants.
- Daytime and nighttime game drives, for a chance to view nocturnal as well as diurnal animals.
- Guided nature walks in the Taita Hills.
- The lodge also puts on workshops where guests can learn about the customs and traditions of the local Taita people who live in the Taita Taveta District.
Severin Safari Camp
Severin is another superb tented camp in Tsavo West National Park. It’s located close to Mzima Springs and the Tsavo River, on a plain that’s home to large numbers of animals.
The camp is owned and managed by a German couple and has won various eco-tourism awards for its commitment to sustainability and ethical safari tourism.
It offers an authentic safari experience with beautiful views and a variety of outdoor activities. The camp boasts comfortable accommodations including tented rooms and air-conditioned guest houses.
Key features of Severin Safari Camp
- Fantastic location, surrounded by dramatic volcanic landscapes and close to Mzima Springs and the Tsavo River.
- Big focus on eco-tourism and sustainable, responsible safari tourism.
- Activities on offer include game drives and guided bush walks to Mzima Springs led by expert rangers who will introduce you to the diverse flora and fauna of the region.
- High-end luxury tents and suites, as well as self-catering bandas (traditional thatched cottages) for those looking to keep costs down while still enjoying this fantastic lodge.
- All rooms have a spectacular backdrop with views of the savannah and its resident wildlife.
- Great facilities, including a pool and massage pavilion, private bathrooms with flushing toilets and hot water, verandas, and fire pits.
- Gourmet meals are prepared by skilled chefs using locally sourced ingredients and produce from their own organic farm.
- There are various breakfast and dining options to choose from, including intimate bush dinners and romantic private breakfasts.
Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge
Kilaguni Serena is one of the oldest and most established safari lodges in East Africa. It’s located in the north of Tsavo West, fairly near to both Finch Hattons and Severin Safari Camp (see above).
From here you can enjoy wonderful views of the lush green Chyulu Hills and even across to Mount Kilimanjaro.
This breathtaking location allows you to observe wildlife from the comfort of the lodge or take a game drive through the nearby savannahs and grasslands.
The lodge has a swimming pool for guests and overlooks its own watering hole, where you can watch elephants, buffaloes, and other wildlife drinking and bathing.
Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge offers a range of spacious and comfortable guest rooms that are tastefully decorated to reflect the local Maasai culture. All rooms have all the modern amenities that you would expect from a quality boutique hotel.
Key features of Kilaguni Serena Lodge
- The lodge is situated on a volcanic hill with stunning views of the Masai plains below and the nearby Chyulu Hills.
- Each unit has a private balcony and en suite bathroom with free toiletries and slippers.
- There’s a gym, pool (with bar service), and a massage pavilion.
- High-quality à la carte and buffet meals are served in the lodge’s beautiful thatched dining area.
- A well-stocked bar with a viewing deck overlooking the watering hole.
- Opportunity to learn more about traditional conservation and farming techniques used by local communities such as the Maasai.
Voyager Ziwani Tented Camp
If you’re looking for a mid-priced Tsavo safari lodge, Voyager Ziwani Tented Camp is an excellent choice.
Located on the western edge of Tsavo National Park, on the banks of the Sante River, Voyager Ziwani offers panoramic views of Mount Kilimanjaro and the surrounding savannah.
Its tents have wooden floors, a 4-poster bed, a private bathroom, and a spacious patio for you to enjoy the stunning views.
The area is home to a wide range of wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, and hippos.
Key features of Voyager Ziwani Tented Camp
- More moderately priced than many of the other Tsavo lodges, but still offers high levels of comfort and excellent wildlife viewing.
- Fully-furnished double and twin tents all have private terraces and en suite bathrooms.
- A range of activities can be organised, including ranger-guided game walks and nighttime game drives.
- A good base to explore the nearby Chala Lake and other parts of Tsavo.
- The secluded location and breathtaking views.
Best Lodges in Tsavo East National Park
There aren’t as many hotels and lodges in Tsavo East as in Tsavo West. However, there are a couple of really excellent ones.
Ashnil Aruba Lodge
In the heart of Tsavo East National Park, this fantastic lodge is located right next to the Aruba Dam, a man-made reservoir that attracts a huge number of animals.
It’s an amazing spot for wildlife viewing. Large numbers of lions, cheetahs, elephants, buffalo, giraffes, gazelle, and many other animals flock here to drink and cool off. A group of hippos lives in the dam too.
