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Visitors Guide


INDEX About the KIbwezi Forest


Where You Are


How To Get To Kibwezi


About Umani Springs

8 - 10

What To Do At Umani Springs

11 -14

KWS Park Entrance Fees


Adventure Highlights; Chyulu Hills


Adventure Highlights;Tsavo East & West


Useful Maps Fauna Check List (Mammals)


Insects Check List


Bird Check List Butterflies Check List Flora (Trees & Plants) Check List


18 - 20

23 - 25 26 27 - 29

Interesting Facts


Supply Ideas


Visitors Guide


Umani Springs offers the epitome of African comfort whilst actively pursuing environmental stability and wildlife preservation. This beautiful self-catering eco-property was constructed with a legacy left to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in support of a better future for the Kibwezi Forest and its denizens. By visiting the Kibwezi Forest Reserve and enjoying Umani Springs you are actively supporting the conservation of this unique groundwater ecosystem. All profits gained from Umani Springs are channelled back into the forest, the preservation of its flora and fauna and the futures of the communities within the area.


Visitors Guide

ABOUT THE KIBWEZI FOREST Gazetted in 1936, the Kibwezi Forest is now part of a network of protected zones within the Tsavo Conservation Area under the protection of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Forest Service. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has a 30 year concession from the Kenya Forest Service to preserve and protect the Kibwezi Forest, having made huge steps since 2011 in reversing the environmental degradation of the past years. With this much needed support, the Kibwezi Forest is now slowly regenerating whilst the Trust’s core programmes are achieving great successes. The forest shares a common boundary with the Chyulu Hills National Park, spanning just under 60km2 of diverse groundwater and dry forested habitats underlain by volcanic lava. Of vital importance to the area are the Umani springs, which are an increasingly important water source for flora, fauna and local communities alike. This forest was once a sustainable habitat, providing natural resources and a secure environment for both wildlife and the local tribes within the area, but now due to overpopulation within the communities, the forest is under threat from many factors, including over-grazing, illegal logging, poaching, charcoal production and untenable water extraction. These unsustainable activities are having a severe effect on the forest’s biodiversity and ecological balance. As one of only two existing groundwater forests in Kenya, the Kibwezi Forest Reserve and its water lifeline, the Umani springs, must be protected to end the adverse effects of overconsumption and environmental abuse, in order to preserve the future of not only the environment but the lives that rely on it.


Visitors Guide

Conservation Activities:

- 47kms of Electrically Fenced Boundaries and on-going monthly maintenance - 2 Anti-poaching and De-Snaring Units (Chyulu and Kenze Teams) - Forest Rehabilitation and Umani Springs Indigenous Tree Nursery - Water Extraction Monitoring (in collaboration with WRMA) - Maintenance of access tracks - Fire Control - Illegal Resource Control - Legal Resource Monitoring and Control - Invasive Species Control - Key Habitat and Endangered Species Management - Environmental Monitoring and Research -Conservation Education

Community Development Working closely with the local communities is an important component in all conservation initiatives. In order to effectively manage and sustain the forest’s habitats, whilst improving the quality of life in the surrounding communities, sustainable use of natural resources must be practiced. This can only take place with regular community liaison, environmental education and the encouragement of activities that reduce the demand for access to the forest.

Where are you The Kibwezi Forest Reserve is a birdwatchers, botanists and entomologist’s delight not to mention a jewel in a geologist’s eye, exhibiting century-old exposed lava, volcanic cones and a basement rock reservoir feeding the forest’s spring. Set alongside the pure water springs fed by the nearby Chyulu Hills, Umani Springs resides in the heart of the Kibwezi Forest conveniently located only 12 kilometes from the mainroad and just under 200km from Nairobi.



Visitors Guide


Directions from Nairobi

Directions from the Coast

After Makindu town having passed the Kibwezi Hill you will begin to drive through forest on both sides of the main road. The right-hand side of this section is electrically fenced. Turn right before the Kibwezi petrol station, immediately after the Kibwezi Forest/Umani Springs signpost, and follow a dirt road to a guarded gate into the fenced forest sanctuary. Once in the forest the 9km route is signposted to Umani Springs.

After the Kibwezi town turnoff and the Kibwezi petrol station to your right continue straight and you will begin to drive through forests on both sides of the main road. The left-hand side of the road is electrically fenced. Turn left immediately before the Kibwezi Forest signpost and follow a dirt road to a guarded gate into the fenced forest sanctuary. Once in the forest the 9km route is signposted to Umani Springs.


