Monday, July 6, 2009

Masai Mara migration of 2009 has Begun

Masai Mara wildebeest migration 2009

One of the highlights of the annual migration, the arrival of the wildebeest into the Masai Mara, has commenced. The first arrivals from the Serengeti have started crossing the crocodile infested waters of the Mara River. This is what most people consider to be the quintessential “annual wildebeest migration” and this year looks likely to be a spectacular event. Only the first few thousand, of an estimated 2 million plains game, have arrived in the Masai Mara, but their arrival is a great source of excitement amongst safari enthusiasts.

There is plenty of water and the Mara and Talek Rivers are flowing strongly. There has been some rain in the last few days. New fresh shoots of grass are appearing where rangers burnt the long grass over the last few weeks. In other parts of the reserve the grass is still long making game viewing a bit more challenging. This will soon change as the wildebeest, zebra and gazelle churn up the soil with their hooves.

Camps in the Mara and adjacent ranches are reporting strong interest in this year’s migration, but most camps still have limited availability. This is unusual for the high season as most camps are normally fully booked 6 months to a year in advance. The current lower tourist numbers is probably due to the bad publicity associated with recent elections in Kenya, the increase in the price of international flights and the downturn in the world economy. This is good news for those visitors that do get see the crossing this year as there may be less people around. But, it is still early enough in the season for this to change.

Even though the big news is that the migration has started entering the Masai Mara, it is important to note that the entire migration is spread over a large area covering the Serengeti and Masai Mara. The tail end of the migrating herds is around Ikorongo in the western corridor of the Serengeti, large populations can be found in the northern Serengeti, while some herds are heading in easterly direction towards Lobo. For the next couple of months the wildlife will move back and forth across the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara, constantly criss-crossing the rivers and Kenya-Tanzania border.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania: Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in the world that you can simply walk up! None of the routes require mountaineering skills, specialized equipment, or even previous climbing experience. Still, hiking to the Roof of Africa is physically and mentally demanding and should not be underestimated. Altitude sickness can set in above 3,000 metres and there’s no prior indication as to who might suffer from it. It’s important to work closely with your guide and to listen to his advice. Porters carry gear and supplies up and down the mountain and cook all meals.

Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time of the year, but the rainy seasons (April-June; November-December) make the forest more slippery and the summit might be blocked by snow. Be prepared for climatic extremes, from rain in the forest, intense sun in the alpine desert and freezing temperatures at the summit. It’s essential to have warm clothes and a good sleeping bag.

At the summit, exhaustion fades away; as the sun rises above Kilimanjaro’s crater rim you know you have finally met this exhilarating African challenge.

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro
Any visitor to this region of East Africa cannot fail to be in awe of this mountain, standing majestically on the border of 2 great countries. You have probably seen all the photos and dreamed of it, so now experience the thrill of actually climbing to the pinnacle of Africa's highest mountain. Climb Kilimanjaro, and see the world!

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes
Marangu Route Affectionately known as the "Coca-Cola route", Marangu is by far the most popular route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This could partly be as a result of the fact that the Marangu is the least expensive route, but more so, perhaps the fact that it is possible to do the Marangu route in 6 days, thereby getting to the summit one day earlier than on the Machame route.

Machame Route Sometimes called the Whisky Route. This is a popular route up steep paths through magnificent forests to gain a ridge leading through the moorland zones to the Shira Plateau. It then traverses beneath the glaciated precipices of the Southern Icefields to join the Barafu Route to the summit.

Umbwe Route The Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably the most scenic, non-technical route on Kilimanjaro. It is quite taxing, primarily due to the relatively fast ascent to higher altitude, but the rewards are plentiful.

Lemosho Route This is the longest and most remote route to Kilimanjaro. After beautiful forests and moorlands it crosses the Shira Plateau to meet up with the Machame Route. Groups may be accompanied on the first day by an armed ranger as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo, elephant and other game.

Rongai Route This remote and less frequently used route is the second easiest route to Kilimanjaro. The approach to the mountain is from the less-forested north side and the descent is by the Marangu Route. There are several variations, the one described below is a longer route taking in Mawenzi Tarn.

Shira Route - The Shira route, approaches Kilimanjaro’s summit from the west and crosses the caldera of Shira Volcano before heading beneath the southern ice fields of Kibo. The route is seldom used by other trekkers and so your initial two days on the mountain are less crowded than on most other routes.

When to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is very near the Equator, just 280 km south to be exact, but that doesn’t mean it has the same weather patterns every day of the year. As is true throughout tropical areas, there are wet seasons and dry seasons even if the air temperature itself doesn’t swing wildly. And of course the temperature at the base and the temperature at the summit can be drastically different as well.

