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Arewale National Reserve


Arewale National Reserve is under the management of Garissa town in the North Eastern province of Kenya, with the help of the Kenya Wildlife Service. The reserve is situated at about 77 kilometers to the south of Garissa town. The approximate area covered by Arewale National Reserve is 533 square kilometers. The park is bordered to the west by the Tana River while to the east is Garissa-Lamu road.


Arewale National Reserve was gazetted in the year 1974 as the only conservation area for the Hirola population that is critically endangered and endemic to the south western part of Somalia and the north eastern part of Kenya. Arewale National Reserve hosts a wide range of wild animal species including the four major species that are globally endangered. These are Grevy’s Zebra, Hirola, Cheetah and the African Wild Dog. As per a study commissioned in 2006 by Terra Nuova, there are signs of the presence of African Elephant at the Arewale National Reserve.


To visit Arewale National Reserve, it is important to have a 4-wheel drive, owed to the fact that no tracks are required inside the reserve. The journey can start from the coast or Nairobi. To depart from Nairobi, A2 Road should be followed northward to Thika, followed by A3 road which leads to Garissa.


However, prior to reaching Garissa town, a visitor should take a right turn to the B8 towards the south heading to Mombasa and Malindi. After a 90km drive, there is a detour left that leads to Bura town. In this town, there are crossroads, where one has to turn right. The road is D568 and borders the eastern end of Arewale National Reserve prior to leading to Ijara and the Kenyan coast. The exact location of Arewale National Reserve is 130 kilometers south of Malindi and 250 kilometers north of Mombasa town.


From either Malindi or Mombasa town, one drives along the B8 road on the norther side. The road runs parallel to the Kenyan coats until it turns inland upstream the River Tana. This leaves behind Garsen Town and the primate national reserve of Tana River. One should then turn right to the road leading to Ijara and Masalani. Crossing Tana River leads to a detour left going northward. This route crosses the reserve prior to encountering Masabubu town. Another alternative or option for visitors is to start from Masalani to Ijara and then take the D568 route leftward toward Bura and Masabubu. The track runs near the eastern border of Arewale National Reserve before reaching Masabubu.


The main asset of Arewale National Reserve is the Hunter’s hartebeest, which is also known as Hirola. This is a slender antelope that has horns that are shaped like a lyre. This species of antelope is not only rare and shy but also greatly endangered. The territory of Hirola extends to the border of Somali, though its population is scarce and sightings are not frequent. Other wild animals that are hosted in the reserve include giraffe, elephants, lesser kundu, crocodiles, and hippos.


Arewale National Reserve has no available accommodation. The hotels closest to the park are situated in the northward part, Garissa, and the southward part, Garsen town. The distance between Arewale National Reserve and either of the towns is quite long. Therefore, the best option for visitors touring Arewale National Reserve is camping. No campsites are available within the reserve. However, visitors who wish can make applications for camping permits. Arewale National Reserve is definitely among the perfect getaway places to visit while in Kenya.