Prison Island

Surrounded by the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean, exquisite white sand beaches, coral reefs and covered in lush tropical vegetation is Prison Island also known as ‘Kibandiko, Changuu or Quarantine Island’ is a small island 5.6 km northwest of Stone Town, Unguja, Zanzibar. It is about a 30-minutes boat ride from Stone Town. The island hosts a former prison and a tortoise sanctuary.

In 1860, the small island was used as a prison for disobedient slaves. By 1893, construction of an actual prison complex was completed, but instead of housing prisoners, it was used to quarantine yellow fever cases. Nowadays, the island is home to some endangered Aldabra giant tortoises, given to the island in 1919 by the British governor of the Seychelles. Some of those original tortoises are supposedly still alive here to this day.

Prison Island is part of Zanzibar’s intriguing history. A walk across the island leads to the former prison ruins. The island was used as a prison for rebellious slaves in 1860s and also functioned as a coral mine. In 1891 Consul C.S Smith decided to reform prison conditions after visiting the main prison on the island of Zanzibar and being appalled by the squalid conditions.

It was decided that a prison would be constructed on Changuu Island in order to decongest the prison on the main island. As with most government projects, progress was slow and the prison on Prison Island was only completed in the mid-1890s.  However, no prisoners were ever moved there so the buildings remained unoccupied to save for the occasional use as a health resort by the European residents in Zanzibar.

Today, Prison Island is especially well-known for its giant tortoises – the island’s biggest attraction.  By the mid-1950s, the number had increased to more than 200 giant tortoises on the island.

Unfortunately, there was a sharp decline in the tortoise population as the tortoises were sold for food and as pets. Following measures to protect the tortoises, the number is back up to more than 100 again. The oldest of the island’s tortoises is 192 years old, and several of the others are up to 150 years old.

The Aldabra tortoise, which lives on the island, is the world’s second-largest tortoise, surpassed only by the Galapagos tortoise. Aldabra tortoises are not indigenous to Zanzibar, originally from the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, they were a gift in 1919 from the British governor of Seychelles to the first British resident of Zanzibar, Major F.B. Pearce. In exchange for the tortoises, a number of specimens of typical flowering plants were shipped to The Seychelles.

The Aldabra tortoise can weigh up to 250 kilos and grow to a length of 1.22 metres. Its food consists mainly of vegetation, and they sometimes topple small trees to grab the leaves. A new litter of tortoises hatches every year. The tortoises hatch from February to May. Although an Aldabra tortoise can weigh up to a quarter of a tonne, the newly hatched young are only around 8 centimetres long. The baby tortoises are kept in cages for a few months to protect them.

You can also explore Prison island on your own, which only takes about an hour. Besides the giant tortoises, you may see the colourful peacocks, bats and the beautiful butterflies that live on the island. If you’d rather relax, you also have every opportunity to do so. As in Zanzibar, Prison Island has some beautiful white sandy beaches with turquoise-blue waters, where you can swim, sunbathe and snorkel.

The water around the island is crystal-clear and cerulean blue, which makes snorkeling among the colourful fish and coral here hard to resist, but a visit also lets you gain an understanding of a grim period of Zanzibar history.

 

Fort JesusThe Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese in 1593-1596 to the designs of Giovanni Battista Cairati to protect the port of Mombasa, is one of the most outstanding and well-preserved examples of 16th Portuguese military fortification and a landmark in the history of this type of construction. Mombasa was a transit place for trade at that time and a gateway to India, and the fort was built to protect the town from outside invaders. Today, it has grown to become one of the most visited areas in Mombasa, and is on our list of top things to do in Old Town Mombasa.

The fort stood over a spur of coral, and it tells the story of how the Portuguese at one time ruled the trade routes of the Indian Ocean. Its location ensures that they could see any ship as it approached. It also tells the story of how many slaves perished from torture, hunger, and disease as they waited to be transported. During the East African Slave Trade era, slaves would travel to Arabia and the Persian Gulf through the port of Mombasa, many becoming laborers, guards, soldiers, or concubines.

During the 16th century, there were nascent cultural, commercial and political forces. The Portuguese built the fort by the designs of Joao Batista Cairato, who drew his inspiration from Pietro Cataneo, an Italian architect. However, despite the design being of the Renaissance period, with its five bastions, the building material and labor came from the Swahili people, who were the indigenous inhabitants of Mombasa. The fort takes the shape of a man when viewed from above.