Visitors Guide

ABOUT UMANI SPRINGS Everything You Need To Know About Your Accommodation

Bedrooms Umani Springs sleeps ten people in three elegantly raised and contemporary bedroom areas, offering two sleek queen-size beds and three sets of twin beds. Unit One: Floating in the treetops, unit one offers the only upstairs sleeping area, boasting an inviting queen size double bed with large netted windows and a veranda overlooking the encircling forest. Hidden behind natural lava walls this room accesses a rustic open-air shower room shadowed by a canopy of indigenous trees. Adjoining this double room is also a twin bedroom with en-suite bathroom, lounge area and a curving veranda overlooking the watering hole.

Living room

With French doors on three sides, this large and airy space sits within the core of the property. The classic and simplistic design is complimented by attractive furnishings, providing the perfect space to sit back, relax and study the flora and fauna which you have spotted during the day.

Dining room A huge wooden dining table takes pride of place in the dining room, accompanied by a contemporary bar area where you can sit back and enjoy a refreshing cold beer or smooth cocktail.


Unit Two: Closest to the pool oasis, unit two offers a private twin bedroom with en-suite bathroom as well as the option to bathe outdoors in a secluded shower room. One can also relax in the rooms adjoining lounge or watch the birds and wildlife from its veranda.

The nearby springs provide the swimming area with fresh water, which laps gently onto a small palm island. Surrounded by decking, sun-loungers and a swing chair, there are plenty of perfect spots to enjoy the ambience of the forest. A poolside changing area is also available.

Unit Three: Winding further along the path is unit three. Separated by a shaded veranda are two sleeping areas with one queen and one twin bedroom. The twin room boasts high thatched ceilings and an en-suite bathroom whilst the cosy queen room accesses the lava-enclosed alfresco shower area.

grounds and Gardens

Kitchen The open-plan kitchen sits behind the central dining area complete with modern finishes, wide terrazzo worktops, streamlined cupboards and essential fittings. There are 2 BBQs available for your use gas and charcoal; please bring charcoal.

Umani Springs has two waterholes within the grounds and a busy mudwallow and salt-lick, attracting a variety of wildlife including elephants, buffalos and a host of smaller mammals and birdlife. The shaped lawns border all sides of the central living and dining areas as well as providing a space for a multitude of garden games. Towering ficus figs, yellow fever acacias and newtonia trees provide much needed shade over the alfresco dining area, where meals and BBQs can be taken under the stars.

Eating and drinking The Umani Springs staff are at your service to provide you with anything you need. Guided by your suggestions and the supplies you bring, the cook will


Visitors Guide

ABOUT UMANI SPRINGS Everything You Need To Know About Your Accommodation prepare sumptuous meals and the waiting staff will organise all table settings and service. As a selfcatering property, Umani Springs encourages you to make yourself at home.

ACTIVITIES There are an array of activites on offer at Umani Springs including nature drives, guided bush walks, bush breakfasts and sundowners. There are also 4 net-tents available should you wish to camp out. Other fun distractions include our garden games badminton, croquet and volleyball; please ask the staff for these.

Staff As a self-catering property, Umani Springs runs on skeleton staff. There are 13 staff in total.

Housekeeping Your housekeeper will see to your room every morning and turn-down the mosquito nets each evening, making sure that the room is clean throughout the day.

PROVIDED As a self-catering property, Umani Springs provides all the well-appointed essentials you may need including towels, but please bring all toiletries.

will be lit to keep the water hot.

FOR COLDER WEATHER During the year the weather at Umani Springs can get chilly. Each room is prepared with hot water bottles, fleece throws and extra blankets.

POWER The electricity in the property remains on throughout the day and night. All electricity is powered predominantly by solar panels with generator backup. There is a master switch in each bedroom which is located to the left of each bed, this switch turns off all lights apart from the security light outside. Please do not use hairdryers.

Staff Tips A tipping box is located in the main dining room on the bar. Please tip staff at your own discretion and consider all staff within the grounds (13 staff).

Guide Books There are a range of fabulous books in the living room on birds, mammals and reptiles plus a number of Africana books. Please do not take these books from the property.

Room Combination Safes

Smoking is only permitted outside.

There is a combination safe and padlock safe in each room, should you wish to lock any valuables away. Please follow the combination instructions on the safe.




All tap water within the property is sourced from the spring and while beautifully clean it is not treated for drinking. The hot water will remain heated throughout the day by each room’s solar panels, but should the weather be overcast an additional wood burning fire

Guests will be responsible for any breakages. Any significant damage should be reported to the staff who will notify management in order to organise payment for the breakage. 9

Visitors Guide

ABOUT UMANI SPRINGS Everything You Need To Know About Your Accommodation

First Aid

There is a basic first aid box on request from the front of house.

