Travel to Kenya triggers beautiful images of exotic wildlife and safari in every one’s mind. That’s right – even today it is safari that attracts the most tourists in Kenya. The tradition began in 1909, when Teddy Roosevelt – 26thPresident of the United States held a hunting expedition from the Norfolk Hotel. Thanks to him, Nairobi was established as the capital of the Black continent, and safari and the name of Kenya became synonyms.
This is why safari, the biggest attraction in Kenya, exists from the early twentieth century. Later – in 1979, hunting is banned, but safari does not stop. There is only one condition – switch your rifles with… cameras.
Seen from above, Kenya is surrounded by high mountains and glaciers. Kenya’s heart is a true desert, bounded and packed with bizarre vegetation. The oldest eroded plains in Africa are found there. This is because of the huge volcanic mountains and tectonic fissures.
When a man crawl this land, he will notice that there are several plateaus rising gradually several feet at a time, the air pressure changes, and his ears pop. Approaching Mount Kenya, his breath is taken by its sharpest and highest peak – Batian, 5,199m., very striking and looking like it was created by the God himself. The peak is surrounded by vast mountain heights that compared to it look more like a meadows than highlands.
In Kenya there are another 20 mountain peaks rising to over 2,000 meters in height. There are five large mountains, rising more than 3000 meters above sea level. Even more, there are eight magnificent rivers with a total length of over 200 kilometers.
On east of Kenya lies the Indian Ocean forming a coastline that stretches over 500 kilometers. Numerous incredibly beautiful coral reefs are spread along the entire shore. The vast sandy beaches and the swaying, beautiful palms offer the perfect escape.
Four major regions form Kenya, each one with its own characteristics. The Great Rift Valley with its eight lakes is a home of some of the most interesting birds on Earth. This is the famous Lake Nakuru, full of graceful long-legged flamingos, lies. The second region of Kenya is the Central Highlands. It spreads all along the Mount Kenya and is covered with lush vegetation. There are the two famous natural phenomena – Aberdare Range and the Mau Escarpment. The other two regions, on north and south, are dry and rough. They are home of the most saturated wildlife in Kenya.
There are 26 national parks and 31 national reserves, which along with all the forests and natural resources are under special protection by the local and international law. This is why Kenya‘s wildlife is so unique. The country is home to over 100 species of mammals, 1,080 species of birds and over 800 species of butterflies.
Maasai Mara National Reserve is home of more than 2 million predators, half a million zebras and quarter million gazelles. The big cats are hard to spot, especially in April and May, when the grass is tall. However, if you are patient enough, you can spot these graceful predators, and even feel their breath. Maasai Mara is also a scene of the migrations of the wildebeest, which in most cases can be observed along Mara and Telik rivers, between August and October.
Elephants bathe and play twice a day at a specific time in the national parks and reserves – Tsavo, Samburu and Buffalo Springs. It is interesting to notice that always there is a leading male, which is replaced every 6 hours. He never gets in the water, doesn’t even drink, and secures the area and guards the herd. The first ones to get into the water are the little ones, gradually followed by the rest of the herd.
Rift Valley Lakes – the so called pink lakes are the natural habitat of many species of birds, among them the notorious pink flamingo. Huge populations of flamingos are found at Lake Nakuru, and lake Bogoria where the pink flamingos reside.
Mount Kenya offers its visitors to enjoy the second highest peak in Africa. Hiking slowly towards the peak one can explore eight different floral zones, starting from 1200m all the way to the top at 5000m above the sea level.
Sibiloi and Central Island National Parks lie east of Lake Turkana, known as “Dzhead Sea“. They preserve thousands of fossils while being the natural habitat of the Gazelle, Hartebeest, Oryx, Tiang, Lion and Cheetah. This area also accommodates the largest population of crocodiles in the world – over 12,000.
Lamu Island is where local traditions are still observed. This is where the best local seafood – Swahili can be found. Whale sharks can be seen and photographed in the waters of the Indian Ocean on southeast of the island between September and April. And finally, the island offers the latest adventure of an amazing journey through the wildlife of Kenya – it is the perfect spot for a romantic break.