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Travelogue: Kenya Safari - Where the Wild Tames Man
by Naveen Frank - Sharjah

Jul 22, 2008

When  your flight approaches Jomo Kenyatta international airport in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, you could wonder if you are actually landing at Bajpe, Mangalore. Lush green fields, tall trees and typical winding mud roads is a welcome scene for any visitor.

Far from one madding crowd to another. Nairobi city is just another modern city buzzing with activity. Like any other city in the world, the traffic  signals, congested roads, morning rush hour greets the tourist. But a long, windy and dusty four hour drive from the city soon changes the whole picture of this beautiful country.

Any tourist who has opted to take a holiday in Kenya will have come in the sole intention of being away from the daily humdrum of city life and be close to nature. This is what Kenyan Game safaris actually offer you and give you your money’s worth. 

A long ,treacherous drive up the hill , cutting down the Rift valley  finally takes you to the  Lake Nakuru National Park.      Nakuru means "Dust or Dusty Place" in Maasai language. It is situated 140 kilometers north-west of Nairobi in the Nakuru district of the Rift Valley province and  covers an area of about 188 square kilometers.


The Nakuru lake  provides the visitor with one of Kenya’s best known images. Thousands of flamingoes, joined into a massive flock, fringe the shores of this salt water lake. A pulsing pink swathe of life that carpets the water, the flamingo are a breathtaking sight. 
The lake has become world famous for these birds, who visit the lake to feed on algae that forms on the lake bed. But Nakuru has more than just flamingos. The park not only gives the visitor the joy of watching the elegant water birds but also the magnificent larger animals like the lion, wild bison, the black Rhino and the Rothschild Giraffe. 

We will have learnt from our school text books a little about the Rift valley not actually catching the awe and grandeur of it.  The Great Rift Valley, mostly known in Kenya as the East African Rift Valley, was formed between 2 and 7 million years ago. It is the longest rift ( earth shift ) on the surface of the earth. The Rift Valley starts all the way from Jordan, Middle East, and runs through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Malawi, and ends near coastal  Mozambique. The amazing attribute about the Rift Valley is that once it reaches the Kenyan border, it diverges into two rifts, which later converge near Lake Rukwa in southern Tanzania.
The Great Rift Valley is approximately 4,000 miles long and 35 miles wide. It was formed due to geological tension in the earth's crust that caused a deep depression, while probably forcing the sides upwards. The floor of the valley is normally below sea level and has very fertile land. In Kenya, the Rift Valley gave rise to many lakes that have become a habitat for diverse wildlife.


The Savannas ( tall grasslands) of  the  Masai Mara is one of the best known and most popular reserves in the whole of Africa, which borders Tanzania at the Mara river.  

You will almost certainly see wildebeest, zebra, impala, topi, giraffe, Thomson's gazelle and elephants.  If you are lucky , you could catch a glimpse of the elusive leopards, lions, hyenas, cheetah, jackal and bat-eared foxes. Hippos are abundant in the Mara River as are very large Nile crocodiles, who lay in wait for a meal as the wildebeest cross on their annual quest to find new pastures.  Every July (or sometimes August), the wildebeest travel over 900 kms from Tanzania's Serengeti plains ( across the Tanzanian border) , northwards to the Masai Mara and the Mara River is the final obstacle. In October or November, once they have feasted and the grass has all but gone, they turn around and go back the other way.

Also , the Mara birds come in every size and colour including common but beautiful ones like the lilac breasted roller and plenty of large species like eagles, vultures and storks. There are 53 different birds of prey.

The added attraction of the Game Reserves are the lodges are that are situated in the midst of the jungle . Although you have access to all modern amenities like the internet, mobile phones and television, you have an option to forget it as long as you are on holiday. There are no rooms and villas but individual tents that can protect you from cold, wind and rain. There are no doors and no keys. You are at the mercy of the strength of the thick canvas and heavy duty zips that keep you safe inside.

All game watching activities cease at sun set. Nobody is advised to walk alone outside the safe havens of the lodge campus. Kenyans are a friendly people. They share common interests due to the fact that both India and Kenya were once British colonies. A large number of Indians have settled in Kenya and most of them are successful businessmen and have attained Kenyan citizenship.

