Overlooking the iconic snowcapped Mount Kilimanjaro across the border in Tanzania, the Chyulu Hills emerge between Kenya’s Tsavo and Amboseli National parks.

Verdant rolling hills of endless green, great blue skies and dramatically beautiful landscape views are what the Chyulu Hills provide to nature lovers.  Chyulu is a rugged wilderness still showing signs of its volcanic origins – and boasting some of the best views of Kilimanjaro. The reserve is a rugged jumble of ancient volcanic cones and craters, as well as the longest lava tube in the world.

In this arid landscape, the numerous springs and rivers of the Chyulu Hills stem from a unique cloud forest that acts as a critical water tower for nearby communities, livestock and wildlife. The Chyulu Hills is part of a major wildlife corridor and an important water catchment for the Mzima springs – a series of natural springs in the arid Tsavo National Park.

The Chyulu Hills are an integral part of Kenya’s largest conservation landscape that provides critical habitat for many of Africa’s most iconic species, including endangered rhinos and elephants. Other wildlife include buffalo, bushbucks, elands, leopards, giant forest hogs, bush pigs, reedbucks and giraffes along with various reptiles and insects. In addition, the area is home both to Maasai pastoralists – sheep, goat and cattle farmers – and Kamba agriculturalists, who have utilized the land for hundreds of years.

 

Sabaki River Estuary is located about five kilometres from Malindi town. The hidden destination mostly frequented by a few birdwatchers’ marks where a river pours its water into an ocean; yet the sea has rejected the water for years. Sabaki is the name of the last segment of one of the longest rivers in Kenya, Athi-Galana-Sabaki.

Despite nature hoping to unify the river and sea, there is a clear demarcation. The beauty is in watching the ‘fight’ as the turbid yellow water from the river refuses to mix with the sky-blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The ‘fight’ characterized by the force of the river and repulse by the high tide of the ocean is a sight to behold. You can stand and watch this ‘fight’ for hours especially during high tides when the sea water tends to rush out and clash with the muddled yellow-like incoming river water.

The estuary itself covers an area of about six kilometres and has sandbanks, mudbanks, dunes and seasonal and permanent freshwater pools, mangroves and scrub. North of the estuary, there are sand dunes, a rare sight in Coast. The coastal scrub and wetlands adjacent to the river mouth are an important habitat for shorebirds and other water birds. The mouth of the Sabaki River offers a rich diversity of bird species, including many rarities and spectacular numbers of gulls and terns. They feed far out in the sea and return to roost on the Sand banks

For birdwatchers, Sabaki estuary is like walking through paradise. Sabaki River Estuary is the best place in Kenya to see Madagascar Pratincole, a threatened afro tropic Malagasy migrant that is infrequently seen (March-September), Wintering Palaeartic wader the Broad-billed Sandpiper, White-faced whistling ducks roost amongst the waders, which include dozens of pied avocets, whimbrel and their larger relatives the Eurasian curlews, as well as bar-tailed Godwits. Lesser Flamingos also frequent Sabaki Estuary, when it is less flooded and the waters are low in the river.

 

 

 

Lake Baringo is named after the local word “Mparingo“, meaning lake. It is a semi-fresh water lake located in Rift Valley in Kenya situated roughly 77 Kilometers North of the equator and 279 Kilometers from Nairobi and is one of the seven inland drainage lakes within the Rift Valley drainage basin. The lake is located in the administrative district of Baringo at an altitude of 1,000 m above sea level, while its basin extends to the neighboring districts of Koibatek, Laikipia and Nakuru.

Several seasonal rivers drain into the lake, including Ol Arabel, Makutan, Tangulbei, Endao and Chemeron. Perkerra and Molo are perennial rivers, although with significantly reduced water discharges during dry seasons.