SAFETY Umani Springs is in a remote and wild location. There are wild and dangerous animals within the property’s grounds including elephants, buffalos and large crocodiles in the springs. Management takes no responsibility for injury, so it is important that all guests exercise caution at all times. In the evenings a torch must always be used. A night watchman will also be available to walk you back to your rooms in the evening. Should you wish to go for a daytime walk please speak to the front of house to arrange a guide to walk with you. Children must be watched at all times. Packed Essentials

Apart from your essential food supplies, here are a few more ideas to help you pack: - Walking boots/trainers (comfortable and well-worn) - Sandals or flip-flops - Hat & Sunglasses - Long trousers, shorts and shirts. - Casual evening clothes (long trousers to reduce insect bites or a kikoi and a light sweater) - High strength sun screen, moisturiser, lip salve, shampoo, body lotion - First-aid kit - Mosquito repellent (the mosquitos here are few but increase in number after the rains) - Swimming costume - Torch (with spare batteries) - Binoculars - Camera Equipment - IPod and portable speakers with batteries - Games (cards or board games) *If you’re going to venture out fly-camping one night remember all your camping gear


Supplies: (Food and Refreshments) Umani Springs is well equipped with a fridge, freezer and fruit and vegetable safes to store any supplies you may wish to bring. Remember to buy and pack all the ingredients you’ll need for the hearty meals our Umani cook will prepare for you, as well as the wine, spirits, mixers and snacks for the traditionally Kenyan ‘sundowners’ and ‘bitings’ each evening. A cool box and ice packs will come in handy for the journey. There is a gas BBQ as well as a Weber BBQ, but please remember charcoal.

The Resupply Run The bulk of your supplies shopping should be done before leaving Nairobi, Mombasa or one of Kenya’s main towns. This should include all meat and dairy items, which should be stored in a cool box for the journey. Alcohol, sodas and other luxury supplies should also be sourced before leaving. Emali: If you are on your way from Nairobi, drive slowly through Emali to pick up some fresh tomatoes and onions. Makindu: This colourful village, just 20 minutes’ drive from Umani Springs, is well known for its Sikh Temple, which was built in 1926 by the Sikhs who were working on the construction of the railway line from the coast. The temple offers free food called ‘Langar’ around the clock and is a popular haven for weary travellers from all over the world (a donation is always welcome). Just outside the temple is a food market selling an abundance of beautiful fresh fruits, vegetables and beans including avocados, aubergines, watermelons, pawpaws, mangoes and lentils. Kibwezi Town: Kibwezi is the closest village to Umani Springs and offers basic supplies as well.

WHAT TO DO AT UMANI SPRINGS Adventure Highlights

Umani Springs is perfectly situated to make the most of all the sites and sojourns on offer within the greater Tsavo Conservation Area; whatever the day brings the diverse environments to be discovered from the sanctuary of the Forest are endless. Please be aware that the Kibwezi Forest is a wild habitat with dangerous wild animals. Children must be supervised at all times. 11

WHAT TO DO AT UMANI SPRINGS Adventure Highlights


There are some beautiful drives around the Kibwezi Forest; the DSWT has opened up three stunning circuits as shown below. These circuits showcase the diversity of the forest allowing you to get up close to the flora and fauna on offer. Please be advised that during the wet season these roads can only be passed with a reliable 4x4 vehicle.


Visitors Guide

Bush breakfasts, picnics & sundowners

The Kibwezi Forest Reserve offers some beautiful spots for sitting back, relaxing and enjoying a cold Tusker beer or having a ‘banquet in the bush’. Please speak to the front of house with plenty of notice to arrange any meals or drinks to be taken outside of the property. SUNDOWNER HILL The Umani Springs sundowner deck is the perfect place to enjoy an evening drink or even have a bushmeal whilst enjoying the beautiful vistas of the rolling Chyulu Hills. The hill can be accessed comfortably by vehicle, and the staff can organise chairs, tables and all the essentials you need.

walking There are three recommended walking routes known as “The Spring Walk”, “The Rocky Kopje Walk” and the “Umani Hill Climb”. 1.“The Spring Walk”: (2.5km, 90mins) This is a special walk that follows old elephant paths to the source of the Umani Springs. Crystal clear water flows out of the ground to form these springs which are similar in many ways to the famous Mzima Springs in Tsavo West. You walk through lush canopies of fig trees and diverse acacia species hosting abundant life, which can be seen, heard and followed by watching out for spoors and tracks. Although the vegetation is fairly thick and viewing any wildlife is difficult while on foot, the different spoor

