About 4km west of the Chyulu gate of Tsavo West National Park, on the road to Amboseli, are the spectacular Shetani lava flows. ‘Shetani’ means ‘devil’ in Kiswahili: the flows were formed only a few hundred years ago and local peoples believed that it was the devil himself emerging from the earth. This vast expanse of folded black lava spreads for 50 sq km across the savannah near the Chyulu Hills, looking strangely as if Vesuvius dropped its comfort blanket here.
The last major eruption here is believed to have taken place around 200 years ago, but there are still few plants among the cinders. It’s possible to follow the lava flows back from the Amboseli–Tsavo West road to the ruined cinder cone of Shetani. The views are spectacular, but you need to be wary of wildlife in this area, as there are predators about.
Nearby are the Shetani Caves, which are also a result of volcanic activity. You’ll need a torch (flashlight) if you want to explore, but watch your footing on the razor-sharp rocks and keep an eye out for the local fauna – we’ve heard rumours that the caves are sometimes inhabited by hyenas, who don’t take kindly to being disturbed. Some of the Tsavo West lodges charge US$50 per person for guided excursions out here.