45 Animal Photos You May Not Believe Are Real Kenya- Still at the Heart of the African Safari Experience

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Kenya- Still at the Heart of the African Safari Experience

The popular image of safari, especially in the west, is no different to Kenya. Earlier in the last century, gifted writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Karen Blixen captured the vivid images and uplifting life experience that is a Kenyan safari. It was during this time that celebrities of the day such as Teddy Roosevelt and Prince Edward traveled to Kenya on safari. And so the safari takes on a snob appeal. Celebrities go because it’s expected of them. And those who are running because the safari is part of the certification they need on the way up. If you want to see the attitude and behavior of the artists at that time, read Hemingway’s fascinating short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”.

In our day however, a Kenyan safari is available to many more people. Despite competition from other places, Kenya is the heart of the African safari experience. The size and diversity of wildlife and landscapes is unsurpassed. You are sure to mark the book of the big five – lion, buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros and elephant. Other less well known but important and compact members of the savannah ecosystem are also abundant. The kaleidoscope landscapes roll out in the majestic rift valley, the central mountains, the Savannah grasslands, the snow-covered Mount Kenya and the lunar desert of the north. This is probably why experts advise all true lovers of wildlife and nature that at least once in their life they must be in a Kenyan safari.

Kenya has more than 50 national parks and game rights where animals are protected. But as you already suspected, on average safari you can’t hope to cover them all. So it’s a good thing that you get a lot of good value by visiting some of them. This is unless you have a lot of time and can afford to break away from the beaten track. The most popular and which those with limited time and budget need to take are Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Aberdares, Samburu and Tsavo. The top has the hit-and-run track category for either wildlife or back to nature activities in- Kakamega Forest, Marsabit, Meru, Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and Shimba Hills.

The Maasai Mara is great. This is the place to go even when all you can do is two nights. This is mostly where all the wildlife videos on Kenya are filmed. The Mara, as the Maasai Mara Game Reserve is commonly known, is part of the same ecosystem that includes Tanzania’s famous Serengeti. Covering 320 square kilometers, it is nestled in the southwestern part of the country. The Mara offers wildlife in such variety and abundance that it is hard to believe. In a two-night visit, I saw lions, rhinos, hippos, crocodiles, snails, wildebeests, donkeys, buffaloes, cheetahs, bananas, hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards, nine species of deer and elephants. There are also many birds – birds of prey, cranes, storks, birds and ostriches.

It was in Mara that perhaps the most amazing phenomenon of the natural world took place. I refer to the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti in search of water and grass. The season of the wonders depends on the rain and it takes place between June and August. The return trip is usually taken in October. With or without migration, the Mara has a large number of resident animals and you are sure to have a good wildlife viewing experience any time of the year you visit. If you have enough money, consider taking a balloon tour over the reserve. This popular and memorable ride usually starts before dawn and includes a Champagne breakfast. Mara is 5 hours from Nairobi by road and 45 minutes by light plane.

Amboseli National Park sits on the foothills of the mighty Kilimanjaro whose peak is just across the border in Tanzania. It is quite an experience to see Kilimanjaro hovering above the clouds in the early morning. As a photography enthusiast can already imagine, the mountain offers a stunning backdrop for wildlife portraits. Amboseli is famous for its large herds of elephants. You will also see buffalo, black rhino, zebra, wildebeest and other plains animals. Lions and other cats can be seen but they are much smaller here than in the Mara. The park is 3 hours from Nairobi by road and can be approached through Namanga, the border point between Kenya and Tanzania.

Lake Nakuru’s claim to fame is based on its flamingos and over 400 species of birds found here. The lake itself is a soda lake on the floor of the rift valley. The sight of millions of flamingos is quite amazing. From a distance the lake appears ringed in pink. Lake Nakuru also hosts a sanctuary for the endangered black and white rhino. Lions, Rothschild’s giraffe, buffalo and monkeys are all residents here. The park is the most accessible of Kenya’s large parks and is two hours from Nairobi by road.

