The park is quieter than others in Kenya, well off the mainstream tourist trail. Nevertheless, there is a wealth of wildlife to see here – and each of the park’s three camps has plenty of character and charm!
Meru has been a popular place for safari-goers since it was founded in 1966, boosted by the success of Born Free. Unfortunately its popularity plummeted during the 1980s and into the next decade, such that poachers controlled the area for many years. But all that was to change towards the turn of the century, as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, supported by the EU, determined to restore Meru to its former glory with assistance from the Kenya Wildlife Service. Roads were restored, rangers were re-employed, and a poacher-proof rhino sanctuary was created. The park was reborn!
It is the landscape of Meru that is responsible for attracting its hoards of animals. The park comprises 870 sq. km of sprawling grasslands, fertile bush and acacia woodland. All five members of the Big Five (lion, rhino, leopard, Cape buffalo and African elephant) are at home here, in addition to loads of other species – cheetah, giraffe, zebra, oryx, kudu and gazelle, for example. And the park’s beautiful rivers and streams attract plentiful hippo, crocodile and freshwater turtle.
The birdlife of Meru is equally impressive, with highlights such as ostriches, numerous raptors, Pel’s fishing owl, spectacular sunbirds and starlings, and rare types such as the giant kingfisher! This really is a birder’s paradise.
Activities in Meru focus on viewing all this wildlife, on game drives and game walks. As the park is not teeming with tourists, it provides a very authentic safari experience. We highly recommend a trip to the successful rhino sanctuary, while the site of Elsa’s grave – the remote north bank of the Ura River in the deep south of Meru – is also well worth a visit.