Posts Tagged With: Kenya

Nairobi

Get to KNOW, EXPLORE, PROTECT and CELEBRATE Kenya

Nairobi- The Green City under the Sun

Nairobi, in spite of it all, is still the safari capital of Africa even though the modern world has caught up with it speedily. A boondocks no more, this bygone Maasai watering hole will  do more than wet your appetite. Nairobi is sleepless, energetic and contempo, offering an impressive  introduction to both wildlife and nightlife.  Its music clubs pulsating with vivacity, bustling shops and spirited markets alongside a mélange of ‘food joints’ will certainly tempt your palate.

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Nightfall at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre

 The name “Nairobi” comes from the Maasai phrase, Enkare Nairobi, which translates to “place of cool waters” probably borrowed  from the Nairobi river, gave the city its name.  In addition to being a favourable site for  the Nairobi railway camp, it was also chosen because of its network of rivers and  temperate elevation. Furthermore the location ‘s central position between Mombasa and Kampala made it the ideal residential choice.

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View the Parliament House

 Although Nairobi is now thriving as one of Africa’s largest and most intriguing cities. This area was essentially an uninhabited swamp until a supply depot of the Uganda Railway, which soon became the railway’s headquarters, was built here in 1899. Not long afterwards, the town was completely rebuilt in the early 1900s following an outbreak of plague and the burning of the original town. In 1905, Nairobi replaced Mombasa as capital of the British Protectorate centered around administration and big game hunting.  However its disadvantage as malaria prone area, it prompted the residents to attempt to have the town moved. Nonetheless it continued to grow under the British occupation until it eventually became the capital of a free Kenyan republic in 1963.

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Participants of the Nai Ni Who? Campaign

Nairobi  as we know it today, is as contemporary as its people. An established hub for commerce and culture it can surely be defined as a prominent social center. This is a place of great contrasts where race, tribe and origin all contribute to its unmatched character.  Enduring as a cosmopolitan and multicultural city, it has grow around its central business district ranking it as the most populous city in East Africa and the 12th largest city in Africa.

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Over 90% of Nairobians work within the CBD, in the formal and jua kali sector.

One of the most influential cities in Africa both politically and financially with the second oldest exchange and one of the largest in the continent. It hosts thousands of local businesses and over 100 major international companies and organizations. Nairobi also boasts as the regional headquarters of several international companies and organizations including  the UNEP and UN-Habitat headquarters.

Lighthouse attraction

Many come to Kenya for a safari oblivious to the fact that you barely need to leave the capital to take one. The city in itself does have several tourist attractions although it may lack the appeal as a prime tourist destination. Most famous naturally is the Nairobi National Park which contains abundant wildlife making it a non-stop thrill ride of a wilderness excursion. Established back in 1946, this is Kenya’s first National Park and is really unique being the only game-reserve of this nature to border a major city.

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There’s plentiful wildlife, including most of the plains animals (except elephants), against the bizarre backdrop of Nairobi skyscrapers.

Approximately 7 km south of the city centre, this phenonmenon is perhaps the only wildlife park in the world that you can visit by taxi or bus. The Park is open daily from 8:30 a.m-5:30 p.m. and is easily accessible on tarmac roads, mainly through Lang’ata Road. It is particularly ideal for travelers with stop-overs in Nairobi or those in Nairobi for business without the luxury of time for a long safari. The afternoons area best time to visit.

Covering an area of 117.21 km2 , it is relatively small in comparison to most of Africa’s well known national parks.  The park contains two major ecosystems comprising of highland dry forest and savannah which feature a wide range of natural and artificial environments. Its predominant environment is open grass plain consisting mainly of savannah with scattered Acacia bushes and grass plains. There is a riverine forest along the south of the park that is drained by permanent rivers. Dams have also been set up on secondary rivers to disperse water over the plains and wetlands.

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The scenery inside the Nairobi national Park

The western side is highlands  are covered by dry forests and dense riverine vegetation with Wild Olives, Crotons and Cape Chestnut trees. In the grassland on lower slopes are species like Red grass, Crab grass and Bermuda grass with scattered Cypress and  yellow-barked Fever  trees. There are  also some areas of broken bush and deep rocky valleys and gorges within the park. The species in the valleys are predominantly Acacia and Euphorbia candelabrum. Other tree species include White pear, Fig trees, Canthium shrubs, Sumacs and some legume species. Several plants like Spurges also grow on the rocky hillsides and are endemic to the area.

Serving as the northern limit for wildlife migrations, the concentration of wildlife in the park is highest when areas outside the park have dried up. The dams in turn have created a wonderful man-made habitat for myriads of birds and various aquatic animals.

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Young lions lounging in the Nairobi National Park

Its diverse wildlife population, includes one of the highest densities of lions in the country. Other member of the  Big 5 found in the park include the African buffalo, leopard and rhino.  There are also hippopotamus, cheetahs, baboons, Burchell’s zebra,  Coke’s hartebeest, Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, elands, impala, Masai giraffe and waterbucks. It also has a high diversity of bird species of up to 500 permanent and migratory species.

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Spotted, the elusive Leopard

It is also one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries. True to its moniker, the Kifaru Ark is one of only a few parks where visitors can be certain of seeing a black rhinoceros in its natural habitat. Another sanctuary within the park is the  David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, located close to the park’s main entrance, where between 11 a.m. and noon you can watch keepers take orphaned baby rhinos and elephants for their daily mud baths.

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Entrance of the Nairobi Safari Park

Another major attraction in there is the Nairobi Safari Walk as it offers a rare on-foot experience of the animals. This is one activity that gives you an chance to see Kenya’s wildlife close hand rather than from the restrictions of a tour van. It is  an exciting eye opener to Kenya’s Parks and Reserves that offers visitors an opportunity to discover and anticipate what is out there across the country.

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Entrance and inside of the Nairobi Safari Walk

 Other attractions in the park are the animal migrations in July and August, the Ivory Burning Site Monument and Nairobi Animal Orphanage. Established in 1964, it is the oldest animal shelter in Kenya and rehabilitation centre for abandoned or injured wild animals.  Secured within the park’s lush landscape, this special facility is home to more than 20 different animals and bird species.

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Colobus monkey perched on a tree inside the Park

 Nairobi is surrounded by several expanding suburbs with dense tree-cover and plenty of green spaces making it the ‘Green City in the Sun’ as is it popularly known. It is situated at 1o1736o49’E adjacent to the eastern edge of the Rift Valley, with the Ngong Hills, west of the city, serving as the most conspicuous geographical feature around the region.

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View of the city from Ngong

The city enjoys a moderate climate at an elevation of 1795m. It has a subtropical highland climate makes for some cool evenings and gets colder especially in the June to July periods, when the temperature can drop to about 10 °C. The sunniest and warmest part of the year is usually from December to March, when temperatures average the mid-twenties during the day. The mean maximum temperature for this period is around 24 °C .

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View to the left and the right of Kenyatta Avenu from the I&M building

There are two rainy seasons which can be moderate. The cloudiest part of the year is just after the first rainy season until around September when conditions are usually overcast with drizzle. As Nairobi is situated close to the equator, the differences between the seasons are typically minimal. The timing of sunrise and sunset  also varies little throughout the year for the same reason.

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View of the CBD from Upper Hill

Today, many businesses are considering relocating or establishing their headquarters outside the Central Business District area. Two areas that are seeing a growth in companies and office space are Upper Hill, which is situated approximately 4 km from the CBD and Westlands, which is also about the same distance away from the city centre.

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View towards Westlands and Eastlands from KICC

Many lower-middle and upper-middle income neighbourhoods are located in the north-central areas. Nearlly all of the up market suburbs are situated to the west and north-central of Nairobi where most European settlers resided during the colonial times. The low and lower income estates are located mainly in far eastern Nairobi. Further southwest, are the Ngong/Embulbul suburbs, which are  also considered as part of the greater Nairobi metropolitan area.

Explore Nairobi

Although Nairobi serves as both a tourist destination and a transport hub most visitors  tend  to dive in and out of the city the shortest time possible. This is mostly attributed to its ‘Nairobbery’ notoriety,yet it’s easy enough to evade the worst of the city’s dangers once you are oriented and as far Kenyan cities go, this one has plenty going for it. It’s indiscriminate café culture and titillating nightlife make it virtually the only place in the country where you can get a truly varied menu.

Parks

The Moi Monument at the Central Park and the Jeevanjee Gardens

The many parks and open spaces throughout the city make it differ in several ways from other Kenyan regions. The most visited of these is the Uhuru Park  which is a centre for outdoor speeches, services and rallies. It borders the Central Business District and the neighbourhouring Upper Hill.  The Central Park,which is adjacent to Uhuru Park, is also a popular spot. Futher from the CBD, along Langata road near the Wilson Airport  is the Uhuru Gardens. It is the largest memorial park in Kenya and national monument where the first Kenyan flag was raised at independence. Other notable clearances include the Jeevanjee Gardens, City Park, 7th August Memorial Park and the Nairobi Arboretum.

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The main entrance of the Nairobi National Museum

Nairobi is home to the Nairobi National Museum’s, which is the  largest in the city. It houses a large collection of artefacts portraying Kenya’s rich heritage through history, nature, culture and contemporary art. Other noteworthy places include Jomo Kenyatta’s Mausoleum, Kenya National Theatre, Bomas of Kenya and the Kenya National Archives. The top art galleries in Nairobi include the Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art and the Mizizi Arts Centre. There are also other smaller yet popular museums like the Nairobi Railway Museum and the Karen Blixen Museum which is located in the affluent Karen suburb.

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View of the classic Karen Blixen Museum

Built in 1912 ,the bungalow-style house bought by Karen Blixen and her then-husband in 1917, was once the centre piece of their farm life. The grounds, which feature original equipment from the coffee farm, are available for touring visitors are interested in guided tours of the house.  Its rooms are designed in both the original decor and props from the 1985 film, ‘Out of Africa’ ,an Oscar winning movie based on Karen’s an autobiography by the same title. There is also a gift shop within the premises and the museum is open every day between 9:30 a.m and 6.00 p.m, including on weekends and public holidays.

