Established in 1972, Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary is a private reserve extending over approximately 110 sq km of thorny savannah set below the craggy volcanic peaks of Taita Hills. The sanctuary shares an unfenced border with Tsavo West National Park allowing wildlife free movement in and out of the national park, but an electric fence runs along the northern boundary to prevent elephants and buffalo from damaging crops in the neighboring villages. 

More than 50 mammal and 300 bird species have been recorded at the sanctuary. However, populations tend to fluctuate according to season, with elephant and buffalo, in particular, being densest towards the end of the dry season (June to November). Resident within the reserve are three lion prides as well as small populations of leopard and cheetah. 

Visitors in their own vehicles can drive around the well-maintained network of internal roads, and overnight lodge guests can go on guided game drives, where giraffe and Coke’s hartebeest are among the more common ungulates. Owing to the sanctuary’s small size, the night drives offered by the lodges are a good chance of spotting nocturnal species such as hyena, leopard, honey badger, genet, and white-tailed mongoose. 

Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge

The main attraction of the wildlife sanctuary is a stilted construction, Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge, whose Germanic architecture is said to resemble bunkers, in recognition of the World War I battles fought in the vicinity. The lodge offers fine views over a waterhole, which attracts a steady stream of thirsty wildlife – elephants gather here in their hundreds on busy nights. Sarova Hotels also runs the other lodge in the sanctuary – the Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge – which is an attractive stone building covered in ivy.