Famed as the birthplace of the safari (the word means ‘journey’ in Swahili), and the setting for the Danish writer Karen Blixen’s ‘Out of Africa’ – travel in Kenya evokes feelings of exploration and adventure upon the wide African savannah, wildlife galore and sunsets to die for. Giraffes, lions, zebras, rhinos – in fact all the animals that we are so familiar with from nature documentaries are here. What’s more, there is the Great Rift Valley with its soda lakes and flamingos, spectacular trekking on Mount Kenya and a host of other wildlife packed game reserves, including Meru, Tsavo and Amboseli. With this abundance of game on view, and the stage for one of the world’s greatest natural phenomena – the annual Great Migration – a Kenya tour is one of Africa’s must-dos for wildlife lovers, bird spotters and adventure travellers alike.
Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Kenya- Africa. The reserve is located in the Great Rift Valley in primarily open grassland. Wildlife tends to be most concentrated on the reserve’s western escarpment.The Masai Mara is regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife viewing areas. The annual wildebeest’s migration alone involves over 1.5 million animals arriving in July and departing in November. There have been some 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 birds species recorded on the reserve. Nowhere in Africa is wildlife more abundant, and it is for this reason a visitor hardly misses to see the big five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino).
Mt Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak is regarded as the realm of Ngai, god of the local Kikuyu people. The mountain itself is an awe-inspiring sight with its ragged peaks, and equatorial snow. Mount Kenya is surrounded by a belt of verdant forest that is an equally fascinating destination.Traditionally, all Kikuyu homes were built to face this sacred peak. They call it Kirinyaga, or place of light. While the 5199 metre summit is a difficult technical climb, the lesser peak of Point Lenana (4985m) can be easily reached by any fit trekker. This trek takes between 3 and 5 days, through a fascinating world of forests, wildlife, unique montane vegetation including podocarpus and grounsel, and finally one of the worlds rarest sights, equatorial snow. For those who don’t want to climb the Mountain the cool highlands that surround its base are well worth a visit.
Lake Nakuru provides the visitor with one of Kenya’s best known images. Thousands of flamingo, joined into a massive flock, fringe the shores of this soda lake. A pulsing pink swathe of life that carpets the water, the flamingo are a breathtaking sight. The lake has become world famous for these birds, who visit the lake to feed on algae that forms on the lake bed. They move back and forth, feeding and occasionally and spectacularly taking to flight, filling the sky over the lake with colour. Nakuru has more than just flamingos. This is a major National Park and an important sanctuary for Rhino. Both Black and White Rhino are found here, and are often seen resting under acacias by the Lake shore.
Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve is one of the lesser-known national parks, but is nevertheless teeming with life. Situated alongside the Ewaso Nyiro River, there is plenty to attract wildlife from the surrounding savannah plains. The reserve is rich in wildlife with an abundance of rare northern specialist species such as the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk and the beisa oryx (also referred to as Samburu Special Five). The reserve is also home to elephants and large predators such as the lion, leopard and cheetah. Kamunyak the miracle lioness that adopted the baby oryx was as a resident in the reserve. Wild dog sightings are also a common attraction to this unique protected area. Birdlife is abundant with over 450 species recorded.
Malindi and Watamu
The small town of Malindi is at the centre of a strip of idyllic tropical beaches offering the visitor a range of world class resorts and quiet relaxing hideaways. Further south, the sleepy village of Watamu is fronted by wide white beaches. This tranquil haven is home to several well established resorts, and many private guesthouses scattered through the forest along the deserted shore. At Watamu a Marine National Park has been established, an ideal day trip for divers and snorkellers alike. Northwest of Malindi is the spectacular Marafa Depression, locally known as Nyari and popularly known as Hell’s Kitchen. An extensive series of sandstone gorges and sheer gullies, this unique and otherworldly landscape has become part of local folklore.
Other Places Of Interest
The lake and its surroundings are rich in natural bounty, and the fertile soils and water supply have made this one of Kenya’s prime agricultural regions. Much of the lake is surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea, known as the yellow fever tree. These forests abound with bird life, and Naivasha is known as a world class birding destination. The waters of the lake draw a great range of game to these shores. Giraffes wander among the acacia, Buffalo wallow in the swamps and Colobus monkeys call from the treetops while the Lakes large hippo population sleep the day out in the shallows.
Kenya’s capital city has risen in a single century from a brackish uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital. Modern Nairobi is still the safari capital of the Africa, but the modern world has quickly caught up with the city. A frontier town no more, Nairobi has become one of Africa’s largest, and most interesting cities. The city has not lost its sense of the past, with an excellent museum and the historical home of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa open to visitors.
This truly spectacular region is one of Kenya’s best kept secrets. The highlands and escarpment of the North Rift Valley provide some of the country’s most awe-inspiring views, across the broad and beautiful Kerio Valley. The scenic vistas around the Elgeyo escarpment are truly stunning, especially from the ‘World’s End’ viewpoint at Nyaru. Waterfalls flow down the face of these escapements, and at Chebloch, on the valley floor water runs through a deep and narrow gorge with sheer rock walls.