"All of Africa in One"
It is the land that inspired Karen Blixen to write "Out of Africa." Since the end of the 19th century the country has been the firm favorite for British travellers to Africa. Today the country is just as popular with tourist from all over the world. But while game viewing remains high on the list of tourists’ priorities, it is far from being Kenya’s only asset.
The Kenyan people are amongst the friendliest in the world. Smiles greet the tourist everywhere, while the traditional greeting, "Jambo na Karibu," means "hello and welcome." The country is blessed with 400 miles of tropical beaches and coral reefs, providing the perfect sun, sand and safari combination.
There are plenty of activities to be enjoyed from a balloon trip over the Maasai Mara plains to scuba diving, as well as a variety of scenery, from semi-desert and savannah to the snow-capped Mount Kenya. The country is well served by its network of roads and air services and boasts an impressive range of high standard accommodations from international hotels, game lodges, luxurious tented camps, five star beach hotels to self-catering chalets.
On the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, is Karen Blixen’s house, which has been restored to its original style and is now a museum. After experiencing the many different aspects of Kenya, visitors may well discover just why Karen Blixen fell in love with the place.
|Amboseli lies immediately North West of Mt. Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. Amboseli was established as a reserve in 1968 and gazetted as a National Park in 1974. The Park covers 392 km2, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 Km2 Amboseli ecosystem. Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season, making Amboseli a popular tourist destination. .
The National Park embodies 5 main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Within this basin is a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, that floods during years of heavy rainfall. Amboseli is famous for its big game and its great scenic beauty - the landscape is dominated by Mt. Kilimanjaro
|› Lake Naivasha
|Lake Naivasha is a beautiful freshwater lake, fringed by thick papyrus. The lake is almost 13kms across, but its waters are shallow with an average depth of five metres. Lake area varies greatly according to rainfall, with an average range between 114 and 991 sq kms. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Naivasha completely dried up and effectively disappeared. The resulting open land was farmed, until heavy rains a few years later caused the lake to return to existence, swallowing up the newly established estates.
Afternoon wind and storms can cause the Lake to become suddenly rough and produce high waves. For this reason, the local Maasai christened the lake Nai?posha meaning ''rough water'', which the British later misspelt as Naivasha..
The lake and its surrounds 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.
|› Lake Victoria
|The second largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Victoria geographically dominates the area with its 70,000 sq km surface.
Despite its huge size, the murky lake is not that deep - only 100 metres at its deepest. Although it borders on three countries - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda - it is no longer possible to travel between these countries via the lake.
The basin is home to the Luo people, who moved into the area from Sudan in the 15th century and are now Kenya's third largest ethnic group. Although Western Kenya does not attract many tourists and is blissfully free of safari minibuses, it is the most densely populated area in the country and the most productive.
With gentle hills and emerald tea plantations, it is also very pretty. Note that Lake Victoria is riddled with bilharzia, so avoid swimming or walking barefoot through the grass along its shores, as this is where the parasite hosting snails lurk.
|› Maasai Mara
|Masai Mara is "The" park of parks in Kenya. Its grass-carpeted smooth hills, the chocolate Mara river waters with frisking hippos, as well as the rich faunal diversity, fulfill the expectations of any visitor searching the African landscapes portraited in motion pictures such as "Out of Africa" or "Mogambo". Save particular tastes or special requirements, this is the park on top of the "must" list in the country: no trip to Kenya would be complete without a visit to Masai Mara. True that it's not the best park for birdwatching, and true that some species are not easily found. However, leopards and rhinos abound, and with more than 450 bird species, the reserve should not be envious of Samburu or the great Kenyan bird sanctuaries. Albeit, in an area only slightly smaller than the State of Rhode Island and with a diverse and complex geography, getting lost is far easier than finding a leopard or sighting a given bird species in its multiple woods.
The Maasai Mara gazetted in 1961, is located west of the Rift Valley and is a natural extension of the Serengeti plains, in Tanzania. The Mara river, the reserve's backbone, traverses north to south heading for its westbound way unto lake Victoria, through the Tanzanian park. This course is the natural barrier crossed every year by the large migratory herds of wildebeests and zebras which march across the two parks. As explained below, more than one million wildebeests and 200,000 zebras move in a quest for the best pastures, finding along the way the crocodile-crowded river. When the herds ford the stream, many animals die flattened or drowned and leave their bones by the Mara banks. From July to October, Masai Mara is at its peak, with the seasonal visitors populating the vast grasslands.