Giraffe Centre

The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Giraffe centre is approximately 5 km from the city centre. It was founded in 1979 by Jock Leslie-Melville, the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish Earl, when he and his wife captured an infant giraffe. Their aspiration then was to start a programme of breeding giraffe in captivity at their home in Langata. Today this sanctuary is an acclaimed refuge for the endangered Rothschild giraffe that is found only in the grasslands of East Africa. The center also operates as an educational program for Kenyan school children to teach them about wildlife conservation.

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Feeding giraffes from a raised observation platform is a good place to get the close-up photographs that eluded you on a safari.

The centre is also home to several warthogs which freely roam the area along with the giraffes. It is futhermore the location of the Giraffe Manor, one of Nairobi’s most iconic historical buildings. This edifice dates back to the 1930s and is reminiscent of the early days of Europeans in East Africa. The estate is now an exclusive guesthouse where the  giraffes pay an occasional visit as wander  freely through the verdant gardens.

Mamba Village

 Also located in Nairobi’s leafy Karen suburb, about 13 km away from the cacophony of the city, is the Nairobi Mamba Village resort. Spread over 30 acres, it is home to around 70 Nile crocodiles that are known to be the largest of the species and the most dangerous.There are also giraffes, camels, an ostrich park and a peacock pen in the facreage along with a variety of other birds. It has a man-made lake with boats and fairground equipment in addition to its entertainment.   

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The Mamba Village is the place to visit if you want to see crocodiles and ostriches close up in Nairobi

It is also fitted with a camp site and accommodation tents, restaurant, conference facilities, party and wedding facilities and an animal farm that are perfect for a group of up to 80 children or 50 adults. Mamba Village also has within its grounds a deluxe campsite for more up luxurious accommodation.

Nightclubs

The city’s night life is very popular with both young and old tourists. From a collection of gourmet restaurants and bistros offering local and international cuisine, Nairobi has something to offer to every age and pocket. Most common known food establishments include The Carnivore and Tamarind Restaurants which have outlets in Langata, the City Centre and the Village Market. For the more experiential travellers, one can choose from a wide array of local dishes, exotic cuisines and fast food establishments around its boroughs.

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The city’s nightlife is mostly centred along friends and colleagues meeting after work especially on Fridays – popularly known as “Furahiday”

 The most popular clubbing spots are centred in up-market Westlands which has come to be known as Nairobi’s ‘Electric Avenue’. Other choice haunts can be found in Karen, Langata, Hurlingham and “uptown” venues in the city centre. Nairobians generally go out every day of the week and most establishments are open till late.

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Theme nights, events and concerts are also popular venues in the city

Shops and Markets

There are a number of shopping malls in the Nairobi Area. These include: The West Gate mall, Prestige Plaza, the Village Market, the Sarit Center, the Junction. A variety of amenities are provided at these malls and include cinemas, fashion and apparel boutiques, bookshops, electronics and grocery stores, coffeehouses, restaurants and bars.

Markets

One of the stalls in theCBD and vendors in Gikomba Market

One of the great experiences for visitors in Nairobi is a visit to the exhibition stalls and open air markets. Bargaining is the name of the game and vendors are usually willing to negotiate prices with shoppers. If you are not a local, it is advisable whenever possible to have someone with you who speaks the language and is conversant with the special bargaining lingo of the market vendors so that you can get the best deals for your purchases. Second-hand clothes or ‘Mitumba’ markets are also quite common and are a ideal option for those who want to be fashionable yet budget conscious.

Stadiums and Sporting grounds

Nairobi is East Africa’s sporting centre and football is the most popular sport. Its premier sports facilities are the Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani and the Nyayo Stadium located close to the CBD. These venues make them convenient locations for international tournaments, national events and social gatherings. Other notable annual competitions staged in Nairobi include Safari Rally, Safari Sevens rugby union tournament, and the Nairobi Marathon.

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The Ngong Racecourse in Nairobi is the center of horse racing in Kenya.

Golfing is another growing attraction, with six courses within a 20 km radius of the city The big-league golf clubs include the Windsor Country Club, Karen Country Club and Muthaiga Country Club. The Kenya Open golf tournament, which is part of the Challenge Tour,, in addition takes place here. In Nairobi is also has the largest ice rink in Africa, the Solar Ice Rink at the Panari Hotel’s Sky Centre.

Practical Travel information

The crowded city center is actually safe to walk in compared to a few years back, when muggings, carjackings and kidnappings emptied it as residents began referring to Nairobi as “Nairobbery.” Today walking around Nairobi is relatively safe as the town is small and accessible. However, some areas can be a security risk and it is best to seek local advice before setting out.

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The main airport is Jomo Kenyatta International, located 15kms out of the centre of town. JKIA handles both International and domestic carriers.

The Wilson airport, located 11 kms outside of the city centre, is the domestic hub for both scheduled and chartered domestic flights.

The city is served by highways that link Mombasa to Kampala and Arusha and most of the roads are tarmacked.  Matatus which ply through the city are the most common form of public transport. These matatus are privately owned minibuses and generally seat fourteen to twenty-four passengers though some operators still tend to overload them.

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Matatus in downtown Nairobi

 The matatu’s destination is imprinted on the side of the bus and matatus following designated routes have specific route numbers. They were easily distinguishable by their extravagant paint schemes. Owners would paint their matatu with various colourful decorations, such as their favourite football team or hip hop artist to attract more commuters. Nowadays they are not as showy as they once were due to stringent traffic rules

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The end justifies the means

Taxis are also widely available and convenient. They are often parked in the streets around alloted buildings and are marked with a yellow line along each side. These taxis are not metered and prices should be agreed with the driver before departure. Always ask for local advice or at your hotel for correct rates. There are several  Taxi companies which operate with phone bookings, modern vehicles and competent drivers at reasonable rates. Several of  these companies also have airport booking offices.

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DoubleM commuter buses along Tom Mboya Avenue

Buses are becoming increasingly common throughout the city and also operate on set routes and schedules. Since Nairobi  serves as the centre of Kenya’s extensive bus network, many bus companies operate to and from destinations all over the country. They can be boarded at any stop and tickets can be purchased on board.

Nairobi was founded as a railway town, and the main headquarters of Kenya Railways is still situated at Nairobi railway station, near the city centre. The line runs through Nairobi, from Mombasa to Kampala. Though its main use is for freights, there are  regular night passenger trains which connect Nairobi to Mombasa and Kisumu. A number of morning and evening commuter trains connect the centre with the suburbs although the city has no proper railing system.

Where to stay

Nairobi has many grand hotels to cater for its visitors. As the British occupiers started to explore the region, they started using Nairobi as their first port of call. This prompted the colonial government to build several impressive hotels in the city whose main occupants were mainily big-game hunters.  Its reputable hotels include the Nairobi Serena Nairobi, Laico Regency, Windsor, Holiday Inn, Nairobi Safari Club, The Stanley Hotel, Safari Park & Casino, Inter-Continental, Panari Hotel, Hilton and the Fairmont Hotel.

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Commuters and bystanders outside the Ambassador Hotel

Other newer introductions include the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Upper Hill area, the Sankara Nairobi in Westlands, Tribe Hotel-Village Market, House of Wayne, The Eastland Hotel, Ole Sereni and The Boma located along Mombasa Highway. There are also a number of International chains apart from the Hilton, the Intercontinental group and Serena Hotels  currently setting up prime properties in the city.

We trust that this feature has been informative to you.

If indeed, please take it a step further and spread the message, like it, share it and follow us as we countdown to Kenya’s 50th birthday!

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  Until the next time its many thanks from the 50 Treasures of Kenya  Trust  to all the contributors in this feature with special acknowledgment  going  to our chairman Mr.Harmut Fiebig for the wonderful photography and most of all to you our treasured audience for your delightful company.

 Its always our pleasure to share a treasure.

 Much appreciated.

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Sun over the Yatta Plateau

Evening sun over the Yatta Plateau

…50 cheers for 50 years

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Kakamega

Get to KNOW, EXPLORE, PROTECT and CELEBRATE Kenya!

Kakamega Forest: The  Enchanted rainforest

This western region which is around 52 km north of Kisumu City that is mostly acclaimed for its natural beauty, especially its wonderful bird-life and nature. Its forestry provides the ideal ambiance for self-guided nature walks and up close game watching. The rainforests’ aria is set in lush tranquility punctuated by the melodies of warbling birds and chattering of monkeys in a leafy backdrop of rustling trees. Where dandy butterflies beat their wings softly against the thoracic croaks of the frogs in the gurgling streams nearby. This is truly a place that’s worth its gold in every sense of the word.

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Kakamega Forest… Right in the ‘mist’ of it

Speaking of gold, though Kakamega was once the scene of the Kakamega gold rush in the early 1930s. A frenzy that was purportedly fueled partly by the reports of the celebrated British geologist Albert Ernest Kitson. It is actually still undermined as one of the most populous counties in the country. The people here,who are mostly of the outspoken Luhya tribe, enjoy a more rural life working steadfastly as farmers and fishermen.

It is also cited that Kakamega was so named because the word “kakamega”  which translates roughly to “pinch” in Kiluhyah. It was most likely used to describe how the European colonists would eat the staple food, ugali, in contrast to the traditional method of eating it.  Ugali is  still a popular maize dish that is a favorite in the local cuisine, which is usually rolled  into a lump or a ball and dipped into the preferred sauce or stew.

Lighthouse Attraction

The Kakamega Forest Reserve was established to protect the only a residue of a really unique forest ecosystem. As the main tourist destination in the area is one of western Kenya’s star attractions worth going far out of your way to see if you are an enthusiastic nature lover. The 45 km2 Kakamega National Reserve forest lies in the Lake Victoria basin and west of the Nandi Escarpment that forms the edge of the central highlands. It is an area of mostly indigenous vegetation which offers unique wildlife and scenic beauty, located  about 15km from Kakamega town.

Some 400 years ago, Kakamega Forest would have been at the eastern end of a broad expanse of forest stretching west, clear across the continent all the way to the Atlantic ocean. Three centuries later, following the human population explosion and wide scale cultivation of the forested areas, it was reduced to an island which is cut off from the rest of the original rainforest.

