The Chyulu Hills region is the perfect 'hideaway' for people who want to escape mass tourism, in search of a smaller, more exclusive destination. The Chyulu Hills are an unspoilt part of Africa where Masai shepherds have been living on the open plains with their cattle for many centuries. The National Park covers the east side of the hills, which includes half of the wooded area, and the west side forms part of the West Chyulu Game Reserve, which is owned by the Masai.
The centrally located Chyulu Hills lie in between Tsavo and Amboseli, and are only 500 years old. This unspoilt mountain range is both charming and bare, with wooded mountainsides that are surrounded by craters, plains and lava plateaus. The most interesting crater - which is the subject of many local legends - is called 'Shetani', which is Swahili for 'devil'. The porous rock here absorbs the rainwater and carries it underground to the Mzima Springs, which is the most important water supply in the area.
The hills have many different vegetation zones. The regrowth of vegetation on the fertile volcanic soil is actually still in process and the many shades of green are quite impressive. The vegetation in the lower areas consists of grasses and shrubs.
It is the end of 1953 or the beginning of 1954, and Ernest and Mary Hemingway are sitting in front of their tent watching the first light of day slowly define the snow-covered Mount Kilimanjaro. The cattle on the plain cause clouds of dust to whip up into the air and Mary Heningway turns to her husband and tells him that she wants to see more of Africa before they return home. Ernest is not very enthusiastic. 'You've no ambition', says Mary. 'You only want to stay in one place'. To which Ernest answers, 'Have you ever been to a more beautiful place than this?' When Michael Palin retraced the Hemingways' journey, he could do little but agree.
The Chyulu Hills also offer fantastic views over the plains of Amboseli and Tsavo, which can be visited as a day excursion. The hills are easily explorable by 4x4 or on foot; you could even opt to take an incredible horseback journey. Aside from these options, archaeological and geographical safaris are also possible. Another unforgettable experience here is being able to learn about the Masai's traditions during a visit to one of their remote villages.
The Taita Hills lie close to Tsavo East. Taita Hills is the collective name for three mountain ridges that are home to a privately-owned game reserve and a wealth of game. Among the huge number of bird species are the very rare Taita Falcon - a bird that was recorded in early Egyptian hieroglyphics. The stunning Lake Chala is located in nearby Taveta and is nourished by rainfall that travels down from Mount Kilimanjaro.