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NORTHERN ROUTE

HIGHLIGHTS :

Naivasha, Nakuru, Bogoria, Baringo, Samburu & Buffalo Springs, Nanuyuki, Lewa Downs, Mount Kenya & Abadares

Naivasha, and the Rift Valley Lakes, via the Lerochi plateau to Samburu and Buffalo Springs then returning via Mt. Kenya the Abadares and Thika.

This route is fairly intensive and has many variations, so that if you are short of time you will need to plan your visits carefully in order to get the most out of them. We suggest the following circuit for a 7 – 10 day safari.

Depart from our base and traverse Nairobi in a northwesterly direction towards Naivaha. Naivasha is not far and if you want to stay here see the description in our South Western Route.
This safari then continues toward Nakuru. Nakuru has a very popular National Park, which is endowed with a beautiful soda lake whose shoreline is quite often fringed in pink due to the large numbers of greater and lesser flamingos that reside there. Flamingos don’t nest here but just come to feed. This park was originally set up to protect birds and has since become a safe house for many species of animals including Rhinoceros and Rothschild giraffe. The lake itself is approximately 12sq miles.

Whether you camp in the National Park or head for one of the designated camp sites near to Nakuru the next days journey leads you to yet two more wonderful Lakes. Lake Bogoria and Baringo are very close to each other but could not be more different. Bogoria is a soda lake and is surrounded by high mountains, which lead up to Laikipia. Once again you will encounter thousands of flamingos and there is also the opportunity to see the shy and elusive Kudu that abound here. This park is renowned for its geysers. Don’t get to near because the water is scalding hot. After having explored Bogoria head for Baringo where we suggest you spend the night.

Lake Baringo is a fresh water lake and is a considerably larger lake than Bogoria. You can go boating and fishing here and even a walk along the shore line will give you a glimpse into the lifestyles of the people who fish this great lake.
Whilst walking watch out for the small crocodiles that lie in wait for fish along the waters edge.

Ascend the Lerochi Plateau and head next along a marvellously wild section of Kenya’s countryside, towards Laikipia.
Laikipia is not designated on the map as a wildlife area yet it is second only to the Masai Mara in terms of game density. To enjoy this area we recommend staying at some of the local campsites.

The ranchers in this area who regularly have to contend with lion attack on their livestock are very hospitable. You will be supplied with great farm produce at a very reasonable price.

We are quite far north now and the terrain becomes increasingly arid. The mountains to the north are revered by the Samburu tribe’s people, whose country you are now in. You will pass the foot of these mountains (the Mathews Range) as you head towards Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Parks.

Buffalo Springs, Samburu and Shaba national parks are all part of the same ecosystem. Shaba is famous because of the Adamson family, which during the 60s released a number of lion here. Samburu on the other hand has recently come to fame for its disturbed lioness, which on 3 separate occasions, has tried to rear an Oryx calf. It is a bizarre relationship and as yet no wildlife expert has managed to explain this phenomenon.
The vegetation shows that these parks belong to the arid north. The usual desert animals occur here but this is also one of the few parks where you will get to see Grevy’s zebra.

The main road south goes through Isiolo to Nanyuki. Nanyuki is still very much the quintessential settlers town and a good spot from where to begin ones treks up mount Kenya. This is Africa’s second highest mountain and it is also snow capped. On the other side of the valley and not quite so cold is the Abadare mountain range. This is also a good area for hiking but only by prior appointment, as a guide will have to be organised. On the lower slopes there is plenty wildlife but the higher you go the scarcer it becomes.

SOUTH WESTERN ROUTE

HIGHLIGHTS:

Longonot, Hells Gate, Lake Naivasha, Masai Mara

This is a lovely trip, which can if time is lacking be made into a shorter safari. In this route the spectacular countryside of the rift valley is combined with the game rich lands of the Masai Mara.

From our base you head for the capital, which you will have seen on your familiarisation day. North of the city up to the escarpment is mainly agricultural interspersed with sections of forestry, villages and huts. It is a continuous climb for about 40 miles up to the top of the escarpment. But from the top you will be presented with a stunning panorama of the Rift Valley, which extends from the Middle East down to Mozambique. The descent to Naivasha is steep and before you know it you will be in Naivasha. This little settler’s town is still very popular with the locals and the legends of Happy Valley decadence still abound. Navaisha Lake is a large fresh water lake and sustains huge horticultural farms along its shoreline. Much of the wilderness in the area has been preserved and apart from the prolific bird life, you are likely to encounter Hippos. Naivasha is a great place for conservationist minded people. Whilst camping here you could visit Crescent Island, Crater Lake, Mt Longonot National Park and even Hells Gate National Park.

At Mt Longonot and in Hell’s Gate you can walk which is why these parks are very special. Normally it is forbidden to get out of your cars in any National Park. All the same Hells Gate and Longonot like most Kenyan National Parks are not fenced and therefore it is important to liase with the wardens before setting of on a trek so as to ensure that no lion are present. If there are you will have to take an armed guide.

Your next leg of the safari leads you across the undulating floor of the rift valley. This is real Masai Country and you will see them everywhere herding their cattle and goats as they have been doing for the past couple of millennia. Even so this is a popular dispersal area for many animals such as gazelle, zebra and even giraffe.

The Masai Mara is managed by the Masai and not the Kenyan government. It is therefore a national reserve as opposed to a national park. This effectively means that the Masai can continue to benefit from the grazing if the need arises. This park occupies an area of just under 600 sq miles. It is justifiably one of the most famous game sanctuaries in the world and adjoins the even better known Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. People come here every year to experience the ‘Great Migration’ in which 1.5 to 2 million animals take part. If you can ‘t be there for the migration which begins in June or July (not guaranteed) you will still see thousands of animals in the Mara. Even without the migrations over half a million animals stay here throughout the year. Consequently it is a prime spot for predator watching.

