Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the central part of the Great Rift Valley, west of the Aberdare ranges and North East of the Mau escarpment. It is on the shores of both Lake Naivasha and Lake Oloidien – the highest lakes along the floor of the rift Valley. It is a private conservancy set on 18,000 acres with a wide range of flora and fauna and two lodges that avail world-class comfort in tranquil surroundings (Chui Lodge and Kiangazi house).

The sanctuary was established in 1995 by Dutchman Hans Zwager, his wife June and their son Peter, aiming to conserve biodiversity, attract visitors and become a centre for sustainable development. The Zwagers had already made their home [the Djinn Palace] at Oserian, on the shores of Lake Naivasha, where they became the largest flower growers in Kenya. In a bid to enrich the genetic pool and broaden species diversity, several animal species were brought into the sanctuary in the late 1990s. They included the White rhino, Topi, Grevy’s zebra, Wildbeeste, Thompson gazelle and Waterbucks. The rhinos were subsequently translocated to other sanctuaries after several poaching incidents.

Oserengoni offers various activities for its visitors, notably game drives or walks in the company of knowledgeable guides that can end with a refreshing sundowner by a bonfire in the wild. Guests roam the conservancy in vehicles or on foot in complete privacy and view the array of wildlife that is difficult to see elsewhere. They can explore the shores of Lake Oloidien with its flock of water fowl, including pelicans, and flamingos. There is also the acacia forest with yellow-barked trees, which leopards frequent as they track their prey. The conservancy is home to over 45 different mammals. There are several species within the eco-system such as the Grevy’s Zebra, the Colobus monkey, leopards, lions, wild hunting dogs and the aardvark.

Located in north eastern Tanzania, near the Kenyan border, Mt Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak standing at 5,895 meters above sea level. It is the largest free-standing mountain rise in the world, meaning it is not part of a mountain range.

Kilimanjaro lies about 160 km east of the East African Rift System and about 225 km south of Nairobi, Kenya. The massif extends approximately east-west for 80 km and consists of three principal extinct volcanoes: Kibo at the centre, Mawensi on the east and Shira on the west. Kibo, the youngest and highest, retains the form of a typical volcanic cone and crater and is linked by a 11 km saddle at about 4,500 meters. Mawensi is 5,149 meters and is the older core of a former summit. Shira ridge (3,962 meters) is a remnant of an earlier crater. Below the saddle, Kilimanjaro slopes in a typical volcanic curve to the plains below, which lie at an elevation of about 1,000 meters.

The breathtaking snow-clad dome of Kibo contains a caldera on its southern side that is 2 km across and some 300 meters deep, with an inner cone that displays residual volcanic activity. Mawensi’s cone is highly eroded, jagged, and precipitous and is cleft east and west by gorges. Only Kibo retains a permanent ice cap. Mawensi has semi-permanent ice patches and substantial seasonal snow. Kilimanjaro is also called a stratovolcano (a term for a very large volcano made of ash, lava, and rock) not currently active, with fumaroles that emit gas in the crater on the main summit of Kibo. Although new activity is not expected, there are fears the volcano may collapse, causing a major eruption. In 1889, German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller became the first people on record to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Since then, Kilimanjaro has become a popular hiking spot for locals and tourists.

In 1973 Mount Kilimanjaro National Park was established to protect the mountain above the tree line as well as the six forest corridors that extend downslope through the montane forest belt. The park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. Kilimanjaro has a succession of vegetation zones consisting of (from base to summit) the semiarid scrub of the surrounding plateau; the massif’s cultivated, well-watered southern slopes; dense cloud forest; open moorland; alpine desert; and moss and lichen communities.

The forests of the southern slopes and surrounding areas are home to elephants, buffalo, and eland (ox like antelopes). Smaller mammals inhabiting the forests include black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, and bushbuck and duikers (small African antelopes). The forests also host a rich variety of birdlife, including the rare Abbot’s starling.

The Iconic Tim
Tim the Greatest Tusker

Tim was one of the last remaining great tuskers in Kenya; with tusks so long that they touch the ground. This is the term used to describe African elephants – usually male – whose tusks are so long that they reach the ground. The great tuskers are an irreplaceable symbol of our continent’s unique natural heritage. Their magnificent tusks are in some countries trophies for hunters thus putting these elephants at risk.

