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.
NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
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.
THE GREAT RIFT VALLEY
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 MASAI MARA
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 !
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