This is a great extension to your safari around Nairobi National Park. Run by the Kenya Wildlife Service, who manage the country’s national parks and reserves, the Nairobi Safari Walk is essentially a zoo-like experience that provides you with a glimpse into the incredible biodiversity of Kenya’s protected areas.

With its raised wooden boardwalk that allows for uninterrupted views of the animals, the Safari Walk is a showcase for Kenya’s Parks and Reserves, allowing visitors to discover what they can expect to see across the country. Visitors can see a sample of the country’s rich animal life including the rare bongo, white rhino and albino zebra as well as big cats, antelopes, and primates. It is also home to some 150 species of local trees.

The walk takes you through three stages that mimic the nation’s major ecosystems – wetlands, savannah, forests – and past a wide variety of wildlife. The walk is a favourite with children, who love getting close to the animals, and there is also a Children’s Museum that you can visit before leaving.

 

Elementeita is a small soda lake, nestled in the eastern sweep of the Great Rift Valley. The Lake is surrounded by a spectacular country that played an important role in the early colonial history of Kenya.

Today Elementeita is a peaceful and low-key place, lying in the shadow of an impressively peaked hill known locally known as the ‘Sleeping Maasai’.

The park is a gem offering the visitor the chance to explore the wildlife and the hills. On the southern shores of the lake are two hills that are great for hiking and trekking. The Sleeping Warrior or ‘Delamere’s Nose’ on the southwestern shores of the lake is a volcanic hill with a crater suitable for hiking.

The lake attracts many visiting flamingoes, and its shores are grazed by zebra, gazelle, eland, and families of warthog. The lake and its surrounding forests are perfect for long walks and birding. If you don’t care much for hiking and would rather watch birds, then the white pelicans and the flamingoes will definitely keep you happy.

Lake Turkana, known as the Jade Sea, exists in a barren landscape in the semi-desert environment of northern Kenya. The three National Parks (Sibiloi, Central and Southern Islands) are a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile and provide an outstanding laboratory for the study of plant and animal communities.

Sibiloi National park protects the Koobi Fora fossil deposits which are rich in pre-human, mammalian, molluscan and other fossil remains and have contributed more to the understanding of Quaternary Palaeoenvironments than any other site on the continent. Koobi Fora has led to the Lake being referred to as ‘The Cradle of Mankind’. The site lies at the heart of the Sibiloi National Park, a place of stark beauty and prehistoric petrified forests.

Lake Turkana National Parks are inscribed on the world heritage list on the strength of their outstanding natural values, but the area’s role as a crucible of human evolution is equally (if not more) important.

The Lake itself is a natural treasure, with the world’s single largest crocodile population. In Turkana, these reptiles grow to record size, with some of the largest specimens found on remote windswept Central Island.

Lake Turkana is Kenya’s most remote destination, but one that repays the intrepid traveler with rich rewards.

 

 

The Mijikenda Kaya Forests consist of 11 separate forest sites spread over some 200 km along the coast containing the remains of numerous fortified villages, known as kayas, of the Mijikenda people.

The kayas, created as of the 16th century but abandoned by the 1940s, are now regarded as the abodes of ancestors and are revered as sacred sites and, as such, are maintained as by councils of elders. The site is inscribed as bearing unique testimony to a cultural tradition and for its direct link to a living tradition.

Many of the sacred forests of the Mijikenda people were originally fortified villages surrounded by thick belts of lowland tropical forest. Access to the village was limited to one or two paths through the forest, and use of the forest vegetation was limited to the gathering of medicinal herbs. Cutting of trees for timber, grazing of livestock, and clearing for farmland was strictly prohibited. These rules were enforced by the kaya elders who were also responsible for the care of the sacred objects (Fingo) which were buried in the kaya and were believed to be essential to the well-being of the community.

The kaya forests were also places for prayer, not only by the elders on behalf of the community but also by individuals seeking help in problems facing their daily lives.