Masai Mara's location and altitude, above 1,500 m, yield a climate which is milder and damper than in other regions. The grassy landscape and the nutrient wealth for the great herds are mantained by the abundant rains, which here last from November through June, as a fusion of the two rain seasons (long and short) typical in other Kenya areas. Night storms are frequent. In the hills and plains, grasslands are scattered with acacia woods and bush. The riverbanks of the Mara and of the multiple tributary streams are bordered by dense riverine forests with a good chance to find some of the reserve's bird species.
|Meru National Park is wild and beautiful. Spanning the equator and bisected by 13 rivers and numerous mountain-fed streams, it is an especially beautiful area of Kenya. It has diverse scenery from woodlands at 3,000 feet on the slopes of Nyambeni Mountain Range, northeast of Mount Kenya, to wide open plains with wandering riverbanks dotted with doum palms.
Game to view includes: lion, elephant, cheetah, leopard and some of the rarer antelopes; Lesser Kudu, duiker and Dik Dik, one of Africa's smallest antelopes. Large prides of lion can be seen and some of Kenya's largest herds of buffalo. The rivers abound with hippo and crocodile, fishing for barbus and catfish is permitted at camp sites and along the Tana River. In the mid 1980's, the Park suffered from poaching, however Kenya Wildlife Service armed wildlife security patrols have driven out the poachers and the elephant.
The Park is most famous as the setting for Joy Adamson's book "Born Free" -- the story of the Adamson's life and research amongst lion and cheetah. "Elsa" the lioness was the most well-known and her grave is marked here. One lodge and two tented camps are planned inside the Park. There are eight special campsites which must be pre-booked, one public campsite, Kenya Wildlife Service self-help banda and Leopard Rock bandas (total 120 beds).
|This sultry area offers interesting things to see, beaches to relax on and beautiful nature reserves to visit.
Mombasa lies on the coast and is a bustling city with a history stretching back to the 12th century. There is a vibrant mixture of cultures, architecture and entertainment.
At the Shimba Hills National Reserve, you will encounter a lovely forest setting with elephant, leopard and the rare, sable antelope.
Towards the south, there are a number of beaches and resort hotels. The beaches are white and sandy with coral reefs to delight scuba and skin divers.
On the pleasant Shimoni and Wasini islands there is authentic Swahili culture and a protected marine reserve. North of Mombasa there are also several beaches like Nyali, Bamburi, Shanzu, Kikambala and Vipingo that are well-worth a visit.
It is here that you will find the exotic town of Kilifi, home to artists and adventurers from all over the world.
|› Mount Kenya
|Experience a Mount Kenya safari and discover Africa 's second highest mountain. With a summit covered in snow and ice it's difficult to imagine that it's situated astride the equator!
Mount Kenya also has a fair splattering of wildlife, particularly on the lower slopes of the mountain. You can expect to see elephant, rhino, buffalo leopard, bushbuck, several species of duiker, giant forest hog, and colobus and Sykes monkeys. There is also prolific birdlife around the mountain, ranging from huge eagles to multicoloued sunbirds.
For the adventurous and outdoor types there are a variety of hiking and mountain climbing trails to choose from. For those safari enthusiasts who enjoy 'taking it easy' - Mount Kenya Safari Club is the place to stay.
Mount Kenya Safari Club has been a mecca for the rich and famous ever since it was founded in 1959. Set in beautifully manicured grounds, this is definitely the most sophisticated and romantic way to experience the area.
|The largest city in East Africa and Kenya's capital, with a population of over 4 million, Nairobi started life as a railway depot in 1899.
Today, the city skyline is dominated by modern high rise buildings, and is the headquarters of several United Nations agencies. It is a sophisticated, vibrant city with a mix of races and cultures and provides the visitor with several diverse sightseeing options, ranging from historic sites and museums to golf courses and night life.
