The fascinating story of Elsa the lioness : Welcome to Meru national park in Meru County, Kenya about 350 km away from Nairobi Kenya.International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), restored Meru National Park from near ruin to one of the most promising tourist destinations in Eastern Africa, solving the park’s poaching problem. IFAW donated $1.25 million to this major restoration project and with this money aided in improving the basic infrastructure and provided essential equipment and vehicles for law enforcement activities.

Poaching can be defined as the illegal shooting, trapping, or taking wild animals from reserved areas to other areas without any permission,It is one of the biggest contributor to decreasing number of wild life in Kenya. Poaching was the biggest threat to Kenya’s wildlife and tourism industry in kenya major national parks ,like Tsavo national,Nairobi national park, Maasai mara, lake Nakuru national park and Meru national park .It was so severe in the late 1980s that at one point the then-president of Kenya burned thousands of ivory in Nairobi national park in his bid to encourage conservation.

At meru national park is a story of Elsa the lioness born on 28th January 1956 – 24th Jan 1961.Game warden George Adamson and his wife Jof Adamson raised a lioness ,they named Elsa alongside her sisters “Big one” and “Lustica”.The two sisters were taken to the Netherlands Rotherdam zoo.The lion cubs were orphaned on 1st February 1956 after George was forced to kill their mother when she charged towards him in defence of her 3 cubs.George and his wife Joy then adopted the 4 days old cubs.

Elsa in many ways lived like a domesticated pet and had a close relationship with George wife Joy. Joy was so determined to teach Elsa to hunt by herself and live in the wild her effort paid off in 1958 when she managed to successfully return Elsa back into the wild earning Elsa world wide fame when her story was published in the Book Free.Elsa grew and ended up having 3 cubs of her own whom Adamson named “Joseph ” (male),”Gopa” (female) and ” Little Elsa “( female).

Unfortunately, Elsa died prematurely after being infected by animals disease similar to malaria which affects the cat family. Meru national park is home to the famous Big 5.It is located east of Meru town ,350 km away from Nairobi covering an area of 870 kilometers Square. The region is abundant with rainfall which makes the park attractive with tall grasslands and lush swamps.

On 20th August 1989 George Adamson also known as Baba ya Simba a swahili word which means a father of lions was murdered by Somali bandits while he was trying to rescue three of his assistants who opened fire on his vehicle with automatic weapons as he tried to run them down, according to Richard Leakey, Kenya’s director of wildlife then.The Adamsons helped popularize wildlife conservation. Joy Adamson propelled them to fame with the books, “Born Free,” “Living Free” and “Forever Free,” describing their practice of taking lions born in captivity, teaching them to survive and releasing them into the wild.

Adamson was born in India in 1906. He first visited Kenya in 1924 and later moved to the East African nation, joining its game department in 1938. He retired in 1963. When he married Joy, an Austrian artist, in 1944, he was game warden of Kenya’s Northern Frontier District. Twelve years later, he brought home three motherless lion cubs. He was once attacked by one of his lions. But he was never deterred. He wrote of lions: ”Like people, they can look impressive, beautiful, curious, ugly or plain. The best are adventurous, loyal and brave. All of them have been designed and perfected by nature to kill.”

His work was supported for the Royal Geographical Society and the National Museums of Kenya, among others. Mr. Adamson had critics who asserted his work was of little scientific value and a waste of time because lions are not an endangered speciesJoy his wife  was also killed by a servant in a wage dispute in 1980

 The fascinating story of Elsa the lioness
 The fascinating story of Elsa the lioness

Other animals in Meru national park

Several Kenya safari tour to meru national park some of the other wildlife include; Grevy’s zebras, elephants, Bohor reedbucks, hartebeests, pythons, puff adders, cobras, buffalos and more than 427 recorded species of birds. It is now one of the stronghold of conservation for lions in kenya and effort are being done since 2014 by conservatives and kenya wildlife service to reclaim its lions lost glory. The park now has a population of between 60 to 80 lions.