Once you’ve set foot in Africa, undoubtedly you will be looking to see and experience the Big Five. Strong, fierce and wild, the big five games is Africa’s pride and receives central attention. But there is another group that should not be forgotten – the little five. In its own and unique ways, aiming to find the little five can also be a rewarding wildlife experience. Not nearly as intimidating as the big five, the little five creatures include the elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion, buffalo weaver, and the rhinoceros beetle. 

  1. Elephant shrew

With their long noses resembling elephant trunks but with a size similar to a large mouse, the elephant shrew is the smallest mammal among the Little Five. With their long legs, they hop in search of small bites to eat. The elephant shrew is hard to find as they are well camouflaged with their sandy brown colors.  An interesting fact about elephant shrews is that recent scientific research has shown that elephant shrews are genetically closer related to aardvark and elephants than to the rest of the shrew clan. Elephant shrews eat mainly insects and worms and use their elephant-like trunk to find their food. They love rocky areas where they can hide from the predators. They’re a bit of a romantic, as they are monogamous and mate for life.

  1. Leopard tortoise

There is one stark contrast here – speed!  Unlike its namesake, the leopard tortoise covers land very slowly. The leopard tortoise shells are quite beautiful, with perfect symmetrical black and yellow patterns. As they mature, their tortoiseshell color changes from dark brown to yellow. It is one of the largest tortoises in the world and can weigh up to 88 pounds (40 kg). Fun fact: did you know that the leopard tortoise will reach sexual maturity between the ages of 12 and 15? It makes sense when you find out that they can live up to 80 years! The plastron (their underbelly) is flat in females and concave in males so that during mating season, the male can comfortably mount the female. Another interesting fact about the leopard tortoise is the fact that their sex is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. If it’s between 87-93° F (31-34°C) the egg will produce a female tortoise and if it’s between 78-87° F (26-31°C), then the egg will be male.

 

  1. Ant lion

The smallest creature in the Little Five group, the ant lion cleverly survives in the African bushveld.  Ant lions are larvae of an insect similar in appearance to the dragonfly. With an impressive display of technique and skill, the ant lion digs a funnel-shaped crater in sandy soils. These funnels act as a clever drama stage: when potential prey approaches, the ant lion will pretend to be an ant falling down the funnel, stimulating the prey to lurch after the fallen ant, an easy meal!  But only to discover it has been trapped, and so the ant lion catches prey in its trap. They can survive for months at a time without food and can live for several years. The ant lion larvae resemble bedbugs, while the adult ant lions are similar to mayflowers. There are around 2,000 species of ant lions that can be found all over the world. So there are plenty of chances of catching a glimpse of one during your wildlife safari.

  1. Buffalo weaver bird

There are a few kinds of buffalo weaver birds in Africa, including the black buffalo weaver, the red-billed buffalo weaver, and the white-headed buffalo Weaver. Buffalo weavers are large birds feeding on insects and fruits and seeds. Living highly sociable lives with huge communal nests, these weavers are highly enjoyable to watch. It breeds in colonies and one male can have up to three females in their nest chambers.  Home to many of Africa’s large parks, the buffalo weaver is the easiest among the little five to find and observe.

  1. Rhino beetle

With its impressive body armor, it is kitted to win the bushveld battle. The rhino beetle’s horn resembles the rhino’s horn. This horn is used to dig and burrow for food.  The rhino beetle is known for its impressive strength – in comparison to its small body size.  Male rhino beetles also use their horns to fight over food and females. Rhino beetles are exceptionally strong, being able to lift up to 700 times their own weight! And they can also fly.

Africa is a continent of true diversity, as so clearly demonstrated by the big five and little five wildlife. The purpose behind Africa’s little five is exactly this: to demonstrate the extreme wildlife diversity found on the continent – from extremely big to extremely small, you can find them all on safari. Some of these little five creatures are quite hard to spot, making your encounter with the little five even more remarkable.