The lake has several small islands, the largest being Ol Kokwe Island. Ol Kokwe, an extinct volcanic centre related to Korosi volcano north of the lake, has several hot springs and fumaroles, some of which have precipitated sulfur deposits. A group of hot springs discharge along the shoreline at Soro near the northeastern corner of the island.

The lake is an important source of water for humans and livestock, as well as a significant income source for local communities through activities such as tourism, biodiversity conservation, and fish sold in local markets. The Kamasya and Njamus (Njemps) peoples of the Baringo basin catch species of tilapia in the lake, herd cattle, and raise crops as a source of their livelihood.

Lake Baringo is known for over 450 species of birds including Palearctic migrants. This is birding hotspot that hardly misses in every birding itinerary. It is the place where famous field guide, Terry Stevenson worked as a resident ornithologist. The lake also has Nile crocodiles, Hippos and smaller reptiles like Nile monitor lizards. The place plays host to photographers given the openness of the habitat and the proximity of wildlife especially by boat along the shores.

The area is richly endowed with scenic features and wildlife that make the place a must visit. The beautiful hills surrounding the lake and the basalt cliff rising stiffly over 70m make the place magnificent and a beehive of travelers’ excursions. You will be intrigued by the scenic view and natural beauty that characterizes Lake Baringo.

Africa holds incredible opportunities for fisherman. From deep sea sports fishing, looking for marlin, tuna and sailfish to exceptional fresh water and ocean fly fishing. Goliath tiger and large nile perch, two very sought-after species, also live in the African waters.

To fishing enthusiasts Kenya offers a great opportunity to go on a fishing trip whilst enjoying the scenic natural environment and its unique wildlife spots. Pemba Channel just off the south coast is the best place for salt water sports fishing and game fishing. Marlin, sailfish, tuna and giant trevally are all found here.  Anglers have a wide variety to chose from: trout fishing, deep sea fishing and the chance to learn about Kenya’s traditional fishing and preservation methods as practiced by certain communities that were specialists for these activities as a means of earning a living.

The Nairobi Railway Museum represents the historical growth of Kenya to the country it is now. The Museum was opened in 1971, and much of the credit for its foundation goes to its first Curator, Mr. Fred Jordan, who had been with the railways in East Africa as from 1927. Realizing the speed at which changes were taking place on the railway system he saw the need to preserve as many links with the past as possible. He began to gather items which were to form the nucleus of the present-day museum’s fascinating and growing collection.

The Nairobi Railway Museum provides answers to many unanswered questions concerning the early history of the rail and Kenya’s development. Nairobi Railway museum consists of the Main Gallery, the Resource Center, the auditorium and an outdoor collection of locomotives, wagons and coaches.

It exposes the background of the Kenya-Uganda railway line, aptly nicknamed the Lunatic Express, whose construction is believed to have cost more than 2,500 lives through tropical diseases, murderous heat, and man-eating lions. It is estimated that four workers died for each mile of the 931-kilometre railway line. You can almost feel the fear in the eyes of the construction workers staring at you from the pictures on the museum walls. In many ways, walking through the museum is like travelling through the whole stretch of that period in Kenya, starting with the annexation of Kenya as a British protectorate, and later colony, to the freedom struggle and independence.

Wandering on and around the locomotives makes for a lovely outing and gives you a surprising amount of insight into the nation’s development. The museum itself is almost a time capsule within a time capsule—a well preserved effort from the post-independence days of the 1970s to conserve an emblematic part of its colonial past. Fitting then is the location of the museum, tucked away amid the modern skyscrapers of the central business district. The rising buildings are a constant reminder that all these days are past.

What image comes to mind when you hear of the word Safari?

Sitting in the bush on a moonlit night, so close to a lion that you can feel the rumble of its roar in your chest?

Many travelers might conjure up visions of tented camps, gourmet meals in the wild bushes, game drives through the golden savanna, relaxation under a tree enjoying the spectacular views of the vast landscapes and sun-downers at the end of the day.