seen shows evidence of elephant, buffalo, bush buck, lesser kudu, duiker, bush pig, leopard, hyena, serval cat, baboons, vervet and sykes monkeys, porcupines as well as many other smaller animals varying from mongoose, genet cats to squirrels and snakes. As you walk along this track you will hear a cacophony of sounds, from forest birds to cicadas, vervet and sykes monkeys to the alerting bark of a bushbuck. There is also a unique chance to view some very large and abundant African Rock Pythons and crocodiles that live within the springs if you are lucky. From the spring source, the path leads over a small rise and then loops back around eastwards heading back to the property. This short and predominantly flat walk can easily be enjoyed by all. 2.“The Rocky Kopje Walk” (2.5km, 70mins): This circular walk runs via the salt lick through open bush following elephant paths into the dry woodlands of the Kibwezi Forest. This is a dryer forest canopy in comparison to the “Spring Walk” with varying acacia species and matured baobab trees, equally as rewarding in terms of the different spoor observed, as well as the flora, bird and insect life. Following well-worn animal tracks the path leads to a rocky outcrop that can easily be climbed. The top of the kopje (rock formation) is tree top height; with large trees providing excellent shade this spot is perfect for a picnic breakfast or lunch whilst enjoying the forest’s noises. 13

Visitors Guide

This track then leads towards the eastern Umani wetlands, in places joining elephant paths over a shallow lava flow, which has been walked on by Kibwezi’s elephants for many years, indicated by the smoothness of the lava. The track then joins a concrete pipeline (that bisects the Umani wetlands). The original pipeline was put in during the colonial administration of Kenya in 1942 and still feeds Kibwezi town and other communities. Although the track does use this pipeline as its partial route back to Umani Springs, which is a painful reminder that this paradise has had its share of human tampering, it does mean that walkers can traverse the wetlands with ease allowing the walk to be enjoyed by all. 3.“Umani Hill Climb” (2.3km, 60mins) : This trek takes you from Umani Springs northwards to the top of Umani Hill, which is the highest point within the Kibwezi Forest Reserve. Depending on what time of day you attempt this walk, expect a good workout. The path is particularly steep on the ascent and as you traverse under a thick cover of wait-a-bit acacia and low comiphora trees, the breeze is minimal until you reach the top point. Once at the summit, a cool breeze awaits you with spectacular views of the Kibwezi Forest and Chyulu Hills, which makes it all worthwhile, especially with the beautiful viewing platform available to rest on. En-route look out for a spectacular baobab tree that is extremely large at its base, which narrows very quickly with height. The local people call it a “pregnant baobab”. This trek should be undertaken by the more active and energetic guests. Important Notes and Information: Please always walk with one of the Umani Springs guides as there are wild animals around the lodge including elephant and buffalo, whilst making sure children are supervised at all times.


KWS National Park Entry Tsavo East and West Entry is by SafariCard only. SafariCards may be loaded, but not obtained at Mtito Andei and Voi Gates. Opening hours: Daily 6.30am – 6.30pm including Public Holidays Vehicle charge is 300/- Kshs for a 6seater KWS Entrance Fees Adult/Child

Citizen (Kshs) 500/200

Resident (Kshs) 1000/500

Non-Resident (US$) 65/30

Chyulu National Park Entry is by cash only Kshs or US$ Opening Hours: Daily 6am – 7pm including Public Holidays (No entry after 6.15pm) Vehicle charge is 300/-Kshs for a 6seater KWS Entrance Fees Adult/Child

Citizen (Kshs) 200/100

Resident (Kshs) 500/250

Non-Resident (US$) 20/10

Please note that these fees are subject to change by KWS.


Adventure Highlights



Hikes, walks and a day trip to the “hills” There are plentiful opportunities for those who are keen to walk. The higher regions (above the lava flows and thick vegetation) are ideal with huge expanses of open grassland interspersed with thickets of “mist forest”. There are flatter areas to walk for the less energetic and also options of steep scrambles up the many undulating peaks where the views are stunning. From Umani Springs to the high viewpoint known as “Satellite” the distance is 38kms, which will take at least 2.5 hours (only 4 x 4 vehicles). The initial part of the road is good and has a murram surface, however some scattered lava sections and tall grass makes the remaining section slower going. It is recommended to take a KWS guide/ranger from Chyulu National Park HQ at Kithasyio, which is just 9 kms (30 minutes’ drive) from Umani Springs if you plan to walk. The views and scenery make this a beautiful day trip, with the options of combining some scenic walking with a picnic lunch.

Overnight Fly Camping

Important Notes and Information:

The relatively short travel distance from Umani Springs to the high slopes of the CHNP makes night out fly-camping a very different experience. This can include walks in the “Hills” after a visit to the impressive Kisula caves on the way up from Umani. Waterproof tents are a must due to the high levels of dew at night in the “Hills” and remember it does get cold up there at night so be prepared. There is also no surface water and so carry all necessary supplies including water.

