Meru National Park covers 1800 sq kms, and is the core of an ecosystem that includes Kora, Bisandi, North Kitui and Rahole Reserves, an additional over 5000 sq kms of wilderness.
Elsa’s Kopje is in the heart of the park, on small rocky Mughwango hill that affords 360 degree views that stretch from the 17,000 foot peak of Mt Kenya to the east, to virtually infinity to the east. Below the hill is the site of George Adamson’s camp, and the hill was the playground of Elsa the lion. There is a fertile spring to the east of the hill and guests can watch vast herds of elephant, buffalo and giraffe make their way across the plains below. Elsa’s Kopje is one of only two lodges in the National Park, and so guests will have this vast wilderness practically to themselves.
The park was made famous in the 1960s by Joy & George Adamson, who reintroduced their beloved lioness “Elsa” into the wild in Meru National Park. They wrote a book about their experience which was made into a feature film “Born Free” starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers – a ground breaking movie; the first to depict wild animals as endearing creatures, whose plight the audience could sympathize with. George Adamson continued to work with lions, living to the south of Meru National Park, until his death in 1989. Both Joy Adamson, and Elsa the lioness, are buried in Meru National Park.
The park has enormous diversity of habitat and wildlife, from cool forests at 3400 ft to the west, dropping down to 1000 ft semi-desert plains with giant baobab and commiphora trees. It has thirteen clear spring fed rivers lined with palms and riverine forest, and home to basking hippo. This is lion and elephant country, but also Meru has many rare species including caracal, the beautiful Lesser Kudu, aardwolf, and over 400 species of birds.
The park also has an 84 sq km rhino sanctuary housing over 60 black and white rhino. The area is so large that finding the rhino can still be a gamedriving challenge.
The days are warm, rising to maximum of 30 deg C, but comfortable with minimum humidity, and the evenings are cool. Rainfall is mostly in April and May with an average of 350mm per year.