How to reach meru national park

Meru National Park can be accessed by road from Nairobi  through Nyeri – Nanyuki  to Meru or through Embu by tarmac and all weather roads.It can also be reached by Airstip,the main airstrip is at Kina, Mulika next to Meru Mulika Lodge and Elsa’s Kopje airstrip.

Meru national park entrance fee

Category   Fees (Kshs)

                          Adult                              Child/student

Citizen        500Kshs               215 Kshs

Resident             500 Kshs               215 Kshs

Non-Resident     60US$                  20US$

 Meru National Park attractions

  1. 1: There is former home to  George and Joy  Adamson and Elsa lioness
  2. There is perfect view of Mt Kenya
  3. It is a region with plenty Rivers and riverine habitats
  4. There is Adamson’s falls

 Accommodation around Meru national park.

Meru national park has several  accommodation options from midrange, camping  to the most luxurious. There are several kws self catering cottages e.g Kinna cottages, Kinna guesthouse, Murera cottages and Meru guesthouse,  The fascinating story of Elsa the lioness.

There are also plenty of Camping sites for a wonderful wildlife experience. Some of the camping sites available are Mugunga,Rojawero,Kenmore,Golo 1,Golo 2,Fisi,Kambi ya baridi ,chuma,Bwatherongi and Ekime.

There are also other privately owned lodges and hotels e.g Elsa’s kopje and Leopard Rock Lodge.

What is the best time to visit Meru national park.

Most Safari tours,Discover kenya safari , tembea kenya safaris among others emphasise the importance of knowing the best time to visit Kenya as this will impact accommodation, flight prices, availability and the weather that visitors can expect on their safari vacation. The long cool-dry season from July to October is widely-recognized as the best time to visit Meru National Park.

Activities and attractions of meru national park

Burial site of Joy Adamson and Elsa the lioness

When animal conservationist Joy Adamson who was also the wife of George Adamson died, she was buried in the park next to the grave of Elsa, the orphaned lioness who they reared. Because of the works, this couple had done in Meru National Park, a memorial site was constructed here in recognition of their efforts. This Dutch couple was the first explorers to enter the park and visitors interested in learning about their interesting history and conservation works can find all this information here.

Adamson’s Falls

Situated in the cavern of Hastings, Adams Falls which was named after notable animal conservationists George and Joy Adamson stands 50m high and offers some sightings. Hiking to the top of the falls takes about 2-3 hours depending on the fitness level of the hikers but once at the top, the strenuous hike is so rewarding.

Bird watching

With over 300 bird species, visitors have the opportunity to see both swamp, forest, and open savannah species some of which include the Maasai Ostrich, Guineafowl, Fish Eagle, Kori Bustard, Palm Weaver, African Finfoot, Secretary Bird, Wattled Starling, Martial Eagle, and the Boran Cisticola.

Nature walks

A walking safari across Meru National Park allows visitors to focus on the smaller details in the park and may reveal to you animals like the bohor reedbuck, wallowing buffalos, the elusive caracal, and over 400 species of lively birds,  The fascinating story of Elsa the lioness

Game viewing

Meru National Park is home to the African Big 5 and a variety of other rich wildlife species. Some of the mammal species that roam this complete wilderness include elephant, rhino, cheetah, leopard, both Grevy’s and Plains zebra, reticulated giraffe, hippo, buffalo, and hartebeest among  others.

 Cultural Safaris

Meru National Park is a melting point of culture. The generosity of the local community has enhanced the success of the park. On the slopes of Nyambene hills to the West of the park are the Meru people who are predominantly agriculturalists with hectares of Catha edulis plants (Miraa) and coffee. The Kamba, Borana, and Orma pastoralist communities also border the park. These provide a rich cultural diversity and experience to visitors who want to find out more about the rich lifestyle of these people,  The fascinating story of Elsa the lioness

Meru national park is a paradise in the wild; the only words befitting of this wonderful haven. The Meru National park is a stunner by all means.Her mesmerizing beauty and limitless fauna put her at the top of the great national park in Kenya. The park is one of the best safari destinations in Kenya ,with her comes breathe taking views of swamps, meandering rivers artistically lined with palms, thick woodlands and a spectacular view of Mt. Kenya.

book a safari