Lake Jipe/Tsavo West – An Odyssey’s End

This is the 3rd and final part of our overland adventure hugging the southern border of Kenya, didn’t think I’d manage to get it all written down but here we are. From driving the deserts of Lake Amboseli to swimming the blue waters of Lake Chala all roads have led to the most southerly point of this trip in Tsavo West. The adventure is far from over though, actually it’s almost like it’s just beginning…

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Road to Lake Jipe

The track from Chala to Jipe is a short one with only 30kms between the two and takes around an hour.

(Click on map to interact)

Road surface is good murram especially after crossing over the newly tarmacked Taveta Road.

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Driving past Grogans Castle, can’t help but think I wouldn’t mind checking it out one day. Not much of a hotel guy but it looks quirky enough to be interesting.

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After all the kilometers we’ve hammered up to this point it’s great to have a short stress free drive and as we approach the Tsavo West Lake Jipe gate we meet a welcome party. Hopefully a sign of things to come?

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We’ll see you later.

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Lake Jipe Campsite

The campsite is in a beautiful location right along the lake, and there’s already a rather large group from the Bundu Rovers 4WD club already camping there. Unfortunately I don’t take many situational pics as it’s crazy hot when we arrive with no shade (damn elephants), it’s all we can do just to try and avoid the the sun which seems to take sick pride in hovering a few inches above our noses. This leads to the cardinal mistake of not pitching our tents on arrival so in keeping with Murphys Law it’s unsurprising when the storm of the century hits later that afternoon.

The weather shifts from ever-blazing to thunder, lightning, gale force winds and the smell of ozone rich in the air. Someones tent goes flying into the lake, never to be seen again. We’re all soaked to the skin. I can’t stop laughing. I’m having a great time.

30 minutes later and its all over, the entire campsite is left picking up the pieces.

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Aggie from BR comes to check if we survived.

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The storm moves on across the lake to greet other campers in Tanzania.

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One good thing with the rain, it leaves extremely clear skies at night.

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Thanks for modelling this shot Tony.

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Kind of awesome to see the towns across the lake by night.

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It seems the BR crew go hard while camping and they have a loud booming disco late into the night. Doesn’t bother me too much as they shared their roast goat with us, I’d forgive anything after some nyama choma. Gloria Estefan screams at me to ‘Turn The Beat Around‘…I ignore her and nod off.

The next day dawns clear, before breakfast I finally get some shots showing the campsite.

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Looking North with bandas and showers to the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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View from our camping spot into Tanzania.

We’re excited to head further into Tsavo West so after breakfast it’s a case of pack up and go. Before then we decide to check out a herd of elephant about 200m from camp, turns out to be the best idea ever.

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At one point the some of the elephants are almost within touching distance, out of the corner of my eye I see my passenger trying to disappear into her seat (I won’t mention her name but it rhymes with Gaia).

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At this point we’re surrounded by the herd so nothing to do but wait it out until they move on. Worse things have happened. I few minutes later at the rangers post I get my favorite photos of the trip…

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That dude was just too casual….’nothing to see here just taking out the laundry’.

And it goes on…

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…and on. We can’t leave until they say so!

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I’m reminded just how much sense camping makes. You get to see the same scenes (sometimes better) as those paying thousands more for the same wildlife experience. To each his own, but I’m glad my ‘own’ is dirt cheap.

To Kamboyo Campsite

Finally we escape, Lake Jipe is the furthest South we have come (this time) and it’s time to head North, traversing Tsavo West in it’s entirety to our final campsite at Kamboyo.

(Click on map to interact)

This will take us 6 hours, partly because Tsavo West is a massive park but also probably the worst signposted park in the history of national parks. Even the maps are crap.

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It’s pedal to metal as we race ahead of another storm, being able to see where the road has previously washed out keeps us focused.

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I spot a mother cheetah with her two cubs drinking out of a puddle on the road before they scamper off as the cars approach, unfortunately no else does. Otherwise not much in the way of wildlife.

