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African Savannahs | Most people in the developed, world countries, who have never had a chance to visit Africa, relate Africa with poverty, aid stricken, black wrinkled hopeless beings while some will go to the extent of nicknaming it a black continent.
I asked David and Fargen what was their perception about Africa when they were growing up in New Zealand and I was glad to learn fascinating stories about some negative perceptions passed to them by some mis-informed folks. Asking them how they imagined the geographical and physical features of Africa looked; Fargen was quick to tell me that she thought Africa was dry, flat bare rocked dusty, semi arid land except for the beaches which she had learnt from a friend that they are the only attractive features in Africa. Poor Fargen!! You are wrong ‘Kabisa’
David and Fargen are just an example of the many people who get a rude shock immediately they set their foot to start enquiring for their holidays in renown sub-Saharan Africa destination such as Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda when they realize the diversity of attractions in this part of the world.
Allow me to take you through a journey across the savannahs of Africa; this will open your eyes and how much you can get from Africa. One day I was invited to attend a function in Port Florence now Kisumu the third largest city in Kenya, little did I know that this was the start of a long journey across the Savannah of Africa. Being in Port Florence itself is a life time experience……..just imagine how it feels to be at the source of ‘Nile’ the longest river in Africa and as thou’ not enough, sail on the waters which form the source of Nile and serves as a natural border for three countries. Imagine fishing, imagine the sunset, imagine … imagine…… imagine………it’s Fantastic!!
From the windows of my room, I could view the Lake, share a deep breath of breeze with the Tilapia and Omena and occasionally interact with some birds that are only found in this kind of Ecosystem. A trip to Impala sanctuary summarized our seminar.
By the end of one week, I had made worth networks with key big boys of Kenya thanks to the organizers of the seminar who always insisted on Networking as a key way to success.
Oohh!! I was telling you about the trip to savannah, sorry am not out of my way…. This is how it started …… One of the big boys acted fast on the networking idea and he selected a few people from his network group and luckily or rankly I was one of them.
Our task was to go round the East Africa identifying key areas for tourism development starting with Kenya, then Tanzania and finally Uganda. We contacted a few tour operators in Nairobi who could offer travel arrangements for our trips. It was not easy to choose since there are so many tour operators in Nairobi offering similar services and have very attractive websites with lots of information.
Our choice was Natural Track Safaris. A Nairobi based Tour operator who to us, looked promising to handle all our travel needs from consultancy, costing, camping (where it was needed) meals, hotel and lodge bookings, air tickets …… we had many needs anyway but we realized that the tour operator we chose knew no surprises.
Our itinerary was one that the company had not handled before and was to be tailor made to fit our requirements. For sure, drawing a six week itinerary with almost every bit based on forecast is not easy. It took combine effort of Elizabeth and Winnie both of Natural Track Safaris to do this and by the second day of our enquiry we had our itinerary at hand with all the information we needed and the necessary arrangements done. Thanks Winnie and Elizabeth.
The chilly morning of June 2 found us in Tree Tops, the lodge which over the years has maintained a legacy as the place where Princess Elizabeth ascended to queen after the death of his father. The lodge is in Abardares National park on the west of Mt. Kenya. It is of great significance in Kenya and the world at large thus it has been named a world heritage site for its incomparable biodiversity. You can be sure ‘one night is never enough’ at Treetops.
It took Peter (our driver guide) 2hrs and 47 minutes to drive us through the 240 Kilometer distance from Treetops to Samburu. He has worked in this profession for long and has earned him great experience especially in birds, parks and wildlife and is conversant with most of the local language in addition to good spoken English. It is this experience and knowledge that made Susan (a colleague in the project) to nick-name him ‘Professor Mkenya‘ (A Kenyan professor). A name we used to refer to him throughout the trip.
Samburu is a unique reserve I must say. Buddy! It’s a must visit place. If it were not so, I would not have told you. Our evening game drive was successful, though the winds blew up the dust making it prickly, but it’s a worthy price. Samburu is home to a diversity of wildlife some of which can only be found here and nowhere else in Kenya. Its location slightly north of equator makes it host to the reticulated giraffe, gerenuk gazelle (the browser antelope), ostriches and wide range of bird species.
My greatest desire was to see elephants and hippos since I was certain to see the cats in Mara but a glimpse of leopard was welcome anyway
From samburu we toured Meru national park, and then proceed to Lewa Downs. If you treasure wilderness environment like me, then Meru is a place to be. May be, you have heard of Meru in its black age of banditry and poaching but today it’s a novel case. You can now put your foot where the Famous Born Free documentary came to be, and entrée Elsa grave without apprehension or much intricacy………. Mmmmm!!! Meru is currently “a complete wilderness”
Lewa, on the other hand is a 45,000acre privately owned wildlife conservancy cum- a -rhino sanctuary serving as home to rescued black and white rhinos among other wildlife. It’s a place you will never exhaust even if you had a whole month at your disposal. Think of; – trekking, birds, wildlife, scenery, volunteer opportunities in community conservation or enjoy a night in the wild.
We took our flight in the afternoon after enjoying the better part of the day cheering the participants of the great Safaricom Marathon. The marathon is held at Lewa in aid to raise funds for environmental conservation of Lewa and its main sponsor is Kenya’s leading cellular internet provider through its Safaricom Foundation division.
Since the start of this Marathon a few years ago, it has attracted participants from all over the world. If you attend, you may have a glance at Lornah Kiplagat- World cross country champion and also the world’s number one female runner, among other Kenyan athlete. But it’s not guaranteed to see Lornah anyway, so enquire first.
Now we are in Mara as most locals call it, but for your sake let’s call it the legendary Maasai Mara. This is where the world contrasts itself whole heartedly. From the Maasai people, the big five, the great lodges, camps, Ooosshh!!!, the list is endless……… but I cant go without telling you that Mara hosts what I would call the greatest natural ‘Ggrand Olympics‘ You can’t afford to miss;’ the wildebeest migration’. A flight to Kenya and a safari to Mara on July through September will give you an opportunity to see wildebeests migration now one of new seventh wonder of the world
From here we set our foot to Amboseli National Park. With the backdrop of the highest mountain in Africa, you can be assured; your photos will carry the memory to your third and fourth generation just like the promissory biblical covenant. It was in Amboseli where I witnessed the world swiftest hunter also the fastest living mammal demonstrate its talent in the jungle. In short I mean, we were lucky to observe a cheetah hunting a Tommy – great! great! Great!!!! If I had time I would narrate the whole episode to you. The only fine thing is, I can only tell between a cheetah and a leopard when they are close and between black and white rhino when I see their mouth shapes, Prof. Peter taught me how to differentiate between Tommy and grant’s gazelles and I now have a doctorate in that.
Our Kenyan safari chapter trip ended after visiting Tsavo East National park. Both Tsavo’s (East and West) have their unique attractions but they both repute ‘The man eaters’ legend