No other country on earth can offer the visitor as much to see and do. Within the borders of a single country, you will find savannahs rich with big game, timeless cultures unchanged by the modern world, pristine beaches and coral reef, equatorial forests and mighty snow-capped mountains, searing deserts and cool highland retreats and endless opportunities for adventure, discovery, relaxation; more than you would ever expect.
KENYA FEATURED DESTINATIONS
Why visit Kenya ?
With the majority of our safaris starting or ending in Nairobi, safari pitstops in Nairobi are almost inevitable. Stay in Nairobi and you’ll find a town full of hustle and bustle, which gives you a chance to experience a very real part of Africa – street hawkers, overflowing taxis, and probably some of the most unconventional driving in the world!
Like many other African cities, Nairobi has its share of bustling markets, skyscrapers, dusty shanties and leafy suburbs with sweeping gardens. It’s a great safari pitstop where you can get your films developed, wander through book shops and send off your post cards to envious neighbours.
Nairobi has some great hotels and are plenty of places to eat, but Nairobi’s most famous restaurant is The Carnivore, where you can taste anything from zebra to crocodile. With excellent restaurants and shopping opportunities, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. A short drive from Nairobi you can visit Karen Blixen’s house or have afternoon tea with giraffes at Giraffe Manor.
In the arid North of Kenya, water means life. The waters of the great Ewaso Nyiro river draw wildlife in great numbers to its banks, creating an oasis of green. The river flows through three great northern reserves, Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba. This is spectacular country, set against a backdrop of the mighty Mountain Ol Olokwe.
The verdant riverine forest is a stark contrast to the arid thorn studded plains. Samburu is visited by large herds of Elephants, drawn by the promise of water. In the dry season, the elephants use their tusks to dig deep into the dry river beds, unearthing precious water. These waterholes then become a focal point for other game. The Samburu region is the best place to find several endemic Northern species, including Gerenuk, the Reticulated Giraffe, and Grevy’s Zebra. The forests along the river banks are home to many birds, including local species such as the Palm Nut Vulture and the Vinaceous Dove. These forests are also home to many Leopards, often seen at dusk. The sight of one of these beautiful and elusive creatures is always a rare treat.
Lions are also frequently seen on the riverbanks, and Cheetah can be found on the open plains. On rare occasion, packs of African Hunting Dogs are sighted passing through the reserve. Shaba was where Joy Adamson, author of Born Free spent her final years, returning a leopard to the wild. This was the subject of her final book, Queen of Shaba. More recently, Shaba served as the location for the hit series Survivor Africa, which pitted its contestants against the challenges of this wild remote country.
The Ewaso Nyiro is also an important water source for the Samburu villages surrounding the reserves. The Samburu culture is a truly fascinating one, sharing a great deal of ancestral and linguistic ties to the Maasai. The Samburu are herders of Camels and Goats, and are often seen on the reserve boundaries bringing their animals to water.
In areas around the reserves, there are several private sanctuaries working closely with the Samburu to protect both their tribal lands and the local wildlife. These sanctuaries are open to guests, and are well worth visiting for those interested in Samburu culture. The entire Samburu region is a place of breathtaking and magical beauty, a place where the vision of a deep red sunset silhouetting the doum palms along the river as a leopard emerges to hunt brings the perfect end to a day on safari…..
The Lewa wildlife conservancy is situated within Lewa Downs, a 40,000 acre ranch, home to a diverse array of wildlife. Supporting a myriad of plains game species, all perfectly adapted for the semi desert environment. Grevy’s Zebra and the Reticulated Giraffe are common. it is also a rhino sanctuary with both black and white rhino. There is plenty of other wildlife too, including elephants, giraffes, eland, oryx, buffalo, lion and leopards and stunning northern scenery. Night drives are a big attraction as this area is rich in nocturnal creatures like the leopard, bush-babies, aardvarks, bat-eared foxes, caracal and various mongooses, genets and civets – a few days at Lewa Downs is a unique combination of hospitality, spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife.