After the Portuguese inhabited it, the fort was the subject of battle. Between 1631 and 1895, it was captured and recaptured, changing hands nine times, with the Omani Arabs winning control over it in 1698. In 1895, the British transformed it into a prison, and held slaves in the torture rooms and cells in the inner part of the fort. There were also cannons to protect the interior from invasions and dissatisfied locals. After recapturing it, the Portuguese refurbished it and has since been refurbished a number of times, its structures revealing Portuguese, Arab, and British influences.

Fort Jesus, Mombasa, bears testimony to the first successful attempt by Western civilization to rule the Indian ocean trade routes, which, until then had remained under Eastern influence. The design of the fort, with its proportions, its imposing walls and five bastions, reflects the military architectural theory of the Renaissance. It was used as a barrack for the soldiers and converted to a prison when the British protectorate was proclaimed.

The Oman House, the living quarters of the sultan who governed the East African coast, still stands in the fort. Other historical structures that are still intact include an open water cistern, which the Portuguese used to harvest rainwater, as well as a 76-foot deep well sunk by the Arabs.

The World Heritage Committee inscribed Fort Jesus on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001. Today Fort Jesus Museum is the ideal world heritage treasure to visit. It’s a magnificent and ancient landmark of Mombasa City that plays a vital role in showcasing the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. Inside the museum, there are numerous items that were used in the previous centuries.

At the entrance of the Fort Jesus Museum, there is an aerial map of the fort that makes it easier for visitors to understand the different sections of the fort and the roles they played when Fort Jesus was still in use. On display are various items and tools that were considered to be of utmost importance in those days; Fort Jesus Museum is a collection of items dating far back as the 14th century to 19th century.

Among the common items to see in this top Mombasa tourist attraction site include; an ancient Portuguese chair, Persian chest, drums, plates, gourds among other unique items that have been well preserved over the years.  Despite the fact that the indoor section of Fort Jesus Mombasa is not large; there is a lot to see.

Outside the Fort Jesus Museum is a unique and eye-catching display of canons neatly arranged signifying how controllers of Fort Jesus Mombasa in the olden times valued canons are superior weapons for destroying the enemy. The Fort Jesus Museum also has a large compound; outside the museum building, there are numerous wall hangings and items on display.

Fort Jesus has managed to retain its charm as one of the most visited heritage sites not only in Kenya but in the entire region.  Together with the indoor museum, Fort Jesus Mombasa is spectacle that still stands strong to remind us all of the events that gave birth to Mombasa.

 

Lake Naivasha

Naivasha, lake, in the eastern arm of the East African Rift System, 35 mi (56 km) southeast of Nakuru, Kenya. It is flanked by the Ilkinopop (Kinangop) Plateau (east) and the Mau Escarpment (west). The lake lies on an alluvium-covered flat in the valley floor and is flanked on the north by an extensive papyrus swamp.

It is the highest of the lakes in the eastern part of the rift system, and is situated at 6,180 feet (1,884 m) above sea level. Its level and size fluctuate periodically; in the mid-1970s it covered about 81 square miles (210 square km). Its main tributaries are the Engare Melewa and Gilgil rivers.

Although it has no outlet, the lake’s waters are fresh. Several species of Tilapia and black bass (introduced) are the basis of commercial and sport fishing. Bird-watching is also popular. Lake Naivasha serves as a weekend resort for residents of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to the southeast

Hell’s Gate National Park

It’s one of the smallest National Parks in Kenya, but its unusual features and charm compensate for what it lacks in size. It covers an area of 68.25 square km and is situated in the environs of Lake Naivasha about 90km from Nairobi. The park is 14 km after the turnoff of the old Nairobi- Naivasha highway.

It is characterized by diverse topography and geological scenery. The towering cliffs, water formed gorges, a variety of wild animals (such as African Buffalos, Zebras, Elands and Thomson’s Gazelles), over 100 bird species including Vultures, Verreaux’s eagles, Augur buzzards and unique flora give this park an almost magical feel.

The park is also home to Olkaria Geothermal Power Station, the first productive geothermal installation in Africa.