1. Although there are numerous springs in the lower reaches of the Chyulu Hills, it is important to note that there is no surface water above the lava flows – go prepared. 2. When driving in the Chyulu Hills, it is very important to have a “grass seed mesh filter” covering your vehicle radiator to avoid engine overheating. (This can be borrowed from the camp) 3. If you plan to explore the caves, make sure you are not alone and have plenty of torches. 4. If you plan on driving over the Chyulu Hills to Ol Donyo Waas for example, always check at Kithasyio CHNP HQ if the road is actually open and drivable. There may have been a landslide that blocked the road. 5. As the CHNP is very little used by other visitors, if you break down be prepared and have a charged mobile phone with relevant contact numbers in case of emergency. Signal is good the higher up the “Hills” you go. 6. You can hire an armed KWS ranger at Kithasyio CHNP HQ if you are planning on walking extensively in the “Hills”. 7. Park entrance fees can be paid at Kithasyio CHNP HQ, which is en route to the Hills. Please check at the HQ for most recent rates.

Bird viewing The wooded habitats within the CHNP are wonderful for bird spotting, especially for the Turacco and various birds of prey. On the higher grassy slopes it is also common to get close up to birds of prey, such as the Auger Buzzard, viewing them hovering in one spot whilst they search for rodents and other prey.

The Kisula Caves: (24km from Umani Springs; 1 hour)

A remarkable network of caves and lava tubes are found within the Chyulus. The closest to the Kibwezi Forest Reserve is the Kisula cave or Leviathan cave, which is one of the longest in the world. KWS have set up a covered picnic spot and built safe steps for visitors to enjoy the cave entrances. The caves are huge, twice the height of a man, they go on forever under the lava flow. Don’t forget to bring several torches.



Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya and demands at least a full day’s exploration. Using the Voi or Manyani Gates you can travel around this amazing park using the recommended circuit route to Mudanda Rock, which offers an excellent vantage point for the hundreds of elephants and other wildlife that come to drink at the natural dam below the site during the dry season. If you are a Foster Parent with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Orphan’s Project you can also take a day trip to Voi for an exclusive visit to the Trust’s Rehabilitation Centre to experience the orphan elephant’s afternoon mud-bath. This unique private visit must be arranged prior to arrival by contacting the Trust’s Nairobi HQ for a permission letter to avoid disappointment.


Tsavo West National Park is more mountainous with a slightly higher rainfall than its counterpart, with swamps and the Mzima Springs, which are home to hippos and crocodiles. The Park is known for birdlife and for its large mammals, whilst also home to a black rhino sanctuary. Using the Mtito Ande Gate you can also visit the Sheitani lava flow and Chaimu Crater.


Visitors Guide




Visitors Guide


Tsavo Conservation Area


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Visitors Guide

FAUNA The Kibwezi Forest ecosystem is an exceptional biodiversity hotspot providing a habitat for a number of wildlife species, most notable of which, is the African elephant. Other known species include freeranging rhino found in the Chyulu National Park, with sightings also within the Kibwezi Forest, as well as the Nile crocodile and two exceptionally large pythons which live in the vicinity of the springs. Although some are tricky to spot, here are a few of the more common species that can be found.

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Visitors Guide

‘Dudus’ Kibwezi’s insects and other little creatures Kibwezi is home to many different kinds of insects. Insects are the world’s most diverse and abundant group of creatures. Insects are important and useful creatures in the environment. Many different kinds of bees and butterflies visit flowers and pollinate them. Ants, millipedes and termites help break down dead wood and leaves, and create healthy soil. Here are some of the insects and other little creatures you can find around Kibwezi:

Tsetse Flies

Tsetse Flies are large, brownish flies that are found in the hot, dry, low-lying parts of the country. They can bite, and a few transmit sleeping sickness. There is no danger of humans contracting sleeping sickness in Kenya today.

Bees and Wasps

Bees and Wasps are found all over Kenya. Honeybees are common and are kept in hives for honey and beeswax. Many species of bee are wild and solitary. In Tsavo you might see large black bees near wooden buildings where they like to nest. There are also tiny stingless bees who build their nests in cavities. They make a tubular entrance to their nests using resin gathered from the Commiphora trees. Paper Wasps build papery nests in the eaves of buildings especially in campsites and bandas. Large, shiny spider-hunting wasps can often be seen flying noisily around. A bright metallic-coloured wasp is the cuckoo wasp that often frequents lodges and campsites. This is a parasitic species that is searching for other wasps’ nest in which to lay its eggs.

Ants and Termites

Ants and termites are found everywhere and live in complex, social groups called colonies. Safari ants or Siafu swarm about in savannah and forest areas at the start of the rains. They can bite quite hard and often attack in large numbers. Siafu prey on whatever small creatures that they can subdue through their large numbers. They are almost always on the move in search of food. Flying Ants are the winged forms or both ants and termites. They emerge at the start of the rains to reproduce and start new colonies. They are attracted to lights and can swarm around them in large numbers. 22

Termites build large towering nests or mound-shaped nests that serve as fortresses for the delicate termites to live in. Because they can digest fibrous plant matter they are very important in recycling nutrients and keeping the soil healthy. The termites keep their fat queen, who spends her entire life laying eggs, safe deep inside their nest.

