Saiwa Swamp National Park Safari Guide

safarigo   Kenya  

Saiwa Swamp is Kenya’s smallest national park. It basically protects a swamp fed by the Saiwa River, which provides shelter for a viable population of the rare sitatunga antelope. There are several observation towers overlooking the swamp, and with some patience, sightings are almost guaranteed. The park is only accessible on foot.

Pros & Cons

One of the best places to see the rare sitatunga antelope
Off-the-beaten track and little visited
Unguided walking on forest trails is permitted
Out of the way and not on any tourist circuit
Little variety of mammal species
Very small walking circuit
Limited accommodation options outside the park

Wildlife & Animals

This low-key park’s main attraction is a small population of sitatunga antelope, which can be spotted in their natural swamp environment. These rare antelope have special hooves adapted to wading through water, which makes them semi-aquatic. Other antelope that can be spotted on the water’s edge include defassa waterbuck, bushbuck and bohor reedbuck.

Wildlife Highlights

Aside from the sitatunga antelope, another swamp special is the rare de Brazza's monkey which is also known as the swamp monkey. The giant forest squirrels and red-legged sun squirrels are some of the smaller mammals to look out for in the forest canopy. Two types of otter inhabit the swamp and can sometimes be spotted swimming between the reeds – the African spot-necked otter and the African clawless otter.


Saiwa Swamp has an impressive 370 species recorded in a very small area. This is a good place to pick up some of the western specials such as the spectacular Ross’s turaco. It is a great birding destination as no cars are permitted in the park and you can walk unguided along the forest trails. There are several platforms around the marsh for spotting the rare sitatunga antelope, but they are also a great vantage point for identifying swamp specials and for looking into the canopy.

Best Time to Visit

Saiwa Swamp can be visited year-round. This is a high rainfall area, but December to March is quite dry, and there are a lot of sunny days. April to August is very wet, and rain might interfere with planned activities in the park.

june to october – Dry Season

It is mostly sunny and there is little rainfall
There are many migrant birds
Sitatunga antelope have their newborn
It rains a lot which might interfere with your activities

june to september – Wet Season

The scenery is very lush
You’re still likely to see the sitatunga antelope and other wildlife
It rains a lot which might interfere with your activities

Weather & Climate

Saiwa Swamp has a warm and humid climate with high rainfall. Due to the proximity to the equator, temperatures don’t vary much. The average afternoon temperature is around 26°C/79°F, but it gets cooler overnight with a temperature of about 12°C/54°F. There is rainfall throughout the year, but a distinct Wet season brings plenty of rain from April to November.

Dry Season – December to March

December & January – December and January are dry, although it can still rain occasionally. The days are mostly sunny.
February & March – The rain usually picks up a bit in February and increases through March. There are still a lot of sunny days.

Wet Season – April to November

April, May, June, July & August – This is a long period of high rainfall. There are many overcast days and it can sometimes rain all day. Road conditions might deteriorate.
September, October & November – Rain decreases a little in September. It can sometimes rain for days, but there are many days with sunshine as well.

Getting There

Saiwa Swamp is located 385km/239mi from Nairobi and 27km/16mi from Kitale. There is a small airport in Kitale, Kitale Airport (KIT), but most people visit Saiwa Swamp on a safari in Western Kenya by 4WD.

Nairobi is a major transport hub, so most people flying to Kenya from Europe or North America arrive here. Just southeast (15km/9mi) of Nairobi is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). Kenya's second international airport, Moi International Airport (MBA), is 9km/6mi west of Mombasa.