Shimba Hills National Reserve

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Shimba Hills National Reserve


Shimba Hills National Reserve is just 33km (20 miles) south of Mombasa. It was created as a national forest in 1903 and is now one of the largest areas of coastal rainforest in East Africa covering 24,000 hectares. There are 153 km (95 miles) of roads within this national park. The climate is hot and humid, with an average annual temperature of 24°C (75°F), but the area benefits from coastal breezes which also create mist in the mornings. Shimba Hills National Reserve is known for its beautiful lush green vegetation, forested landscape, sharp slopes and steep valleys. It is not ideal for animal safaris because the African wildlife is difficult to spot in the dense vegetation. The animals hide in the shade of the forest in order to keep cool until the early evening. However, you may see the rare sable antelope and many birds on your visit. Best views are from the eastern side of the park, near Giriama Point, as the animals move towards the rivers to drink.

Pengo Hill is 450m (1476 feet) ) high and offers a magnificent view of the local landscape.Sheldrick Falls in Shimba Hills National Game Reserve Elephants may be viewed through binoculars. The Tsavo plains can also be seen, along with Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day, and ocean views as far as Chale Island. One of the main attractions to the Shimba Hills is the impressive Sheldrick Falls, which cascade 25m (82 feet) over the escarpment. There is a scenic 2km (1 mile) footpath that takes up to an hour to walk each way. Take a hat, sunscreen and water to drink and keep a sharp lookout for elephants. A ranger will accompany hikers without charge from 10-3pm daily. Sheldrick Falls is an idyllic spot for a cool swim and a picnic. The park has the last breeding herd of beautiful sable antelope in Kenya. They are among Kenya’s largest antelope, with black coats and long, scimitar-shaped horns, which they were hunted for. They may be seen grazing early or late in the day around Buffalo Ridge. There are more than 600 elephants in the park and a fenced elephant corridor links the park with the elephant sanctuary at Mwaluganje Forest. In addition to elephants, there are also buffalo, waterbucks, hyenas, warthogs, leopards, baboons and monkeys. Maasai giraffes and ostriches have also been reintroduced to the park. There are many birds, including 111 different recorded species. There are even more birds to be seen during the spring migration. Bird shooting is only permitted outside the reserve.

Best Time to Visit

As per the weather it is said that shimba hills can be visited all month year round

Getting There

Access by road is via Diani, 56 km from Mombasa, and there is an airstrip at the reserve.


  • The only place in Kenya you can see Sable Antelope
  • Guided forest walks up to the scenically beautiful Sheldrick Falls
  • It is known for its herds of Elephants
  • Visit the Mwalunganje Elephant Sanctuary
  • Scenic viewpoints and five picnic areas


What to do in the Shimba Hills National Reserve – The Kenya Wildlife Service offers guided walks to the Sheldrick Falls – a great opportunity to see the birdlife in the forest. Game drives are more adventurous than on the savannahs as animals are harder to spot. You can also go for sundowners on Pengo Hill, which faces west and watch the sun drop down below the horizon. On a clear day you can see the Tsavo Plains and Mt Kilimanjaro.

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