The history of Safari dates back to the 19th century in colonial Kenya. The word itself is derived from the Swahili language which means ‘to travel’.

During the colonial era in Kenya, East African hunting safaris became a fashionable pursuit among members of the privileged classes, particularly in Britain and the United States. The completion of the Uganda Railway in 1901 provided easier access to the interior highlands of British East Africa (also known then as the East African Protectorate, and now as Kenya), where large game, especially elephants, lions, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceroses, was plentiful. The early hunting safaris were traditionally known as foot safaris and comprised of a small group of wealthy European visitors, professional hunter, several cooks, gun – bearers and porters.

Between wars during the Word War, the motor car to East Africa displaced porters. Established camps became more and more comfortable, with modern amenities such as daily newspapers, doubled walled tents, mosquito netting, chemical toilets, air mattresses and mess tables. A safari habitus was established. In the process, adventure was domesticated.  In the following decades, the improvement of flight schedules to Africa, lower air-ticket prices, and new international travel arrangements made possible through professional tour companies organizing holiday packages, allowed the expansion of tourism.

As a commodity for the tourism industry, Africa and more so Kenya has become the terrain where a particular kind of experience is available to Western subjects: adventure, romance, and danger are available under a home-like control and comfort. Africa is packaged into a tour as a spectacle where difference is consumed and cultural difference erected as the provider of authentic experience.

Over time, a safari experience has gone from an “underdeveloped” experience to an evolutionary one. It has spread across Africa offering diverse and unique safari adventures in each African country. The word safari has definitely been redefined. Luxury safari lodges, open 4×4 safari vehicles/land rovers, amazing wildlife viewings, hot air ballooning and much more. What one could not experience or even dream of 100 years ago, it is certainly possible today.

A Safari experience in Africa is one of the greatest adventures any traveler will embark on. Freedom of travel, satellite connections informing of animal sightings, aerial views of scenic splendor have all added to the modernization of the whole African safari experience, but still the untamed wilderness, beautiful natural surroundings, traditional cultures and unforgettable African wildlife encounters remain.

To the Northeast of the Masai Mara National Reserve are the little-known and beautiful Loita Hills. An area of Masai land in Kenya near the Masai Mara and next to the indigenous Naimina Enkikio Forest. This is the most traditional corner of Maasai land. Despite the number of Maasai living here, it’s also an area of unexpected wildlife – colobus monkeys swing through the trees, turacos light the skies with colour and huge numbers of buffaloes, forest pigs and bushbucks move through the shadows.

Lesser known to many is the Loita Migration of up to 200,000 wildebeest and zebra on an annual journey from Loita Hills, to the northeast of the Masai Mara – into the Masai Mara itself and its neighboring conservancies. Originating in the Loita Plains to the North East of Naboisho, an event that brings what many estimates to be well over 200,000 wildebeest into the Mara from their dry homeland. They graze in Naboisho and the surrounding areas until the next big rains hit the Loita Plains, often keeping them here until March.  Although the Loita migration would not cross the Mara River to go south into the Serengeti, it still provides an incredible migration experience at an incredible time of the year, wonderful interaction and you can enjoy private conservancies that offer walking, night drives and off-road driving – this all makes visiting the Masai Mara for the Loita migration worthwhile

The Lamu Cultural Festival is one of the best attended community-based cultural festivals in Kenya. The festival is a celebration of both the past and future, and the beliefs and traditions that are the very heart and soul of the Lamu community. The aim is to promote the rich Swahili culture, and open up the archipelago to outsiders; to promote the beauty of the island’s landscape and the uniqueness of its people.

Lamu Old Town dates back 700 years and has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco and Shela which brags, rightfully so, of the most attractive sceneries and powdery beaches in the island.

Several competitions, races and activities are often showcased, and these include traditional Swahili poetry, henna painting, bao competitions, swimming races, donkey races, traditional artisan craft making, traditional dancing and music as well as a chance to sample local cuisine.