In the mid-1970s the first research of the Amboseli elephants was begun. To make things easy for the researchers they named each of the elephant families with a two-letter code starting with the letter T, like TA, TB, etc. Then each elephant was given a name that began with the letter T. Thus, the son of Trista and grandmother of the indomitable Teresia became, Tim. Tim was named by Cynthia Moss, founder of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, as part of what has become the world’s longest running scientific study of the species.

In 2014, two of Kenya’s most iconic great tuskers, Satao and Mountain Bull, were killed by poachers, thankfully Tim survived an attempted poaching via a poisoned spear attack. A team of rangers found him and were able to cure the nasty infection of the spear attack. In 2016, Tim was again wounded by a spear and a blow to the head by a huge rock hurled by angry farmers.

Tim did what every intelligent being would do and took himself to the medical facilities to get himself fixed up! In 2016 the researchers needed to add more protection for Tim and to curtail his trips to the farmers market in Kimana, and so he was given a GPS collar. The authorities were always alert to his location at all times and mobilize security to the farmlands.

Tim was not only known for his tusks but also his friendly and charismatic personality. He was also known to be a prolific father much sought after by females in oestrus and spent his adult life passing on his genes to elephant population in Amboseli. He died in February, 2020 at the age of 50 from natural causes. He was over 11 feet tall and weighed over 12,000 lbs. The 150,000 bundles of muscle fibers in his trunk can lift about 800 lbs.

A postmortem on the elephant revealed that he died of a twisted gut, which is a natural cause of death for elephants. Tim’s body was rushed to taxidermists in Nairobi. Taxidermy involves creating lifelike models. It involves the removal, cleaning, preserving and filling the skins of dead animals with a special material to make them look as if they are still alive.

Tim’s body is being preserved for educational and exhibition purposes. The iconic elephant was one of Africa’s last great tuskers roaming southern Kenya, mostly in the Mada area.

Tim’s remains arrived at National Museums of Kenya aboard a KWS flatbed truck. Tests were immediately run to determine if the body is suitable for taxidermy. By the time Tim’s hide was being removed, his huge tusks had been removed and stored safely by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

The preservation will last for 100 years. It will educate Kenyans on the need to protect wildlife. The bones, some hide and other organs will be preserved for study. The hide that will be mounted on the skeleton will on public display, with copies of the elephant’s tusks.

Tim now joins Ahmed, another huge tusker from Marsabit. A life-sized Ahmed look-alike is on display. Other wildlife preserved at the museum include a lion that died of natural causes at Nairobi National Park and a buffalo that used to charge at people at Nakuru National Park both undergoing taxidermy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya is a prime destination for a birdwatching. Tremendous geographical range gives Kenya a variety of climates and landscapes, hence the second highest number of species in Africa. From the world’s biggest bird, the Ostrich, to spectacular flamingos that congregate in their millions at the various Lakes of the Great Rift Valley and camouflage them in pink, Kenya holds some remarkable birding sights. Kenya holds the world-record ‘bird watch’ – with 342 species seen in 24 hours!

Bird watching is good all year round in Kenya. The rainy seasons of April and November coincide with migration of birds from and to Europe and Asia, and some of the top day’s totals have been recorded at that time. Migrants make up only about ten percent of Kenya’s birdlife. Spectacular birds of the bush –guinea fowl, go-away birds, rollers and barbets, to mention but a few – are active all year.

To see Kenya’s rarest, indigenous and unfortunately endangered birds, the bird enthusiast needs to seek out forests or highland grasslands tucked away amongst various farmlands. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest near Malindi, tops the list, with the six threatened bird species of the Sokoke Scops Owl, Sokoke Pipit, Spotted Ground Thrush, East Coast Akalat, Amani Sunbird and Clarke’s Weaver. Some other areas including the forest “islands” at the top of the Taita Hills, near Voi, is home to the beautiful but critically endangered Taita Thrush and Taita Apalis, as well as the endangered Taita White-eye. Sharpe’s Longclaw and Aberdare Cisticola, native and endangered, live in the highland grasslands near the Aberdare mountain range. In western Kenya, Kakamega Forest is a little patch of Guineo-Congolian rainforest in Kenya. Among the many rainforest species found are spectacular Turacos and Hornbills, and the tiny, endangered Turner’s Eremomela. The scarce and threatened Papyrus Yellow Warbler is found in papyrus swamps on the shores of Lake Victoria, alongside the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler and Papyrus Canary, all papyrus endemics.