Hell’s Gate has two gates – the main Elsa Gate and the Olkaria which serves the Olkaria Geothermal Station. Hell’s gate can be visited for hiking and cycling throughout the year, but wildlife viewing is best in dry months from June to October when the grass is short.

Activities include:  Hiking through Hell’s gate Gorge, cycling tour of the park, Game viewing, Bird watching, Rock climbing, optional visit to the Geothermal Power Station and optional picnic or hot lunch.

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Crescent Island Game Sanctuary

Inside Kenya’s Great Rift Valley lies Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, Naivasha’s best kept secret. Here, wildlife lives in relative peace and tranquility, a heaven and haven for herbivores, as there are no carnivores chasing after them.

With a higher population of animals than many other parks in the country, Crescent is an ideal spot to walk among the habituated herbivore wildlife. The island, in the shape of a crescent, can be accessed by boat or road. The area is unfenced and wildlife from the mainland freely goes in and out.

Although still referred to as an island, the sanctuary was created in 1988, when the island became a peninsula.

On Crescent Island, game viewing is pretty easy. You can spot a variety of animals from giraffes, elands, wildebeest, zebras, impalas, etc. There are also several avian species and aquatic habitat. The Lake is home to lots of hippos which can be spotted easily from the island. Some of the birdlife residents at the Crescent Island are the fish eagle, herons, ospreys, black crakes, and lily-trotters.

naivasha
naivasha

A good number of herbivores and mammals can be found grazing the surrounding areas of the lake. Some of the grazers include zebras, impala, buffalo, kongoni, giraffe and hippos at night. At Crescent island, you can see giraffes and other wildlife up close or simply set up a picnic and relax. There are no predators to intimidate or prey on them so they live freely. In addition to the walking safari experience, there are guided boat rides that let you see an assortment of birdlife from pelicans, cranes and smaller brightly colored birds on the banks.

 

 

 

Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak is regarded as the realm of Ngai, god of the local Kikuyu people. Traditionally, all Kikuyu homes were built to face this sacred peak. They call it Kirinyaga, or place of light. The mountain is an awe-inspiring sight. Its ragged series of peaks are crowned with snow, and its slopes are thick with forest. Mount Kenya lies within Mount Kenya National park.

It has a trio of summits named after Maasai Chieftains. The highest, Batian, is 17,057ft (5199M), making it the tallest peak in Kenya and the second highest in the entire African continent. Nellion and Lenana stand at 17,021ft (5188M) and 16,355ft (4985M) respectively. At present there are 11 glaciers in Mount Kenya.

At Mount Kenya the sun rises and sets at the same time every day, with both day and night lasting 12 hours. In fact, there is only one-minute difference between the shortest and longest days of the year (this is because Mount Kenya is situated too close to the Equator). There are six gates into Mount Kenya National Park but the most frequently used are the 3 main gates.

The most frequented routes are Chogoria (the most striking), Naru Moro (the quickest way to reach Lenana) and Sirimon (popular due to the steady rate of ascent). The Chogoria route is considered the most striking. It takes climbers from the small town of Chogoria to the peaks circuit and on to point Lenana.

The physical landscape on this route is its biggest attraction. Whereas the other routes above generally follow a U-Shaped glacial valley for much of the way, the Chogoria traverses around the head of the spectacular ‘Temple’ with the Hall Tarns perched on the rock ledge above it and Lake Michaelson in the base of the amphitheatre.

The additional features of Lake Ellis, the Giant’s Billiard Table and the Nithi Falls further add to its interest. The Chogoria is very often used as a descent route after ascending one of the other routes.

The Naro Moru route is the quickest way to the base of the mountain and Pt. Lenana. The forest is still dense on this route, as is the bamboo zone. You are quite likely to see bushbuck, Colobus monkey and Sykes Monkey and also evidence of Buffalo and Elephant.

The hygenia forest is also in good condition with a lot of flowers and other plants. The giant heathers above the forest were heavily damaged by a fire in 2013 but the alpine moorland has a lot of Giant Lobelia as well as MacKinders Gladiolus higher up. The Teleki Valley has a lot of the classic Tree and Cabbage Groundsels as well as Lobelia Telekii and Deckenii.