The snow-covered peak of Mount Kenya dominates the Central Highlands. At 5199m it is Africa’s second highest mountain. It was formed between two-and-three-million-years-ago by a series of volcanic eruptions. It probably once had a crater not unlike Mt Kilimanjaro’s, but erosion has sheared this down to a series of peaks.
When the first 19th century European missionaries reported seeing the snowy peak on the equator no one really believed it, perhaps some thought the missionaries had had a touch too much sun. The mountain above the forest line is a national park and it supports rainforests and thickets of bamboo, while higher up magical moorland of giant lobelia and heather. The forests are home to elephant, buffalo, monkeys, antelope and giant forest hog. The Central Highlands, which comprise Mt Kenya and the Aberdares, is the homeland of the Kikuyu people, who hold the mountain sacred. But its fertile soil and good climate were also a draw for European settlers, who snatched the land out from under the Kikuyu, resulting in the seething resentment which erupted as the Mau Mau Rebellion.
Since independence the land occupied by the remaining whites has been much reduced and redistributed to the Kikuyu, and the land is now intensely cultivated by them and closely related Meru and Embu people. The mountain was first climbed in 1899 by Sir Halford McKinder and today is a popular peak to conquer. There are three peaks, Point Lenana can be reached by most relatively fit people, but the other two are only accessible to mountaineers with technical skills. Mt Kenya is circled by a tar road which is in good condition and on this you will find the area’s main towns; Naro Moru, Nanyuki, Meru and Embu.
While the 17,058 feet (5,199 meter) summit is a difficult technical climb, a fit trekker can easily reach the lesser peak of Point Lenana (at 16,350 feet, or 4,985 meters). The trek takes between 3 and 5 days and passes through a fascinating world of forests, wildlife, and unique montane vegetation, including podocarpus and grounsel. But the climax is surely the summit, where one can luxuriate in one of the world’s rarest sights, equatorial snow. z
For non-climbers, a visit to Mount Kenya is still worthwhile. The cool highlands that surround its base, crossed by babbling brooks, are well worth a visit. The forests are ideal for game viewing, and the crystal clear streams at the foot of the mountain abound with trout.
Stretching from the slopes of Mount Kenya on the northern side to the outskirts of the Rift Valley lies the Laikipia plateau famous for one of the largest elephant populations in East Africa (over 3000) and is one of the last strongholds of the endangered Black Rhino. Even though there are scattered farms and cattle ranches, it is still a wilderness and a wildlife refuge supporting huge numbers of game. With more mammals than elsewhere in the East Africa it remains almost unknown compared to reserves like Maasai Mara, Samburu even though advantaged by the increase of wildlife in numbers over a period over the years. You can also spot the endangered Jackson’s Hartebeest. Other game includes lion, cheetah, wild dog, impala, gazelle, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra and the leopard.
Kenya lies astride the equator on the eastern coast of Africa. It is a medium-sized country by continental standards, covering an area of about 586,600km sq. Inland water bodies cover some 10,700km sq, the bulk of this in Lakes Victoria and Turkana. Kenya has tremendous topographical diversity, including glaciated mountains with snow-capped peaks, the Rift Valley with its scarps and volcanoes, ancient granitic hills, flat desert landscapes and coral reefs and islets.
Generally the climate is warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east. Across most of the country, rainfall is strongly seasonal, although its pattern, timing and extent vary greatly from place to place and from year to year. Rainfall peaks in most areas are in November and April.
There are five major drainage basins: Lake Victoria, the Rift Valley, the Athi-Galana-Sabaki River (and Coastal areas to its south), the Tana River and the northern Ewaso Ng’iro. The rift valley contains several basins of internal drainage, forming a chain of endorheic lakes from Lake Natron on the Tanzanian border, through Lakes Magadi, Naivasha, Turkana, Elementaita, Nakuru, Bogoria and Baringo. These lakes vary in alkalinity; from fresh water Lake Naivasha to the intensely alkaline Lake Magadi.