The big cats of the Mara have recently been made even more famous by the B.B.C.’s ‘Big Cat Diary’ It is in the Mara that you will see the scary Black Maned Lions.

You can now explore more of the southwest by exiting the national park towards Lake Victoria or Kisumu or alternatively you can return to Nairobi via Narok to keep your safari short.

If you are heading on into the northwest you will find that the Mara ecosystem accompanies you up to Kilgoris. There after you head into higher country, from where Kenya gets her tea. There are some very scenic drives along Lake Victoria and if time permits you will be able to visit Ruma National Park, which was set up to preserve a rare giraffe subspecies known as Rothchilds Giraffe. Past Kisumu you can explore one of the most eastern fringes of the great central African rain forests, Kakamega. This area is also home to one of the largest tribes in Kenya, the Luya.

Our route however would normally miss Kakamega and continue via Kericho and Elburgon down to Njoro near Nakuru where there is a delightful campsite. The Mau escarpment through which you need to pass to get to Nora is very high and also forested. It too is a lovely drive.

At this point you could continue on our northern and central Kenyan route or return to base.

 

SOUTH EASTERN ROUTE

HIGHLIGHTS:

Amboseli, Tsavo, Malindi & Coast

This is a lovely route that takes you through some of Kenya’s wildest countryside and introduces you to Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks.

You leave our base and proceed towards Namanga the boarder town with Tanzania. This is a wonderful road scenically and you will see how the savannah of the up country area turns into the bush more typical of lower lying terrain. You will also encounter many Masai herdsmen on the way.

It’s a challenging drive into Amboseli and a four-wheel drive now becomes a necessity. The country gets increasingly wild and long before you get to the park you ought to be able to see wild animals such as Ostrich, Gazelle, Impala, Giraffe and a plethora of colourful bird life.

The advantage of the park itself is of course that the animals are a lot less disturbed by people and thus you can get in much closer to the game. Amboseli has become famous for its glorious views of Kilamanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain at 19341ft, and the world’s highest freestanding mountain. On a cloudless day you can easily see the glaciers, which of course give rise to the parks second claim to fame. Due to the melting snow on the mountain there are a number of swamps in the park, which attract large numbers of elephant. Other animals will be seen near to the swamp as well. Indeed Amboseli is one of the best parks to view wildlife because of its open vegetation. If you are looking for Lion this is certainly a good place to start. Amboseli national park occupies 151sq miles.

Should you opt to continue along the link road to Tsavo you will see much more wilderness and along most of the route towards Tsavo you will be able to see Kilimanjaro.
Tsavo is Kenya’s largest national park and has for administrative purposes been divided into two parts, Tsavo West and Tsavo East. It varies in altitude from 755 ft to 6562 ft above sea level. This difference has a huge effect on the vegetation and therefore the kinds of animals you will see there.

It is a vast park and is surrounded on many sides by ranches and game dispersal areas, which prior to the hunting ban served as hunting blocks. The ranches themselves often provide good habitats for the numerous game in the area. The Vegetation is thick and varied so that this park can be more of challenge if you have come looking for the bigger cats. However if shear wilderness is what you want to experience or the famous red elephants of Tsavo or just to get a sense of how Africa was before the arrival of the early settlers then this park is the place for you.

If you are continuing along this route to the coast you will proceed through Tsavo East. This park is much drier then its western counter part and sightings of desert animals such as Oryx and gerenuk now become possible.

Before leaving for the coast via Sala Gate you will see the might of one of Kenya’s most awesome rivers, the Tana. The Tana River runs along the foot of the worlds largest Lava Flow know as the Yatta Plateau. From Sala down to Malindi is roughly 3 hrs driving. For the first 2 or so hours you will not feel you have left the park. The bush country in this area is endless and the majority of it belongs to the state.

Shortly before reaching Malindi you will drop down into the coastal belt. It is hot here and more humid. The bush gives away to Palm tree and coastal vegetation. You will pass by East Africa’s last remaining bit of Coastal forestry, the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. On the other side, the Tana River has now become the Sabaki. More and more people mean you have finally reached Malindi and its fascinating Swahili culture so different from what you will have seen up country.

Its time now to relax and enjoy the coast. There is plenty to see and do over the next couple of days, snorkelling, fishing, and windsurfing. Perhaps a visit to Hell’s Kitchen, the Grand Canyon in miniature or The Arabuko Sokoke, a large tract of primeval coastal forest that is renowned for its rare golden rumped elephant shrew and terrific amphibian and bird life.
Near to the forest is a beautiful holiday resort called Watamu. Turtle bay in Watamu has to be one of Africa’s most scenic beaches.
The Arabs were busy traders in these parts for a long time and the Gedi ruins near to Watamu are a hearty reminder of their ingenuity. This “raiders of the lost arc” type ruin is hidden in part of the Arabuko. Its great charm is all the monkeys diving in and out of the canopy above the ruins.

Mombassa is a big city, Kenya’s second largest and can be very hectic. If you have fallen for the Swahili culture then there is a lot more to discover here and you should allow yourself at least another 3 or 4 days. To go south of Mombassa you will need to take the Likoni ferry, an experience in itself. Once on the other side take time to explore long beaches, blue waters and delicious seafood.

The return Journey to base takes app 8 hours and is via Kenya’s most important highway. Tarmac all the way. This route is still scenically interesting and once again you will pass through Tsavo National Park. However, this time for free. There are campsites on the way so if you have the time and want to break up the journey a little, just call in.