A Guide To Mwea National Reserve

Mwea National Reserve is a game reserve covering 42 sq.km, situated in Makima sub-location of Mwea in Mbeere, Embu County. The reserve is located north-west of Kamburu dam at the confluence of Tana and Thiba rivers. It lies on the foothills of Mt. Kenya and on some occasions, the snow-capped mountain can be seen to the North.

Facts About Mwea National reserve

Area: 42 sq.km

200 kilometers from Nairobi
Take the road via Thika or via Embu
Carry lots of drinking water because it can get very hot
A four-wheel drive is essential

What To See At Mwea National Reserve

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) manages the reserve in conjunction with the Embu County. The landscape of the reserve comprises gently rolling plains covered by Savannah grasslands with bushy vegetation and scattered trees. The most dominant trees and shrubs include: acacia species and cammiphora. There are dense bushes and trees along the water’s edge.

Mwea National Reserve hosts a wide array of wild animals that include: Elephant, lesser kudu, Nile crocodile, hippo, giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, buffalo, leopard, grey duiker, black-backed jackal, bushbuck, waterbuck, olive baboon, sykes’ monkey, serval cat, spotted hyena, warthog, rock hyrax, bush pig, impala and hartebeest.

Similarly, some rare animals such as: Stripped ground squirrel, Genet cat, Black backed jackal yellow baboons are found in the reserve. There are over 200 bird species and various reptile species such as snakes found in the reserve.

What To Do At Mwea National Reserve

While in the reserve, the visitors can also enjoy game viewing, boat rides at Kamburu dam, picnic at Hippo Point, a walking circuit as well as watching a realm of rare birds. The nearby Masinga Dam Resort offers quality food, accommodation and boat safaris in Masinga dam.

To the south is Tana River, to the east is Thiba River and to the north an electric fence that stops animals from invading Makima settlements. The earliest human settlement in Makima dates back to 1914 though wildlife conservation did not begin until 1972. The ecosystem’s main features are the meeting point of rivers Tana and Thiba, Kaburu and Masinga hydro-electric dams.

Mwea National Reserve
Mwea National Reserve

Major wildlife attractions include the elephant, Rothschild giraffe, zebra, lesser kudu, buffalo, water and bush bucks, impala, vervet monkeys, yellow baboons and the Grant’s gazelle. Others are dik dik. Cape hare, wart-hog, black-backed jackal, duiker, sykes monkey, Genet cat, slender mongoose, stripped ground squirrel, dwarf mongoose, crested porcupine, rock and tree hyrax and tortoise. Hippos and crocodiles are also found in the dams and rivers.

Birds and reptile species have been recorded in the reserve. With more than 200 species of birds, Mwea is renowned for water birds and waders. It is the only protected area where the endangered Hindes babbler can be found. The Reserve also shelters two other rare species – Pel’s fishing owl and the white-backed night heron.

There are no lodges, tented camps or self-catering accommodation options in Mwea Reserve. Masinga Lodge is at Masinga Dam, outside the reserve. However, camping facilities are available at Mbogo, Silvester, Mavuria, Kyangosi, Hippo Point, Kanyonga and githechu

Game viewing, boat rides at the Kamburu Dam and Hippo point are the key highlights in the reserve It can be accessed by road from Nairobi through Thika-Matuu-Masinga Dam (160km ). This route is surfaced until Masinga Dam Bridge – a further 10km of dirt road lies between the bridge and Makima Gate. Access is also possible through Embu-Machanga. By air the park can be accessed through Masinga  Airstrip near Masinga lodge. The reserve does not operate the safari card system and entry is by cash.

The Mwea National Reserve is co-managed by the KWS and Mbeere County council. Mwea National Reserve Trust was founded in 1991 to raise funds to develop the reserve. A number of projects have been funded through donations, including a boat, outboard engine, energy saving jikos and translocation of zebras. The major attractions wildlife, a hippo point, rare birds and boat rides at Kamburu Dam.

Main Atrractions Mwea National Reserve

  • Game Viewing
  • Boat rides at Kamburu dam
  • Hippo Point
  • Realm of Rare birds
  • Walking circuit

Accommodation and hotels in Mwea National Reserve

  • In – Park Accommodation
    • There are no lodges, tented camps or self-catering accommodation options in Mwea Reserve. Masinga Lodge is located at Masinga Dam outside the Reserve.

How to get to Mwea National Reserve

  • By Road: From Nairobi, via Thika-Matuu-Masinga Dam(160 km).this route is surfaced until Masinga Dam Bridge-a further 10 km of dirt road lies between here and Makima Gate. Access is also possible via Embu-Machanga.
  • By Air: Masinga airstrip near Masinga lodge.By Air: Masinga Airstrip near Masinga Lodge.

A Map of Mwea National Reserve

Mwea National Reserve fees


Adults KSH: 350

Child KSH: 200


Adults KSH: 600

Child KSH: 350

Non – Resident

Adults USD:25

Child USD:15

Mwea National Reserve contacts

Attraction Type: Wildlife
Category: National Reserve
Region: Mt. Kenya
City / Town: Embu
Telephone: 254 20 205 2727
Email: mwea@kws.go.ke
Website: http://www.kws.org/parks/parks_reserves/MWNR.html
Entrance Fee: Yes

Watch a Video of Mwea National Reserve