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…the Mist-erious Kakamega Forest

At an average elevation of 1,535 m, the forest is elevated between 1500 m and 1600 m above sea level. It is the only tropical rainforest in Kenya and likely vestige of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once transversed the continent. In the past millenia, the dense rain forest stretched from West Africa across Central Africa and into the highland areas on the west and eastern walls of the Great Rift Valley.

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… now that’s ex-tree-me, even the trees have trees

It is now a small patch of detached equatorial jungle which is famous among zoologists and botanists world over who marvel at how this isolated environment has survived severed from its larger body. The national reserve comprises of both Kisere and Buyangu Reserves. There is actually a big difference between the primary and secondary forest sections in the park because the real rainforest feeling with the giant trees is only found in the original primary forest sections of the park.

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…find your footing and mind the rooting

 Until this day, this mid altitude tropical rainforest which stands distinguished from its Zaire and West Africa affinities, still boasts attractions found nowhere else in the country. This is attributed to the fact that the forest has remained a protected area after its vital role in the eco-system was first recognized. The reserve was initially gazetted as a trust forest in 1933 before the two small reserves, Yala and lsecheno, were later established within it in 1967. It was later awarded national forest reserve status in 1985 when nearly 4,400 hectares of the forest together with the adjacent Kisere Forest were gazetted as the Kakamega Forest National Reserve.

 Throughout the forest undulated terrain are a series of grassy glades that range in size from about 1 to 50 hectares interposed with a few larger clearings. These may have originated from past human activities such as cattle rearing or may be the result of grazing and movements by large mammals such as buffalo and elephants which were both expunged from the region. The origins of the glades are however still uncertain since others predate recent records though some are clearly contemporary.

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…the mistic panorama of Kakamega Forest

Kakamega area receives a very high amounts of annual precipitation recording rainfalls of about 2,000 mm yearly which contributes to its vital role as a water catchment area. This is also attributed to a number of streams and small creeks which cascade through the reserve in addition to the presence of the lsiukhu and Yala Rivers which also flow through it. The larger creeks are usually bordered by a couple of meters of forest on either side that divide the glades, while the smallest creeks flow through open grasslands which create diminutive marshy patches.

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…water flows where the tree grows

The Kakamega Forest itself is naturally very wet, with an average of 200 mm – 700 mm of rain per year. Most of it falls between April and November with a short dry season from December to March. Rain falls mostly in the afternoon or early evening and is often accompanied by heavy thunderstorms. Temperature is fairly constant throughout the year with averages ranging between 15-30°C.

The glades in turn, vary a great deal in composition, some being open grass while others have a considerable number of trees or shrubs.The sheer size and grandeur of these rainforest trees with over 350 varieties of trees and counting, some over a hundred years old, is impressive to say the least.

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Plant life in Kakamega Forest

Its canopy of trees has grown into a thin mesh of interlocking top branches that block most sunlight from reaching the ground below, resulting in less vegetation at the ground level. With few bushes along the darkened forest floor, the only real obstacles here are the ancient fallen tree trunks barring the paths between the towering trees.

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…so what is the circumference, any guesstimations?

Although the area has always been under strict protection there is a German funded project, BIOTA East, has been conducting its research exclusively the forest since 2001. Documentations of all sorts of life forms within this environment are still been performed with the aim of finding strategies for a sustainable use of the forest. As a result of these conservation efforts, the forest has still retained its mostly indigenous vegetation. A tree nursery was introduced to demonstrate basic tree-planting techniques, alongside information on waste recycling and efficient use of firewood.

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…wow!

The forest includes some of Africa’s greatest hard and soft woods like the precious Elgon teak, much prized for its hard wood, red and white stink woods and several varieties of Croton and Aniageria Altisima. There are also notorious stranglers (ficus thoningii) which grow from other trees and eventually strangle the hosts to death. The potent mkombero tree, a popular aphrodisiac, also grows here. This grand age-old trees are in still plenty although they are found mostly in the Kisere Forest as a result of early efforts in conservation.

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…the flowers of Kakamega Forest- the beauties beneath the beasts

There are also many species of splendid orchids, with a handful being endemic, which sit among the branches of the larger trees. Walking beneath the lush shade of the forest canopy the is bejeweled by exotic blooms scented with dainty flowers, wood and moss. The best time for most botanical excursions is during the rainy season when the flowers are at their most beautiful. Flora found in the park include over fifty species of ferns and 170 other species of flowering plants.

The massive size of the rainforest trees creates an ideal habitat for the birds, insects, butterflies and wildlife which are plentiful in the area.  The park currently supports seven primate species like the endangered DeBrazza monkey that is mostly found at the isolated Kisere Forest Reserve. Many other rare species of primate that are common here are such as the Blue monkey, frequently seen near the Ishiuku Falls, the Olive baboon and the Red Tailed monkey. Other mammals in the area include the Clawless Otter, Mongoose, Giant Water Shrew, flying-squirrels, Bush bucks, Aardvarks, Porcupine, Giant Forest Hog and many more. The Leopard has also been spotted on very rare occasions with the last official sighting being back sometime in the early 1990s.

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…deep inside the bush of Kakamega Forest

It is home to an estimated 300 bird species making it a place of choice for many bird and butterfly watchers. The Reserve supports a myriad of bird species since it is such a food rich environment. The endangered Turner’s eremomela, Charpins flycatcher and the voice mimicking African grey parrot are also found here including some rare snake-eating birds. Insects are in addition abundant with some very spectacular favorites like the Goliath beetles and Flower Mantis. Other particularly well represented groups are ants and orthopterans. Gastropods, millipedes and spider alike are very common too. In addition, a butterfly farm has been set up for these colorful lepidopterans  are comprised of over 400 species of butterflies, about 45% of all recorded butterflies in Kenya. The aim is to breed local butterflies which are framed and sold as souvenirs to generate income for the local community. Other sustainable projects in the pipeline include bee keeping and snake farming for antivenins.

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…the caterpillar’s delight

Snakes that are normally found in West Africa are present in the area alongside nearly thirty other species of snakes. The region is also home to Africa’s largest and most aggressive cobra known as the Kakamega forest cobra. It has a reputation of spending a lot of time in the trees and stories abound of notorious attacks on unsuspecting passers-by. Well informed visitors however shouldn’t be overly concerned about meeting them round every corner. Other big snakes found in the area include the forest adder, black mamba and the green mamba. Its smaller reptiles include chameleons, skinks and lizards.

Explore Kakamega Forest

Kakamega Forest National Reserve is an engaging walk through 7km of hiking trail. You can go for excursions and village visits with a team of ranger guides who escort visitors through the forest.  The official guides, trained by the Kakamega Biodiversity Conservation and Tour Operators Association, are well definitely worth the money. Not only do they prevent you from getting lost since many of the trail signs are missing, and many are excellent naturalists who can recognize birds by their calls alone and provide information about a variety of other animals.

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…heads or tails

The reserve is about twice the size of Nairobi National Park where you can while your time away whether with a tour guide or a self guided nature walks. You can also take a night walk, after you have had chance to sight some birds not to mention the butterflies. Primate watching is just as rewarding and camping is still an option is you want more than a picnic in this beautiful haven.

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Guided tour-walking and talking through the Kakamega Forest

Walking beneath the green forest canopy through the indigenous trees lining the trails, one will see colorful flowers while appreciating exotic bird-calls and the fragrant scents of the fresh wood and flowers.  Bird watching is most ideal in the morning hours between 6:30am- 8:30am or in the evening from 4:30pm- 6:30pm. The falls along the Isiukhu river and the riverine atmosphere along the river trail add a relaxing freshness to the hike.

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…view of the mist

The walk to Buyangu Hill, the highest point in the forest at the north which will give you a quick bird eye-view of the forest canopy, is a must for visitors.  It offers a great view over the forest especially in the early morning hours when the forest is still covered by the rising mist. At the picnic site you can recline and repose under the grass-thatched rest house while watching water birds at the watering point.

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The stranglers deadly embrace

The Southern part of Kakamega forest, Isecheno Forest, is run by the Kenya Forest Service is also accessible to tourists.  The reserve offers excellent primate viewing opportunities where the Black and White Colobus monkey are plentiful and the De Brazza monkey, can be found in the adjacent Kisere forest area. Another sight worth seeing is the well known Mama Mtere tree, a historic tree and the most photographed tree in Kakamega forest.

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…enchantement of Kakamega Forest

There are various options for guided tours available as it is always recommended to use one of the local guides. The Kakamega Forest National Reserve charges are Ksh 1500/ person for up to 6hrs. You can also go with the Kakamega Forest Guide Association which charges about Ksh 400/ person. Another option is the Kakamega Rainforest Tour Guides Ksh 500-800/ person. The guides can also arrange the tour to visit weeping stone of the Crying stone at Ilesi, one of Kakamega tourists attraction or Kisere forest to see the primates in the North of Kakamega forest.

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…a place to reflect

 Short forest walks go for ksh500 for at least 2hours, long walks are at ksh800. Sunrise and sunset walks go for about ksh 1000 ksh night walk 1200ksh while full day walks are about ksh2500 per person.The Kakamega Environmental Education Programme, or KEEP, was set up by the guides at Forest Guest House to combine visits to the forest for local schoolchildren with their school lessons. They hope that by educating the children of the importance of the forest, the message will spread further into the community. The guides will take care of all interests from educational groups, family groups or individuals who want to enjoy the biodiversity of the rainforest. The income generated from these guided tours is then partly used to finance conservation and education projects among the communities surrounding the park.

Other Attractions around Kakamega Forest

Kakamega still serves as the headquarters of Kenya’s largest sugar producing firm, Mumias Sugar, which is located in the village of Mumias. The latest addition in the region is Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology is a new institution of higher learning created by an act of parliament in December 2006. It is in the heart of Kakamega town on the Kakamega-Webuye road. Its introduction is expected to spur growth in this otherwise reserved area and create more opportunites for the locals.

