Kora National Park was, for nearly 20 years, the home of George Adamson and Tony Fitzjohn. George’s remarkable work rehabilitating tame lions at Kora made him a conservation legend. This 441,577-acre wildlife area was initially gazetted as a national reserve in 1973 before becoming a park in 1990 after Adamson’s death at the hands of poachers.
This triangle of dense woodland, rock and scrub is flanked along its 65 KM northern boundary by the Tana River which emerges from the highlands between the Aberdares and Mount Kenya before it embarks on a 700 KM journey to the Indian Ocean.
Considered the third-largest wildlife area after Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Park, Kora National Park neighbours the Meru National Park on the south of the Tana River. In fact, Adamson’s Bridge connects the two parks together – a dream George Adamson always had. These days banditry and poaching have declined, and the famous ‘friendly’ lions may be no more, but the park is still a great bucket list idea for these five reasons.
1. Climb Kora Rock
While the 442 M Kora Rock is not the highest point at Kora National Park, it is the most famous inselberg for its connection to George Adamson and Elsa, his celebrity pet lioness. Mansumbi, which rises 488 M is actually the highest followed by Kumbulanwa at 450 M. The rocks provide vantage points to view the pristine wilderness in the park.
2. Visit Two Falls and a Rapid
Along River Tana are the Adamson’s Falls, Grand Falls and the Kora rapids that can be visited.
3. Pay your Respects to Bwana Simba
George Adamson is buried in the Kora National Park next to Terrance, his brother who had died two years earlier. The graves of his two beloved lions, Super Cub and Boy lie nearby. The lions propelled George and his wife Joy, to household names around the world. On that fateful day, George was on his way to pick up visitors at his dirt airstrip. His Land-Rover came under attack from three Somali bandits. Two of his Kenyan assistants also died that day. At his funeral 12 uniformed game rangers raised their rifles to their shoulders and fired a volley into the air. He was 83 years old.
4. Enjoy a Wild Ambience
Experience Kora’s unique and diverse fauna. Twenty-one species of fish have been caught along the Kora stretch of Tana River. The park is home to almost 500 species of insects. Other species include 33 molluscs, 40 reptiles, and 5 amphibians. About 215 species of birds and 51 mammals also live here. These include elephants, Lesser Kudu, wild dogs, striped and spotted hyenas, lions, leopards and cheetahs. There are tracks negotiable by ordinary cars.
5. Camp at the Park
Kora National Park has various camping facilities campers can use for more extended stays at the park. Kampi Baridi, along Murera River on the Meru National Park’s side, is a good option. There are a few others, including public ones that are available.
There are two routes to Kora. If you are coming from Nairobi via Thika, you can use the Kaningo gate in Tseikuru which is after Mwingi. Alternatively, you can use the Adamsons gate from the Meru National Park through either Embu or Nanyuki. If heading to the Kampi ya Simba settlement where George’s camp was, proceed further from Tseikuru to the Masyungwa gate. Remember to confirm rates before travelling at the Kenya Wildlife Service website before travelling for your planning.