This park lies in the shadow of the Kilimanjaro, which is the highest peak in Africa. Although not as large as others in the southern region, Amboseli features a unique ecosystem and a variety of game that is easy to spot. The park also features five different wildlife habitats: the seasonal lake bed of Lake Amboseli, sulfur springs surrounded by swamps and marshes, open plains, woodlands, and lava rock thornbush country. Amboseli is best known for its great elephant herds. The park also provides the best chance of spotting the elusive black rhino. Lion and cheetah are common as well as Maasai giraffe, eland, Coke's hartebeest, waterbuck, impala and gazelle.
Because it has a much dryer climate, Amboseli has suffered more than any other park in terms of the damage done by minibuses. Much of the year it is a dust bowl so sticking to defined tracks while driving helps tremendously. Some of the lodges in the park include Amboseli Lodge and Kilimanjaro Safari Lodge which provide the full array of conveniences; and the Ol Tukai Lodge which consists of a series of well appointed luxurious cottage style rooms, and the Amboseli Serena Lodge which is close to the southern perimeter of the park. Its close proximity to Enkongo Narok Swamp guarantees a variety of bird and animal activity. Camp grounds and smaller hotel accommodations exist as well at reasonable prices.
The park covers 320 sq km in the south-west corner of Kenya. It receives ample water from the tree-lined Mara River, a tributary of the Talek River. The western border of the park features the Oloololo Escarpment as well as the highest concentration of game. This area is often difficult to traverse as the swampy ground often becomes impassable after heavy rains. Because of its accessibility from Nairobi, the eastern edge of the park is most popular with tourists and minibuses.
The highlight of the Mara is undoubtedly the great migration of wildebeest which move north from the Serengeti in July and August in search of lush grass. They return south in October before the rainy season. Watching millions of these animals move together in mass is truly a humbling experience for human visitors. Other animals are commonly spotted in the park including the big cats: lions, cheetahs, and leopards. Lions are often found in large prides and it's not uncommon to see them hunting. Elephant, buffalo, zebra, and hippo roam in large herds while the Topi, impala, and Coke's hartebeest are also abundant.
The official designation of the Maasai Mara is as a park reserve, and it therefore does not have national park status. The primary difference is that a park reserve allows people to graze their animals and shoot game if they are attacked. National parks set aside the entire area for wildlife and the natural environment with no allowances for pastoral grazing. The Maasai Mara region is the traditional land of the Maasai people who often find themselves in competition with the wildlife and tourists for scarce resources. When the game reserve was established in the early 1960s, much the their native land was put off limits and pressure for land became intense. Constant conflict with land authorities led to settlement programs which have met with only limited success. As a nomadic, pastoral-oriented people, Maasai traditions scorn the concept of agriculture and land ownership. The tension continues as traditional ways clash with the 20th century.
Accommodations vary greatly in the Maasai Mara region and include all levels of convenience from tented camps to luxury lodges. Most establishments organize game drives in the early morning and late afternoon when the wildlife is most active. Like all wild areas in Kenya, the Mara can be deceptively dangerous. It is advised that tourists not travel off the beaten path alone, nor is it wise to travel in anything other than a four-wheel drive vehicle as the terrain is often difficult.
Mt. Kenya is regarded as the home of God by the Kikuyu who are one of Kenya’s Bantu tribes. Rising 5,199 meters above the equator, Kere-Nyaga or Mountain of Whiteness is the second highest mountain in Africa. It can be seen for miles, usually in the early morning before clouds obscure the view. Mt. Kenya is a volcanic cone that last erupted two million years ago. The steep valleys surrounding the summit were carved out by glaciers. Only seven glaciers remain today, down from the eighteen recorded in 1893. Some environmentalists predict that the existing glaciers will vanish in 25 years.
Mt. Kenya is unusual in that it can be climbed by most anyone in fit condition. There are eight acknowledged routes up the mountain, three of which are used regularly. Mt. Kenya has smooth slopes on three sides with a ring of rocky peaks just below the summit. In order to reach Batian, the actual summit, specialized climbing gear is required as one must cross glaciers and steep terrain. It is possible to complete a circular walk around the peaks after a 3 - 5 day climb. The primary health hazards climbers face are altitude sickness and hypothermia. Several options exist for supplies, porterage, and climbing tours. The towns of Naro Moru and Nanyuki, popular starting points for climbers, are recommended locations for coordinating trips and lodging. Naro Moru River Lodge is especially well-known and provides comprehensive services for climbers.
Tsavo West covers an area of 8,500 sq km and Tsavo East which covers an area of 11,000 sq km. Both sections of the park contain a variety of habitats, geologic/soil types, animals, birds, and plants. The northern area of Tsavo West is the most developed and has some beautiful scenery. Tsavo East features vast rolling plains with scrubby vegetation and is much less visited. The general public is prohibited north of the Galana River in an effort to protect the area from a poachers. This protected area constitutes the majority of the overall park area and the efforts seem to be working as elephant and rhino populations are slowly increasing. Four wheel drive is a necessity in both sections of the park.