Kenya’s national parks make excellent centres for bird watching in Kenya – the Maasai Mara for the rosy-throated longclaw and magpie shrike; the Samburu for the rare shining sunbird and pink breasted lark; and Nairobi for the northern pied-babbler and Pangani longclaw. Kenya’ handful of endemics include the Tara River cisticola, the Aberdare cisticola; Hinde’s pied-babbler; William’s lark; Sharpe’s pipit; and Clarke’s weaver. This diverse range of habitats supports a great diversity of bird species – and makes a birdwatching holiday in Kenya very rewarding!

There’s just something about walking in the bush; it’s the slow and natural pace of a walk that connects you to the ground; the sounds of the bush as you pause and listen; the distant call of birds; the sounds of cicadas and crickets; the trumpet of an elephant; it’s the ability to stop at a moment’s notice and look at a footprint and decide what animal left it there and where it was heading. A privately escorted foot safari in Kenya is the best way to really experience the African bush at its best. Walking through the wild allows you to explore the Kenyan wildness at its most pure. As you track big game, you become aware of every sight and sound, the smell of the earth and the touch of the wind.

Walking safaris aren’t new to Africa; they date back to over 200 years ago when explorers such as David Livingstone, Richard Francis Burton, and John Hanning Speke traveled through Africa on foot. Walking safaris in Africa were actually the traditional way of going on safari before the arrival of vehicles, and there’s no better way of really experiencing game and wildlife habitats than getting out on foot for the opportunity to see and track game.

Walking safaris are truly magical. It’s essential to step out of the comfort areas for at least a few hours and feel the buzz of the insects, or notice the slight raise of your heartbeat when there is a rustle in the bush. These are the ways that you step into your ancient psyche and connect; this is the magic of a walking safari.

Tips for Walking Safaris:

  • Always go with an experienced guide. Walking safaris is where an expert guide really comes into their own – as a rule, guides are totally familiar with the areas in which they operate, and have both formal training and experience with game found in the locale.
  • Be sure to have proper safari clothing – including long-sleeved shirts and trousers in light breathable fabric. Comfortable walking shoes, a wide brimmed safari hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are also recommended to give you maximum protection.

 

 

Wasini Island lies in southeast Kenya 3 kilometres off the coast of the Indian Ocean, 75 kilometres south of Mombasa, and 3 kilometres opposite the harbour of Shimoni village. It is a low-lying island less than 20m at its highest point (Ras Zinza Mkono). The southern shore of Wasini Island forms the northern extent of Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park.  The name ‘Wasini Mpunguti’ came from the early inhabitants who originally were the Chinese they were short Chinese, hence the name Wasini Mpunguti which to the locals, means short Chinese. The island has only footpaths of sharp old coral or sand. There are no cars, carts or bicycles.

There is no more romantic way to experience Wasini than from the deck of a traditional dhow. These wooden sailing vessels have been used along this stretch of coastline for centuries, and they are still entrenched in the Swahili culture today. Sailing towards the Magical Sunset enjoying the silence and beauty of the Ocean. Occasionally you will see the dolphins along the route or even on rare occasion the whale sharks during the seasons. Dolphins of Wasini are part of marine mammals that live in shallow tropical waters all over the world. There are nearly 40 recorded species of dolphins with the higher percentage living in warm temperate oceans and about 5 species living in rivers. Dolphins of Wasini and the entire Kisite Marine National Reserve, roam freely in their natural habitat. It is an amazing thing to behold these wonderful creatures as they swim in the turquoise-blue waters of the Indian Ocean. As you sail away from the shores, relax on the spacious and comfortable deck which is cushioned with big pillows and beautifully decorated. Enjoy a glass of wine or fresh coconut and ‘dawa’ cocktails on board.

