Thursday, October 22, 2020

Shimba Hills National Reserve

The scenically beautiful Shimba Hills National Reserve encompasses one of the oldest forests in the World and is an ideal day trip for those staying at Mombasa or Diani Beach. The Shimba Hills National Reserve is situated about 33km (20.5miles) from Mombasa. It contains one of the largest coastal forests in East Africa and is where a great diversity of Kenya's plant species are found, many of which are endangered.

The Shimba Hills National Reserve is home to many Elephant, and is the only place in Kenya where tourists can see the rare and endangered Sable Antelope.

The Reserve is also known for its excellent birding opportunities and twitchers can search for the Croaking Cisticola or the Zanzibar Red Bishop. Due to the thick nature of the forest, game viewing is not as rewarding as on the savannahs, as many animals spend their time deep in the forest. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes the wildlife encounters that you do have, that much more spectacular.Getting there

From Mombasa you will need to catch a ferry across to Diani Beach. There a tour operator will meet you and you will travel along the A1 for 10km till you get to the main crossroad. Take the road towards Twale Town. The main entrance gate to the park is located 3km from Kwale.

Airport - There is a 1.5km long bush airstrip or you could fly in to the Ukunda Airstrip at Diani Beach or the Moi International Airport in Mombasa and hire a vehicle or arrange for a local tour operator to drive you to the Shimba Hills Nature Reserve.

Shimba Hills National Highlights & Attractions

  • 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

What to in the Shimba Hills National Reserve - The Kenya Wildlife Service offers a guided walk 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.

The Experience

The Shimba Hills National Reserve is perfectly situated for a day trip if you are staying in Mombasa or Diani Beach. The Reserve is characterised by rolling hills which are covered in coastal forests which form one of the largest continuous forests in the World. They are also some of the oldest forests in the World, having been spared the last Ice Age. They contain up to 30 % of Kenya's plant species, including rare cycads and stunning orchids.

The reserve is home to many Elephant - up to 700 at one stage, which resulted in a great translocation program by the Kenyan Wildlife Services in the mid 2000s. This reduced the pressure and impact that the Elephants were having on this special forest. The Reserve is also home to the last breeding herd of Sable Antelope in Kenya and you should keep a look out for these large ebony coloured antelope with their scimitar shaped horns.

Explore the reserve on guided game drives with a local tour operator. The roads are rough and a 4x4 vehicle is needed to navigate them. One of the most memorable activities on offer is a guided walk through the forest with a Kenyan Wildlife Service's Guide - these walks are offered free of charge and take you through the forest to the beautiful Sheldrick Falls.

Shimba Hills National Reserve Accommodation

We recommend that guests stay in the wonderful accommodation in Mombasa and visit the National Park for the day. In Mombasa we recommend guests stay at the Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa or Kinondo Kwetu.


As Shimba Hills National Reserve is situated slightly inland from the coast, it is cooler and the landscape is often shrouded in mist in the morning. The reserve has a warm tropical climate and a mean annual temperature of 24 °C.

More in this category: Lamu »

Want to Explore & Enquire More About Us?