African Safari – Kenya Highlights

The spectacular Masai Mara National Park which lies in the Great Rift Valley covers 1510 square kilometres/575 square miles and offers plains full of Thomson’s gazelle, impala, giraffe, topi, zebra, wildebeest, bat-eared foxes, jackal, cheetah, lions, leopards and hyaena throughout the year. During the Annual Great Migration, thousands of wildebeest can be seen moving in search of greener pastures between July and October. They travel from Tanzania’s Serengeti plains towards the Masai Mara, home to the Mara River which holds hippo and large Nile crocodiles that lie in wait for wildebeest crossing the river on their migration route. In October or November the migration turns around and moves back to the Serengeti plains. In this park the black-maned lion can be found and it is possible to see the Big Five during one game drive.

Meru National Park – Made famous by Joy Adamson’s book “Born Free, the story of “Elsa” the orphaned lioness, and George Adamson’s life and research amongst lion and cheetah, this park has 13 rivers and is especially beautiful and wild with diverse scenery from wide open plains, to riverbanks with palms to woodlands and includes excellent views of Mount Kenya. Meru National Park is 1810 square kilometres/700 square miles. The wildlife population includes over 300 bird species as well as lion, elephant, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, various antelope and more.

Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves are small adjoining scenic reserves that are home to the Ewaso Nyiro River where large herds of elephant bathe in it’s waters. Unique wildlife species such as the blue necked Somali Ostrich, Beisa Oryx, Grevy’s Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe and long necked Gerenuk can be found here along with elephant, lion, cheetah, buffalo, hyaena, hippo and crocodile. Birdlife is plentiful here including kingfishers, eagles, vultures and guinea fowl. The Samburu is home to leopard who live in the rocky hillsides of the plain. Buffalos Springs has rolling plains with dry riverbeds dotted with palms. Shaba has dramatic deep gorges and waterfalls. The stark landscape is dominated by Shaba hill and the soils here are volcanic in origin.

Amboseli National Park at the foot of Africa’s highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro, is a small 392 square kilometres/151 square miles in size and has 5 diverse habitats consisting of open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush, swamps and marshland. This park is famous for its big game and diversified scenic beauty.

Tsavo National Park – made up of the East and West Tsavo National Park comprising of 20 819 square kilometres /80 382 square miles, this is one of the world’s largest game sanctuaries and has plentiful wildlife. Tsavo East is dominated by the Yatta plateau, one of the world’s longest lava flows at 290km long, the rapids of the Galana River, a long rock outcrop about 1.6km long where visitors can view wildlife drinking at the dam below, as well at the Aruba dam where many animals come to drink in this area of large dry thorn bush. The popular legend “The Man-eaters of Tsavo” originates here as depicted in the dramatized movie “The Lion and the Darkness”. During 1898 during the construction of the bridge of the Tsavo River, the Man-eaters of Tsavo terrorized workers and killed over 130 people before being shot by Colonel Patterson. Tsavo West is much more scenic with vast expanses of savanna, desert scrub, acacia woodlands, riverine vegetation, palm thickets and a mountainous landscape with magnificent views. Mzima Springs gushes water from below a lava ridge that has filtered underground into a series of crystal clear pools.  An observation tank sunk into the river, gives an underwater view of the wildlife drinking their fill, and of a variety of of fish specie. 

Lake Nakuru is a soda lake in Africa’s Rift Valley and the lake’s abundance of algae attracts almost 2 million resident pink flamingos, along with a variety of other birds. Warthog, baboon, and black and white rhino can be found here as well as lion, leopard, giraffe, waterbuck and large pythons.

Lake Naivasha  is known as a world class birding destination with over 400 species of birds recorded. This lake is freshwater, almost 13kms wide with shallow waters an average of 5m deep. The banks are lined with papyrus and forests of yellow fever trees surround the lake. Hippo, giraffe, and buffalo can be found here, along with Colubus monkeys.

Kenya’s Coastline is lined with sandy white palm fringed beaches and a vibrant coral reef full of exotic marine life. The coastline runs for almost 480kms and also encompasses dramatic overhanging cliffs, lagoons and mangrove forest.  The influence of the Spice trade, and the mix of Indian, Arabic and African traders created a Swahili culture that still lives on today in Kenya.

Lamu Island is one of the few old Swahili towns that has retained all its character and charm with a distinctive tradition over a thousand years old. Explore the winding streets of its medieval stone town, the endless beaches, rolling dunes, tiny villages and dhows sailing the waters. There is no motorized transport on the island and life moves at a relaxed pace.

Weather: Gentle, warm climate. Daytime temperatures are mild and nights can be fairly cool. Summer extends from October to April, with December to March being the warmest months. All year, minimum temperatures are 11ºC/52ºF and maximum temperatures are 30ºC/86ºF. The cool season is from May to September. Depending on when the rains come, the Great Migration normally reaches Kenya in July. Hundreds of thousands of herbivores then disperse onto the plains of the Masai Mara for the next couple of months.

An African Kenya Safari is a magical experience which can encompass game viewing as well as an exotic island break.

By: Marcelle Trethewey

About the Author:

Visit African Lion safaris for a stunning wildlife photo gallery, wild news and safaris. Marcelle Trethewey was born and raised in South Africa. She lives on a game farm and has a deep love of the african bushveld and its wildlife. Marcelle has successfully raised and release orphaned white faced owls, gemsbok and impala.

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