We finally arrive to the more ‘civilized’ northern part of the park. Futile navigational attempts are made to visit the Roaring Rocks to no avail, beautiful park though I can’t wait to come back.

lake-chala-tsavo-west-lake-jipe-camping-kenya-88We race the setting sun and just about make it to the campsite just before nightfall.

 

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Seems the BR team also has the same idea to camp here but thankfully no disco tonight!

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The last night on safari is always bitter-sweet, as we talk about all that happened on this trip we’re happy to be heading home but knowing that we’re all leaving that piece of us that is adventure behind for now. Luckily with camping the next trip is never that far a why, it’s a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

Snapshot

  • Tsavo West National Park fees: Citizens Ksh.515, Residents Ksh.1030, Non-res $53. Camping fees Ksh 200, personal car Ksh 300. Only M-PESA accepted.
  • Lake Jipe and Kamboyo both in the park so fees are applicable.
  • Lake Jipe Campsite- flush toilets, showers, bandas also available. Cheap beers available from ranger canteen. No shade at campsite, plan accordingly. Very intermittent Safaricom network (all but useless).
  • Campsite is right at the Jipe gate so motorcylists might be able to get away with camping here, if not there is Lake Jipe Safari Camp 5min away.
  • Kamboyo Campsite, flush toilets and showers, good shade, no other facilities but not far from main gate. Good Safaricom network.
  • If you’d like to see more posts from Kenyan blogs see what Kitots and Mutua got up to on their own trips to this area.

 

In Review

This trip ages like a fine wine, every time I think back at it it just seems to get better and better with time. The 5 of us pushing ourselves nearly 1000kms for 5 days, through deserts and lakes powered by our love for this country, the passion to share it with you and some bomb mince pie. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Very fitting then that it it was captured so well in this video by the Routes crew, perfect way to end this adventure; on to the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Lake Jipe/Tsavo West – An Odyssey’s End

  1. Eugene

    Awesome trip! We did the same trip with friends back in October 2016 only now we stopped at Grogan’s Castle and got a free tour of the place.

    Reply
  2. Yona

    I love that park like no Other.. I’m absolutely devastated you guys didn’t get to the roaring rocks!! A Tremendous view you missed. Also when you go back check out another view point called Poarchers lookout, you passed it coming from the south.. Take a few minutes to hike the Chaimo crater, it has magnificent views, again. I can’t end with this park, it has sooo much to offer!! The lodges there are also friendly, they’ll allow you to seat around and enjoy their views even if you are not their resident. Good way to relax given that your campsite my be too far to go back to for a short break from the Tsavo Sun. Ngulia lodge for example have another great view over kichwa tembo which is the highest point in the park, and it comes with a telescope to view rhinos iniside the Rhino Santuary!!.. If you are ever going back talk to me I give you tips and routes with stunning/dramatic scenery to guide you around the park.. Oooh I love Tsavo West. Did you know that while almost all other parks in Kenya were gazetted to conserve biodiversity Tsavo West was gazzetted primarily for it’s scenery?
    Great read!! Keep up the good work..

    Reply
    1. thekenyancamper Post author

      Hi, wow your enthusiasm for this park is infectious, now i can’t wait to get back! I’ve been to Poachers and the Roaring Rocks on previous trips but for some reason this time I just couldn’t find it! I think it was partly our fault as it was getting late and we were tired to possibly our brains were slightly scrambled. Next time before I go I’ll get in touch for sure, its seems you know all the hot spots in the park 🙂

      Reply
    1. thekenyancamper Post author

      Cheers Andreas, it’s because I used to ride so still can’t help looking at places with a riders eye. Just got back into it it so hopefully I can do my first a motorcycle ride report some time in the future.

      Reply
    1. thekenyancamper Post author

      Ah the number of stories/rumours of this track have been around for ages, I did drive a bit of it from Chyulu side but didn’t get very far. Ive never gotten a clear answer one way or the other if it’s doable. If you ever want to attempt it I’d be happy to document it!

      Reply

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