Located in Kapedo, Turkana East is a red blood like alkaline lake. As the lake dries out, its salinity increases. The warm water’s high salt concentration makes what’s left of the lake a prime breeding ground for dunaliella algae, which turns the water blood-red. The color of the lake is characteristic of those where very high evaporation rates occur. As water evaporates during the dry season, salinity levels increase to the point that salt-loving microorganisms begin to thrive. Such halophile organisms include some cyanobacteria that make their own food with photosynthesis as plants do. The red accessory photosynthesizing pigment in the cyanobacteria produces the deep reds of the open water of the lake and the orange colors of the shallow parts of the lake. The alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake is also often colored red or pink by the salt-loving microorganisms that live there.

Mt Marsabit
Mt Marsabit

Marsabit National Park is a national park and reserve located at Mount Marsabit in Northern Kenya and covers an area of 1500 km2 which consists of a forested mountain that rises like an oasis in the middle of the desert wilderness and is the only source of permanent surface water in the region.

The area contains a number of extinct volcanic craters, which are covered in forests. The three spectacular crater lakes provide habitat for a variety of birdlife. One of the lakes, Lake Paradise, is most scenic and famous from early films and writings of Martin Johnson and Vivien de Wattville. Marsabit.

Lake Paradise - Marsabit
Lake Paradise

Mt Marsabit, a gradual steep and mist-capped beauty covered by the forested realms of Marsabit National Park, is another beautiful scenery. From the peak of the mountain is a glorious view of Marsabit town. At the bottom of the mountain lies a paradise of scenic crater lakes and swamps, gigantic trees and dazzling array of wildlife.

This is one of Kenya’s most quiet and remote national parks. It is also one of the most famous of Kenya safari parks that requires lots of patience to find wildlife in the bushy centre of the park. Despite being arid, few wildlife to be expected in this dry region among them elephants, greater kudu, reticulated giraffe, buffalo, bushbuck, leopard, Grevy’s Zebra (found only in the northern Kenya) hyenas and antelope species.

The reserve is also known because of large elephants like the famous Ahmed, an elephant that was provided with a 24-hour protection by a presidential order. Ahmed, who boasted some of the biggest tusks ever recorded, died at age 55, and his body was preserved and is now on display in Nairobi National Museum.

The heart of the park is the extensive forest which supports wildlife. The thick forest does not make for great game viewing so it requires lots of your time which will ultimately be rewarded.

Birding is also great with some rare birds on record. Lake Paradise is an enchanting spot and a good place to camp, although there are no facilities here. This is also where most of the reserve’s water birds hang out. The reserve has a unique and diverse birdlife of over 370 species that include the Somali ostrich, the rare masked lark and over 52 species of raptors.

Nearby is Losai National Reserve, opened as a single reserve in January, 1976. It covers 1,806 sq. kms. of wild, semi – desert landscape characterized by rocky hills, plains and rivers. The scenic beauty is breathtaking; game to view include elephant, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk and Grants Gazelle.

Losai National Reserve is a restricted tourism area, having formerly been a habitat for black rhino and elephants. Losai is characterized by rugged terrain; a lava plateau with scattered volcanic plugs covered with thorn bushes. Its relative isolation and inhospitable terrain make it very difficult to visit, even in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

On the west side of the national reserve there is the magnificent Ol Doinyo Lekinyo Mountains as well as the Ndoto Mountains. There also is a wide variety of animal species in Losai national reserve. Losai National Reserve gives one of the ultimate jungle and wilderness experience. This is because it is virtually in the middle of nowhere. For adventure lovers, Losai is the ultimate destination.

Animals such as elephants, the greater and lesser kudu and gazelles can easily be spotted in the park. Reptiles such as pythons, cobras and lizards are also common in Losai game reserve due to the hot humid weather that the reptiles prefer. It is also easy to note that there are a large number of insects such as grasshoppers, beetles and scorpions.

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of the dense Mt Kenya Forest, under the lush indigenous vegetation, stands an ancient timber-built house. Little is known about the solitary and enigmatic structure roofed with scalps of bamboo trees. One may be forgiven for thinking it were ruins abandoned centuries ago. Located on the foothills of Mount Kenya, Castle Forest Lodge sits within the forest reserve itself. Elephants crash through the rain forest and trout flicker in its sparkling rivers and waterfalls. The lodge occupies a clearing from which the peak of Mount Kenya can be clearly seen.

