Kenya safaris to Saiwa Swamp National Park – Birding, wildlife and Nature walks
Kenya Safaris to saiwa swamp National Park – Sanctuary of the Sitatunga antelope’’ A veritable haven for nature lovers, the Saiwa Swamp National Park is a forested paradise filled with exotic flowers, trees and birds. It is also the habitat of the rare and endangered semi-aquatic Sitatunga antelope and as a preserve for the rare De Brazza’s monkey. Within this tropical wetlands and mosaic of riverine forest, sedges and acacia woodlands, with fringing dense rushes and grass beds Bird life is abundant. Water birds include the lesser jacana, grey heron and the African black duck while the forest shelters the Narina trogons, the collared and orange-tufted sunbird, the yellow bishop, Hartlaub’s marsh widow bird and the Noisy Ross’s Turaco which are difficult to miss.
A dense, vibrantly green realm of swamp, bulrushes, sedges and surrounding riverine forest, Saiwa Swamp – Kenya’s smallest national park, was created specifically to protect the habitat of the rare and endangered semi-aquatic Sitatunga antelope. Rarely visited, well-off the tourist track but charmingly rewarding, this compact Park is unique in that it is the only place in Kenya where vehicles are prohibited and the walker reigns supreme.
The small 3 square kilometer national park was gazzeted in 1974 located in the cheragani hills of trans-nzoiya the rift valley province at an altitude of 1860-1880m. The Park has no roads, only walking trail. The Park is entirely surrounded by intensively cultivated subsistence smallholdings (known as ‘shambas’), and so its perimeter fence marks a sharp divide between two very different habitats. Cultivation tends to be small-scale and by means of hand tools but the neighbouring farmers plough as close to the fence as possible, dramatizing the delicate balance that must be maintained between human well-being and the struggle to sustain a healthy bio-diverse habitat. Survival of the Park, therefore, is very much dependent upon close co-operation between the Kenya Wildlife Service and the surrounding community.
Wildlife of Saiwa swamp national park.
Saiwa is a home to Sitatunga, monkey, spotted-necked otter, giant forest squirrel, leopard, bushbuck, and African civet.
Birds of Saiwa swamp national park.
372 species including such rarities as Ross’ Turaco and the blue-headed Coucal. Swamp and riverine forest, tall bulrushes and sedge.
Kenya safaris to Saiwa Swamp National Park activities
This Park is unique in that it is only accessible by foot. Traversed by some 7 km of well-maintained wooden walkways and trails, it also offers three timbered viewing platforms where you can stake yourself out for a glimpse of the elusive Sitatunga antelope. Well-marked trails skirt the perimeter of the swamp, which can also be traversed via the wooden duckboards that go right across it.
Known in Swahili as the ‘Nzohe’, the remarkable and rare Sitatunga (pronounced ‘statunga’) is a long-legged antelope that has adapted itself to exploit the abundant food resources of the swamp habitat. Its shaggy coat is oily and water repellent while its elongated and splayed hooves allow it to walk on submerged vegetation with impunity. So specialized are these feet that the Sitatunga can easily outrun its predators in the swamp, though on land it has a much clumsier gait. Reddish-brown with a vaguely moth-eaten look, it has very large ears and (on the males) horns. Moving with slow deliberation so as to avoid detection, the Sitatunga enters the water gently and sinks down until nearly all of its body is submerged. It then spends most of the day submerged or resting in reedy shade. A good swimmer, when alarmed the Sitatunga dives deep and remains submerged but for the tip of its nose. Crepuscular and extremely shy it prefers to feed morning and evening and occasionally leaves the swamp after dark to browse. Found in scattered locations throughout western and central Africa (particularly the papyrus swamps of Lake Victoria and in the Kingwal Swamp near Kapsabet), it is only at Saiwa Swamp that these elusive creatures have become habituated to the proximity of humans.
How to see a Sitatunga
Watching and waiting are the tricks of the trade. You might also keep watch along the paths and tunnels that the Sitatunga makes through the reeds and rushes – especially between 6pm and 10am when they are most active.
Very conspicuous are the silken coats of the black and white colobus monkey and the white-bearded faces of the distinctive de Braze monkey. You will also see plenty of blue and Vervet monkey. Spotted-necked otter and giant forest squirrel will prove more difficult. Leopard are around, but it’s unlikely you’ll see one.
Very conspicuous are the silken coats of the black and white colobus monkey and the white-bearded faces of the distinctive de Brazza monkey. You will also see plenty of blue and Vervet monkey. Spotted-necked otter and giant forest squirrel will prove more difficult. Leopard are around, but it’s unlikely you’ll see one.
a great draw for ornithologists, the Park boasts over 372 species of birds. Rare birds include crowned hornbill, Ross’ Turaco and eastern grey plantain eater, while the riverine forests shelter one of Kenya’s most spectacular forest birds, the Narina trogon. Most conspicuous around the Park are the grey-crowned cranes, but large numbers of ibis, duck and heron feed conspicuously in the more open patches of water. Cinnamon-chested bee-eaters are plentiful along the trails, as well as paradise flycatchers and black-headed Gonolek. Ludher’s bush-shrike is also found here, but is difficult to spot being infinitely shyer. Cisticola and warblers flit around the base of the observation towers, and long-crested eagles can often be seen perched high on the bare branches of dead trees. Blue-headed coucals can often be caught taking in the sun among the bulrushes while the reeds are home to Hartlaub’s marsh widowbird and yellow bishop. When in fruit, the fig trees also offer a potent lure for double-toothed barbets.
The Park offers an interesting mix of forest and swamp vegetation and an extraordinarily diverse plant habitat. Dominated by tall bulrushes and sedges, it is bordered by a mixture of grassland, riverine forests and yellow acacia trees. Epiphytic ferns and orchids also proliferate. The wetter riverine forest is marked by gigantic strangler figs while Syzygium trees, with their dark-purple fruits, are not uncommon along the fringes of the swamp.
The swamp makes an ideal habitat for all manner of gorgeous dragonflies and damselflies while a profusion of jewel-hued butterflies dance along the trails (such as swallowtails and charaxes, and notably the African mocker swallowtail
Reptiles and amphibian identification.
Home to numerous frogs and toads, and specifically the tree frogs, which are particularly noisy after a rainstorm, the swamp is also a preferred haunt of Bell’s hinged tortoise. Snake life includes the forest cobra and the African rock python. As you follow the trails, you might also watch out for a side-striped chameleon.
How to get to Saiwa swamp national park?
Saiwa National Park is located 400 km north-west of Nairobi.it can easily by driving through Road using a 4×4 vehicle. Where to stay in Saiwa national park. Where to stay in Saiwa national park. The following options of accommodation are available near Saiwa swamp national park this include Aturukan hotel, At’ ease guest house, Crane Hotel, Horizons resort.
Best time to visit Saiwa national park.
Typical African wetland climate, ranging from warm to cool and humid to semi-arid (wet seasons March-June and October-November).The national park can be visited any time of the year. Contact Great Adventure Safaris about Kenya safaris to Saiwa swamp National Park