Arawale National Reserve Garissa County Kenya is located 250 km North of Mombasa and 130 km North of Malindi. The park lies in the North Eastern Province of Kenya, 77 km South of the Town of Garissa. Arawale reserve covers an area of 533 km2 (206 sq miles) and is bordered by the Tana River to the West and Garissa-Lamu road to the East. Arawale National Reserve is home to a range of wildlife species, including The Hilora or Hunter’s hartebeest, Grevy’s zebra, wild dog, and cheetah. The reserve is also a sanctuary for other wildlife, such as the African bush elephant, giraffe, lesser kudu, buffalo, hippo, and crocodile. Various migratory and residential bird species have been spotted at the reserve near the splendid Tana river.
Arawale National Reserve covers an area of 533 kilometers squared or 206 square miles and is situated on the northern shore of the Tana River, 40 kilometers /25 miles upstream from Tana River Primate National Reserve in Eastern Kenya. It lies in the Garissa District of the North Eastern Province of Kenya close to the Somalia border.
Arawale is located 250 km north of Mombasa and 130 km north of Malindi. From each of these towns, you will drive north along the B8 road, which runs parallel to the coast until turning inland upstream of the Tana River. By Air you can use domestic chartered flights that fly from Malindi & Mombasa.
Leaving behind the town of Garsen and the Tana river primate national reserve, turn right to the track that leads to Masalani and Ijara. After crossing the Tana you will find a detour left that goes northward. This route traverses the reserve before reaching the town of Masabubu. Masabubu is 31.7 km from Arawale National Reserve.
The area is home to the Somali tribe majority and a minority of the Malakote and Pokomo tribes. The communities are semi-nomadic pastoralists who keep livestock herds consisting of camels, cattle, sheep, goats, and sometimes donkeys to be used during transport. Some of the community members with land along River Tana practice irrigation farming.
Arawale National Reserve was gazetted as a conservation site for the critically endangered Hirola population that is known to be endemic to north-eastern Kenya and southwest Somalia. The reserve has played the role of conservation for a range of wildlife species including four globally threatened species: hirola, Grevy’s zebra, East African wild dog, and East African cheetah.
Arawale National Reserve is also home to many other wildlife species including Topi, Zebras, Elephants, Lesser Kudus, African Buffalos, Hippos, and Crocodiles. The bird life is rich and varied. Arawale National Reserve landscape is mostly a dry thorn-bush savannah and the reserve has no accommodations – lodges or tented camps.
The nearest hotels are in Garissa, northward, and Garsen, southward, but both towns are quite far away from Arawale, so camping is the recommended option if one desires to include it in a Kenya African Spice Safari Package. Arawale National Reserve roads are close to non-existent, so four-wheel drive is advisable.
Arawale National Reserve Wildlife
Arawale National Reserve key wildlife species include Hirola, or Hunter’s hartebeest (‘Beatragus hunteri’), a slender ungulate with lyre-shaped horns which is called the ‘four-eyed antelope’ for its visible preorbital glands.
It can only be found in this region and is critically endangered (only the previous step to extinct in the wild) according to the IUCN red list of threatened species. Some Hirolas have been translocated to Tsavo East National Park in an effort to save the species.
Arawale is also a refuge for some species like elephants, Reticulated giraffes, Beisa Oryx, Bushbucks, Grant Gazelle, Lesser Kudu, Ostrich, Leopard, Spotted hyenas, Stripped hyenas, Warthogs, Olive Baboons, Kirk’s Dik Diks, Gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, African wild dog, cheetah, lesser kudu, buffalo, and hippo.
There are also a variety of reptiles in the area including snakes, tortoises, and crocodiles. Various migratory and residential bird species have been spotted at the reserve near the splendid Tana river.
2023 Arawale National Reserve Entrance Fees
Citizen/ Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
Non-Resident Rate Per Person Per Day
|Adult||500 Kenya Shillings||22 US Dollars|
|Child||300 Kenya Shillings||13 US Dollars|
* Child refers to persons from three years but below 11 years
* Resident refers to persons of other nationalities residing in Kenya with valid documentation from the Kenyan government
* Citizen – A native or inhabitant of East Africa Countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan) with valid identification documents or passport
* Daily – Fee paid for a single entry to a national park, national reserve, or sanctuary and which shall be valid for no longer than twenty-four hours
Arawale National Reserve Activities
Activities at Arawale National Reserve
Arawale national reserve is one of Kenya’s remote national parks that has suffered poaching. However, there is still wildlife and boasts the Hirola antelope with other animals for example; buffalos, lesser kudu, lions, Grevy’s zebras, cheetahs, elephants, topi, etc. Tana river which harbours Nile crocodiles and hippos passes through Arawale on its long flow to the Indian ocean.
There are a variety of bird species to be seen at the park. One of the best places to do this is at the splendid Tana river, the birds to be seen are both migratory birds from Europe and North Africa, as well as residential birds, the best season for bird watching, is in the wet season when residential birds are also breeding.
Guided Nature Walks
Tourists can take guided nature around the park trails and experience wildlife along the way, this normally takes about two to three hours.
Camping & Picnics
These are some of the activities you can do in the park.
Best Time to Visit | Where to Stay
Best time to visit
The park can be visited throughout the year but the best time is from June to October and January and February.
Where to stay
Although there are not many places to visit and explore, travelers can relax in the classy hotels and resorts in Garissa town. Some of the best accommodation facilities in the county include the following: Nomad Palace Hotel, Lantern Resort, Halugo Palace Hotel, Tana Garden Hotel, and Palm Oasis Resort Garissa.
How to get there
The park can be accessed from Mombasa which is about 250 kilometers and Malindi 130 kilometers by road. Tourists can also use domestic chartered flights that fly to Mombasa and Malindi.
Reached from Nairobi best via Thika and Garissa, or from Mombasa via Malindi and Garsen, Arawale is a reserve without fencing or gates and is part of Kenya’s Arawale-Boni-Dodori Reserve which lies on either side of the river before it reaches the Indian Ocean between Malindi and Lamu.
The last bridge across the Tana is at Garissa, so to reach Arawale from its southern side, the crossing is by ferry 87 km (55 miles) from Garsen at Hola, where there is an Administrative centre, post office, police station, and petrol station.