If you want to go on an African safari Kenya is the country of choice. Home of the original safari and destination of the annual migration of wildebeest from the plains of Serengeti, you are guaranteed a true big five experience on a Kenya safari. With more than five game reserves or National parks from which to choose, you can tailor-make your safari to suit your preference. You can choose a fly-drive option; a luxury lodge or a tented bush camp; a walking safari with an armed guide; a bird-watching safari; a hot-air balloon viewing experience; a beach safari; or for the socially conscious, a volunteer safari in which you assist the local Maasai communities. You could even transport yourself back to the early 20th century and the days of colonial luxury by travelling from Kampala in Uganda to Nairobi aboard the Nairobi-Kampala Express, which runs on a narrow-gauge railway line.
For now, let’s focus on the national parks and reserves. Perhaps the most famous in Kenya is the Masai Mara National park and game reserve, situated in the south-west of Kenya. To get there you can choose to tackle the four and a half hour drive from Nairobi and take in views of Mount Kenya (the second highest mountain in Africa), Thompson’s Falls, Lake Nakura and the Great Rift Valley on the way. Alternatively, you can fly in from Nairobi and then spend more time on various game drives. If you choose to visit in August-September, you will have the privilege of witnessing the annual migration of wildebeest and see many a wildebeest summon the courage to cross the crocodile-infested Mara River. This is arguably the most famous safari Kenya, and in fact the World, has to offer.
Whilst in the greater Mara reserve that surrounds the Masai Mara National park, you might see the BBC filming their Big Cat Diaries, but you will definitely see the Great Rift Valley. This valley is a unique geographical feature which has hot springs to make your Kenya safari rejuvenating, but also has some 30 active and semi-active volcanoes.
If your wild-life interests extend beyond the big-five and the multitude of buck species to life of the bird variety, you will not be disappointed in that which a Kenya safari can offer you. Home to more than 1300 bird species, the Amboseli Nature Reserve has much to offer and you can even embark on a walking field trip – but with an armed guard, of course. Over one million Pink flamingos and pelicans grace the shores of Lake Nakura as do white rhino and over 400 bird species.
So, if you are in the market for a safari, Kenya should definitely grace the top of your list as the safari destination of choice.
Spoilt for Choice – Accommodation for your Kenya Safari
Safari can easily be defined as journey into the wild, but this does not necessarily mean that you need to rough it. Kenya safaris offer a wide range of game reserves and marine parks with a range of accommodation types to choose from.
Kenya has fifty four national parks and reserves making up an area of over 65000 square kilometres (as large as Ireland!) and if you add to this the many private lodges and reserves you are really spoilt for choice. The parks vary in what they offer, from the Big Five to awesome birding and marine experiences complete with a range of accommodation to meet your budget and needs.
The most popular area for safari in Kenya is the Masi Mara Reserve as it is the site of the renowned annual migration of game, which has become an icon for its crocodile-infested river crossing. This takes place around September and October of each year. The reserve is accessible from Nairobi with the fly in option being the best as the road trip of 270 km can take well over 6 hours! Accommodation ranges from tented camps such as Acacia at under $100 to Rekero Camp on the Talek River at over $600 per night. As this area has over 150 000 visitors a year, booking is essential.
The Aberdare National Park is only 100 km from Nairobi and is a must do, if only to stay at the world famous Tree Tops.
For bird-lovers on a Kenya safari, a must do is the Lake Nakuru National Park which is the home of over a million Pink Flamingos and more than four hundred other bird species. The Reserve also boasts a wide variety of other wildlife. Accommodation ranges from the decent Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge to some basic self catering units just outside the park. A good option would to extend your stay at Aberdare’s Tree Tops and travel the 40 km to Lake Nakuru.
Mount Kenya National Park (a World Heritage site) offers amazing biodiversity from savannah plains to Montaigne forest. Hiking and climbing will get you to the snow capped peak of the second highest mountain in Africa (at 5199m with Kilimanjaro at 5885 m).
Kenya holidays need not just be about the African bush as some of the world’s finest beaches are to be found on the Kenyan coast. The Watamu Marine Park offers amazing beaches, snorkelling, scuba diving and deep sea fishing. Accommodation rivals the best on the Indian Ocean to some easy on the budget options. So a Kenya safari with an ocean twist is a great choice.
A Kenya Holiday is a holiday of a lifetime.
When one thinks of Kenya holidays one tends to conjure up visions of safaris and tall Maasai guides. Well, think again as the holiday options are vast and varied.
Certainly the Kenya safari is hugely popular with over 8% of the country being under the control of Kenya national parks. Safaris come in all different types: walking, horseback, hot air ballooning, photographic, hunting, hiking, climbing, packaged safaris and personalised guided trips in the wild.
Kenya’s coastline is coral reefed for 500 km providing protected beaches close to Mombasa. The coast has some interesting history: Lamu Archipelago (a world heritage site) is a must see as the town was founded by Arabs in the 15th century and was used as a slave trade port up to 1907. The beaches stretching both north and south of Mombasa are world class, as are the many hotels and resorts. But with a little bit of effort you can easily end up on your own on a palm-fringed beach stretching for kilometres. Kenya is also one of the world’s best deep sea game fishing destinations and has a number of professional charter operators to assist you in your quest to catch the big one on your Kenya holiday.
Another coast that is well worth a visit is that on Lake Victoria where birding and fresh water fishing is superb. The area is only now being discovered by the international tourist so put it on your Kenya holiday bucket list.
Adrenalin junkies can find white water rafting and bungee jumping on the Tana River, hot air ballooning at Masi Mara, sky diving over the beaches at Diani on the south coast and diving with whale sharks on their to do list.
For the more academic-inclined, a Kenya holiday can include the country’s diverse geological structures from the Rift Valley and Mt Kenya to active volcanoes and archaeological digs by the father of the science, Prof Leakey.
If you want a Kenya safari with a difference then look at the various volunteer programmes which range from caring for the Maasai in their traditional environment surrounded by wild animals to assisting AIDS devastated communities on the edge of Nairobi. These volunteer programmes are a life changing experience both for you and for those whom you help. Reward yourself afterwards with a Kenya holiday that will also be memorable.
Besides Kenya being a destination in its own right, it can be used as a stepping stone to the rest of Africa or as your final African stop to rejuvenate and refresh before heading home.