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…the village life in Kakamega forest

Guides can also make arrangements  in Shibuye or Khayega  for curious visitors who like to witness some bull fighting. Bookings must however be made in advance. In the evenings tourists are entertained to the popular Isukuti dance and narrations about their life in the forest. There are still some special tribal practices such as circumcision rituals are still practiced in the forest.

Another attraction is the Crying Stone of Ilesi located along the highway towards Kisumu. It is a 40 metres high rock dome resembling a human figure whose “eyes” drop water. There are two legends regarding the reason why the formation looks like a solemn head resting on weary shoulders, down which tears flow. The first is that the stone is that of a girl who continues to cry after she fell in love with a man her father didn’t approve of and, as punishment, the father turned her to stone. The second is that the stones weep for the state of humanity in general.

Nandi Hills

Nandi Hills  is one of the most beautiful highlands to visit in Kenya that has a cool and wet climate especially around the two rain seasons during the equinoxes.

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… a spot for tea

The lush green region sits on the western edge of the Great Rift Valley and is home to some of the finest tea growing areas in the world. Companies like the Eastern Produce Kenya which has been Rainforest Alliance Certified since 2007, has been growing tea in Kenya since 1945. In the Nandi Hills, there are about a dozen tea estates and seven tea factories that employ between 5,000 and 9,000 people.

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…race to the factory

Tea is grown on around 12,000 acres of land and surrounded by over  6,400 acres of native forest which forms a vital link in Kenya’s forest ecosystem and the economy of the area mainly relies on the tea estates.

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…picking tea

In a recent biodiversity survey it was discovered that the Nandi Hills forests and wetlands provide  a vital habitat for more than 247 species of birds, about 15 % of Kenya’s most endangered butterfly  population plus an array of dragonflies and amphibians.

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…working in the tea plantations

According to history, this land was once battleground against the Luo and Luhya communities. Nandi hills has over time turned out to be a very significant area of Rift Valley region and the Kalenjin community. On top of Nandi Hills sits Samoei with its red earth, which is the burial site of the renowned Nandi seer Koitalel Arap Samoei, who was buried under a symbolic tree.  When Koitalel was killed by British officer Richard Meinertzhagen, some belief, the ground turned red on the spot of his death.

This area is now home to many world renowned athletes like  Kipchoge Keino, Augustine Choge, Jepkosgei, Henry Rono and many others.  The town is popularly known as ‘cradle land of Kenyan running’ owing to its cool attractive climate and high altitudes where the athletes train oftenly for the championships.

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Pick of the day-tea pickers empting their baskets

The transport system in Nandi Hills is mainly land-based via tarmac. The road network connects to all the great cities in Kenya i.e. Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldored, Nakuru, Kericho and other major towns. You can only visit the tea farms and also watch athletes training in the area as they run up and down the tea farms.

Practical Travel information

This marvelous rainforest being home to a huge variety of birds and animals has become particularly popular with independent travellers. It is fairly easy to get to here from Kisumu or if you are in the Mount Elgon region, from Webuye along a scenically forested stretch of the main highway. Kakamega is accessible all year round but best time to visit it is during the rainy season, April to July.

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…a trail through the forest

If you want to visit the Northern and Southern parts of the park, you would have to pay entrance fees at both sides. This is because the Northern part is under the Kenya Wildlife Society while the Southern part is under the management of Kenya Forest Service. The division in management has also had an impact on how the surrounding communities can use the park. In the Northern part in the Buyangu area the regulations are very strict and communities are not allowed to collect anything like firewood or medicinal plants whereas the southern part permits some activities.

Entry is by cash only and cash receipts can be bought at the Kakamega Forest National Reserve main gate or the cash office at the KWS Headquarters in Nairobi . Proof of identification will however be required before full admission is granted. Citizens should present a valid Passport or National ID while Residents will require a valid Passport and re-entry pass.

The KWS entry point is at the North in the Buyangu Area. It is a walking  distance to the KWS office which is approx. 2 km from the main road. The Kenya Forestry Service entry gate is in the South in the Isecheno Area. The entry fee per person at southern part of Kakamega forest Park is Ksh600 for non-residents, ksh400 for residents and ksh200 for citizens.You can get there from Kakamega by matatu to Shinyalu and then take a Boda Boda to Isecheno.

Drinking water, picnic items and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight. Also useful are a pair of binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and up-to-date guidebooks. Water proof tenting can be hired for ksh800 per group per night.

How to get there

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…one way or the other

By Road: The more preferable access is through the Buyangu gate, 600 m from main road. Visitors commuting by public means can alight at Kambiri junction and use the local ‘boda boda’ cyclists who  operate from the junction to park. Only make sure you watch out for the signpost after 15 km from Kakamega.

Where to stay

The forest reserve offers a serene atmosphere for both campers and lodgers.  The accommodation that is available within the Reserve consists of one guest house that was recently opened to visitors, self-help bandas and two campsites. Other nearby hotel facilities are also available within a favorable distance from the forest.

There are no refreshment facilities, shops or restaurants in the Northern Part of the Park. You have to bring any food and drinks from Kakamega town. The accomodation in the Northern part of the Kakamega Forest National Reserve under KWS, includes;

Udo’s Bandas & Campsite 

They are located in Kakamega forest national reserve in the northern part of Kakamega rain forest. The capacity Udo’s bandas can accommodate 16 people and there is bedding with mosquito nets. In the same compound We have Udo’s Camping site where visitors can camp over night. They also offer round the clock security to all their guests.

 Isukuti Guest House

The Isukuti guest house is a simple self contained lodging with the capacity to accommodate 8 people with 4 rooms,  fridge and kitchen.

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The Mago Guesthouse

The Mago Guesthouse

The Mago Guesthouse is an income generating project of the Mago Youth Polytechnic School. It is located south of Kakamega Forest on the road that leads from Chevakali to Kapsabet just before you reach Kiamosi. It is about 40km from Kisumu via Chavakali and 30 km from Kakamega.

Golf Hotel Kakamega

A three star hotel in Kakamega. Golf Hotel is located in a plush area of Kakamega town next to Golf Course, and it is just a short distance from Kakamega Forest. The Golf Hotel Kakamega has a lot to offer. If one of your ambitions is to experience the enchanting mystery of the jungle, the melody of singing birds, the breeze of whispering trees, the croaking frogs, the rasp of butterflies as they fly by, the cheeky monkeys as they sing from branch to branch, then Kakamega forest, situated less than 5km from the hotel is the place for you.

Kenya Forestry Service accomodation in the Southern part Kakamega Forest Reserve includes;

Rondo Retreat Centre

Rondo Retreat Centre is a Christian Centre set in the Kakamega rainforest that offers Boarding and Catering services for visitors. 

Kakamega Isecheno forest rest house

Isecheno rest house is located in the Isecheno forest station. The capacity of Isecheno Forest rest house can accommodate 8 people and there is bedding and mosquito nets. They provide also provide a shower and a kitchen. The Isecheno camping site,is also found in the same compound but visitors should come with their own tents. The Forest rest House Accommodation fee is Ksh500 per person per night.

For Further information

http://www.kws.org

http://www.kenyaforestservice.org

http://www.kakamegarainforest.com

http://www.keep-kakamega.or.ke

 

We trust that this feature has been informative to you.

If indeed, please take it a step further and spread the message, like it, share it and follow us as we countdown to Kenya’s 50th birthday!

 Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and stay posted for the next Treasure. Please contact us if you require  further details on how you can get to visit these wonderful places.

  Until the next time its many thanks from the 50 Treasures of Kenya  Trust  to all the contributors in this feature with special acknowledgment  going  to our chairman Mr.Harmut Fiebig for the wonderful photography and most of all to you our treasured audience for your delightful company.

 Its always a pleasure to share a treasure.

 Much appreciated.

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Mount Kenya

Get to KNOW, EXPLORE, PROTECT and CELEBRATE Kenya

Mt. Kenya National Park– The Divine Mountain Fortress

At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya stands as the second-highest peak in Africa, boasting almost 2800 km²of pristine wilderness, azure tarns, bleached glaciers and peaks of great beauty. It is a mixture of geological variety, unique montane vegetation, fresh mineral springs and home to some rare and endangered species of animals including high altitude plains game.

From the glacier covered summits to its afro-alpine moorlands and diverse forestry, Mount Kenya is definitely one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Africa. This ancient stratovolcano was probably over 6,000 m high in its beginning before being eroded to its present height, making it higher and much older than its rival Mt. Kilimanjaro.

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Welcome to Ngai’s home

It is highly regarded as a holy mountain by all the communities, especially the Kikuyu and Meru living in its vicinity, who believe that their God Ngai and his wife Mumbi live on the peak of the mountain. Ngai is also addressed by the Kikuyu as Mwene Nyaga which means the Possessor of Brightness from Kirinyaga, the Kikuyu name for Mount Kenya meaning Mountain of Brightness. Kikuyus used to build their houses with the doors facing Mt. Kenya; Ngai’s customary home.

It’s easy to understand why they deified it in their traditional rituals, prayers and sacrifices. To them, Mount Kenya is divine but to many regular travelers, this mountain fortress is just another marvelous sight to behold.

Lighthouse attraction

First sun light enlightens the snow covered peaks of Mt. Kenya.

Mirabile visu-First sunlight on the surreal slopes of Mt. Kenya.

Mt. Kenya National Park is located to the East of the Great Rift Valley, about 175 km North-East of Nairobi, with its Northern flanks reaching far across the Equator.  It was established in 1949 to protect the region surrounding the mountain that covers about 715km² and the forest reserve at its base which stretches a further 705km².

The park was initially a forest reserve before being declared a national park which is currently within the guarded forest that encloses it.

Mt. Kenya's ragged peaks as seen from Mountain Lodge.

Mt. Kenya’s emerald shroud and rugged peaks as seen from Mountain Lodge.

In April 1978 the area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve before it was made a World Heritage Site in 1997. This recognition however only applies to the higher elevations of the Mount Kenya Ecosystem which are above the tree line at 2,400 m. This area has consequently been bulwarked from the intensively cultivated lower slopes of the mountain by a wide belt of protected forest. The Kenyan Government created the national park on and around Mount Kenya not only to boost tourism for the local and national economies. But to also safeguard its ample scenic beauty while conserving the biodiversity within the park and preserve the crucial water catchment area.

