Shimba Hills National Reserve lies approximately 33 km south of Mombasa town in Kwale County just south of Kwale town. The coastal ecosystem comprises a heterogeneous habitat including forestlands, exotic plantations, scrublands, and grasslands. The ecosystem holds one of the largest coastal forests in East Africa after Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.

Shimba Hills National Reserve is the only place in Kenya to view the sable antelope. The reserve is rich in flora and fauna and hosts the highest density of African elephants in Kenya. Shimba Hills was gazetted as a National Forest in 1903, grassland areas were incorporated in 1924 and several subsequent extensions took place to bring the reserve to its present size. In 1968 most of the reserve was double gazetted as the Shimba Hills National Reserve. Two smaller areas to the west adjoining the reserve and almost entirely forested remain as forest reserves; Mkongani North and Mkongani West Forest Reserve. A fenced elephant corridor connects the Shimba Hills with Mwaluganje Forest Reserve to the North.

Roosevelt Sable (Hippotragus niger roosevelti) female Shimba Hills National Reserve
Roosevelt Sable (Hippotragus niger roosevelti) Female – Shimba Hills National Reserve | Photo By Bernard DUPONT

Major Attractions

  • Scenic landscape comprising hills and valleys extending beyond the reserve boundaries
  • Coastal Rainforest
  • Sheldrick’s Falls
  • Sable Antelope
  • Elephant habitat
  • Mwaluganje Forest
  • Various viewpoints

Wildlife at Shimba Hills National Reserve

Include endangered Sable Antelope, Elephants, Buffalo, Giraffes, Leopard, Genet, Civet Cat, Hyena, Waterbuck, Reedbuck, Warthog and Bush Pig, Baboon Plus Sykes’, Black-faced Vervet Monkey and Angola Colobus Monkey, Serval, Red Duiker, Blue Duiker, Bush Duiker, Greater Galago, Black and Red Shrew and Knob-Bristled Suni Shrew.

Introduced species include Maasai Giraffe and Ostrich.


Birds: Over 100 bird species have been recorded, of which 22 are coastal endemic among them are Ostrich, Eagle, Africa Hawk, Falcon, Cuckoo, Guinea-Fowl, Kenya Crested, Honey Gide, Hornbill, Crowned, Quail, Sunbird, and Uluguru.


Reptiles: Python, Cobra, Lizard, and Gehr


What to Do

  • Game viewing
  • Camping
  • The potential for bird-shooting outside the reserve
  • Walking safaris

How to Get to Shimba Hills National Reserve

Road: From Mombasa, take a ferry at Likoni to access the southern coastline where Diani and Tiwi beaches are. Then take the main A14 coast road 10 km southwards until you join the main crossroad. Follow the road climbing to Kwale Town (C106). The main fare is 3 km from Kwale.

Air: 1.5 km airstrip. Regular flights also at Ukunda airstrip at Diani Beach and at Moi International Airport in Mombasa.


Other Park Details

Park Size

300 square km

Park Fees

Go to www.kws.go.ke or contact the tour operator.

Best time to visit

All year round.

Accommodation

In-reserve accommodation and camping facilities are available.

Climatic Conditions

The climate is hot and moist but cooler than that the coast with strong sea breezes and frequent mist and cloud in the early morning. Annual rainfall is 855-1,682 mm. The mean annual temperature is 24.2°C.

What to take with you

Drinking water, picnic items, and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight. Also useful are: binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and guidebooks.