Castle Forest Lodge was put up by England’s royal family. Occupying more than 50 acres of the once virgin forestland, it was set up as a hunting lodge for England’s King George VI in 1910. A good hunter who fell in love with much of what he had seen in the largely wild countryside, King George, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, ordered that a hunting base be put up at the foot of the East African mountain, where he would spend his time during expeditions. It was then that the royal authorities in set up the castle. The location could not have been in a better place than where it stands: near an old path leading to Mt Kenya, the second largest mountain in Africa.

Castle Forest Lodge comprises of Cottages for 1-2 people, Bungalows for 2 – 4 and chalets for 6 plus for camping.  The 8 Cottages are round huts for one or two people with a double or two single beds. Each hut has its individual theme, a private en-suite shower and toilet and a fire place where a fire is lit at night. There are 3 Bungalows with 2 bedrooms each, a living room with fire place, a Verandah overlooking the fields, the forest and the valley in the distance. Each bungalow has a shower and toilet. There are two standard Bungalows, which are in the original style. And one “Luxury” Bungalow recently renovated which is a more spacious and has a hammock. There are two beautiful freestanding chalets available. Each with ample space, a fully equipped kitchen, a large living room and a splendid view of Mount Kenya. There are three rooms in the Main House, which was built in 1910, one double and two twins. They share shower and toilet and are above the kitchen, bar, and restaurant. A separate field offers ample camping space, clean toilets and hot showers and a large hall with tables and chairs to sit around in case it rains. Firewood is provided at a cost. Castle Lodge also has a surprisingly excellent pub/ restaurant. It has a feel of an old English country pub.

This is a place of quiet and calm. A place to ride horses, take walks, fish in the rivers or bath in the bush pool or waterfalls.

Lake Elementaita is derived from the Maasai word Muteita, meaning ‘dust place’, a reference to the dryness and dustiness of the area. It is set within the Eastern portion of the Rift valley in between lake Naivasha and Nakuru along Nairobi – Nakuru highway. Lake Elementaita was designated an Important Bird Area in 1999 by Birdlife International and a Ramsar Site in 2005 by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, an intergovernmental treaty that pushes for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was named a World Heritage Site in 2011 by Unesco World Heritage Centre.

Lake Elementaita boasts as the most critical breeding ground for the Great White Pelicans, and has over 450 species of birds. It is also a haven to thousands of both greater and lesser flamingoes who flock during favorable conditions. Pelicans often breed in large colonies of 40,000 to 50,000 pairs. Nests are usually just a rough pile of twigs on the ground. Two eggs are laid, which both parents keep warm by taking turns to rest them on their feet. After 29-36 days, the eggs hatch into bald, helpless chicks which the parents feed from a special liquid that runs down their beaks. The chicks are able to fly when they are 10 to 12 weeks old. The presence of spirulina algae in the lake are also of international scientific value, and provide critical support to birds, which visit the lake in large numbers as part of their migration in response to seasonal and episodic changes in the environment. Breeding is high during the wet season as the water levels of the Lake are high and rocky outcrops in the eastern sector are flooded to form islets which are ideal for safe nesting.

Parts of Lake Elementaita are largely fresh water that has entered through rivers like River Mbaruk and springs while other parts are alkaline like the other Rift Valley lakes. Great white pelicans spend a great deal of their time in the water. They usually choose large, freshwater lakes that have small islands that can be used as safe places to nest in thus the reason for the large number of pelicans on the lake.

Although the lake region has fewer mammalian species than other areas in East Africa, more than 15,000 animals roam the conservancy property. You may see Rothschild giraffes among the acacia trees removing tender leaves from branches while adeptly avoiding the treacherous thorns. Many species of plains game are commonly sighted, and you may have a fortuitous experience of sighting steenboks, duikers, bush pigs, bushbucks and also other elusive fauna. Lake Elementaita is also home to the tufted-eared caracal, golden and striped jackals and other smaller predators.