Praying Mantis

This remarkable insect can be found on bushes, flowering trees and sometimes will fly up to a light in the evening. One of the most beautiful species found in Tsavo lives on acacia flowers where it blends in perfectly with the creamy-coloured blossoms. Another kind of mantis, known as the ‘Devil’s Flower’ is not so common, but it is beautifully camouflaged with sculptured limbs and a speckled green and pale yellow pattern.

Hard Workers – Dung Beetles

Keep an eye out for the wonderful beetle rolling a ball across a road or path. This is a Dung Beetle – one of Kenya’s hardest-working insects. Dung Beetles use their legs to shape dung into balls and roll it away. They bury it and lay their eggs in it. The larvae feed on the dung. The male and female often cooperate to raise the dung or to get the ball of dung away from competitors. You can usually find the male rolling the ball and the female holding on to it for dear life! Dung Beetles are very important as they help clean up dung that would accumulate on the ground. They are harmless and can be found in the vicinity of herds of buffalo, elephants and in rhino middens.


There are many different kinds of spiders in Kenya. All spiders are hunters and kill their prey with a venomous bite. Large, flat, brown-grey Wolf Spiders are common in campsites and buildings. Jumping spiders often enter tents or houses. They are small and black with colourful or white spots. Large Baboon Spiders live in burrows in hot, dry areas. They are active hunters and have a vicious bite. There is one gigantic species in the drier areas of Tsavo that hunts small mammals at night!


Scorpions are common in the hot and dry areas of Kenya. They live under bark, in burrows and among rocks. Scorpions hunt at night – this is when they leave their burrows to search for small prey like crickets and grasshoppers. One of the most common scorpions in this area is the Emperor Scorpion that is reddish-brown in colour and lives in shallow burrows at the edges of vegetation.

Visitors Guide


Lead coloured flycatcher

lizard buzzard

squacco heron

long crested eagle

crested guineafowl

purple crested turaco

Grey crowned crane retz’s helmet shrike

grosbeak weaver

trumpeter hornbill

bird list & images courtesy of terry stevenson; ‘tHE bIRDS OF EAST AFRICA; Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi’


Visitors Guide


Common Name

Levalliants Cuckoo


Grey Heron

Black Cuckoo

Black-headed Heron

Emerald Cuckoo

Purple Heron

Didric Cuckoo

Great White Egret

Klaas’ Cuckoo

Little Egret


Cattle Egret

White-Browed Coucal

Squacco Heron

Red-Chested Cuckoo

Green-backed Heron


Purple-crested Turaco

Black Crowned Night Heron


Lilac-breasted Roller




White stork Yellow Billed stork


Rufous-crowned Roller Broad-billed Roller KING FISHERS

Woolly-necked stork

Malachite Kingfisher


Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Sacred Ibis

Grey-headed Kingfisher Striped Kingfisher


Egyptian Goose


African Harrier-Hawk

Giant Kingfisher BEE-EATERS

Madagascar Bee-eater

Brown Snake Eagle

Northern Carmine Bee-eater

Bateleur Harrier-Hawk Gabar Goshawk

White-throated Bee-eater HORBILLS

African Grey Hornbill

Great Sparrowhawk

Silvery-checked Hornbill

Lizard Buzzard Long-crested Hawk Eagle

Crested Guinea-Fowl RAILS

Black Crake


Crowned Crane


Blacksmith Lapwing Three-banded Plover


Crowned Hornbill WOOD-HOOPOES

Common Sandpiper Green Sandpiper

Abyssinian Scimitar-bill OWLS

Pearl-spotted Owlet Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl MOUSEBIRDS