 

Karura Forest Reserve is located in the northern part of Nairobi city. At 1,041 hectares, it is one of the largest urban gazetted forests in the world.  The forest contains nearly all the 605 species of wildlife found in Nairobi including three types of antelope. It is managed by Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

There are numerous attractions: a 20-meter waterfall, prehistoric caves, a lily-strewn lake, bird-rich wetlands and five rocky streams, antelopes and butterflies to watch in pristine forest patches, bamboo groves and grassy glades, 50 kilometers of maintained trails for walking-jogging-biking, an education centre, four picnic areas, two event grounds, a tennis court, an obstacle course and a world-class café. But the main attraction for many is the recovering upland forest ecosystem itself.

Wildlife in Karura Forest:

  1. Mammals: Include Harvey’s Duiker, Grimm’s Duiker, Bushbucks, Bush pigs, Genet Cats, Civets, Bushbabies, Porcupines, Syke’s Monkeys, Ground Squirrel, Hares, and the Epauletted-bat.
  2. Reptiles: Include pythons, green snakes and monitor lizards.
  3. Birds: The forest hosts around 200 species of birds including Ayres Hawk-eagle, the African Crowned Eagle, the Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, the Hartlaub’s Turaco, the Narina Trogon, Owls, Crested Cranes, Sparrows, Doves, Weavers, and Vultures.
  4. Butterflies: Include the African Queen and Desmond’s Green Banded Swallowtail.

Other important attractions that visitors to Karura Forest enjoy are:

  • Mau Mau caves
  • Scenic waterfalls and rivers
  • Picnic sites
  • Marked walking trails
  • Small wetlands that are habitats for birds
  • The incinerator formerly used by Central Bank of Kenya to burn old currency notes
  • The area about which the late Professor Wangari Maathai carried out a campaign against illegal acquisition of forest land.

 

In Karura Forest, one can undertake the following activities:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Tree planting
  • Bird watching
  • Dog walking on a leash
  • Gathering in permitted locations for events like education tours, concerts, weddings
  • Team building Exhibition
  • Dog training
  • Sport and fitness
  • Horse riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Tennis at the KFEET grounds

 

Vast savannahs peppered with immense herds of wildlife. Snow-capped equatorial mountains. Traditional peoples who bring soul and color to the earth.

Welcome to Kenya.

When you think of Africa, you’re probably thinking of Kenya. It’s the lone acacia silhouetted on the savannah against a horizon stretching into eternity. It’s the snow-capped mountain almost on the equator and within sight of harsh deserts. It’s the lush, palm-fringed coastline of the Indian Ocean, it’s the Great Rift Valley that once threatened to tear the continent asunder, and it’s the dense forests reminiscent of the continent’s heart. In short, Kenya is a country of epic landforms that stir our deepest longings for this very special continent.

Kenya is famed for its scenic landscapes and vast wildlife preserves. Its Indian Ocean coast provided historically important ports by which goods from Arabian and Asian traders have entered the continent for many centuries. Along that coast, which holds some of the finest beaches in Africa, are predominantly Muslim Swahili cities such as Mombasa, a historic center that has contributed much to the musical and culinary heritage of the country.

Filling the country’s landscape, adding depth and resonance to Kenya’s age-old story, are some of Africa’s best-known peoples. The Maasai, the Samburu, the Turkana, the Swahili, the Kikuyu: these are the peoples whose histories and daily struggles tell the story of a country and of a continent – the struggle to maintain traditions as the modern world crowds in, the daily fight for survival in some of the harshest environments on earth, the ancient tension between those who farm and those who roam. Drawing near to these cultures could just be a highlight of your visit.

It is the land of the Maasai Mara, of wildebeest and zebras migrating in their millions with the great predators of Africa following in their wake, of endangered species like black rhinos managing to maintain their precarious foothold. It is also home to the red elephants of Tsavo, to Amboseli elephant families in the shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro and to the massed millions of pink flamingos stepping daintily through lake shallows. Africa is the last great wilderness where these creatures survive. And Kenya is the perfect place to answer Africa’s call of the wild.

