Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the few places where you can actually encounter a haven for viewing a congregation of all sorts of animals in a five mile radius. A pride of lions can be spotted ready to make a run for a kill, a cheetah and its cub taking a nap on a rock, a pair of ostriches walking the open stretches of the savannah or a gazelle giving birth.
The Mara is an extension of the Serengeti National park of Tanzania, and is cushioned by the Loita Hills in the east, Itong Hills in the North and Siria escarpment in the west. you will also get to see Kilimanjaro snow peaks, a lovely sight. Game viewing is excellent year round. Game includes: elephant, Black Rhino, buffalo, plains zebra, roan antelope in small numbers, white-bearded gnu, Oribi, warthog, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, hartebeest and the big cats; the rivers are home to hippo and crocodiles.
The best thing the Mara has to offer is the wildebeest migration. This sensational display starts during the month of July when the wildebeest start moving north from the Serengeti. An 1.5 million animals partake in this migration. The wildebeests move north in search of the lush vegetation during the long rains. The wildebeests crossing the Mara river is comical yet sad. The long rains flood the rivers, and yet the wildebeests senselessly force their way upstream, and this causes many deaths and injuries.
But that is natures way of dealing with it all; the wildebeests fresh death bring lions, vultures, jackals and hyenas who complete the food chain part of the migration.
Mount Kenya and The Aberdares National Park
Mt. Kenya National Park
Mt. Kenya is an imposing extinct volcano dominating the landscape of the Kenyan Highlands, East of the Rift. Mt. Kenya lies about 140 km North, North-East of Nairobi with its Northern flanks across the Equator. The mountain has two main peaks – Batian (5200m) and Nelion (5188m). The mountains slopes are cloaked in forest, bamboo, scrub and moorland giving way on the high central peaks to rock, ice and snow. Mt. Kenya is an important water catchment area, supplying the Tana and Northern Ewaso Nyiro systems.
The park includes a variety of habitats ranging from higher forest, bamboo, alpine moorlands, glaciers, tarns and glacial morains.The park was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997
and is also a Biosphere Reserve. Major attractions include: Pristine wilderness, lakes, tarns, glaciers and peaks of great beauty, geological variety, forest, mineral springs, rare and endangered species of animals, High altitude adapted plains game, Unique montane and alpine vegetation with 11 species of endemic plants.
The Aberdares National Reserve
The Aberdares are an isolated volcanic range that forms the eastern wall of the rift valley, running roughly 100km north south between Nairobi and Thomsons Falls.
Soils are red and of volcanic origin, but rich in organic matter. There are two main peaks, Ol Donyo Lesatima (3,999m) and Kinangop (3,906m) separated by a long saddle of alpine moorland at over 3,000m. The topography is diverse with deep ravines that cut through the forested eastern and western slopes and there are many clear streams and waterfalls. The Aberdares are an important water catchment area providing water to the Tana and Athi rivers and part of Central Rift and Northern drainage basins. The National Park lies mainly above the tree line running along the 10,000ft contour
with some forest and scrub at lower altitude in the ‘salient’ area near Nyeri with the boundary running down to the 7000ft contour. The unusual vegetation, rugged terrain, streams and waterfalls combine to create an area of great scenic beauty in the National Park. The park is surrounded by a predominantly indigenous forest
Major attractions are; Lesatima peak, Kinangop peak, waterfalls, walks in the moorlands, Twin hills, Elephant hills and Table mountains, Elephants, Second largest population of black rhinos in Salient and Northern Aberdares, Queen Elizabeth learned of her accession to the throne at Tree-tops, The Kimathi Hideout, Night viewing of wildlife at the Ark & Treetops.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli lies immediately North West of Mt. Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. Its wealth of flora and fauna has resulted in the recent designation as an International Bio-sphere Reserve. Amboseli, meaning “Salty Dust” in the Maasai language is an important rangeland for the Masai culture whilst the ‘salty dust’ itself is volcanic ash from the eruptions of the Mount Kilimanjaro a millennium ago.