Speckled Mousebird


Narina Trogon


White-headed Barbet Spotted-flanked Barbet Red-fronted Barbet


Red-fronted Tinker-Bird

PIGEONS & DOVES Red-eyed Dove Laughing Dove

D’Arnaud’s Barbet HONEYGUIDES


Cuckoo Black-and white Cuckoo


Greater Honeyguide Lesser Honeyguide

Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove Green Pigeon

Wood Owl African Barred Owlet

Wood Sandpiper

Ring-necked Dove

Green Wood-Hoopoe Violet Wood-Hoopoe

Yellow-necked Spurfowl Helmeted Guinea-fowl

Trumpeter Hornbill Von Der Decken’s Hornbill

Little Sparrowhawk


Bee-eater Blue-Cheeked Bee-eater

Black Chested Snake Eagle


Pied Kingfisher

Wahlberg’s Honeyguide WOODPECKERS

Cardinal Woodpecker Mombasa Woodpecker


Common Swift Nyanza Swift

Visitors Guide Horus Swift


Abyssinian white-eye

Little Swift


Chin Spot Batis

White-rumped Swift

Black-headed Batis

Palm Swift


Yellow-rumped Seedeater

Boehm’s Spinetail


Variable Sunbird

Mottled Spinetail

Amethyst Sunbird


Pink-breasted Lark

Hunter’s Sunbird


African Pied Wagtail

Collared Sunbird

Yellow Wagtail BABBLERS

Rufous Chatterer


Yellow-bellied Greenbul


White-backed Vulture


Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Chestnut Weaver Golden Weaver

Common Bulbul

Grosbeak Weaver

Northern Brownbul FLYCATCHERS

Red-headed Weaver

Spotted Flycatcher

Red-billed Quelea

Ashy Flycatcher Lead-coloured Flycatcher Southern Black Flycatcher

White-winged widowbird WAXBILLS


Paradise Flycatcher THRUSHES

Green-winged Pytilia

Red-capped Robin Chat

Peters Twinspot

Spotted Morning Thrush

Red-billed Firefinch

Eastern bearded Scrub-Robin WARBLERS


Olivaceous Warbler

Red- cheeked Cordon-bleu

Willow Warbler Yellow-breasted Apalis African Moustached Warbler

Bronze Mannikin


Pin-tailed Whydah

Red-faced Crombec Greybacked camaroptera Tawny-flanked Prinia SWALLOWS

Swallow Lesser Striped Swallow Red-rumped Swallow Wire tailed Swallow


Black Cuckoo-shrike




Northern White-crowned Shrike White Helmetshrike Retz’s Helmet Shrike


Brown-crowned Tchagra Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike


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Slate-coloured Boubou


Black-crowned Tchagra


Black-backed Puffback ORIOLES


European Golden Oriole


African Golden Oriole


Black-headed Oriole


Greater Blue-eared Starling Ruppells Long-tailed Starling Superb starling Violet-backed Starling

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Visitors Guide



Coast Purple Tip (Colotis heterea)


Charaxes Varanes


African diadem (Hypolymnas missipus)


Clouded Mother of Pearl (Salamis anacardii)


one Eyed Pansy (Junonia oen)

Butterflies and Moths There are lots of different kinds of butterflies and moths. The bright orange African Monarch butterfly is common and can be seen visiting flowers during the day. A large number of white butterflies, whose caterpillars feed on the leaves of Capparis plants, can sometimes be seen flying around. You might spot a cluster of different butterflies feeding at the edge of a puddle or waterhole – these are quenching their thirst and sipping salts from the soil. At night, if you are lucky you might see one of the gigantic Emperor Moths flying about or resting on a tree-trunk or wall. These are among the largest moths in the world. They have striking eye-spots on their wings that can confuse and frighten away predators. The Kibwezi forest boasts the most magnificent array of butterflies; 231 species have already been recorded from the Reserve. Use this Checklist and see how many of the more common species you can find. 1.

Black Swordtail (Graphium Colonna)

10. African Monarch (Danaus chrysippus) 2.




Mocker Swallowtail (Papilio dardanus)


Common Joker (Byblia anvatara)


Natal Acraea (Acraea natalica)


Mother of Pearl Cha raxes (Charaxes varanes)

Narrow Blue Banded Swallowtail (Papilio nireus)

Citrus Swallowtail (Papilio demodocus)

Visitors Guide

FLORA (Trees/Flowers)

Associated with the Umani Springs are spectacular ground water forests, which are home to some major tree species including Acacia xanthophlea and various Ficus species. A large section of the reserve supports a dense dry forest with beautiful Commiphora woodlands, whilst vegetation on the lava regions shows different stages of growth and closed-canopy development.

Newtonia hilderbrandTII

Common in Kibwezi Forest. A few great examples of this tree can be seen around Umani Springs. One of the biggest of these is to the left on the main house.

Ficus wakefieldII

One of 12 Ficus species in the Kibwezi Forest, this in itself is a unique occurrence. This tree was named after a Catholic missionary who had a keen interest in Botany. He was a bishop on the coast of Kenya. When in fruit this tree is a favorite for birds and monkeys and becomes a hive of activity. A stunning example of this tree can be seen to the right of the main house by the swimming pool.

Acacia xanthophloea

This iconic tree is also known as the Fever Tree (it grows predominantly near surface water and early explorers thought that a fever was nearly always contracted from this tree. In fact it was malaria from mosquitos that breed in the water that caused the fever.) This tree is also known as the Yellow Barked Acacia.

