People choose African safari holidays for a wide variety of reasons. Most are lured by the prospect of viewing the world’s most exotic animals and landscapes. For some it’s the perfect setting for a honeymoon, for others, an intrepid family adventure. Still others go on desert safari deals for the ultimate get-away-from-it-all chill out. And then there are those who have dreamed of Africa since their childhood and have finally decided it’s time to encounter the real thing. None are disappointed as Africa can give you all these things and much more. Providing, that is, you go to the right place – Kenya, East Africa, home of the safari.
East Africa is the home of the safari for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the word safari comes from the local Swahili language. The fact is that this part of the continent has many things going for it. It has a long coastline with pristine beaches on the Indian Ocean, stunning landscapes and scenery, many nature reserves with a fine assortment of big game, excellent infrastructure and a long history of organsising safari holidays. What’s more, East Africa has a temperate climate all year and an array of diverse cultures ranging from warrior tribes, to nomadic herdsmen, and fishermen.
In the heart of East Africa stands the country of Kenya, home to 40 national parks and game reserves. Among these are some of the most renowned in the world – Masai Mara, Samburu, Amboseli and Meru – names that summon up images of the romantic world of safari. Kenya is right on the equator and is bordered by Sudan and Ethiopia to the north, Uganda and Lake Victoria to the west. To the southwest lies Tanzania and the Indian Ocean is in the southeast. That marvel of the African landscape Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen from Kenya to the South of the Tanzanian border.
Kenya’s modern capital of Nairobi is a bustling modern city with some great hotels, shopping and fine places to eat. For all its big city bustle, Nairobi will give you a gentle introduction to the world of Africa. Arriving from the West, it will provide a gentle decompression chamber from which to explore the wild beauty of the hinterlands. Nairobi is a place where you can get your films developed, roam through book shops, and send post cards and dream of the real Africa waiting nearby. A short drive away is Karen Blixen’s house which is open to visitors. Or perhaps you’d prefer to have afternoon tea with giraffes at nearby Giraffe Manor.
But what you really came to see is the animals and in this regard, Kenya is without equal. The “big five” animals of Africa – the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant – can all be found in Kenya along with a host of other species.
Each of Kenya’s many games reserves and national parks offers an unique experience. Take the Masai Mara Game Reserve. It’s home to a teeming population of all types of fauna – herbivores, predators and rich selection of birdlife. Masai Mara is also the site of one of Africa’s great spectacles – the Great Migration which takes place each year. In this great event, millions of grazers such as wildebeest and zebra make a long journey from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Masai Mara. It’s one of the visual wonders of the wildlife world. Then there’s Amboseli National Park, renowned as the place to get up and close with elephants, and Samburu Game Reserve famed for its zebra, gazelle, giraffe and antelope.
Kenya is also an ornithologist’s wonderland, being home to over 1000 species of bird. One location not to be missed is Lake Nakuru. At certain times of the year, the lake is a vision in pink when it’s visited by up to a million flamingos.
The very word ‘safari’ speaks of romance and adventure in the most glorious of settings and Kenya is the place to go. But such a successful safari requires meticulous organisation by experts with a long record of local experience. For this reason, it’s best to put the planning of your safari holiday in the hands of those who really understand the country, the people and the logistics of safari holidays.