• Nairobi National Park
• Giraffe Centre: Here, the visitor can hand-feed the endangered Rothschild
• Karen Blixen Museum: The historic house of the famous Danish lady, Karen Blixen, about whom the movie ‘Out of Africa’ was based.
• Butterfly Centre: providing a stunning show of butterflies in a live house
• Daphne Sheldrick's baby elephant orphanage
|Nakuru in Kiswahili means "Waterbuck Sanctuary". Lake Nakuru National Park, close to Nakuru town, was established in 1961. It started off small, only encompassing the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity. Now it has been extended to include a large part of the savannahs. Currently, the fenced Lake Nakuru National Park covers around 90 square miles. It has unusual but beautiful vegetation. The forest vegetation is covered with Euphorbia, tall cactus like trees and acacia woodland. The forest region is a host to over 400 migratory bird species from around the world.
Lake Nakuru National Park can be accessed via three gates: Main, Lanet and Nderit. The park's lake is internationally known for its Lesser and Greater Flamingos. Ornithologists often describe Lake Nakuru as "the most fabulous bird spectacle in the world". The Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater, which has a bill with a black tip. The Lesser flamingos are ones that are commonly pictured in documentaries mainly because they are large in number. There are estimated to be over a million Lesser flamingos. These numbers are on a steady increase again. The numbers had been reduced due to the El-Nino weather pattern that flooded the lake, and changed the alkaline concentration. The flamingos feed on algae, created from their droppings mixing in the warm alkaline waters, and plankton. Lake Nakuru National Park is also shared with the white pelicans and the ever-snorting hippos.
|› Rift Valley
|Great Rift Valley
The Rift valley forms a wide trench (about 5400 miles long) down the length of Africa that is visible from the moon.
If you are planning to partake in a Great Rift Valley safari in Kenya, chances are you'll be visiting Lake Naivasha or Lake Nakuru. Lake Nakuru is a saltwater lake and together with its neighbouring park is famous for attracting large flocks of flamingos. The sight of thousands of bright pink birds as they collect against the soda crusted shoreline is striking.
In complete contrast, Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake that is home to buffalos and hippos - as well as being the ideal safari destination for birders! Among the resident birds are fish eagles, ospreys, lily-trotters, black crakes and a large variety of herons.
Numerous mammals graze around this fresh water lake and you can also expect to see zebra, impala, giraffe and kongoni. Truth be told, you will find many wonders on safari through the Great Rift Valley.
|Samburu National Parks is a hot and arid area characterised by a parched landscape of hills and plains.
The refreshing waters of the Ewaso Ngiro River run through Samburu and attract plenty of wildlife - including elephant, lion, giraffe and zebra. Leopards are also regularly spotted.
Samburu is home to large herds of elephants and elusive leopards. It is also well known for providing the opportunity to see wildlife that only lives in the dry north of Kenya. Your safari wouldn't be complete without seeing a gerenuk - an odd yet distinguished gazelle with a long neck, which stands on its hind legs to feed.
|At 21 000km?, this is Kenya's largest park by far, but much of the eastern section is closed to the public. Most of the land is open savannah and bush woodlands inhabited by buffalo, lion, antelope, gazelles, giraffe and zebra. Despite a drastic fall in the elephant population in the 1970s there are still many large herds.
Tsavo is a combination of dramatic escarpment landscapes combined with the raw, untamed flavour of one of Africa's great wilderness areas. Mzima Springs, in Tsavo East, is one of the best places to watch crocodile and hippo.
Here, crystal clear water bubbles out of the ground at a rate of 500million litres (110million gallons) a day.
The spring is fed by snow melting off Mount Kilimanjaro, and a pipeline from the springs provides Mombasa with a large portion of its drinking water.
A distinctive feature of Mzima is an underwater glass cage built by a wildlife film crew. Here you can descend a set of stairs, and encased in a glass hide, watch shoals of tilapia, and the occasional crocodile or hippo glide by.
|A Rift Valley lake, located in Northern Kenya, this 320km long lake is the most dramatic of Africa’s lakes. Commonly referred to as the Jade Sea, due to its electric blue-green colour, the lake is surrounded by a spectacular landscape of dry desert and hills, and famous for its Nile Perch. Due to its remoteness, Lake Turkana is strictly for the adventurous tourist