The most unforgettable events of the festival are the dhow race and the donkey races. These competitions stem from the culture of the Lamu people. Donkeys are ubiquitous features of Lamu Island, and the race is one of the highlights of the festival. Other events include swimming, and at times a challenging cross – country race along the waterfront, all the way to Shela village and back- all in the physically draining heat of the day.

Most visitors to the island fall in love with its relaxed and peaceful lifestyle, and visiting during the Lamu Cultural Festival is a chance to experience Lamu life at its most exuberant and joyous.

The Mountain Bongo is a critically endangered subspecies of the Bongo, one of the largest forest antelopes, with a reddish-brown coat, with black, white and yellow-white markings. Both males and females have long, slightly spiraled horns. Bongos are rarely seen in large herds. Bulls are mostly solitary, while females with young form small herds of up to 10. They are mostly nocturnal.

The Mountain Bongo is one of the most elusive creatures on earth. Critically endangered, until very recently, it was thought to be extinct in the forests of Mount Kenya. The decline of the Mountain Bongo has been caused by habitat loss and illegal hunting with dogs. Increasing human population, deforestation, poaching, ecological changes, predation by lions, hyenas, and leopards threaten the survival of the mountain bongo. Disease (such as rinderpest) caught from grazing cattle is also thought to have been a significant factor in their historic decline.

Mountain Bongos are mostly grazers, feeding on leaves, vines, bark and occasionally grass. They need salt in their diet and regularly visit mineral licks. Mountain Bongos frequent the bamboo and mountain heath zone in the dry season and then descend to the cloud forest, where they disperse, during the rains. Herds of a dozen are considered large; they always include young calves and are trailed or accompanied by a bull during the mating season.

With fewer than 100 Bongos left in the wild, the Mountain Bongo has been classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a critically-endangered species.

In spite of its threatened status, there is not enough focus on the plight of this magnificent antelope which is endemic to Kenya, as compared to other wildlife such as rhinos, elephants, or lions.

 

The Turkana are nomadic pastoralists who live in the desert regions of northwestern Kenya. They live in the arid, sandy expanse of northwestern Kenya, from Lake Turkana to the Ugandan border and speak an Eastern Nilotic language of the Nilo-Saharan language family. Their language closely resembles that of the Teso.

The Turkana, like the Samburu and Maasai, still maintain their undiluted traditional way of life. They are distinguished as being great survivors, living in harsh and inhospitable terrain. As with all other pastoralist tribes in Kenya, livestock, especially cattle, are at the core of Turkana culture.

The Turkana people live a nomadic life, always moving from one place to another depending on the availability of pasture and water for their animals. The Turkana place such a high value on cattle that they often raid other tribes to acquire more animals. This may be seen as theft, but to the Turkana and other pastoralist tribes in Northern Kenya, it is a perfectly acceptable traditional custom. Cattle raids are common between Turkana and their neighboring tribes, especially the Karamoja of Uganda, and the Pokot and Marakwet of Southern Kenya.

Turkana are ardent pastoralists who give names to, sing to, and diligently care for their cattle. Milk and other dairy products (butter, ghee, and yogurt) as well as blood are important to the Turkana diet; hides, horns, and bones are likewise to their material culture. Camels provide milk and meat and are used for bride wealth payments.

The Turkana are nearly as colorful as the Maasai and Samburu in their regalia and dressing. Turkana men dye their hair with special colored soil, while the women adorn themselves with traditional jewelry and beaded necklaces. A woman’s social status or class determines the quantity and style of jewelry she wears. From the point of view of a Turkana person, one glance at a woman is enough to know her standing in the society. Some of the most beautifully crafted items from the Turkana are the bracelets and necklaces worn by the women. Turkana craftsmen also produce many other artistic items, especially weapons such as spears, clubs and knives. The Turkana also manifest special skills in metalwork, woodcarving, and stone carving.