Over 53 species of herbivores and carnivores can be viewed with ease, the most conspicuous being the troops of over one thousand elephant who range the plains and wallow the swamps. A number of other unique animals also populate the area including lion, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, buffalo, rhino, wildebeest, gerenuks, impalas,
gazelles, hyenas, baboons, bats and about 425 different species of birds. The Amboseli ecosystem is typical of the open savannah grassland habitats of Eastern Africa, featuring open wooded grasslands, rolling hills and swamplands whilst the presence of Mount Kilimanjaro creates a unique selection of ecosystems found nowhere else on earth. The Amboseli basin is fed by springs that provide a permanent source of water during the dry season, while the river systems north of the basin form a seasonal flood plain that is used by migratory animals during the rainy seasons. Although the region has a relatively low wildlife biomass it supports a greater variety of animals than neighboring Tsavo which is fifty times bigger than the compact but comprehensive Amboseli.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru is a very shallow strongly alkaline lake 62 km2 in extent. It is set in a picturesque landscape of surrounding woodland and grassland next to Nakuru town. The landscape includes areas of marsh and grasslands alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, stretches of acacia woodland and rocky hillsides covered with a Euphorbia forest on the eastern perimeter.
The lake’s catchment is bounded by Menengai crater to the north, the Bahati hills to the north east, the lion hill ranges to the east, eburu crater to the south and the mau escarpment to the west. Three major rivers; Njoro, Makalia and Enderit drain into the lake.
This park provides the visitor with images of tens of thousands of flamingo joined into a massive flock, forming 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.
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 likewise there are huge herds of waterbuck, zebra, buffalo, the endangered Rothschild Giraffe and a variety of other herbivores. Lake Nakuru National Park gives one the
best chances of seeing several large prides of Lion and a number of leopard which are known to be very elusive animals to the point of some calling them “shy” animals.
Lake Baringo National Park
Lake Baringo is well known for two of its waters’ residents- Hippos and Crocodiles. The crocodiles are often seen lying on the shores or swimming through the shallows hunting waterfowl.
Hippos are seen in the lake on boat trips, and at Lakeside lodges and camps, they are seen at night grazing the lawns. Seeing how large a hippo is when it emerges from the water is an awe-inspiring vision, even more so when they are grazing a few feet from the door of your tent. Hippos are a common cause of sleepless nights for lakeside campers. Other residents of the Lake is fish and in abundance! as result, an equal abundance of Fish Eagles, cormorants and pelicans. The lake is a well known birding destination, with a local record set at 300 species recorded in a single hour at the Baringo Club. Boat trips are the best way of exploring this area.
Baringo Community Museum and Reptile Park educates local people and visitors about reptile species. The museum displays several species of snakes, including the Black Mamba, Puff Adder, Boomslang (tree snake) and Spitting Cobra as well as Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles and a central pit shared by endangered tortoises and harmless Stripe Bellied Sand Snakes.
Ol Kokwe Island in the middle of the lake is an ideal place for birding, but also for sighting plenty of crocodiles and monitor lizards at the waters edge.
Lake Naivasha National Park
Lake Naivasha is freshwater lake, fringed by thick papyrus. The lake is almost 13kms across, 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 was later mis-spelt by the British as Naivasha..
Much of the lake is surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea – the yellow fever tree. These forests abound with bird life, and Naivasha is known as a world class birding destination.
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.
The region surrounding the Lake is well worth exploring. There are two more smaller lakes nearby, Oloidien, and Sonachi, a bright green crater lake.
Hell’s Gate National Park lies beside the lake. This Park was named for its pair of massive red tinged cliffs framing a geothermically active interior of steam vents and bubbling springs. The park is home to a profusion of plains game and birdlife. Walking is permitted, making it ideal for hiking, biking, and rock climbing. Sunsets are come with the haunting call of a Fish Eagle high over the Lake bringing the day to a perfect end.
