Shimba Hills National Reserve

The Shimba Hills National Reserve is one of the largest coastal forest sanctuaries in East Africa. This is one of the other Kenya National Reserves that contains a wide variety of animal species. The reserve contains the greatest number of Forest Elephants not only in Kenya, but throughout all of Africa. The reserve is only 33 kilometers from the coast of Mombasa in the south. The Kenya Wildlife Services established the Shimba Hills national reserve in 1968.

The reserve consists primarily of forest, rainforest, and grassland. The Shimba Hills national reserve contains over fifty percent of the country’s rare plant species, making it one of the most important areas for plant biodiversity. There are over 159 tree species, including Cycad, orchids, and others. Both forest and open savannah grassland species such as Red-necked-spur fowl, cisticola, and Zanzibar red Bishops are found in the reserve. Sheldrick falls and the dense Mwalugaje forest are the most picturesque portions of the reserve.

The reserve is well-known for its large elephant population of over 700. Early in the twenty-first century, the Elephant population became unmanageable, prompting Kenya Wildlife Services to relocate approximately 150 Elephants to Tsavo East national park. This was the greatest translocation in the history of Animal Planet, but it was necessary to reduce animal-human conflicts on the reserve.

Getting to the Park

The 300-square-kilometer Shimba Hills national reserve is accessible from the Mombasa coastline. The reserve is accessible from Diani beach or Mombasa via a one-hour drive on an excellent tarmac road. From Nairobi, the Mombasa Road, also known as A109, requires 9 to 10 hours of driving time.

Alternately, one can board daily flights from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Wilson Airport to Mombasa, and then drive for one hour to reach the reserve. Due to the lengthy distance, this is the most practical option.

Attractions in Shimba National Reserve

Shimba Hills national reserve, which was designated as a national Forest reserve in 1903, began gaining a large deal of popularity in 1924, when additional grassland was added to the reserve. Within the equatorial forest, the small Shimba Hills national reserve contains a vast wilderness and wondrous cascades. It is a well-ventilated area that provides refreshing air after a tour of the warm Indian Ocean coastline.


Shimba Hills national reserve is renowned for its abundance of elephants and is a wonderful wildlife destination. The reserve is home to numerous uncommon species, including Sable Antelope, Forest elephants, African elephants, Giraffes, Leopards, Hyenas, bush pig, bison, Bushbaby, Blue Duiker, and Galago. All of these species of fauna attract tourists.

Shimba Hills National Reserve
Shimba Hills National Reserve


Shimba Hills national reserve is also home to a plethora of avian species, with over 100 recorded species. 22 bird species are coastal endemics, including the Ostrich Eagle, Falcon, Cuckoo, Guinea-fowl, Honeyguide, Hornbill, quail, and Uluguru, among others.

Sheldrick falls: 

The 21-meter-tall Sheldrick Falls is situated within Shimba Hills national reserve. It is one of the primary attractions at the reserve named for the conservationist Sheldrick, who was the first person to visit the falls.

Marere Dam:

The dam is an important wildlife water catchment area; during the drought season, more animals congregate here, making it easier to observe wildlife in the park.

The Elephant Hill: 

Named after the large gathering of Elephants in the surrounding highlands. It is a viewpoint from which one can observe elephant populations up close and from above. The trek up the hill can be accompanied by an armed game ranger.


With nearly fifty percent of the Shimba Hills national reserve covered by forest, the reserve contains over one thousand tree species. The majority of shrub researchers visit the reserve for research purposes and to identify various tree species.

Activities To Do

Game viewing:In the park, there are a large number of Elephants for game viewing. One can view numerous creatures, including hyenas, giraffes, elephants, bush babies, and leopards. The abundance of fauna in the preserve makes a visit to the preserve more enjoyable and memorable. Shimba Hills national reserve is one of the best places to view wildlife, and its compact size makes it simple to conduct short, rewarding game drives.


The reserve is home to over 200 species of birds, including more than 20 endemic species that are extremely uncommon. The diverse tree species of the rain forest have provided a suitable habitat for numerous avian species. The warm and chilly weather has attracted an increase in the number of breeding water animals to the reserve. The reserve is home to numerous species of birds, such as the Zanzibar Red Bishop, Cisticola, Guinea fowl, falcons, African Hawks, Fish eagle, hornbills, kingfishers, and sunbirds, to name a few.


The reserve’s topography is more varied and is characterized by hills and forests. Hiking is conducted under the direction of a park attendant. The various hills provide excellent vantage points for viewing animals, particularly elephant herds, as well as a bird’s-eye view of the reserve. The most conspicuous hills in the reserve are Shimba hills and Elephant Hill, which guests hike after game drives.

Visiting the falls: 

 Nature excursions are permitted, including hikes to the spectacular, 21-meter-tall Sheldrick falls. The cascades were named for renowned Kenyan conservationists. One can appreciate viewing the falls, swimming at the base of the falls, and other activities.

The wildlife experience at Shimba Hills national reserve is never diminished by its scale, as it contains an abundance of wildlife beyond its capacity. This is the starting point for mixed coastal and wildlife safari excursions. It is the ideal destination for honeymooners who wish to experience nature in a romantic manner.

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