KENYA is one of the country which makes part of East African countries and has some tourism Activities and national parks which attract tourists to come and visit them,some of those attractions are:
*MASSAI MARA NATIONAL PARK:
Maasai Mara National Reserve is an area of preserved savannah wilderness in southwestern Kenya, along the Tanzanian border. Its animals include lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras and hippos. Wildebeest traverse its plains during their annual migration. The landscape has grassy plains and rolling hills, and is crossed by the Mara and Talek rivers. The area nearby is dotted with villages (enkangs) of Maasai people.
What to do / Activities in Masai Mara:
What to do / Activities in Masai Mara :Activities in Masai Mara national reserve ranges from unique Game drives where one can see or view the African Big 5. Masai Mara national Reserve is one of the most unique parks not only in Kenya but Africa at large where tourists enjoy a wide range of Activities in Masai Mara.
Below are the highlights of Activities in Masai Mara:
1. Game drives/ Game Viewing
Game drives are most common and popular Activities in Masai Mara and in most of the African national parks and reserves, by definition it’s an adventure of the park through 4×4 open roof safari van or Land Cruiser enjoying the close view of the animals but observing the park regulations.
Game drives are usually done in three swifts those are:
Morning game drive which starts at dawn to catch up with sun risers, observe the African sunrise, this is the most rewarding game drive since you will find all animals very active and fresh looking for food of the day in an open savannah grassland grassing, the cats are also in the ambush looking for the food of the day by hunting. After the sun gets hot all animals go near river banks to quench their thirst and cool themselves while the cats go in hidden quite areas to relax and rest hence hard to see again.
Evening Game drive which usually starts from 4 pm till late at 6:30 pm, on this game drive we get the final catch up of the game while they are out of their hides getting their dinner and sun bathing especially the reptiles. Kobs and other animals that graze in groups will be assembling for their resting.
Night Game drives, this is strictly done under the guide and escort of well trained game rangers and mostly an extra fee is put on it. Its mostly enjoyed by film makers who want to see more of the nocturnal animals in the park, see the cats hunting at night and others.
Maasai Mara is one of the best places destinations not only in Africa but in the world for excellent rewarding game viewing with more than 1000’s of animals to see. In the Migration season which takes place between July and October millions of animals assemble to the reserve as they cross the mara river from Serengeti for new fresh pastures and water. This is the period they come for breeding for the grazers attracting more predators especially the big cats since the prey is much available.
The national Reserve different eco system has attributed to different animal species with the most famous being the big five those are: Lions, Leopards, Buffalos, Elephants and Rhinos. Other animals are the Oribis, Hyenas, Giraffes, Gazelles, Hippos, Hartebeest, Zebras, Antelope, Crocodiles and many more.
Maasai mara can be accessible throughout the year with the most rewarding time in during green season when millions of animals both migratory and permanent residents are present at the reserve.
2. Nature walks
Gifted by nature, the reserve has more to explore during your stay around Maasai Mara and this can be done through the use of safari land cruisers or even walking. The reserve is being monitored and care taken by local community hence giving much opportunity to guests to have leisure walks both inside the park and around the local community.
Nature walks as one of the Activities in Masai Mara is headed by the game ranger equipped with a gun using trails that are less used by predators enjoying close view of animals like Elephants, Giraffes, Antelope, Buffalos and other grazers around the park. This activity is much enjoyable and makes you active during the trip as you are involved in the activity, researchers mostly prefer this so that they can learn more and more about the different vegetation zoning of the reserve, behaviors of the animals, relationship between the locals and the park and others.
Walking safaris are one of the easy but most rewarding ways of experiencing Maasai Mara, walking on foot with locals putting on local sandals make out of car tires sharing a lot of excitements as you explore the best of the reserve looking for wildlife. You can reach as far as the Mara River witnessing the migration if you’re in the right season visit.
3. Balloon Safaris
One of the incredible moments in Maasai Mara is seeing the best Ecosystem of Maasai mara while floating on air with an Eagle eye. There three safari companies that operate the Hot air balloon safaris in Maasai mara one is Governors Camp, The Hot Air balloon which is the oldest with 100% record on safety and the Sky ship company.