Samburu Game Reserve
This game reserve is situated in the Northern Province of Kenya. It is rugged and a semi-arid. To get here you will cross the equator at Nanyuki and go northwards the passing the snow capped Mt Kenya lying a on the equator line and the environment here is enchanting. The river Uaso Nyiro (‘River of Brown Water’ in Samburu) is the lifeline and the nerve center of this Reserve and is bustling with a huge population of crocodiles.
This game reserve is renowned for its rare species of animals that can only be found in this park, like –the long necked gerenuk, gravy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, and the Beisa onyx. The leopard is a frequent visitor in this park and most evenings it pays a courtesy call to the lodge’s guests as it feeds on some bite on a tree across the river. The park has an abundant species of birds and can turn even the most reluctant guest in to an avid bird watcher. It is considered by Ornithologists a paradise for bird viewing. In the evenings, you can watch gigantic crocodiles fight over big chunks of meat as they are fed by the lodge staff at the riverbanks or as they get out of the river to relax. This is a great photo session opportunity as you sip cocktails and watch the African sunset in orange flame sky.
The Samburu People & their Culture
The Samburu people occupy this area and they are pastoralists and nomads. They have resisted the tide and test of time and a rugged environment by clinging to their culture, very colorful with beads and hair dyed with ochre plus the whole body to be beautiful. Interesting ceremonies to a like initiation in adulthood are some of the cultural rites that tourist may witness on a meet-the-locals tour.
This game reserve is accessible by Air and there are daily flights from Nairobi, which take approximately 45minutes.
Huge mountains serve as a back drop to this game reserve.
Tsavo National Park
This is the largest national park in Kenya covering about 21,000 Km square, it is in fact one of the largest parks in the world.. it is divided into two by the Mombasa – Nairobi highway, to Tsavo East and Tsavo west National Parks.
The Tsavo National Park is Kenya’s largest wildlife stronghold and it comprises a diversity of habitats including; open plains alternating with savannah bush and semi-desert scrub, acacia woodland, rocky ridges and outcrops, and more extensive ranges and isolated hills, belts of riverine vegetation; palm thickets, and on the Chyulu Hills extension area, mountain forest. A section of Lake Jipe is included in the extreme south-west of the Park, an extremely rich bird locality where Pygmy Geese and Black Heron are common.
The Park is watered by two permanent rivers, the Tsavo River which flows through Tsavo West and the Athi River which crosses a corner of Tsavo East. The two unite above Lugard’s falls to become the Galana River which flows all the way to Malindi and become the river Sabaki emptying it’s waters in the Indian ocean. The Voi River, to the south of Tsavo East is a seasonal river.
Lava flows and cones, such as Shetani, near Kilaguni Lodge in Tsavo West, is a perfect example of a recent volcano. This volcanic zone also contains the famous Mzima Springs – a natural underground water system bubbling thousands of litres of water everyday proving a source of water for the Coast Province of Kenya. Hippopotamus and shoals of Barbel live in the springs and provide a dramatic spectacle The water is so clear that every action of these huge aquatic beasts under the water, and of their attendant piscine scavengers, may be watched from the lookouts or through the plate-glass windows of the submerged observation chamber.
The Mudanda Rock between Voi and Manyani is a 112km-long outcrop which supplies a natural dam at it’s base. In the dry season, hundreds of elephants come to drink and bathe. From a safe vantage point just above the water visitors may have the luck to sit and watch the activities of great beasts below them. A similar elephant spectacle may also be observed at Aruba Dam. Tsavo is also a good place to see one of our most beautiful antelopes, the Lesser Kudu with spiral horns and white striped coat. Whilst you may come across these graceful animals almost anywhere, the dry bush along the Galana River is their favourite haunt. Other animals likely to be encountered are Buffalo, Common Waterbuck, Eland, Gerenuk, Fringe-eared Oryx, Impala and Masai Giraffe. Black Rhinoceros, once numerous, are now less frequently seen. Birdlife is legion in the Park and the visitor is constantly meeting with new species. One of the most conspicuous is the White-headed Buffalo Weaver, brownish-black and white with a startling vivid red rump when it flies.