The food is balanced to suit the western weak stomach and the Indian hard palate. The most sought after drink for a tourist is the Dhawa, a mixture of local vodka, blended with local herbs, lime and honey.  Kenya also offers tourists to taste rare delicacies like wild boar meat, ostrich meat, crocodile meat and  wild buffalo.

The easiest way is to fly into the Kenyan capital Nairobi where most major airline carriers operate. Indian nationals can obtain visas on arrival at the airport at a payment of US$ 50 per person .  Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival. However, it is recommended that you stamp the visa from your country of residence to avoid a possible delay upon arrival.  Although there are no compulsory health regulations to visit Kenya, it is advisable that you take yellow fever vaccinations and preventive shots for Malaria.

It rains in April and May and again November and this can cause some areas of the Mara to be inaccessible due to the sticky mud. July to October is dry and the grass is long and lush after the rains. This is a good time to come and see the huge herds of migratory herbivores. The temperature also does not exceed a maximum of 25 degrees and can be a pleasant 15 degrees when you are cuddled in you tent at night. The warmest time of year is December and January.

You might have visited many zoos around the world  and seen many wild animals caged inside. Kenya is one place you enjoy seeing animals free in the wild, and you caged in !

Naveen Frank - Archives:

Comments on this article
Fredrick Correa, Nairobi, KenyaSaturday, July 26, 2008
For the tourists, August is the most ideal month as there is a migration of wild animals from neighbouring Tanzania to Masai Mara in Kenya. Masai is one of the 43 tribes of Kenya. Mara in their language means river. There is a river flowing near this site of migration. For people holding Indian passport, visa is available on arrival. The visa of USD 50 is valid for 3 months. You need to take yellow fever injection and carry that certificate with you when you want to come to Kenya or other African countries. The currency over here is Shillings. Currently 1 USD = 67 Kenya Shillings. Most popular news paper is The Nation which can be viewed by entering www.nationmedia.com It rains twice a year - April/May and October/November. Life is wonderful over here phir bhi dhil hai Hindustani!!!
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Fredrick Correa, Nairobi, KenyaSunday, July 27, 2008

I have been in Kenya for the past 6 years. We have a Mangalorean association where we meet regularly for someone's Birthday, 1st Holy Communion etc. Very often we are joined atleast by 2 SVD priests and 1 Jesuit priest. We also organise outings twice a year where all the Mangaloreans take part,irrespective of their religion. Things are costlier if you compare with Indian prices. Otherwise its fun to live here. Yes, there is traffic jams during the peak hours. Otherwise, there is free flow of traffic most of the time.

There is a place called Diamond Plaza, in Nairobi where almost all the shops/restaurants are owned by Indians and the patrons are mostly Indians or people of India origin. You get all type of food here, idlies, masala dosas, bhel puri, wada sambar to name a few of the items available. Goans have two clubs. Though the management is run by the Goans, Non Goans are allowed as ordinary members without a right to vote. There are two churches, St.Francis Xavier church, Parklands and St.Theresa's church Eastleigh which was built by the contribution of the Goans.

Those who are in the Legion of Mary will know the Venerable Edel Quinn - an envoy from Ireland who worked for the spread of the Legion of Mary in East Africa. By a special privilege and permission, she was buried at St.Austin's cemetry which is exclusively reserved for the priests and nuns. She died on 12th May 1944 and on 2nd Sunday of May every year a crowd of about 8000 from various parts of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania come to this place. A bishop assistted by many priests concelebrate the Mass for this crowd. There are many nuns and priests from Mangalore and Kerala over here. SVD, Capuchins, Franciscans, Jesuits are some of them who are doing a great service to the locals. They speak fluently the national language - Kiswaheli.