The Hot air Balloon safaris is once in lifetime experience one can never forget, its starting sound and shakes can scare and at most guests are advised to sit down cover their eyes as the balloon starts lifting the basket on air slowly with high heart bits as you internally feel the motions when its leaving the grounds as your body feels crazy yet you have no control over it.
The safari starts early in the morning with a wakeup call for light breakfast and be driven to the starting point where you will meet the pilot for briefing then enter to the Balloon basket and then kick off as we raise higher approaching the skys the sun will also be rising, our floating will take us between 1 o 2 hours depending on the weather of the day as we enjoy the birds view of the undulating beautiful scenery of the great rift valley, observing closely the big cats especially if they are on a hunt we follow them as we join them to hunt!!
Our happiness will be beyond imaginations flying together with birds of the Maasai Mara exploring all deep corners of the reserve at tree top heights or below which gives clear panorama view an ideal angle for good photographic opportunities at an aerial point.
Upon landing a toast will be done with a glass of wine at the bush, heavy breakfast and finally certificates of success will be issued to all the crew on board. Be picked up by our driver guide who will add more game drives on ground to see more animals on another angle before we head back to our lodge for refreshments and lunch.
4. Picnic view
Maasai Mara is termed as the birding paradise with over 450 bird species out of which more than 45 species of birds of prey. The reserve hosts the largest bird on planet earth that is the Ostrich also commonly known as “the Maasai Ostrich”. This bird life is harbored by a great advantage of different ecosystem that forms the reserve like open savannah, river banks, rocky sides and the Great Rift Valley escarpments.
Birders enjoy the Maasai birds which come in all colors and sizes with a key Kenya’s Savannah bird species easily seen in the reserve. Maasai mar ahs a record of raptors with over 45 species available in the open savannah of the park, this gives an added advantage to birders to do birding throughout the year from Maasai Mara.
Maasai mara has the greatest record of the highest number of bird species in Africa more than even countries; it’s through Maasai Mara that Kenya got an award after breaking the birding record as the only country in the world one can see 342 bird species within 24 hours catensy of Maasai Mara national reserve.
Mara hosts a lot of migratory birds annually between October and Feb the reserve receives more Palearctic migrants , swallows, tens, waders and others while around June to July Mara river swamp is fully occupied by weaver birds and bishops as they come for breeding.
Other most popular bird species are Rosy-throated long and magpie Shrike, Ostrich, Long tailed Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Rufous-billied Heron, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Hamerkop, Marabou stork, Yellow-billed stork, Hadeda Ibis, Sacred Ibis, Ruppels Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, African Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Kori bustard, Secretary bird, Sooty chat, Usambiro barbet the list is very long.
The wide diversified range of habitats supports a great diversity of birds in Maasai Mara making your birding holiday more wonderful and experiential.
5. Cultural Tours
One of the most unique Activities in Masai Mara with the rest of the parks and reserves is that its managed by the local community, the Masaai people dominate the reserve and leave together with the wildlife amicably and this has benefited not only the locals but also the guests who have a wide range of activities to do especially on learning about new people and their culture.
The Masaai culture is one of the greatest cultures one can feel in Africa with their own life styles, the pastoralists who rare more animals in mobile way have unique culture which cannot be seen anywhere in the world. This people have leaved near and around the reserve for more than one hundred years now with unchangeable traditions, norms and customs even if the guests from all corners of modern world frequently move with them they have stickled on their traditions.
The Maasai community has around 50 traditional houses that surrounds the large crawls of cattle compacted with all traditions of the true Masaai life style. They have more community projects that helps them to benefit from tourism and making them leave in good sustainable life with clean environment.
Cultural safaris or community visit to the masaai community forms one of the most active and lively Activities in Masai Mara one should not miss while at Maasai Mara from their dancing stanzas of Jumping up and down to the iconic way of milking their indigenous cows, how to get fresh blood from n animal, cooking, making their local houses with mud and many more active activities.
Community participation is one belief we have for sustainable tourism in Africa and the masaai people always win their awards on this let us support sustainable tourism through village or community tours.