Tsavo East comprises the southern, more accessible section of the park. Tsavo was home to the largest herds of elephants only 20 years ago. Up to 20,000 elephants roamed the lands which quickly led to a degradation of Tsvao's capacity to support such numbers. The landscape surrounding Tsavo East was fundamentally changed from a forested savannah into deserts and plains as the great animals foraged for food. With the vegetation depleted, drought followed and many of the great herds died off. Poachers have decimated the survivors, although the Kenyan government has made a concerted effort to prosecute the killers. This region of the park also includes the Kanderi Swamp and the Aruba Dam, a man-made dam on the Voi River. Both areas attract an abundance of wildlife without the usual horde of tourists. Although Tsavo East features some dramatic settings, it is generally less traveled than the other southern parks.
The watering holes near Kilaguni and Ngulia Lodges attract the most abundant wildlife in the area. When water is scarce during the dry season, Kilaguni is an especially active animal sanctuary. The Shetani Lava Flow, a massive 50 sq km lava bed, is located in close proximity to the Kilaguni Lodge. The name means "devil" in Swahili and the barren expanse of black rock was formed by an eruption in the nearby Chyulu Hills. There are also caves near the lava flow that can be explored with the right gear.. Also in the area is the Chaimu Crater which features extensive walking and climbing trails.
One of the most spectacular sights in Tsavo West may be the Mzima Springs. The underground river that feeds the springs is part of the Kilimanjaro water system. This powerful freshwater source pumps 282,000 liters per minute (50 million gallons a day) into a pool and stream of crocs and hippos. The springs are also the primary source of Mombasa's freshwater supply and there is a direct pipeline from here to the coast. Since 1969, and underwater viewing tank allows visitors to watch animals as they swim by.
The long, slender soda lake lies at the foot of the towering Laikipia Escarpment. Towards the southern end of the lake are a series of geysers, boiling pools and hot springs. The 107sq km national park also protects one of Kenya's remaining herds of greater kudu. The lake also boasts flamingoes and pelicans, but the region is best known for the physical beauty of the setting.
Traveling further north, one finds Lake Baringo, a freshwater lake that is home to a host of bird life. This is the most northerly in the chain of Rift Valley lakes and is a spectacular center for bird-watching. The Lake Baringo Club offers a variety of services including wildlife walks guided by an ornithologist, boat rides, camel rides, and local trips to the local Njemps tribal village and a local snake park.
As a freshwater lake, Naivasha is used to irrigate the surrounding countryside. Its cool climate and fertile soil attracts Nairobi residents seeking refuge from city life. Farms, vegetable gardens, and vineyards contribute to this weekend retreat atmosphere. Over 400 species of birds have been reported at Lake Naivasha alone, making it a Mecca for bird lovers and researchers. Joy Adamson, author of Born Free, lived on the shores of Lake Naivasha. Her home, Elsamere, is now a wildlife education and conservation center.
Also nearby is Hell's Gate National Park, one of only two parks in Kenya where you are allowed to explore of foot. The Njorowa Gorge was once the outlet from Lake Naivasha. Today the passageway is dried up leaving sheer, red crumbling cliffs through which you walk unguided. The loop between the two main gates is 22km long, but there is a 6km nature trail from the Interpretation Center. Another attraction in the Lake Naivasha region is the privately owned Crater Lake Game Sanctuary. Situated on part of the former estate of Lady Diana Delamere, the scenery around the lake located in a volcanic crater is splendid. This is also the home of the ox-wagon safaris.
Lake Nakuru National Park is world famous for its population of greater and lesser flamingo which at times number over a million. The park covers 200 sq kilometers offering a cross section of woodlands, wetlands, rocky cliffs and the acacia scrub. The lake itself is a shallow alkaline lake, supporting several species of fish. It’s more that 400 species of birds have made it an ornithologists paradise. There is plenty of game and buffalos, leopards, lions giraffe are easily seen, besides impala, dik dik and also the black and white rhino.
Samburu , Shaba, and Buffalo Springs are situated along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River just north of Isiolo town. They combine to cover some 300 sq km of mostly scrub desert and open savannah plain. Small rugged hills break the monotony and provide a perfect habitat for leopards.
The river supports a variety of game including elephant, buffalo, cheetah, lion, dik-dik, and wart hog. While Grevy's zebra, gerenuk, and the reticulated giraffe are especially abundant in these parks, human tourists are not as common. Except for the lodge entrances, travelers often find themselves en joying the environs in virtual solitude.
This safari is a sneak peak into Kenya's amazing Amboseli National Park and Masai Mara Game Reserve through Lake Nakuru in the Rift Valley.
- 2 nights / 3 days - Taste of Kenya
- 3 nights / 4 days - Pink Shores
- 4 nights / 5 days - Beautiful Kenya
- 5 nights / 6 days - Best of Kenya
- 6 nights / 7 days - Turf and Surf
- 7 nights / 8 Days - Classic Safari
- 7 nights / 8 days - Wings over Kenya
- 9 nights / 10 days - Maridadi Safari