Ashnil Aruba Lodge enjoys a perfect vantage point overlooking the dam and also has a swimming pool from which you can see animals grazing and playing.
Key features of Ashnil Aruba Lodge
- Fantastic location overlooking the Aruba Dam – one of the best spots for concentrated wildlife sightings in Tsavo East Park.
- Elegantly furnished rooms and fixed tents with private balconies and a range of facilities.
- It’s common to spot large herds of elephants, buffaloes, zebras, and giraffes from the door of your room/tent.
- The lodge is surrounded by greenery, providing a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
- You can go on guided nature walks around the dam, as well as game drives to explore other parts of Tsavo East National Park.
Man Eaters Lodge
If you’d like to spend time in both Tsavo East and West, Man Eaters Lodge is definitely worth a look.
Conveniently located between the two parks, on the banks of the Tsavo River, this lodge is one of the best budget-friendly options in the area.
The fixed tents are large and comfortable, with balconies overlooking the river where you can watch elephants, hippos, buffalos, and zebras come to drink.
And if you were wondering about the name, this lodge is situated close to the place where the “Tsavo Man-Eaters” (a pair of maneless male lions) killed and ate a large number of people constructing the Kenya-Uganda Railway in 1898.
Key features of Man Eaters Lodge
- Panoramic views over the sprawling plains and hills of Tsavo East National Park.
- Excellent value for money – definitely one of the better budget-friendly options.
- Convenient location for game drives in both Tsavo East and West.
- There’s a year-round outdoor pool and terrace with a seating area, plus an excellent on-site restaurant, shared lounge, and bar.
- Superb staff – everybody is incredibly friendly and helpful.
- The local wildlife is abundant and includes leopards, elephants, buffalos, and lions.
- Animals are frequently seen walking through the camp at night, including zebras and elephants. (Thankfully these days, you’re unlikely to encounter any man-eating lions here!)
How to get to Tsavo National Park
For most visitors, the easiest way to access Tsavo East and West is by flying into either Nairobi or Mombasa and organising a transfer from there.
Most of the above lodges can help you to arrange a transfer to and from their location – check with them if you are unsure.
A few are even able to arrange a transfer in a light aircraft, although this would significantly increase the cost compared with a regular transfer by road.
Mombasa is closer – about 200 kilometres (3-4 hours by road) from the town of Tsavo, near the centre of Tsavo National Park. From Nairobi, it’s about 280 kilometres (4-5 hours).
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also hire a car and drive yourself. You’ll need a 4WD vehicle to access most of the lodges described in this post – again, check with the lodge directly.
Always use a price comparison site like rentalcars.com to find the best deals.
Click here to check the latest prices and compare deals.
Alternatively, you can search using this handy feature:
For those looking for public transport options, there are buses that run from both Mombasa and Nairobi to the town of Voi (see on Google Maps), which is a fairly major transport hub for the region. From Mombasa, it takes about 3 hours; from Nairobi, it’s 6 hours.
Budget travellers: see my guide to backpacking in Kenya.
How to organise game drives in Tsavo East and West
Most people organise their game drives in Tsavo East and West National Parks through their accommodation. If you stay at any of the above lodges, the staff there will be able to help you arrange everything.
Typically, you can book either a morning or afternoon game drive which lasts for around 3-4 hours.
A few lodges – such as Sarova Salt Lick and Voyager Ziwani – can even organise night-time game drives for you. I’ve done a couple of these before and they’re incredibly exciting!
You’ll be led by experienced guides who are familiar with the area and knowledgeable about the local wildlife. It’s a fantastic way to explore the stunning landscapes and animals of both parks, all from the comfort and safety of a safari jeep.
Alternatively, you can organise a 1-day safari as a day trip from either Nairobi or Mombasa. This could be a good option if you don’t have much time but still want to see Tsavo National Park.
Click here to check prices and availability.
However, for the full safari experience, I’d always recommend spending at least one night in the park if you can.
Most nationalities require a visa to visit Kenya, and these need to be applied for in advance.
** I recommend using iVisa.com. Their online visa processing service is quick, secure, and easy to use. **
Whether you’re a seasoned safari-goer or a first-time visitor, these lodges would all make a perfect base from which to explore the breathtaking natural beauty of Tsavo National Park.
I hope this guide to the best safari lodges in Tsavo East and West has helped make your decision a little easier. Whichever lodge you decide to stay at, get ready for an unforgettable experience!
Have you stayed at any of these amazing lodges? Are there any others that I haven’t included but ought to be on this list? Let me know below!