Some of the cabbage groundsels in particular absolutely massive. On the approach to or at MacKinders you are almost guaranteed to see Rock Hyrax.

The Sirimon Route is accessed via the North West corner of the mountain and the Kenya Wildlife Service have the Sirimon National Park Gate at the road head where you can pay your fees, there is also accommodation available here. The route is usually considered one of the easier routes as it climbs relatively gradually with only a couple of steeper sections to reach the top camp.

It is also currently the most popular route. The forest is relatively sparse on this route and the bamboo zone is not really evident. Crossing the ridge into the MacKinder Valley is a good viewpoint if it is clear and the approach to the peaks along the classic U-shaped MacKinder Valley can be spectacular in clear conditions.

The MacKinder Valley shows quite a lot of the giant Lobelia and Groundsel which are the classic Mt Kenya Flora. You are also quite likely to see Rock Hyrax at Shipton’s cave or hut.

Mount Kenya has permanent snow at its summits and is therefore very cold in the night and can reach lows of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-1o degrees Celsius). The best time to hike and visit Mount

mount kenya
on the trail to Mount Kenya

Kenya are the dry seasons between January – February and July – September as it is certainly more difficult in the rainy seasons.

 

 

Tsavo National park is found in southeastern Kenya, east of Mt Kilimanjaro. It was established in 1948 and is Kenya’s largest national park. The park is the namesake of the Tsavo river, which flows from east to west within the park and beyond, and its two sections jointly comprise one of the world’s largest, most scenic national parks in Kenya, at 22,000 km² (8,306 miles²).

The park is divided into two smaller units: Tsavo East and Tsavo West.Drained by the Tsavo and Galana rivers, and the Tiva River in the north, the park comprises semiarid plains covered by dormant vegetation (which bursts into luxuriant bloom after a light rain) and acacia and baobab trees. Tsavo East is relatively flat, while Tsavo West is volcanic and dotted with springs and water holes.

Wildlife includes elephants, as well as lions, rhinoceroses, buffalo, hippopotamuses, hartebeests and several other species of antelope, and hundreds of species of birds. Poaching, particularly for rhinoceroses and elephants, and bush fires are constant problems. Tsavo East and Tsavo West are separated by the Nairobi-Mombasa highway and railway line.

Tsavo East

Tsavo  Lions

Located east of Nairobi, Tsavo East is known for the biodiversity represented by its grasslands, savannah, waterfalls, rivers and inselberg. The sight of dust-red elephant wallowing, rolling and spraying each other with the midnight blue waters of Galana River is one of the most evocative images in Africa. The Yatta Plateau—the world’s longest lava flow—forms the western boundary of the park; the visible strata of Mudanda Rock catch and cull water and wildlife;

the Galana River conjures the white-water rapids and crocodile-infested pools of the Lugard Falls; and Aruba Dam entices animal and bird. The plateau, standing at 1000 ft high and stretching for roughly 180 miles, can attribute its existence to the planet’s largest lava flow. Erosion over the years has sculpted the plateau into its present, slightly brooding shape. Lugard’s Fall, another highlight, are the waters of the Galana river rushing through water polished rocks.

Crocodiles and hippos live downstream and can best seen at Crocodile Point. Tsavo East is the much less visited side of the park and a wildlife photographer’s dream. Large elephant herds dusted red by the park’s rich, rust-colored soil roam the vast scrubland plains that make up most of the terrain. In addition to the wildlife species that it has in common with Tsavo West;

the eastern park has rare local birds which come in a rainbow of hues and include the colorful yellow throated longclaws, rosy-patched shrikes, red and yellow barbets, carmine bee-eaters and the white-headed buffalo weaver – to list just a few of the 500 species that have been recorded here

Tsavo  West 

Tsavo West is wetter, more topographically diverse, and more often visited than its eastern counterpart, from the scenery of lake and spring to the park’s ascendable cliffs. Mzima springs produce approximately 50 million gallons of water a day – 30 million of which are piped to Mombasa.

The source of the springs is the ice-cap on Kilimanjaro and the rains that fall on the Chyulu Hills which soak through the porous volcanic rock to form subterranean rivers. The springs attracts Hippo, barbels and crocodiles and an underwater viewing platform allows you to see the animals. The best observation time is in the early morning before the hippos get too hot and shelter themselves out of sight in the surrounding papyrus cover.