6. Horseback Safaris
Maasai mara is a few of those reserves and parks in Africa where horse riding is done as Activities in Masai Mara inside the park for the game drive, this was mostly used by long ago explorers since their were no cars but today even if their safari vans and land cruisers most guests prefer to use horse rides during their game drives and its more popular in Maasai Mara.
It gives you an open way of exploring the best of the landscape passing through other animals with an animal no off truck only enjoying the fresh breeze of nature. During the migration the experience is beyond as you’re escorted by well trained game ranger one enjoys more as you go close and close to the animals even touching on their backs.
7. Seeing the Wildebeest Migration
Going to Africa!! many ask what to see how to reach and when to go? Africa is one of the best continents to go if one wants to enjoy real wildlife safari, its not expensive as many have anticipated but much affordable to all classes of guests. Activities in Masai Mara cannot be mentioned and completed without the migration of the wildebeest which is an annually event that takes place between Serengeti of Tanzania and Maasai Mara national Reserve of Kenya.
These wonderful moments of excitements are always much memorable if one sees by his or her self than reading or looking at the documentaries, the act starts between July and October and during that time millions of animals cross to Maasai mara from Serengeti for breeding purposes and looking for green fresh pastures then after they migrate back hence the action is twice every year but within that range of July and October sometimes early November depending on the rains since they follow the rainy season patterns
During this time you need to book your trip very early in order to secure nearby lodge which is good around the area so that you will have enough time to enjoy the world cup of nature which is played by millions of wildebeest and 1000’s of zebras versing few but large crocodiles and the lions along the mara River. The score is always not high since all the players are experienced mostly its 1 or 2 to zero depending on the lack of the season.
The action invites wide range of predators not only around the river but the sole Activities in Masai Mara during this period is wildebeest migration as they come to welcome their visitors as well as neighbors to the home land of Maasai Mara your role is to come early and leave late in the evening as you come with everything to keep you lively for the day.
*AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK:
The Park covers 392 square km, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 square km Amboseli ecosystem.
Amboseli National park lies immediately north-west of Mount Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. The Park covers 392 square km, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 square km Amboseli ecosystem.
Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season, making Amboseli National park a popular tourist destination. It is surrounded by six communally owned group ranches.
The National Park embodies five main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a Pleistocene lake basin, now dry.
Amboseli National Park is famous for its big game and its great scenic beauty; the landscape is dominated by the towering Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Amboseli National Park embodies five main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a Pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Within this basin is a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, that floods during years of heavy rainfall.
Wildlife: Amboseli National park has over 80 different mammals to be found ranging from the tiny (and rarely seen) spectacled elephant shrew to the huge bulk of the African elephant. Few visitors will go home without superb elephant pictures with Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. There are over 400 bird species.
Getting there – By Road: The main road into the park is from Nairobi via Namanga (240 km) on the Nairobi-Arusha Road, via Meshanani Gate. The road is tarmacked up to Namanga but is marram from Namanga to Meshanani Gate (75km).
The other road is via Emali (228 km) on the Nairobi- Mombasa Road. The road is tarmacked up to Emali and marram from Emali to Remito Gate (64 km) Access from Mombasa is mainly through Tsavo West via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) Gate.
By Air: The Park has an airstrip at Empusel gate. There is also an airstrip for light aircraft at the Park Headquarters (Olekelunyiet). Other airstrips exist at Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge and Namanga town.
Where to stay – Amboseli has a range of accommodation to suit all budgets, tastes and interests. There are very basic campsites where one can pitch a tent and sleep under canvas in the wild, well appointed safari lodges, luxury tented camps with large, fully furnished tents, small private camps for your exclusive use and much, much, more.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK:
1. Elephant Research Camp
The elephants of Amboseli National park are among the most studied in the world, thanks largely to the work of Dr Cynthia Moss, whose books include The Amboseli Elephants and Elephant Memories; she was also behind the famous documentary DVD Echo of the Elephants.
The research camp remains in operation in the heart of the park, under the guidance of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (www.elephanttrust.org).
