Kenya: Why and where to go on a safari
Kenya: Safari is a word that blows with tropical winds and exotic countries. And, pronouncing it, we conjure up the image of the African continent, from where it came to us in the lexicon. In Swahili, “safari” means “travel”, and the Europeans brought an additional meaning to it – hunting for wild animals.
Fortunately, the hunt has now slowed down, leaving rare species and our grandchildren a chance to see each other. With the advent of affordable digital cameras and zoom lenses, photography has become fashionable and craftsmen from all over the world travel to Africa for rare trophies.
But why Africa? Indeed, there are places in the world where the species diversity of the local fauna is not only not inferior but even surpasses the African one. Of course, yes. But we are not biologists (most of us) and do not go on long expeditions to look for rare lizards. We want to see large animals that will not hide from us and will not have to chase the animal all day, like Sharik, with his “camera gun”.
Elephants, rhinos, hippos, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, and a variety of big cats are what people want to get on an African safari for.
Yes, you say, but there are large wild animals in India too. Indeed it is. Ironically, both elephants and tigers prefer the jungle, where they are difficult to find and see. While the representatives of the large African fauna live in the savannas, where they are easy to find and photograph.
And here we move on to the choice of the region. If we greatly simplify the geography of the continent, then its north is occupied by a desert; west – evergreen rain forests covering countries with unstable political systems and alarming epidemiological conditions, as well as animals that are difficult to track in the forest.
Remains the south and east of the mainland. And it just so happened that the Russians are closer to flying to the eastern countries of Africa. Therefore, if you have not yet been on a safari, I recommend starting from the region that is closer.
Once upon a time, the earth’s crust cracked and began to spread apart. The rift stretched from Syria to Mozambique, giving rise to an amazing land of savannas and lakes called the Great Rift Valley, or the Great Rift (from the English word rift – rift). It was with him that I would begin my acquaintance with Africa. And, choosing a country, among the most likely candidates for a trip, I would consider Kenya.
Firstly, it is the closest of the countries where savannas begin after the Sahara. The country is Christian, a former British colony and many speak English here.
Kenya has a wide variety of landscapes, and the richness of wildlife will satisfy the needs of even the most discerning wildlife lovers and sophisticated photographers.
If you are not very well aware of what Kenya looks like, then remember the cartoon “The Lion King”. After all, its action takes place there, and you will now understand why.
Best parks for safari
Perhaps I’ll start with Amboseli Park to explain why the cartoon takes place in Kenya.
Remember the beginning when the animals go to look at the newly born Simba? There is a beautiful panorama of animals marching through the savannah against the backdrop of the majestic Kilimanjaro. Such a picture can be obtained in Amboseli Park. Despite the fact that the extinct volcano itself is located in Tanzania, the savannah overlooking it is located in Kenya, and if you want to enjoy this textbook view during your trip, you should include Amboseli Park in the program.
It is also famous for the high number of African elephants (over a thousand heads). Here you can meet lions and cheetahs, numerous zebras and wildebeests, as well as the Masai giraffe (one of the three types of giraffes in Kenya).
The largest park in the country – Tsavo, divided into the Western and Eastern parts by the river of the same name, also deserves attention as a stronghold of species diversity. Its imposing territory, which is mainly a dry savannah, is home to many rare animals, of which the rare black rhinos should be distinguished first of all. Tourists prefer Western Tsavo because of the more varied terrain – there are hills, springs, and reservoirs that attract various birds and animals.
If in Kenya you want not only to see the savannah but also to enjoy other landscapes, then you should include in your trip the Aberdare National Park, which is located on the slopes of the ridge of the same name. The height of the mountains exceeds 4,000 meters above sea level. River valleys, foggy forests, and bamboo groves are all Aberdare. And also in the forests, there are many monkeys – for example, gwerets and blue monkeys.
For mountain lovers, I recommend Mount Kenya National Park, where, as you might guess from the name, the mountain of the same name is located, the second-highest in Africa (5199 meters). On the territory, there are eight types of natural landscapes and many endemics – species that can be found only in this region.
Lake Nakuru is Kenya’s third most visited park. Despite being relatively small, Nakuru receives a huge number of tourists every year. Their goal is to see the second-largest land animals after elephants – white rhinos. Alas, there are not so many of these giants left, and Nakuru is perhaps the best place in East Africa to watch them. Another curiosity that attracts connoisseurs of rare species to the park is the Rothschild giraffes. The cherry on top of the cake is the salt lake itself. In its waters, there are small crustaceans, so beloved by pink flamingos. Several hundred thousand birds feed here during the season.
Before visiting the most popular park in Kenya, you should first get to Lake Naivasha, located nearby. It is fresh, and there is a lot of fish in it, which attracts a huge number of aquatic and near-water birds. By the way, many birds fly here for wintering from Russia. Among the local species, it is worth mentioning the screamer eagle and the sacred ibis, so revered by the ancient Egyptians.
Well, the most popular park in the country is Masai Mara, which occupies the northern part of the endless plains to the very borders with Tanzania. On its side, the equally famous Serengeti Park adjoins the Masai Mara, together they form a huge ecosystem, known primarily for the phenomenon called the Great Migration. Millions of wildebeest and zebras move in a circle following the rains and the grass that grows after them. The culmination of this process is the crossing of the Mara River, which is so popular among animal photographers: from a high steep bank, animals jump into the water, where crocodiles are already waiting for them …
There are two types of accommodation in national parks: camps – large comfortable tents with beds, shower and toilet – and lodges – houses that are rooms. Camping sites are usually cheaper. During the day, safaris are not held, as the animals are hiding from the heat. Travel times: from dawn to 11:00 and from 16:00 to 18:30. The exact hours of the safari depend on the length of daylight hours and the time of year. It is forbidden to move around the reserves at night. And electricity in camps is often by the hour and is supplied from a generator, so it is better to have a tee with you in order to quickly charge all devices.
In conclusion. It just so happens that Kenya is not famous for its historical landmarks or modern architecture. But on the other hand, she has gorgeous beaches on the ocean and incredible nature, for which it is worth flying there. I have not met a person whom this country would have left indifferent.