Lake Jipe in  southwest   is very important wetland. Birds commonly seen here are pied-kingfishers, knob-billed geese, palm nut vultures and the African skimmer. A few rhinos are left  and   are  protected in an enclosed sanctuary at the foot of the Ngulia Hills. Other wildlife includes cheetah, lions, buffalo, oryx, eland, zebra, leopard, buffalo, spotted hyena, kongoni, waterbuck, impala, duiker and klipspringer.

Samburu National Reserve;

It is one of the lesser-known national parks, but is nevertheless teeming with life. Situated alongside the Ewaso Nyiro River, there is plenty to attract wildlife from the surrounding savannah plains. The reserve is located north of the great Ewaso Ng’iro river banks. The river, a lifeline of the arid landscape, serves wildlife, domestic animals and humans alike. It gets its name from the colour of its waters. Brown water, is what Ewaso Nyiro means in the local language.

The reserve is rich in wildlife with an abundance of rare northern specialist species such as the Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk and the beisa oryx (also referred to as Samburu Special Five). The reserve is also home to elephants and large predators such as the lion, leopard and cheetah. Kamunyak the miracle lioness that adopted the baby oryx was as a resident in the reserve. Wild dog sightings are also a common attraction to this unique protected area.

A daily highlight of the area’s dry season is the visits to watering holes called ‘Sarara Singing Wells’ by Samburu warriors. The warriors descend into the holes which can be up to 10m deep. They then pass water hand to hand up to the waiting cattle while chanting their traditional Samburu songs.

Birdlife is abundant with over 450 species recorded. The Samburu ecosystem of vegetation in this arid region supports a very wide range of smaller birds. You’re not likely to miss the big flocks of vividly plumaged helmeted and vulturine guinea fowl, while among the many birds of prey, pygmy falcon and martial eagle from opposite ends of the raptor spectrum are both easily seen, as are Kori, Heuglin’s and buff-crested bustards, and lots of weavers, shrikes, woodpeckers and flycatchers as well as the distinctive, blue-skinned Somali ostrich, which you’ll see stepping out across the plains.

 

Samburu are semi-nomadic shepherds of a Nilotic origin, who live in an arid zone in North-Central Kenya, this forcing them to move frequently in search of new pastures for their cattle; in some respect they are very closely related to the Maasai, with whom they share many traditions and base their wealth on cattle that is the basis of their survival.

Samburu name comes from the word Samburr, that is a kind of bag used by members of the tribe, although the Samburu refer to themselves as Loikop, or Lokop, that means land owners. They speak the Samburu language, a Nilo-Saharan language similar to Maa, that is the language spoken by the Maasai. The Samburus are considered even more traditional and remote than their Maasai kin, and have maintained the authenticity of their culture by sticking to their ancient traditions and defying modern trends.

Samburu dress in brightly colored traditional shukas, especially women, who adorn themselves in beautiful, multi-beaded necklaces, anklets and bracelets. The Samburu, who have been traditionally described as great warriors, have a strong military and cultural alliance with the Rendille population, who have adopted the Samburu language.With the Rendille tribe they also share the same passion for pieces of jewelry made of colourful beads; the Samburu make anklets, colorful bracelets and necklaces, that symbolize the wealth of the wearer but also identify the marital status, as each colour used has a specific meaning.

Samburu love to sing and dance and do not use any musical instrument, only the sound of their voice; the men usually dance in a circle jumping feet together and upright, like the Masai dances, and the women also dance but separated from men. Dances usually accompany rituals or ceremonies; the main ritual in the Samburu society is male circumcision that marks the transition to adulthood, while the most important ceremony is undoubtedly the wedding.

The structure of the Samburu villages resembles to that of the Masai villages: there is a thorn fence for the cattle inside the village and one outside to protect the village itself; the circular huts are made of braided tree branches, mud and cow dung; unlike the Masai villages, the Samburu villages can be easily dismantled to be rebuilt elsewhere, that makes them perfectly adapted to the semi-nomadic life of this people.

Samburu Giraffes
Giraffes

move frequently in constant search of new pastures for the cattle on which their lives and survival depend; the cattle in particular play a central role in the life of this people.