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A tarn surrounded with moraine on the way to Point Lenana.

This area serves as a vital watershed with the Tana River, Kenya’s largest and longest river and the Northern Ewaso Ngiro systems.  The Mount Kenya ecosystem provides water directly for over 2 million people and is also as a major source of electricity supply. It currently provides water for about 50% of the country’s population and produces 70% of Kenya’s hydroelectric power.

The most significant threats to its scenic value and ongoing ecological processes at this moment are mostly the adverse effects of climate change.

Mount Kenya landscape

Panorama of Mt. Kenya from the Table mountain on the North Eastern side of Mt. Kenya to its summits and forests in the South East.

The entire mountain is deeply dissected by valleys which diverge from its peaks. The highest peaks are Batian at 5,199 m and Nelion at 5,188 m with its base stretching approximately 96 km wide. There are about twenty glacial tarns of varying sizes and numerous glacial moraine features between 3,950 m and 4,800 m. There are four secondary peaks and about a dozen other remnant glaciers on the mountain that are all receding rapidly.

Cumulus clouds boil in the evening light. Weather conditions on the mountain can change within minutes. In the course of 12 hours you can experience snowfall, sunshine, fog and rain.

Cumulus clouds boil in the evening light. Weather conditions on the mountain can change within minutes. In the course of 12 hours you can experience snowfall, sunshine, fog and rain.

The climate in Mount Kenya though wet at present, is actually much drier than it has been in the past. It continues to play a critical role in the development of the mountain, influencing the topography and ecology amongst other factors. Temperatures always vary considerably with the altitude and time of day. At 3000m frosts can be encountered at night while day temperatures range from 5 to 15°C. Night time temperatures on the summit are well below the freezing point.

The side that faces the south of Mount Kenya receives considerably more sunshine in the December to March period. With the highest rainfall occurring between late March and the middle of May with slightly less showers between late October and mid December. Maximum rainfall occurs in the forest belt and at 3000m on the South-East side of the mountain where it reaches about 2500 mm annually.

Mt. Kenya vegetation

The aberrant verdure of Mt. Kenya

Its lush alpine flora and botanical diversity also vary with altitude and rainfall except for the lower altitude zones outside the reserve that are now used for farming wheat.  The African Juniper (Juniperus procera) and Conifers ( Podocarpus) cover the drier parts of the lower zone below 2,500 m. Whereas Pillarwood (Cassipourea malosana)  envelop the wetter areas to the South-West and North-East. Higher altitudes around 2,500-3,000 m are blanketed at intermediate elevations by a mosaic of bamboo and a species of Conifer (Podocarpus milanjianus) on the South-Eastern slopes between 2,600-3000 m. The bamboo gradually becomes progressively smaller and less dominant towards the West and North of the mountain.

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Native marvels of Mount Kenya

Tree stature declines due to the cold above 3,000 m and Conifers (Podocarpus) are replaced by the St. John’s wort ( Hypericum) species in the grassy glades which are common especially on ridges. Tussock grasses and sedges predominate the lower alpine or moorland zone between 3,400-3,800 m. The upper alpine zone which is from 3,800-4,500 m is more topographically diverse and contains a myriad of flora including some giant rosette plants. There are a variety of other grasses on well-drained ground and along the streams and river banks.

The greenery also includes orange flowered Gladioli, Romulea keniensis which is a crocus-like flower and two terrestrial orchids; the Disa and the Habenaria or bog orchid.

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Endemic greenery of  Mt.Kenya

There are two species of giant lobelias one being the narrow, feathery leaved lobelia telekii; a species of the bellflower family and the broad-leafed lobelia keniensis. The latter are a favoured by sunbirds for their half hidden blossoms or the thin shelled snails that live in them. Giant lobelia grow in clusters up to about 4700 m and collect rainwater in their rosettes while producing their special anti-frost agent to avoid damages from the cold. Continuous vegetation ceases at about 4,500 m although some isolated vascular plants have been found at over 5,000 m.

Rock hyrax or vampire? As a matter of fact, the closest relative is the elephant.

Rock hyrax or vampire? As a matter of fact this adorable critter is the closest relative is the elephant.

The parks moorland animals include the localized Mount Kenya mouse shrew, rock hyrax and common duiker. The endemic mole-rat is common throughout the northern slopes and the Hinder Valley at elevations up to 4,000 m.

The lower forest and bamboo zone hosts tree hyrax, giant forest hog, white-tailed mongoose, suni and black-fronted duiker. Larger mammals include the African elephant and black rhinoceros. Even the leopard has also been spotted in the alpine zone and there have also been reported sightings of the golden cat.

Inside the rainforests of Mt. Kenya.

Inside the fascinating rainforests of Mt. Kenya.

Mount Kenya is additionally another Important Bird Area though birds here are not abundant in the forest since only about 130 bird species have been recorded here.  The region nonetheless hosts fifty-three of Kenya’s sixty-seven African Highland biome species including the rare and threatened Abbott’s Starling. It is also home to six of the eight bird species that are native to the Kenyan Mountains Endemic Bird Area.  Forest birds include the green ibis of the local Mount Kenya race, Ayer’s hawk eagle, Abyssinian long-eared owl, scaly francolin, Rappel’s robin-chat and numerous sunbirds. Other rare birds in the park include the Mackinder’s eagle owl and the locally threatened scarce swift.

Explore Mt. Kenya

It’s not often that you get to enjoy such ‘literally’ breathtaking scenery but the Kikuyu tribesmen are blessed to see it every day of their lives. Your opportunities within the choice of season however still depend on two factors, which are your preferred scheduling and your desired route. The weather can be unpredictable, harsh, cold, wet and windy or completely contrary. All considered, the best time to trek is mostly from mid-J­anuary to late February or from late August to September.

The Temple

Standing on the cliff of the Temple. In the background the peaks of Mt. Kenya.

Mount Kenya offers nature lovers easy or challenging ascents with superb scenic beauty. A major attraction of the park is the brilliant scenery; starting with the snow-capped peaks which is a rare sight in an equatorial region. A popular activity of course is climbing the mountain itself which offers enthusiasts a wealth of excellent and diverse climbing opportunities on rock, snow and ice. Fewer people climb here than Kilimanjaro but those who do often rank it as a more exciting climb.

The Burguret trail, Sirimon trail, Chogoria and Naro Moru trails are the four major routes of ascent from the main gates.

Batian and Nelion peaks appear like an mirage between the late afternoon clouds.

Batian and Nelion peaks appear like an mirage between the ‘Gate of the Mists’ in the late afternoon clouds.

 Even for climbers with experience in mountaineering, summiting Mount Kenya still presents a challenge and natural beauty that is difficult to surpass.  Point Lenana being the lowest of the three main peaks at 4985 m and can be accessed by any reasonably fit trekker. On the other hand, Nelion the second highest at 5189 m and  Batian at 5199 m, both require skilled mountaineers with technical skills to accomplish.

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View facing the North of Point Lenana

Since the mountain is so extensive and grants such a diversity of trekking and climbing routes, there may be a need for a special itinerary that you may require which most travel agents will be obliged to assist you with. The Mountain Club of Kenya is one organization you can always contact for more information.

The thik rainforest and Batian and Nelion, the twin peaks of Mt. Kenya as seen from Mountain Lodge.

The thick rainforest and Batian and Nelion, the twin peaks of Mt. Kenya, as seen from Mountain Lodge.

A minimum of  five days is recommended for the climb, three days for the ascent and two for the descent. This activity is a very memorable one and thus a must-do for the any adventure seeker. Apart from the superb climbing potential on Mount Kenya, its tarns and alpine meadows, exotic vegetation, adorable hyrax, lovely sunbirds and soaring eagles make the hike one of the most beautiful expeditions in the African mountains.

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Picturesque routes in Mount Kenya

The Chogoria route is truly the most scenic and interesting of the three main routes on the mountain. Its trail passes the enchanting Hall Tarns  looking down sheer cliffs into the spectacular Gorges Valley and onto the beautiful Lake Michaelson. Climbing Mount Kenya through the Naro Moru route is the fastest way to point Lenana but it is not as striking as the other two. It is often overcrowded with many climbers since it’s the most popular route compared to the Chogoria and Sirimon routes.

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Sirimon route: Entoute to Point Lenana via Shipton’s hut at the base of the mountain

Sirimon route is the least used of the three main routes although it has the most gradual ascent profile, the best acclimatisation options and more appeal since it’s on the drier side on the mountain. The route passes through impressive Yellowwood forests in the lower reaches which features abundant wildlife and beautiful alpine scenery higher up.

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The Castle, a rock formation on Burguret route and Mount Kenya’s towering bamboo forest.

There are four other routes up to Point Lenana which are hardly known or used. These are the Burguret Route, Timau Route, Meru Route and Kamweti Route. The last stretch from the nearest town to the various trailheads is over 20 km of dirt road which can be in poor condition especially in wet weather hence necessitating the use of a 4WD vehicle or an approach on foot.

Many of the icy cold and clear ‘blue tarns’ are fed by melting glaciers at over 11,000 feet. These lakes were stocked ages ago and some of the trout there are now humongous indeed. The tarns are mostly ideal for keen fishermen who are eager to try fishing the huge trout in the high-altitude lakes of Mount Kenya. Lake Rutundu and Lake Alice are privately stocked with rainbow trout which gives an exceptional chance for fishing. Though Lake Rutundu’s waters are not as clear Lake Alice has crystal clear water, its trout catch is peerless with some weighing up to 6 lbs!

Tarns of Mt.Kenya

Tarns at Mintos

 Next to Lake Rutundu is the Kizita River Gorge which is a crystal clear river with small brown trout.  There is a small boat provided to take you around the lake and previous experience in fly-fishing is not really necessary. Excursions on horse-back to these lakes can be arranged from the surrounding lodges and campsites.

The most comfortable way to get to this area either way is by helicopter if this is within your convenience.

