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Meru National Park

Meru National Park     " Elsa the lioness " and " Born Free "                     
Meru is a savanna National Park, 35 km east of Maua town in the north eastern lowlands below the Nyambeni hills. Meru is part of a complex of protected areas along the Tana river that includes the adjacent Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves (to the east and south respectively), Kora national park and Rahole national reserve. The wetter North Western sector is hilly, with rich volcanic soils. The land flattens towards the East, where grey alluvial volcanic soils appear. The area is crossed by numerous permanent streams, draining from the Nyambenes and flowing in parallel between tounges of lava, south eastwards towards the Tana River. As well as the many streams that cross it, the park is bounded by three large rivers: the Tana to the South, the Ura to the South West and the Rojeweru to the East. There are several prominent inselbergs of basement rock, notably Mughwango and Leopard rock.
A section of the park has been designated as a wilderness area in which are no roads. The park is part of the domain made famous by the writings of Joy Adamson.


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Meru National Park                                  
"Complete Wilderness"
Born Free is the heartwarming true story of a British couple who teach their pet lioness how to survive in the wilds of the African jungles. Joy and George Adamson (portrayed by real-life married couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers) involuntarily domesticate several lions while living in Kenya. They keep one, named Elsa, until she is fully grown, and rather than turn her over to a zoo, they decide to train her to live like a wild animal so that they can release her into her natural habitat. Geoffrey Keen is a sympathetic government official who convinces the Adamsons that they should set Elsa free to avoid being ordered to place her in captivity. The film, based on Joy Adamson's book, is poignant and emotional without ever becoming banal or overly sentimental. The title song and film score both won Academy Awards.

Roads
-  Access from Nairobi ( 348 kms) is via Nyeri-Nanyuki-Meru or via Embu all weather roads. Access into the park from Maua to Murera Gate ( 35 km) and 348 km from Nairobi.
-  The other access is via Embu to Ura Gate (120 km), 290 km from Nairobi- inaccessible at the moment. 

Airstrip
-  Main airstrip at Kina, Mulika next to Meru Mulika Lodge and Elsa's Kopje airstrip.

Park Gates
-  Lanet gate (links the Park with the Nairobi-Nakuru highway).
-  Nderit Gate.
-  The Main Gate.

Size and Location
-  870 Km 2
-  East-north-east of Mount Kenya in Meru District of Eastern Province.

Climate
Parks are part of Semi-arid zone and have irregular rainfalls. Wet seasons are April - June and November- December. Rainfall is 635-762 mm in the west and 305-356 mm in the east

Safari Card Required
At present the park does not operate on Safari Card system. Entry is by cash only (KSH or US$).

Attractions
-  Former home of Joy and George Adamson and Elsa the lioness.
-  Views of Mt Kenya.
-  Rivers and riverine habitats.
-  Tana river.
-  Adamson's falls.

Wildlife
Grevy Zebra, African Elephants, Eland, Bush Pig, Common Waterbuck, Cheetah, Leopard, Reticulated Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Bohor Reedbuck, Hartebeest, Python, Puff Udder, Cobra, Buffalo, more than 300 recorded species of birds.

Birds
More than 300 recorded species.

Vegetation
Most of the park is covered by bush, thornbush and wooded grassland of varying densities with Combretum prevailing in the north and Commiphora in the south. In the extreme north there is a small remnant outliner of rain forest, the Ngaia forest.The vegetation on the ridges is Combretum wooded grassland, dominated by Combretum apiculatum. This grades into acacia wooded grassland to the east with Acacia tortilis and Acacia senegal on the rocky ridges, in riverine thickets and dotted over open country. To the west the Combretum merges into Terminalia wooded grasslands.On the plains Sehima nervosa, Chloris gayana, Chloris roxburghiana, and other species of Pennisetum are the dominant grasses.Dense riverine forests of doum and raffia palms Hyphaene and Raphia spp. grow along the watercourses and in the swamps near the rivers. Along the Tana river is found the Tana river poplar, Populus ilicifolia. Other riverine trees include Phoenix reclinata, Ficus sycomorus, Newtonia hildebrandtii, Acacia elatior and Acacia robusta. The red-flowered Parasitic Loranthus grows on the branches of Acacia reficiens trees along the rivers.There are numerous riverine swamps with sedges Cyprus sp. and grasses Echinochloa haplacelada and Pennisetum mezianum.

Activities
-  Game viewing
-  Camping
-  Scenic
 
What to take with you
Drinking water, picnic items and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight. Also useful are: binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and guidebooks 
 
Park Contacts
Phone:       +254-164-20613
Mobile:      +254-721 860 285
Email:       merupark@kws.go.ke
Postal Address: Meru National Park, P.O. Box 11, Maua - Kenya 

Accommodations