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Maasai  Mara : Dream of Africa and chances are you dream of M

maasai mara
maasai mara cheetahs

aasai Mara. It is the home to Africa’ Big Five species, as well as an abundance of other wildlife, including wildebeest, cheetah, hyena, giraffe and many more. It borders the Serengeti National Park Tanzania.

Often described as nature’s greatest spectacles, the great migration is one of Africa’s dramatic stories. This occurs every year between July and October where more than 1.5 million wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and elands move mysteriously from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Maasai Mara in Kenya in search of grass and water.

This movement offers nature lovers the opportunity to view as predators such as the Lion, Hyenas, Crocodiles and Cheetahs prey on the wildebeests. This mass movement is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

From the western Serengeti the herds head north, following the rains (or their effects) into Kenya and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. On their trek the wildebeests’ path is cut several times by rivers: in the Serengeti by the Mbalangeti and the Grumeti, and in Kenya by the Mara.

For most of the year these rivers are relatively placid, but they can become violent torrents in response to rainfall in their catchment areas, and then they present major obstacles to the progress of the wildebeest.

Wildebeest arrive at the Mara River in their tens of thousands, and gather waiting to cross. For days their numbers can be building up and anticipation grows but many times, for no apparent reason, they turn and wander away from the water’s edge.

Eventually the wildebeest will choose a crossing point, something that can vary from year to year and cannot be predicted with any accuracy. Once on the grasslands of the Maasai Mara, the wildebeest spend several months feeding and fattening once more, taking advantage of the scattered distribution of green pastures and isolated rainstorms.

A remarkable feature of their wanderings is their ability to repeatedly find areas of good grazing, no matter how far apart.

The physiology of the wildebeest is such that it has been designed by evolution to travel large distances very quickly and economically, apparently requiring no more energy to run a certain distance than to trudge along at walking pace. Every facet of its life and behavior is designed to save time – wildebeest even mate on the move, and newborns are, as we have seen, up and running in minutes.

While the wildebeest are drawn into migrating by the needs of their stomachs, the fact that they’re constantly on the move has the added benefit that they outmarch large numbers of predators. The predators are unable to follow the moving herds very far, for many are territorial and can neither abandon their territories nor invade those of others. Moreover, the young of most predators are highly dependent upon their mothers, who can’t move very far from them.

Maasai  Mara Ballon Safari
The trip is magical, spend about one hour silently floating over the savannah in a hot air balloon
and it will fill you with enough memories to last a lifetime. You take off in the wee hours of
the morning, float in the sky, drifting with the whim of the wind, overlooking the plains, just
in time to experience a breathtaking sunrise and catch a bird’s eye view of the reserve.

After the flight, you will be treated to a luxurious breakfast to complete the experience as you relax
and absorb the moment.

Maasai  Mara Village Visit
You’ve seen pictures of them – adorned with the brilliant red, blue and purple patterns of the
shukas they wear. The men with their spears, tall and proud. The women bejeweled with bright
beaded earrings and scarves. These are the some of the oldest inhabitants of East Africa, the
Maasai people.

They live in small mud-thatched villages, surrounded by their cattle and smaller
livestock. For hundreds of years the Masai have roamed these lands of Kenya, living a free,
nomadic lifestyle. Their traditional lands now comprise much of Kenya’s national parks. A
highlight of your safari vacation is a visit with these Maasai people. Many of the tribes welcome
visitors to their villages to view up close their culture and lifestyle.

You may get to experience the villagers singing and dancing… and you might even be able to
join in! The Maasai are known for their rhythmic call-and-response singing. Perhaps their most
widely known dance is the adumu or “jumping dance”. The warriors form a circle with one
person entering the center. This dancer will jump higher and higher to the rhythms of the
singers. As he jumps higher the singers will raise the pitch of their voices.

Standing in muted contrast to the colourful villagers, you’ll see the browns and grays of the
Maasai’s houses, called bomas. Small structures with thatched roofs, it is the job of the Maasai
women to build these sturdy dwellings.

Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary

The elephant sanctuary which neighbors the Shimba hills national reserve was established in the early 1990s to provide a migratory corridor for elephants coming from the drier Tsavo East National Park to the Shimba Hills National Reserve. Elephants use this migratory passageway to access important foliage areas within their natural domain at different times of the year.