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Wisdom on the mountain’s top

Another subtle but curious feature not far from Shipton’s Hut is the Shipton’s cave. It was named after Eric Earle Shipton who used the cave as a base camp when exploring the northern side of the mountain with another renowned mountaineer, Bill Tilman, in 1930. Amongst the other attractions worth exploring in the park are the legendary Mau Mau caves which used to be the hideout for the freedom fighters during the 1952-1960 uprising. These caves are a historic site that are located near Nanyuki, 18km south of the equator, inside the thick Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve.

Other attractions near Mount Kenya

The difference between the Mt. Kenya National Park and the other parks in the country is that it is relatively cold compared to other situations making it quite unusual considering its location. The park also lies in close proximity to the Meru National park and the Aberadare mountain ranges plus other privately owned reserves.

Aberadare range

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View of Mt. Kenya from the Aberdares

At  about 766km², the Aberdare National Park is situated at the west of Mount Kenya. It is much smaller compared to other national parks though still offers more challenging terrain due to its location in Kenya’s central highlands. This isolated volcanic mountain range is relative to Mount Kenya and is still revered as God’s abode when He was not on Mount Kenya. Throughout the history of the Kikuyu people it has also been a holy mountain and till today people from the land below take the effort to climb to its peak to seek God. Now known as the ‘Aberadares’ by many, the once upon a time  Sattima Range is the third highest mountain range in the country and the second highest ground in Central Kenya which forms the eastern wall of the Rift Valley where the former ‘White Highlands’ were situated.

(Kindly see our previous post on the Aberadare Range for more highlights)

Meru National Park

Fresh snow covers the peaks of Mt. Kenya.

Close up from a distance-Fresh snow covers the peaks of Mt. Kenya.

This solitary piece of wilderness lies 80 kms from Meru town northeast of Nairobi along the equator covering approximately 87km². It is located near Mount Kenya National Park on the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya above the Chogoria township. This is the least known and less visited park in Kenya that is made of an interesting group of protected areas along the river Tana. The Mwingi, Bisandi, Kora and Rahole reserves together form the Meru national park. The wealth of the park in ecosystems and beautiful sceneries are unmatched. The forested swamp and savannah area networked by fifteen perennial rivers are what make this park unique. All rivers empty into the Tana River, marking the southern border of the park as the Nyambene Mountain supplies the areas with plenty of water through the copious streams flowing into the park. The hilly Northwestern side with its rich volcanic soil also gets a generous amount of rainfall from the neighboring Mount Kenya Forest.

Meru Museum

Meru Museum, a fine example of colonial architecture.

Meru Museum, a fine example of colonial architecture.

The creation and further establishment of Meru museum as one of the regional museums of the National Museums of Kenya was prompted by a need to conserve the culture and traditional practices of the Meru speaking people. Meru museum which originated in 1974 in an old historic building that was vacated by the District Commissioner, whose office it had been since the colonial days. The building housing the Meru museum dates back to 1916. In the colonial era it served as an administrative node in the Mount Kenya region. The museum was a joint effort by the Meru Municipal and County Councils, together with the National Museums of Kenya in creating an attractive and formative center useful to the local people and to visitors.

Mwea National Reserve

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Evening glow of Mount Kenya from afar

On clear days Mt. Kenya can be seen to its North as the land slopes to the foothills of the park about 82 km from Mwea Area where the Mwea National Reserve is situated. It is an essentially undiscovered, undeveloped and undisturbed oasis of calm and tranquility in a populous landscape. Boldly painted on a parchment canvas of dust-dry bush and feathered acacia, this diverse pocket of wilderness is traversed by torrential seasonal rivers and stubbed with bulbous baobab trees. Open grasslands are dominant along the main rivers, with occasional thick undergrowth.

 Mwea Reserve rewards those in search of peace, serenity and the undisturbed appreciation of wildlife since it is still basic and rarely visited.

Practical Travel information

There are different options of climbing Mt. Kenya ranging from a quick one day excursion to an intensive five to six day hike. The park is served by two 22km roads starting from Naro Moru and Sirimon gates. Both roads are navigable but still require a 4WD vehicle to get to the 3350m contour. Access above this contour is all on foot. The road from Chogoria is  slightly over 22 km to the Park Gate at 2,850m. Dependent on road conditions, these distance has been known a whole afternoon to do and in really wet conditions it is likely that the top four or five kilometres may be impassable. At present the park does not operate under the Safari Card system and entry is by cash only.

Park entries for a day trip  ranges from shs 500 residents and around $55 for non resisdents.

Carry plenty of drinking water even though you will always get opportunities to refresh your supply from the crisp mountain streams. You should also pack adequate picnic items and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight along with suitable walking boots, warm clothing, training shoes, socks, sandals and gaiters. Also useful are the usual binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and guidebooks that are always recommended on trips.

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Remember to stay geared up and down

Careful attention should be given to how the accessibility and technical ease with which Point Lenana is reached create their own problems for enthusiastic trekkers. The trek to Point Lenana isn’t as easy as people think for the mountain has suffered many casualties over the past years due to this ignorance. Most people tend to ascend much too quickly and end up suffering from altitude sickness or related complications.  So you’ll enjoy yourself much more by spending at least three nights on the ascent as you get acclimatized successively in between the designated stops. In addition to proper clothes and equipment, you will stand a much better chance of making it back down in good condition.

You’ll again be tempting fate by not taking a proper guide or qualified companion. Even those with ample experience should take a guide when attempting the Summit Circuit. Drink at least three litres of fluids per day and carry rehydration sachets to avoid severe headaches caused by dehydration or altitude sickness. A prior check-up from your physician is always worth considering before you make any serious attempts.

Standing on Point Lenana looking Northwards in the first morning light.

Standing on Point Lenana looking Northwards in the first morning light.

It’s safest to climb Mt. Kenya during the dry seasons around January – February and August-September for the most dependable weather. The main routes are most likely to be more crowded at this time of the year. If you favor complete solitude over the sunny skies, try going slightly off the peak season. It’s best to avoid the two rainy seasons from mid March until June and from late October to the end of December. Rain and snow higher up can however be encountered at any time of year even in the driest periods. Normally the drier seasons are associated with clear, dry weather which can last for many days on end. The best weather is generally in the mornings and convectional rainfall, if any, tends to come in the mid-afternoon.
 

How to get there

Nanyuki mainroad.

Nanyuki mainroad.

By Road:   Mt. Kenya is approx. 175 Kms from Nairobi and can be reached through the  Nanyuki-Isiolo road via the Sirimon road or Nyeri-Nanyuki road near Naro Moru. The park is also reachable via Chogoria on the Embu – Meru road, about 150km north of Nairobi.

By Air:  The closest commercial airstrip to the park is at Nanyuki.

WHERE TO STAY

There is only one lodge, seven climbers huts and three self-help banda sites that are available inside the park. Just outside the park there are three lodges and another self-help banda site. Hotel accommodation can be found in Nanyuki about 198 km North of Nairobi or in Nyeri which is 257 km North of Nairobi.

Serena Mountain Lodge

It is situated within Mount Kenya National Park, about 193 kilometres from Nairobi, anchored like an ark amid the primeval forests of Mount Kenya. Located at 2,134 metres above sea level, on the lower slopes of the mountain, the lodge is cool, tranquil and hushed for optimum game-sightings. This timbered tree hotel offers champagne-clear mountain air, sweeping views across the tree-canopy, sparkling trout streams and gentle forest walks.

Accommodation in Mt Kenya-2

Eating and staying above

Rutundu Log Cabins

The cabins are placed on the slopes of Mount Kenya just above the forest line at 3000 meters above sea level. They are positioned overlooking Lake Rutundu and surrounded by alpine moorland, a home for unique bird life and vegetation.You can get here by air on the only available airstrip which is 1.5kms from the cabins or the helipad 100m from the cabins.  From the Kisima Farm you can ride also trained polo horses through the moorland and up to Rutundu. Another option is to take the fifteen minute challenging walk through the gorge to the cabins.

Naro Moru River Lodge

This Lodge is located at 2,155 m, tucked into the side of Mount Kenya, 16 km south of the Equator. It is a 20-acre, stream-fed enclave of peace and serenity at the base for Mt. Kenya. It is set in beautiful tropical gardens along the banks of the Naro Moru River where it is fed by the melting snows of Mount Kenya and is well stocked with brown & rainbow trout. This location is one of the finest ornithological sites in Kenya with an exceptional variety of bird life.

Timau River Lodge

It is a wonderfully offbeat place situated on the forested slopes of Mt Kenya, consisting of several lovely thatched cottages of varying sizes and a well-equipped campsite with a large covered cooking area. The lodge is in an idyllic setting with a whole range of animals roaming free throughout due to its proximity to Mount Kenya so guests are able to enjoy good views. The Timau River Lodge has camping sites as well as bandas for rent.

KWS Self – Catering Accommodation:

Batian Guesthouse

It is set in the alpine pastures on the edge of the forested ravine where the cottage was built in 1972 by former warden Bill Woodley and until 1998 was home to the park’s wardens. It offers four bedrooms; two bedrooms with double beds, one bedroom with a double decker and one bedroom with two single beds. You can get there by road from Nairobi by heading  North-East from Nairobi towards Thika, Karatina and Nyeri. About 13 km before Nyeri turn right towards Kiganjo and Naro Moru which is approx. 25 km. From Naro Moru it is 17 km to the Naro Moru Gate where the cottage is situated half a kilometre beyond the gate on the left.

Sirimon Bandas

It is also pleasantly situated in open grassland immediately adjacent to Sirimon Gate, the accommodation comprises two semi-detached bandas housed in one attractive stone-built cottage. Each banda has two bedrooms, one with a double bed, and one with two single beds. Travel 16 km northwards to get there directly from the town of Nanyuki, after 9 km you will see the bandas on your right at the entrance of the Park gates. You can also opt to use the Sirimon KWS airstrip next to the bandas if you are travelling by air.

accomodation in Mt Kenya-1

Basic accommodation in Mt. Kenya- Camping by the tarn at Mintos and a view of  Austrian hut from Point Lenana

Camping Facilities

There are numerous camping facilities available within the park for you to choose from according to your specifications if you are one of those who prefer camping. These campsites include, Austrian Hut, Kinondoni, Road Head, Mintos Hut & Campsite, Narumoru Gate, Solo and Major public campsites, Met Station, Mackinders Campsite, Mackinders, Sirimon, Judmaier, Shipton, Liki North Hut 7 amongst other recommendable public campsites.

