Shimba Hills National Reserve

Shimba Hills National Reserve thrust nearly 450 meters out of the coastal plain, an enchanting other world, lonely and remote from the heat below. The Hills are about 1 hour away and although not significantly higher than the coastal beaches, they are remarkably cool; breezes from the Indian Ocean rise over the eastern escarpment with invigorating freshness.

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This pristine wonderland of Rolling Meadows and forests of giant primeval trees harbors a wide variety of wildlife, including some 500 elephant that favor the refreshing fruit of the Borassus palm. There are leopards often heard but not frequently seen.

But the most distinctive of the Shimba Hills National Reserve's many species is perhaps the rare and impressive Sable antelope, found in the same habitats as several large herds of buffalo. While never numerous in Kenya it is unlikely that viable populations exist other than in the Shimba Hills. Closely related to the Roan antelope, which it resembles, it is in fact, slightly smaller. Both sexes carry the 100-160 centimeter horns, which rise vertically before curving backward in a pronounced arc.

Picnic sites on either side of the escarpment provide entrancing views: to the east overlooking the distant turquoise of the Indian Ocean and to the west, on the right day, hazy vistas of the vast plains with the Taita Hills rising out of them like a misty giant and beyond them, on days of exceptional clarity, the mighty mass of Mount Kilimanjaro. Shimba Hills National Reserve also has a large number of insects that create also sorts of unique sounds once the sun goes down.

Unspoiled and one of the least exploited of all Kenya's game reserves, the combination of rolling grasslands and forest, of hill and valley and the shadowy animals and superb insect habitat make the Shimba Hills a delight for all nature lovers. Shimba Hills Lodge provides not only nighttime game viewing with an artificial moon but also escorted walks through a true fairyland.

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