The conservation area was formed in an agreement between the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, the local community and organizations such as the Born Free Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development and Eden Wildlife Trust. The formation of this community-owned conservancy park managed by members of the local community was in a bid to mitigate the escalating human – elephant conflict. In the model, income generated from the sanctuary would facilitate yearly compensation payments to members of the local community who leased out their farming lands to the sanctuary. The model worked quite well and an investor even built the Travellers Mwaluganje camp, a tented camp that caters to tourists wishing to spend the night at the park in an agreement that would see the investor maintain the infrastructure around and inside the sanctuary. The camp is set along the shoulder of a low hill facing a traditional elephant trail, allowing guests to watch the elephants from the comfort of their well-appointed luxury tents. The camp has a small bar/restaurant/viewing area overlooking a watering hole giving very good close ups of the elephants that come to drink.

The conservation area is important as it supports threatened lowland coastal forest which contains a rich diversity of flora and fauna including several rare and endemic species. It serves as one of only 3 coastal refuges for elephants in Kenya and is an important water catchment area for wildlife and the local communities.

Far into the distance, on the southernmost tip of Lamu archipelago lies Kizingoni Beach, with a cluster of eight artistically designed holiday houses that offer the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. Set on 24 acres of pristine beachfront, the houses named – Kaskazi, Pepo, Kuni Jogoo, Wazi Dubu, Kusini, Jahazi, the Cabanas and Kizingoni – are perfectly positioned for guests to take full advantage of the gorgeous sunsets that are the hallmarks of Kenya’s coastline.

Kizingoni Beach offers seclusion, cooling winds, fresh water and clean seas, yet the delights and supplies of Lamu and Shela are a twenty-minute boat ride away. The property is covered with established coconuts and doum palms with some indigenous woodland. There are hundreds more coconuts, indigenous trees and tropical shrubs, plus an experimental orchard and covered vegetable garden. There is clean water from shallow wells and plenty of wind and sun to run the windmills and solar panels that provide power and hot water.

The beach starts with Kizingoni beach houses and curves around the tip of the island stretching further 12 golden miles to Shela Village. It is virtually empty, apart from myriad crabs, migrant and local sea birds, shells and the occasional donkey troop. The local village of Kipungani is a friendly and unspoilt fishing hamlet. It is also the main supply of staff, fish, dhows and donkeys.

There is plenty to do at Kizingoni Beach, for those looking for an active holiday the swimming, snorkeling and walking is excellent. Various water sports equipment is available including: water skis, wake boards, kayaks, and SUP boards. Creek fishing and deep-sea fishing can be arranged, plus there is an opportunity for a small safari on the mainland.

 

Loisaba is a 57,000-acre wildlife conservancy and working ranch located in Northern Laikipia, Kenya. It is populated by 50 species of animals: including four of the Big Five: elephants, leopards, water buffalo and lions.  Loisaba is also part of a larger story that extends well beyond its borders. It sits on the western edge of one of Kenya’s most important elephant movement corridors.

The previous owners the Ancilotto family bought the land in the early 1970’s and managed it as a low impact cattle ranch and tourist destination. Count Ancilotto achieved this largely by leasing the land in 1997 to a group of young Kenyans and an American Investor who created the Loisaba brand and managed it as a successful conservation, tourism and ranching business until December 2014 when, supported by generous donors, The Nature Conservancy and Space for Giants facilitated the transfer of ownership of the property and operating companies to the Loisaba Community Trust. The Loisaba Community Trust, together with its partners, continues to ensure Loisaba remains a catalyst for community development, a hub for wildlife research, and a world-class ecotourism destination offering unique opportunities for guests to become part of the Loisaba story both during their visit and for years to come.

Loisaba Conservancy provides a safe haven for more than 260 species of birds and 50 species of mammals, including lions, wild dogs, reticulated giraffe, and the endangered Grevy’s zebra. It also lies within an important movement corridor for the country’s second-largest population of elephants. Giraffe populations have been in sharp decline over the past few decades, and in late 2016 the species was re-classified as a “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. A new research program at Loisaba Conservancy is using innovative tools to help scientists understand the threats to reticulated giraffes.