Ficus sycomorus

“The Queen of Trees” This beautiful ficus is abundant in the forest. Its bountiful fruit sprouts from little branchlets off the main trunk. This tree has a very unique and special way of being pollinated by what is known as a fig wasp that lays its eggs inside the fig fruit. Without the wasp this species would not exist. Also a massive favorite with the birds and monkeys, especially the Silvery-cheeked Hornbill.


Visitors Guide

FLORA (Trees/Flowers)  

Commiphora baluensis

One of the larger Commiphora trees with a very distinctive blue/green trunk and branches.

Ruellia prostrata

Commonly known as a Bell Weed, this is found in many parts of the world including India, Austrailia, Indonesia and East Africa. The weed is thought to be a potent Diuretic. Can be a Mauve or white flower.

Jasminum streptopus

This wild jasmine flower fills the air with a beautiful fragrance.

Euphobia friesiorum This small tree has a spectacular flower that you have to look carefully for on the plant as it is downward facing.

Grewia truncata

Impatiens nana “Bizzie Lizzie”


Hibiscus kabuyeana


Visitors Guide

FLORA (Trees/Flowers) Combretum mossambicensis

Diplocyclos palmatus

Lepisanthes senegalensis

Cucumis cf metulifera

Crinum zeylanicum


Pentas parvifolia

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Visitors Guide

INTERESTING FACTS LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: - The Wakamba are historically the indigenous tribe of the Kibwezi area. By tradition they are skilled hunter-gatherers, infamous for their poison arrows and bush skills. The Wakamba have sacred shrines within the forest, usually an old tree, where they believe a traditional medicine man must sacrifice a goat to appease the gods. - The Wakamba believe the two pythons of Umani Springs are their water ‘watchmen’, believing that when the pythons both disappear the water will be no more. ecosystem FACTS: - Current information suggests that the Umani springs produce 18,513 m3 of water per day. - The discharge from the Umani Springs is in the order of 0.5 m3/sec, approximately 10% of that of Mzima Springs, but it is still one of the larger springs emanating from the Chyulu catchments. - The Umani Springs water can support around 50,000 people in the vicinity of Kibwezi and Mtito Andei and is a vital asset to the district. - The Chyulu hills are a relatively recent region of volcanic cones and lava fields and two cones are found in the Kibwezi Forest Reserve – Umani and Kenze. - More than 600 volcanic vents have been identified in the Chyulu range with cones largely comprised of pyroclastic materials including coarse agglomerates, cinders and ash. - A recent lava flow (approx 400 years ago) covers a significant part of the Kibwezi Forest Reserve.

GEOLOGY: The Chyulu Hills are an important water catchment area in southern Kenya with a number of springs located at the base of the hills. The most spectacular of these are the Mzima Springs in Tsavo West National Park, which supply water to Mombasa.

HISTORY: - The Kibwezi Forest was once an important factor in the running of the Kenya-Uganda Railway over 100 years ago. The springs within the Forest where used to keep the Railway’s steam engines running throughout the parched lands between Nairobi and Mombasa. 30

- Winston Churchill once said of the Railway: “The British art of ‘muddling through,’ was here seen in one of its finest expositions. Through everything through the forests, through the ravines, through troops of marauding lions, through famine, through war, through five years of excoriating Parliamentary debate, muddled and marched the railway.” - The Railway was also known as the “Lunatic Line” by the tabloids of the day, and the “Iron Snake” by the Africans. Aboard the Lunatic Express: What it will cost no words can express; What is its object no brain can suppose; Where it will start from no one can guess; Where it is going nobody knows; What is the use of it none can conjecture; What it will carry there’s none can define; And in spite of George Curzon’s superior lecture, It clearly is naught but a lunatic line. London Magazine Truth, 1896

Visitors Guide

SUPPLY IDEAS Fresh Produce




Bottled Water


Fruit Juices








Alcoholic beverages


broccoli Lettuce

Dry Goods







Snow Peas





Baking powder








Cous Cous




Olive oil


Tinned Tuna




Custard Powder




Herbs and spices








Coconut Milk Dairy



Long life Milk

Tinned tomatos

Condensed Milk

Tomato paste

Evaporated Milk

Tomato sauce


Soy sauce



Cheese selection

Samosa Pastry

Fresh cream Eggs Meat


Beef Chicken Fish Pork Chops Bacon Sausage Honey glazed Ham Salami 31

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Tel: +254 (0) 733 891 996, +254 (0) 20 230 1396 Email:

Umani Springs Visitors Guide  

Everything you need to know about staying at Umani Springs in the Kibezi Forest, Kenya.

Umani Springs Visitors Guide  

Everything you need to know about staying at Umani Springs in the Kibezi Forest, Kenya.