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Sheltering under the massive escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, and covering an area of 325 sq. km, this park is a flash of green amid an otherwise parched landscape. (In The Green Hills of Africa, Hemmingway describes the park's magnificent hunting country.) A line of springs support the lush vegetation of a groundwater forest, where blue monkeys, baboons and the curious-looking silvery-cheeked hornbill live, among the more than 350 bird species, the most profuse being the flamingo. It is also home to large herds of buffalo, elephant, giraffe, leopard, civet, black rhino, hippo, zebra, impala, antelope, aardvark, the shy pangolin, bushbuck, waterbuck, and many others. It is also known for its hot springs and the famous tree-climbing lions that laze in the branches of the acacia trees.

The park is ideal for a day trip. The best time to visit is during the dry season - January to February, and June to September. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended during the rains.

Budget accommodation is available at Mto-wa-Mbu Village. There are designated campsites in and outside the park. Other facilities include a hotel, a hostel and self-catering bandas.

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