 

 

 

The white beaches and azure waters along Kenya’s coastline have long put smiles on visitors’ faces. Mombasa, a melting pot of languages and cultures from all sides of the Indian Ocean, waits like an exotic dessert for travelers who make it to Kenya’s coastline.

Having more in common with Dakar or Dar es Salaam than Nairobi, Mombasa’s blend of India, Arabia, and Africa can be intoxicating, and many visitors find themselves seduced by East Africa’s biggest and most cosmopolitan port despite its grime and sleaze, which somehow only adds to the place’s considerable charm.

Indeed, the city dubbed in Swahili Kisiwa Cha Mvita – the Island of War – has many faces, from the ecstatic passion of the call to prayer over the Old Town to the waves crashing against the coral beaches below Fort Jesus and the sight of a Zanzibar-bound dhow slipping over the horizon.

The undisputed gem of the Kenyan coast is Lamu and her sister islands in the Lamu archipelago. Lamu town is the most perfect example of a historical Swahili city in the world. A warren of rounded houses, airy courtyards shaded by palm streets, cafes serving steaming chapattis and cups of milky tea, inhabited by women in rustling black full-length robes and men riding donkeys, all overlaid with an omnipresent smell of spice – Lamu is hard not to love.

 

Shaba National Reserve

Shaba National Reserve is a little-visited wilderness and therefore the perfect destination for anyone looking to enjoy a remote safari holiday. Contrasting landscapes, unusual wildlife and the Ewaso Nyiro River characterize this rugged region that is home to the Samburu, Borana and Turkana people.

Shaba National Reserve is found in Isiolo District which lies at the northern foot of Mt Kenya rising above the expansive range lands of northern Kenya. The arid and semi-arid zones district sits as a divide between the populous agricultural highlands of the Mt. Kenya region and acts as a gateway into the vast lowlands of North Kenya inhabited by various nomadic pastoralist communities where wildlife and livestock freely co-exist.

Surrounding Shaba in the distance are hills and mountain ranges with interesting local names: Lion Hill looks like the silhouette of a sleeping male lion. The semi-desert areas give way to an oasis of vegetation, lush grass and pools of water fed by underground springs that flow year-round from the neighboring mountains.

Besides normal species found elsewhere in Kenya, the area is a natural home to the five rare species known as the five northern species which are endemic to this area. They are Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, Beisa Oryx, Somali ostrich and the gerenuk. Shaba is also the home for the highly endangered Williamson’s lark. All these rare species can only be found inside this game reserve.

Activities include: Game viewing safari, nature walks, entertainment by pastoralist cultural dancers, and visits to cultural villages to get the experience of nomadic lifestyle in the community.

The Maasai

In southwestern Kenya, lions, giraffes, zebras and gazelles share the rangelands of the Great Rift Valley with the Maasai people. Many of these warrior-pastoralists continue to keep herds of cattle, sheep, and goats, perform age-old rites of passage, and live off the grid in traditional manyattas – huts of sticks and mud. They are one of the very few tribes who have retained most of their traditions, lifestyle and lore.

The Maasai are speakers of the Maa language, which is also spoken by the Samburu and the Chamus living in central Kenya. The origins of Maa have been traced to the east of present-day Juba in southern Sudan. More than twenty variants of Maa exist. The Maasai refer to their language as Olmaa.

The Maasai have a number of patrilineal clans grouped into two classes, or moieties. The basic institution of social integration, however, is the system of age-sets. Under this system, groups of the same age are initiated (circumcised) into adult life during the same open-initiation period; the age-class thus formed is a permanent grouping, lasting the life of its members. They move up through a hierarchy of grades, each lasting approximately 15 years, including those of junior warriors, senior warriors, and junior elders, until they become senior elders authorized to make decisions for the tribe.

Between the ages of about 14 and 30, young men are traditionally known as Morans. During this life stage they live in isolation in the bush, learning tribal customs and developing strength, courage, and endurance-traits for which Maasai warriors are noted throughout the world. Ceremonial events are directed by a ritual expert (oloiboni) who, although he has no political power, is religious head of his people