For more information please visit:

http://www.kws.org

http://www.magicalkenya.com

http://www.mck.or.ke

We trust that this feature has been informative to you.

If indeed, please take it a step further and spread the message, like it, share it and follow us as we countdown to Kenya’s 50th birthday!

 Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and stay posted for the next Treasure.

  Until the next time its many thanks from the 50 Treasures of Kenya  Trust  to all the contributors in this feature with special acknowledgment  going  to our chairman Mr.Harmut Fiebig for the wonderful photography and most of all to you our treasured audience for your delightful company.

 Its always a pleasure to share a treasure.

 Much appreciated.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Amboseli

Get to KNOW, EXPLORE, PROTECT and CELEBRATE Kenya

Amboseli- Home of the gods

 Cast against wide skies and far horizons which blend with swampy springs and parched earth; Amboseli enjoys the exclusive position of having the highest mountain in Africa cast as its background  in an exceptionally unique ecosystem which few other places in the continent can match in panorama and cultural history.

Amboseli derives its name from the Maasai word empusel, which means dust in Maa, in reference to the grey saline volcanic ash that was deposited by Mount Kilimanjaro during its volatile infancy.

twiga-kili

…the sights and heights of Amboseli

When Joseph Thompson, the renown Scottish geologist cum explorer,  first accessed the once dreaded Maasai territory in 1883. He was confounded by the phenomenal disparity between the arid areas of the dry-lake bed and the oasis like swamps which he went on to describe in his 1885 best-selling book, Through Masai Land.

It has since then been described as the ‘home of the gods’ by other famous authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark who have also based their works on the game culture of Africa’s wilderness on this  region.

Lighthouse attraction

The Amboseli landscape covers an area of approximately 5,700 Km² stretching between Mt. Kilimanjaro, Chyulu Hills, Tsavo West National Park and the Kenya/Tanzania border. Amboseli National Park, formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, is situated in a small area at the heart  of its ecosystem that is almost twenty times its size. It is the third most visited wildlife park in Kenya after the Maasai Mara National Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park .

The park is also one of Kenya’s premier parks both in terms of biodiversity conservation and tourism potential  making it probably the most visually impressive of Kenya’s National Parks.

Amboseli is known for its many elephants.

Amboseli is elephant heaven

Amboseli began as the ‘Southern Reserve’ before its restoration to the local community in 1948. It was later gazaetted  in 1974 to protect its unique ecosystem.The park was subsequently proclaimed a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve from 1991 in recognition of its special combination of ecology and culture.

On September 29, 2005, former Kenyan president Mr.Mwai Kibaki declared that the custody of the park should pass from the Kenya Wildlife Service to the Olkejuado County Council and the Maasai people.

Giraffes in front of Kilimandjaro.

Peerless beauty-giraffes in front of Kilimanjaro.

The park is located in Loitoktok in the Rift Valley about 140 kilometres south of Nairobi. It stands at an altitude of 1150 meters above the sea level in an area of about 392 km2 in size consisting of basement plains mingled with fresh water swamps and Kilimanjaro’s volcanic terrain.

The scenic beauty of the park  consists of five basic wildlife habitats covering the open plains. The sharp contrasts in the landscape were due to its being a very fragile environment comprised mainly of golden savannah plains, with low scrubby vegetation.

topography

…panoramic view of Amboseli

The main vegetation in the plain is elephant grass, high turfs of whitish-yellow grass sometimes as high as elephants. The dominant plant species are dropseed grasses in the grassland and the yellow barbed Acacia in the woodland. Some species of Suaeda Monoica,  which are common in mudflats and salt marshes, are plenty in the bush land. There are also areas of  rocky patches where nothing seems to grow for there are no major surface streams which flow into its basin.

The park’s topography is characteristically flat while the soil composition is fine.  It creates  a surface seal which forms seasonal pools around the park during rains.  Amboseli can swing from droughts to floods due to its erratic climate. As witnessed in the early 1990’s when ceaseless rain changed the area into a swamp before the grass-covered plains turned back to dust.

The temperature here ranges from  about 20-30 degrees with an annual rainfall usually between 200mm – 700 mm.

Amboseli: Elephants feeding in the swamps.

Where there is water- Elephants feeding in the swamps.

The two main rain seasons are around March/April in the long rains and Nov/ December during the short rains though there have been recurrent droughts in the recent years. The park never the less has an endless underground water supply filtered through thousands of feet of volcanic rock from Mount Kilimanjaro’s ice cap which funnel into two clear water springs in the center of the park.

The thawing snow and rainfall  infiltrates into Kilimanjaro’s porous lava terrain before reaching the lower foot hills where it re-emerges in the park’s basin. There are a series of emerald green everglades i.e. Enkongu Narok, Longinye and Ol Tukai swamps which also form a major source of water for the park’s wildlife.

big and small

Diversity in Amboseli

The park offers some of the best opportunities to see Africa’s wildlife which is attributed to its sparse vegetation due to its long dry months. Amboseli hosts numerous plains, game and fauna which include the African elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino, lion, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest among other animals like hyena and wild dogs.

elephants and kilimanjaro

…the herds of Amboseli

The elephants of Amboseli are the most celebrated wild elephants in the world. This area has remained the home to some of the regions oldest and bulkiest elephants with an estimated 1 300 elephants  living in the park. It presents itself as one of the best wildlife viewing experiences in Africa and indeed the world where you get as close to free-ranging elephants.

Elephant feeding in swamp, Amboseli.

Elephant feeding in swamp.

These wonderful pachyderms are drawn in great numbers to the park by  the swamps and marshes. The typical papyrus and cyperus plants  growing  in the shallows also attract hosts of other wildlife; turning  the watering holes into virtual animal spas at dusk and dawn.

Pelican on pond at the swamps inside Amboseli.

Pelican on pond at the swamps inside Amboseli.

The  bird life is plentiful, boasting a diversity  of Kenyan birds both large and small, with almost 600 species of birds including within the vicinity of the swamps and lakes. Varieties  of pelicans, kingfishers, crakes, lily trotters, egrets, hammerkops and the rare Madagascar squacco heron can also be spotted sometimes. The open plains also support an array of birdlife including the secretary bird, the yellow necked spurfowl and the pangani longclaw.

So far about 50 carnivorous birds have been identified in Amboseli including the rare taita falcon and southern banded harrier eagle.

Explore Amboseli

Amboseli: Running giraffes.

…racing the giraffes in Amboseli

The park is one of the smaller reserves in Kenya making it the ideal place for starters, since the tracking won’t be that demanding . On arrival, you will be met by the vast arid plain, that is ‘ Lake Amboseli’,which is reminiscent of a desert but that  is only a veil. The park is in fact teeming delights beyond what we have described which you will soon discover.

You can explore the park on game drives, even horse-back safaris and also  go for guided nature walks.

Amboseli: On safari.

Amboseli: Open Plan Safari

Amboseli has featured in several films like Where no vultures fly, King Solomons Mines, Tomb Raider 2 and documentaries like ‘Echo: An Elephant to Remember, a TV series about a remarkable matriarch of a family of elephants in the park.

Echo was the most studied elephant in the world and subject of several books.

Amboseli from dust to mist

dust and mist

The local people are mainly Maasai, but people from other parts of the country have settled there attracted by the successful tourist-driven economy and intensive agriculture.

In addition to the abundant wildlife, the interesting cultural interactions with the Maasai draw tourists and safari lovers to Amboseli.

faces of amboseli

…faces of Amboseli-looking to the future

Other attractions in Amboseli

Amboseli is compact enough to experience in a day or two, the park is included on most Kenya safari itineraries and combines well with the Masai Mara and nearby Tsavo National Park. Other opportunities in  the park include meeting the Maasai residents and visiting their villages.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

The park also offers spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world!

Kilimandjaro: Sky high.

Kilimandjaro: Sky high.

Indisputably one of the most celebrated mountains in the world, Kilimanjaro which forms the backdrop of this region is always a sight to behold. It stands at 5,896 meters above the sea level with a snow capped summit that overshadows the landscape on any clear day. The best time to view ‘Kili’ is at dawn and sometime in the late afternoon towards sunset when the clouds lift and the light is clear and soft.

An Amboseli safari can also be combined with several Tanzanian parks which lie just across the border. Other highlights of Northern Tanzania like the Serengeti, Tarangire and the Ngorongoro Crater can also easily accessible from this area.

Observation Hill

View of sunset as seen from the view point behind Tortillis Camp.

View of sunset as seen from the view point behind Tortillis Camp.

It is located on the south east side part of the park from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of most of the Amboseli Park. Scaling will give you a wonderful birds-eye view of the whole park; especially the peculiar landscape further south made by expelled volcanic rock a few centuries ago. Observation hill is known as ‘Noomotio’  meaning a rocky depression that holds water in the local Maa tongue; it was inhabited many years ago by the Ndorobo who were hunters and gathers.

It may have also got it’s name in allusion to its black porous rock, a product of the same volcanic activity that created Kilimanjaro.

Swamps

Amboseli: Elephants feeding in the swamps.

Elephants feeding in the swamps.

At the end of the rains, game viewing can be truly fantastic making the marshes below observation hill one of  Amboseli’s principal attractions.  The Enkongo Narok swamp and other permanent swamps which demarcate the grey landscape are preferred resorts for big game while numerous birds feed, breed and nest in the lush vegetation.  The Oltukai Swamps, at the heart of Amboseli’s woodland of yellow fever trees and the doum palms known as ol tukai by the Maasai or Makindu in Swahili, is another cool oasis. It is a perfect retreat for wildlife that is greatly favored by the elephants.