The Missionaries of Charity are also very active over here. The President, H. E. Mwai Kibaki is a Catholic who attends for the Sunday 11.30 am Mass. There are about 43 recognised tribes and each tribe is having its own language and culture. However, when they come to the capital city of Nairobi, most of them do marry each other, even though in their villages they still insist on marrying in their own tribe. There are many Hindu temples and Gurudwaras in and around Nairobi. While food is free in most of the temples on Sundays, some temples and all the Gurudwaras serve food free of charge every day. There are 2 Gurudwaras where you can stay and avail of food thrice a day totally free of charge. You may just whatever you wish to in the donation box, which is totally voluntary. Pope John Paul II visited Kenya twice during his reign.

There is a place called Subukia which is about 3 hours journey from Nairobi (just before Nakuru) where many people go on pilgrimage.

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Anil D'Souza, Mangalore/DubaiSaturday, July 26, 2008
Real cool Naveeen.Baari bare assa. Mr Consaga Khisa me and my family would like to go to Kenya how do i get in touch with you.
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CA nitin j shetty Mangalore, Friday, July 25, 2008
Naveen I can only say "GREAT WORK"
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Abner D'Souza, Mumbai Friday, July 25, 2008
Hi Uncle, excellent article and amazing pictures.Three of the pictures look like award-winning National Geographic magazine covers !! You seem to be using an SLR camera .. fantastic work
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Dr.Anand and Geeta N Pereira, JOE'S SUSTAINABLE FARM, SAKLESHPURFriday, July 25, 2008
Congratulations Naveen. You have opened our eyes to the riches present in our Country, by way of National Parks, bird and game sanctuaries. Your learned article can help us learn to build up wildlife tourism on the lines of the Kenyan safari. It is vital that man and wild life live in complete harmony and respect. The pictures are excellent and for the less fortunate who cannot witness the annual migration, here is a chance to be a part of the event by enjoying the pictures. We are sure you have many more pictures and memories to share. Keep up the good work.
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Dennis D'Souza, M'lore, presently in CanadaFriday, July 25, 2008
Reading Naveen's article, makes one feel that he is actually in Kenya,thoughtfully written and very decriptive indeed! the pictures are awesome. Well done Naveen !
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Babla, MumbaiFriday, July 25, 2008
Lovely articles and pretty pictures Naveen. Reminder of our visit to Dar-a- salaam 10 years ago
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Consaga Khisa (Mr) , KenyaThursday, July 24, 2008
Great article by Frank Naveen. I fully endorse each and every word in the article as a true reflection of what Kenya has to offer. I am the Manager of Destination Connect - the Kenyan based tour Company that took Mr Naveen and family on Safari. The wildebeest migration - the world's greatest wildlife spectacle - is in full swing in the Masai Mara National Reserve.
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Consaga Khisa (Mr) , KenyaThursday, July 24, 2008
Great article by Frank Naveen. I fully endorse each and every word in the article as a true reflection of what Kenya has to offer. I am the Manager of Destination Connect - the Kenyan based tour Company that took Mr Naveen and family on Safari. The wildebeest migration - the world's greatest wildlife spectacle - is in full swing in the Masai Mara National Reserve. Your are all welcome to contact us for your tours to Kenya.
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Jude, Mangalore DubaiThursday, July 24, 2008
Nice write up Naveen. I was supposed to travel to Kenya around this time, but due to some unforeseen circumstances had to cancel my trip. I will keep a copy of your article so that it will come in handy when i actually go there.
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Mannu Pereira, Saklaspur (now in afghanistan)Thursday, July 24, 2008
Well done Naveen! Another beautiful article to blend with the terrific pictures of nature. It brings to life the wonders of nature, reflecting your passion to love to appreciate and be one among with what is around us. Congratulations for this wonderful article. Would you be coming up with another story to reflect the beauty of the desert around you ….?!
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Cynthia Fernandes, Mumbai/Goa/DubaiThursday, July 24, 2008
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Vincy Pinto, Mangalore/DubaiThursday, July 24, 2008
Detailed travelogue to plan a trip to Kenya. Thanks Mr. Frank.
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Amanda frank, MangaloreThursday, July 24, 2008
The feature travelogue made an interesting reading along with the beautiful photos of of various animals and birds. Amanda
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