Although the camp is not open for casual visits, it is possible, with prior arrangement, to arrange a one-hour lecture at the camp, during which the researchers explain their work and other related issues of elephant conservation, with time for questions at the end. The visit doesn’t come cheap.
But this is one of the mother lodes for elephant research in Africa and a visit here is a rare opportunity to learn more about these soulful creatures. Bookings can be made via the website.
2. Normatior (Observation Hill)
This pyramid-shaped hill is one of the only places in the park where you can get out and walk. The summit provides an ideal lookout from which to orientate yourself to the plains, swamps and roads below.
The views from here are also pretty special, whether south to Kilimanjaro or east across the swamps. Wildlife is generally a fair way off, but the views here put them in their context.
3. Sinet Delta
From Normatior (Observation Hill), the northern route runs across the Sinet Delta, which is an excellent place for birdwatching. The vegetation is thicker the further south you go, providing fodder for giraffes and also framing some of the park’s best Kilimanjaro views.
4. Lake Amboseli
Away to the northwest from the delta, this ‘lake’ occupies a large swathe of the park, but it’s usually bone dry, except after extended rains. At other times, it’s worth a journey out here if you’ve time to spare, not least because few vehicles make it out this way.
5. Game Drives
What sets the Amboseli National Park apart from its neighboring national parks is its small size which can easily be navigated by two or three game drives.
The park is mostly open country with a large concentration of animals around the swamps which are found in the park. these marshes are permanent enough to keep the hippopotami all year round in the Amboseli.
One of the perks of game driving in the Amboseli National Park is that there are drivable tracks along the peripheries of the swamps which will bring one up close to the wildlife that inhabit the park.
Game drives in the Amboseli National Park provide a truly refreshing and exceptional encounter to a traveler while watching the sunrise and sunset in exceptional tones of color change over the horizons.
6. Make a visit to the Observation Hill.
A pyramid shaped volcanic hill which is the only place in the entire park where walking safaris are permitted.
The hill is a mushroomed volcano on a predominantly flat park, from the hill the traveler can admire the view of plains and swamps against the backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The best places to see elephants in the park, also the hill attracts lots of tourists both local and international due to its scenic nature.
To enjoy the hill a tourist is advised to bring a pair of binoculars to be able to view up close as the wildlife drink water from the numerous swamps below from the summit of the hill and a powerful lens for taking good pictures.
7. Amboseli National Park – Guided Nature Walks
With the company of an armed ranger to ensure you’re safe, a guided nature walk in Amboseli National Park is a great way for travelers to stretch their legs and experience Africa’s beauty on a more intimate level.
Capture the Amboseli National park through the lens of a camera
The epitome of the African jungle which is equivalent to the prairies of the Americas.
The backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro the highest free standing mountain in the world makes the Amboseli the ideal jungle in Africa for nature photography, capture the giants of the Amboseli National Park wandering tirelessly in search of pasture and water while trying to take a snapshot of the African cheetah hunting for prey.
In order to get the best out of nature photography in Amboseli National Park a traveler is advised to camp in the wild and witness wildlife behavior unravel, from the roars of the king of the jungle to the singing of birds in the sky.
HOW TO GET THERE – Amboseli National Park Info
The park is located some 365 kilometers southeast of Nairobi and it can be accessed by either road or air transport..
Driving from Nairobi to Meshanani Gate will take a traveler about two and half hours to reach the gate via Isinya and down the Magadi Road in Nairobi, afterwhich one will join the Nairobi – Arusha Road and will soon get to Namanga Town.
This is the border town between Kenya and Tanzania from there it takes a traveler about 45-60 minutes to reach Meshanani Gate depending on the type of vehicle being used.
From Mombasa the park is accessed through Tsavo West National Park via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) Gate, through this route the roads are absolutely beautiful and smooth passing through a small town known as Emali on the main road to Mombasa.
It should be noted that the roads in the park have loose surfaces and hence it is a dusty and bumpy ride but it is totally worth it.
Flying to Amboseli National Park will take the traveler about half an hour or so.