At the same distance from Nairobi as Lake Nakuru is the Aberdares National Park. The park has a diverse landscape that includes waterfalls, rainforests and rivers that provide water to Nairobi’s millions. The flora and fauna are very unique and not found anywhere else in the country, expect on Mount Kenya. Leopards, elephants, rhinos and rare bongos can be seen here. But the dense vegetation and poor weather make it difficult to see the animals. However you are guaranteed to see some animals especially elephants and buffaloes in the waterholes of the two famous tree hotels, Ark and Trees.

Students of the history of the British royal family will remember that it was at Treetops in 1952, where the then Princess Elizabeth was staying on her honeymoon when her father, King George VI, died. He descends from the Treetops to assume a repressive role of control over the empire’s distant kingdoms and colonies. If you stop at Treetops you are bound to meet up with some of your fans.

Although not as famous as Mara, Samburu National Park is another wildlife sanctuary. Here you will see lions, elephants, cheetahs and leopards. Some animals are unique to this northern park: Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, kudu and gerenuk. You will find the independent landscape very impressive. On your trip to Samburu, you may also want to take in the nearby Shaba and Buffalo Springs game. In addition, this is the place to take a camel safari. Samburu is three hours from Nairobi by road.

Tsavo is very large, all 20,000 sq km, which is administered as two parts: Tsavo West and Tsavo East. This is the closest park to Mombasa on the coast. The park is three and a half hours away from Nairobi by road. You will find large herds of elephants, especially in Tsavo East. Tsavo West is full of crocodiles, vervet monkeys, antelope, monkeys, giraffes and hippos. It was in Tsavo that the poachers were most successful in their blood racket and this saw a drastic fall in the elephant population. The good guys in recent years have gotten the upper hand and the numbers are recovering.

But Kenyan authorities are still very cautious about the future of elephants in Tsavo. The country is actively seeking a permanent ban on the international ivory trade. I want at this point to announce to everyone that I am a big fan of the African elephant. I believe that this is the true king of the jungle and not a potential prisoner, the lion. You may remember in the movie “The Unfed of Tsavo” how the fearsome lions destroyed the construction of the railway in Tsavo region by eating the workers. Can the right of the king really be involved in such a disgraceful matter?

Kenya is a year-round safari destination. The rains come around April- May and November- December. This does not, however, greatly affect the ability of travelers to get around. This is except for the heavily forested Aberdares. In the cold season the roads in the Aberdares are very slippery and the park is at times actually closed. Generally the best time to go on safari is during the dry months when the grass is shorter and seeing animals is much easier. But in areas like Mara, animals are so abundant that you will see many of them regardless of the season. The peak tourist season falls around January to February and July to August. April to June is low season and prices for accommodation in hostels can be as much as 40% lower than in high season.

Accommodation on safari varies from basic camping to luxury lodges and cabins. Out in the woods, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that all the trimmings of 5 star accommodations are available. But if you want to rough it out, you will find campsites in almost all games in the right and national park. Information on Kenyan hotels, hostels & resort accommodation options is available online.

It is generally recommended to take a Kenya safari tour package that includes transportation, airport fees and accommodation. The reason for this is that tour guides often have a good understanding of the animals, where to find them and how to get there and have other useful local knowledge. Check out some offers of various times and budgets.

But if you have a lot of time and need more freedom as you get around, then hire a car in either Nairobi or Mombasa. For car rental Kenya there is a choice between self-driving and chauffeured cars. On safari, wear light cotton and linen. Warm clothing is required for the evenings and for your early morning game drives. Some rain suits are recommended between March and June and October and December.

You should bring a decent pair of sunglasses. Experiencing light in a cold light is a new and uncomfortable experience for most. It is also a good idea to carry a pair of binoculars. They are very useful for spotting animals and will be the envy of your less knowledgeable travel companions.

Copyright © Africa Point

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