Kenya is home to not one, but two of the greatest spectacles of the natural world. Masai Mara National Park is the grand theatre where Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomson's gazelle undertake the Great Migration from the Serengeti Plains. Witness millions of Fuchsia-pink flamingo flocking to feed on the teeming algae of alkaline waters of Lake Nakuru. The pulsing pink swathe of life carpeting the waters is one of the most popular images of Kenya.And when you decide to travel here, you will be following a tradition dating back thousands of years followed by the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Chinese, the ancient Greeks and the Arabs!
It is a five hour drive from Nairobi city to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The route is scenic as you pass through the central highlands of Kenya full of tea and coffee plantations. The best place for a pit stop in this route is at the Rift Valley view point from where you get panoramic views of the landscape. After passing through Masai country you finally enter the Masai Mara National Park. It has been named after The Masai people, proud semi-nomadic cattle-rearing people with a fascinating culture, and the Mara River which runs through it.
It provides the stage for the greatest migration on planet Earth. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, with 1,300,000 wildebeests, 360,000 Thomson's gazelles, and 191,000 zebras moving from Serengeti to the Mara. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by a block of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena. Thousands of the lame, laggard and sick never complete the cycle. Many die by drowning or by the crocodile, while trying to cross the waters of the Mara and Talek rivers.
Once the grass has been devoured at the Mara and rains arrive in Tanzania, the return journey commences to Serengeti and the Ngorongoro plains. At the Serengeti Plains, the young grow up and become strong to undertake the long march to the Mara six months later. The cycle of life at the Kenyan Safari continues!
All the 'big five' (Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Buffalo and Elephant are resident animals here and are a frequent entry into guest wildlife lists of sightings. The Masai Mara is a major research centre for the spotted hyena. Additionally, over 450 species of birdlife have been identified in the park, including vultures, marabou storks, secretary birds, hornbills, crowned cranes, ostriches, long-crested eagles, and African pygmy-falcons.Although July, August and September are the months when the Masai Mara plains are filled with migrating wildebeest and zebra, there is much resident wildlife year round.
The best part about a Kenyan Safari is that Wildlife is not confined to the parks and reserves although it is generally more abundant in such areas. You will often see plenty of wildlife outside!
You can round up your Kenyan Safari with a Balloon Safari at day break. The images from this aerial view of the stunning landscape, the sun rise and the animals will last you a lifetime.
Lake Nakuru is set in a picturesque landscape of woodlands and grasslands next to Nakuru town. Located at a distance of 157 kilometers from Nairobi, the park covers 188 square kilometers of land of great ecological diversity - from lake water, woodland, bush grassland, to rocky ridges. Three major rivers, the Njoro, Makalia and Enderit drain into the lake. It is an ornithologist's paradise. The millions of Flamingoes that flock here to feed on the algae can be classified into 2 broad categories. The Greater Flamingo has a bill with a black tip while the Lesser Flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage. Scientists reckon that the flamingo population at Nakuru consumes about 250,000 kilos of these algae per hectare of surface area per year.
The other marine inhabitants in this Lake are Pelicans and Cormorants. Tilapia Grahami, diminutive fish is also found in abundance. There are over 400 bird species on the lake and in the surrounding park. Some of the more prominent varieties are white winged black terns, stilts, avocets, ducks, and waders. The Lake has also become a sanctuary for the Rhino. Spotting one won’t be an issue as there are more than a 100 of them. There are also huge herds of waterbuck, zebra, buffalo, the endangered Rothschild Giraffe. As for the predators, you can find Leopards, Lions and Pythons.
Nairobi city also has a few intersting spectacles. I had visited the Giraffe Centre and Karen Museum before boarding my return flight. The Giraffe centre was started for breeding the Rothschild Giraffe and has become a big hit among kids of all ages. It is fun to feed the friendly giraffes from a raised platfrom.
Karen Blixen Museum is the house of the famous Danish author who lived here from 1914-31. Karen was immortalised by the famous movie "Out of Africa" which was based on her life and her role was played by Oscar Winning Meryl Streep. The Danish government gifted this property to the people of Kenya during their independence.
A little bit of Swahili to help you during your Kenyan Safari.
No problem: Hakuna matata (Remember Lion king movie?!)
Yes: Ndiyo / No: Hapana
I'd like a cold beer: Tafadhali nataka bia (pombe) baridi
Lodges are the best option for stay at Mara during the migration. I had stayed at Keekorok and it was both picturesque and comfortable. They have a pond full of hippos just outside the fence! Infact you can get to see giraffes, wild buffaloes, deer and sometime even lions just a few metres from the lodge!
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