Chartered flights from major cities like nairobi and mombasa land at airstrips located at Empusel Gate, Namanga and Kilimanjaro Buffalo Lodge.
The minor setbacks however of flying is that one will miss out on the scenery and seeing more of the country.
*LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK:
Lake Nakuru National Park has been established in 1961 and has an area of 188 km2.
The Park is situated on the floor of the Rift Valley surrounded by wooded and bushy grasslands
It is one of the an accessible park from Nakuru town which is about 3 km and 170 km North west of Nairobi City.
This is one of the most prime park in Kenya with numerous attractions in the small area.
On the floor of the Great Rift Valley, surrounded by wooded and bushy grassland, lies the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park.
Visitors can enjoy the wide ecological diversity and varied habitats that range from Lake Nakuru itself to the surrounding escarpment and picturesque ridges. Lake Nakuru National Park is ideal for bird watching, hiking,picnic and game drives.
LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK ATTRACTIONS:
1. Ability to see both species of African Rhinos
It is very rare to be in the Lake Nakuru National Park and where you see both species of endangered rhino, black rhino and white rhino.
This park that is well protected make it easy to see this species that are not easily seen in other part of Africa. It is truly the rhino sanctuary.
2. ABUNDANT AND DIVERSE BIRDLIFE IN LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK AND SURROUNDING.
Visitors to this National Park will be astonished by diverse and abundant bird species that are found on the lake, at the shores and in other habitats around.
It is an international important bird area and RAMSAR site and it is a breeding site for lesser and greater flamingoes. In this Park more than 450 species of birds have been recorded.
Some of the birds that are found in this park are Greater White Pelican, Lesser flamingo, Greater Flamingo, Cormorants, Egyptian geese ,Cattle and Liitle Egrets, Saddle billed stork, Yellow Billed Stork, Fish Eagle, kingfishers, Little crebe, superb starling, Blue eared glossy starling, olive thrush ,white necked bee eater to mention just a few.
3. MAKALIA WATERFALLS
This beautiful waterfall in the southern end of the Park is truly amazing place to be. The sound of water falling and the surroundings are quite amazing! This waterfall that attracts a number of visitors especially school groups is originated from Mau Forest in the Central Ridge.
The rocky area/cliff where water falls form habitats for some bird species like African pied wagtail, red winged starling and others. It is more favorable for people who are doing picnic and hiking.
4. THE LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
This soda lake below the base of the Rift Valley of Kenya is a special place in the park and the most visible feature. It is from this lake that the name of the Park originated.
It is a sanctuary of many water birds and the abundance of algae used to attract numerous flamingos that filled the lake! Birdwatchers will find this place a paradise as the number birds are unparalleled!
The park offers some areas that has scenic views and landscapes which can be seen from well designated View Points. These one include the out of Africa view points as well as baboon view point.
They all have a commanding view to the lake and surrounding landscapes and the Out of Africa one was a point where by the lake can be seen with a shape of African Continent!
The views from all these points are just breathtaking and one will also be able to observe wildlife below and the Rift Valley beyond!
6. ROTHSCHILD’S GIRAFFE
This specie of giraffe which is rare is commonly seen in this National Park in the acacia woodlands as well as close to the lakeshore.
7. DIVERSE SPECIES OF MAMMALS AND PLANTS
Lake Nakuru National Park boasts diverse species of mammals of which more than 50 species of mammals has been recorded! Among them it is an opportunity to see 4 out of big five animals which exclude elephant which are not found here!
The species of plant in this park are diverse accounting for more than 550 species that are found in this National Park with yellow back acacia dominating most part of the Park as well as euphorbia forest !
The mammals species that are commonly seen and easily seen here include are waterbucks, olive baboons, impalas, vervet monkeys, thomson gazelles, zebras, colobus monkeys, buffalo and giraffes etc. Other wild animals seen likely to be spotted include lion, cheetah and leopard.
8.SCENIC SPECTACULAR LANDSCAPES
Lake Nakuru national Park are not only a park with a diversity of wildlife. A visitor to this area will be amazed by the breathtaking views of the hills, ridges and rift wall of the Great Rift Valley.