Contemporary Maasai culture

maasai

…the true people of the land

All proceeds from the park now go directly to the Maasai communities situated in the park after its control was transferred to the Olkejuado County Council and the Maasai Tribe in 2005. There are six Maasai group ranches with a combined area of 5583 km2 supporting approximately 50,000 Maasai pastoralists and 280,000 head of livestock. Their indigenous lifestyle is a traditional system of nomadic pastoralism practiced by the Maasai.

The pride in their own culture that  has been impressively steadfast in the midst of rapid social and economic developments. Perhaps more than any other community in Kenya the Maasai have learned to live in complete harmony with their environment and the wildlife which surrounds them. Both pastoralists and wildlife share the same ecosystem and shadow each other’s movements through the seasons.

Lake Amboseli

Amboseli dust devil.

Amboseli dust devil.

 This is a flat and dry area, which was a large and permanent lake of 40 meters deep about 10’000 years ago, covers a third of the Amboseli Park on the western side. Most of the “lake” is inside the park although the southwestern end is actually outside the park’s boundaries. A clay mineral know as “meerschaum” in  German for the ‘sea foam’  was a variety of sepiolite that was also mined here. This immense pan gets filled with water when Amboseli receives a good rainfall.

More often, Lake Amboseli is a barren expanse of cracked clay, swept across by swirling armies of dust devils and the occasional herd of browsers.

Amboseli Elephant research project

Amboseli: Elephants at watering hole.

…CODE RED!-Elephants at watering hole.

It was founded in 1972 and is the world’s longest running study of wild elephant population in the world with its influence reaching out to elephant conservation, management and policy-setting globally. The project has compiled three decades worth of births and deaths within a community of 50 elephant families totaling about 1500 individuals and due to its efforts the local elephant population in Amboseli was spared the attention of poachers who were mostly active in the early 1980’s.

As a result the elephants in Amboseli have little fear of vehicles thus making this park arguably the finest place in Africa to observe elephants at close quarters.

Practical Travel information

tour vans

…out and about

Amboseli National Park can be accessed via its five gates and is open daily to visitors from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm including public holidays and visits can easily be done in a weekend. Proof of identification will be required and no entry is permitted on foot and you can only use a safari card or visa card to enter. The Safari card may be obtained and loaded at any KWS Safaricard office or at the Iremito Gate.

The park has adequate and good infrastructure that make most parts of the park accessible.  Nonetheless soil that is otherwise only dusty in the dry season is usually rendered impassable in the wet season. As is always the case several rules have been installed to protect the wildlife; so please do not to get out of your vehicle except at designated spots nor attempt to harass the animals in any way. Remember, no off-road driving, keep to the tracks and always give the animals the right of way.

foot n scorpion

…always come prepared

Always carry enough drinking water, picnic items and camping equipment if you intend to stay overnight. Also useful are a pair of binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and updated guidebooks. The area is a high malaria risk, so do come prepared with enough mosquito repellent and  you may also consider using antimalarial drugs that should be taken before you travel, especially during the rainy seasons, if you want extra peace of mind.

How to get there

Amboseli: Corrugated track.

Corrugated road through Amboseli’s heaven

By Road:  Amboseli is approximately 240km from Nairobi and the usual route is via Namanga on the Nairobi – Arusha Road, through Meshanani Gate. The road is tarmacked up until Namanga from where the ride becomes rough and the other option which is about 228 km long is via Emali on the Nairobi- Mombasa road.  Access from Mombasa is mainly through Tsavo West National Park via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) Gate.

  By Air: The park has a single airstrip for light aircraft with Air Kenya providing daily flights at Empusel gate. Other airstrips exist at Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge and Namanga town

Where to stay

home sweet home

…what will it be? Palms or scrubs?

Hoteliers and developers will have had to forego new developments within the Amboseli National Park as well as the ecosystem surrounding the park  for the next one year. This follows the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) ban on developments including tourism facilities. The moratorium will be in place for this duration or until the conservation plan for the fragile ecosystem is implemented.

In – Park Accommodation

The suspension also covers upgrades of existing facilities, sinking of bore holes and human settlements along the stretch from Mt Kilimanjaro on the Kenya-Tanzania border to Chyulu Hills and Tsavo West National park.

eat stay love

…eat, stay, love

All in all accommodation in Amboseli is available in the form of several luxury safari lodges. Most of its lodges and safari camps are of world class quality and are conveniently located in the park. The luxury lodges are splendid and will cater to your every caprice; you may also opt for one of the comfortable chalets or canvassed tent lodges if you are inclined towards a more earthy experience.

Tawi lodge

Tawi consists of 12 cottages with verandas, bath and showers, fireplace and mini bars for those very special sun-downers. The bar and dining area being the central point of the Lodge with fine cuisine and the attention to details and the excellent and friendly service is particularly noticed while dining. A butler service is provided for maximum privacy and comfort.

tawi Lodge

…turn over a new leaf in eco-tourism at the Tawi Lodge

 It is located on a private conservancy of 6,000 acres just five minutes from Kimana Gate, the eastern entrance to Amboseli National Park. It is a community-run conservancy and together with African Wildlife Foundation, promotes and maintains a harmonious development for the wildlife and the Maasai people along the corridor between Amboseli and the Chyulu Hills.It is also an eco-friendly operation, which takes maximum care of the environment and its people. Ideally located on bush land facing Kilimanjaro.

The style of the lodge is a harmonious combination of modern comfort and traditional aestheticism .

Serena Lodge

Its is secluded within a grove of acacia trees, close by are a series of emerald green swamps, which are fed by the melting snows of Kilimanjaro and looks out over the golden savannah plains, with uninterrupted views of the mountain itself.

serena Amboseli

…the serene serena

  At the heart of the lodge, shaded by palm trees, is a free-form swimming pool; to either side of which stretch the rooms. Each room is housed in a single storey building opening directly on to the grounds, each reflecting a Maasai manyatta theme: each with its own hand-painted wall frescos.

The central dining area is reached by a timbered bridge over a melt-water stream, while the lounge and bar feature a broad terrace and a blazing fire-pit where evening cocktails can be enjoyed.

Amboseli Sopa Lodge

The lodge is constructed as individual huts, spacious with en-suite bathrooms and verandah are 83 rooms in total all available for the honeymooners, the physically challenged, generally everyone is been well thought of at the lodge. The pathways leading to the rooms are sheltered with beautiful plants and trees.

Amboseli Sopa Lodge: Cottages.

…one of Amboseli’s supa lodging cottages!

It is nestled in 190 acres of wooded Masai land and sits on the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro with features including a restaurant bar e.g Hemingway’s bar, a unique historical structure, designed like the shape of Africa, sitting right at the top of the property between rocks which has an uninterrupted view of the park.  It also has a pool bar painted in bright orange colour and blue mosaic tiled counter, it is situated in one corner, and adds a contrast to the greenery of the garden around the pool area and the azure water of the swimming pool.

Ol Tukai Lodge

It has been cited as one of the best spots in the world to watch elephant with the background of Africa’s highest mountainin a place of rugged beauty, abundant water, lush grass and forest, set like an oasis in surrounding savannah scrub. It is ideal for the executive traveller with  a self-contained log cabin with three luxurious ensuite rooms, roof terrace and jacuzzi.

Oltukai 3

…at home with the elephants in Ol Tukai

Ol Tukai is an Eco-rated lodge having excellent outdoor and indoor facilities with its unique collection of African art. All rooms have private bathrooms and individual terraces and two rooms have been designed according to EU standards to accommodate physically challenged guests.

Tortillis Camp

Tortilis has the undeveloped western half of Amboseli to itself and is named after the flat-topped, umbrella thorn tree, the Acacia Tortilis, and is situated in one of Amboseli’s pristine areas of Acacia Tortilis woodland, with the majestic backdrop of Kilimanjaro.

totillis camp

… Amboseli’ s tented luxury

The accommodation includes  large tents with luxurious king sized or twin beds, large family houses and the camp is child friendly. Delicious traditional North Italian meals are prepared from the owner’s family recipe cookbook, while the accompanying herbs and salads are prepared from those grown in the camp’s own garden. Also available are massage parlors within the camp.

Self Catering

There is also comfortable accommodation in the park like the KWS facilities which offer more budget friendly provisions like;

Kilimanjaro Guest house and Kibo Guest House

 The two guest houses are more or less the same, the more being on Kilimanjaro Guest House for its extra bedroom. Kibo on the other hand has only two bedrooms to offer. The facilities come with one bathroom with a bath, shower and WC, a  fully furnished sitting with doors leading to a veranda. It also has a  modestly equipped kitchen and also a provided caretaker, a  generator which supplies electricity from 6.30pm-10pm, blankets, pillows, bed linen, towels, soap and toilet tissue.

Nyati Bandas

The bandas are divided into two units with each unit having two single beds which can accommodate a total of four  persons. Each unit has  bathroom with shower and WC. They also have a seating area with two chairs a basic kitchen with a care taker who will attend to your stay.

Simba and Chui bandas

The bandas have two single beds for a total of two persons, a bathroom with shower and WC,a seating area. The bandas have with two chairs, a kitchen with a caretaker and essential amenities.

Olgulului Public Campsite and Nairushari Campsite :

camping

…and for those for the wild…

 These are the two main campsites in Amboseli National Park near the Nairushari and Iimbireshari hills a few kilometers south the Observatory Hill. They are both located in a non-dusty area in the southern part of the park where vegetation is composed of green bushes and dry grasses. One is a public campsite managed by K.W.S. and the other one is managed by the Maasai community.

For more information please visit:

http://www.kws.org

http://www.magicalkenya.com

http://www.kenya-information.com

We trust that this feature has been informative to you.

If indeed, please take it a step further and spread the message, like it, share it and follow us as we countdown to Kenya’s 50th birthday!

 Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and stay posted for the next Treasure.

  Until the next time its many thanks from the 50 Treasures of Kenya  Trust  to all the contributors in this feature with special acknowledgment  going  to our chairman Mr.Harmut Fiebig for the wonderful photography and most of all to you our treasured audience for your delightful company.

 Its always a pleasure to share a treasure.

 Much appreciated.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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