You can climb Kilimanjaro all year round, but some seasons are much better than others. It’s not just an issue of whether to bring an umbrella or not - going during the rainy season can be dangerous and decrease your chances of reaching the summit.

The short answer
The weather on Kilimanjaro is always a bit unpredictable, but generally speaking the best months to climb are mid-December through February. The second-best choice is from the middle of June through September. Due to the traffic issue discussed below, the ideal combination of predictably good conditions and moderate crowds is mid February or late September, early October.

A bit more detail
In addition to the weather at the base, and on different parts of the mountain itself, you’ve also got another thing to consider: traffic. That’s right, this is a popular climb and during certain parts of the year you’ll be anything but alone up there, and during other times you might see very few, if any, other groups. The peak seasons for high traffic are around the Christmas holidays and during summer in the northern hemisphere. Obviously this is because that’s when most people have enough time off to climb, so if you can work your schedule around this a bit you can increase your chances of a great experience.

The worst times to go climbing Kilimanjaro
From the middle of March through the middle of June the rain comes down incessantly and sometimes mixes with snow. Climbing in these conditions can be somewhat miserable, slow, dangerous, and will decrease the likelihood of reaching the summit.

From around the middle of November through the middle of December is similar, making it another very challenging time to climb.

It’s always busy on New Years, Christmas and full moons.

A few more notes on weather
Kilimanjaro is one of the tallest mountains on earth and the weather can change from perfect to terrible and back again within a short time, even during the best seasons. Even during the dry seasons it’s advisable to bring rain gear.
The mountain is often covered in clouds during the middle of the day, and yet clear in the morning and at sunset.

It’s not uncommon for the first 2 or 3 days of your climb to be in the rain, and then you’ll be above the clouds the rest of the way.

It’s possible for a group on a 7-day climb to literally be in rain the entire week. Be prepared with rain gear and boots that can handle mud. Trekking poles are also recommended. It helps you in the mud.

Many climbers - and even guides - bring an umbrella on the trip. It’s quite nice to have.

How To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania: Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania: Africa's highest mountain, snow-capped.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Safari In Kenya and Trips Kenya Safari Tour


The “journey to Africa” or “Expedition” are two of the meanings of the word Safari which comes from the Swahili origin. Ernest Hemingway who wrote the book “The snows of Kilimanjaro” was inspired by the same mystery, romance and adventure found inscribed in the very name of the word Safari.

Africa is a land of magic which calls the past, the present and the future enabling you to experience it too. The land is so mysterious that it touches the heart and allows you to acquire new perspective of the normal cycle of life.

Kenya is a country that is richly blessed with beautiful coastlines and nice tropical beaches which can turn out to be quite tempting to many and few people can match the huge scale and drama which are offered generously to those that visit this land. There are also other African countries out there that also have extraordinary wildlife and natural attractions.

A Kenyan Safari allows you to discover the spectacular scenic views and prolific wildlife, which are the prime attraction of Kenyai. It also takes us from off the beaten track hideaways to more popular tourist destinations. Some of Africa’s best known national parks like Lake Nakuru National Park, Nairobi National Park, Amboseli National park, Tsavo, Maasai Mara, Sanburu, Meru National park, Mt. Kenya National Park, Aberdares National Park, Lake Bogoria and Lake Baringo

The annual wildestbeest migration in Kenya is considered as one of the new seven wonders of the world and because of this, it makes Kenya one of the prime safari destinations in the world. During the migration, Kenya becomes home to millions of wildestbeest and zebra which migrate from Serengeti in Tanzania to look for greener pastures.

The migration period is the best time to view the wildlife in the Mara and in particular the wilderbeests. In the Mara, you get to experince and see and amazing spectacle as you witness millions of wildestbeests running across the Mara plains in one big line cutting from one end of the horizon to the other.

Traveling through Kenya is like going back in time where one experiences a cultural mix. One gets to experience and see first hand the mud walled villages of the Masaai community, take a walk with Samburu warriors and go fishing with the Lous who are renowned fisherman of Lake Victoria. You also get to meet the Swahili sailors at the coast. Your safari to Kenya will let you experience a living and breathing history of diverse cultures.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lamu Island Safaris - Lamu in Kenya


Lamu Island Safaris - Lamu in Kenya

Lamu Island is part of the Lamu Archipelago off Kenya's coast. The archipelago consists of seven islands and a multitude of islets separated from the mainland at its narrowest part by just a few meters wide. To sail the archipelago is to discover beautiful beaches, glorious seascapes, scuba refuges, fishing and ancient ruins. Lamu is a place like no other, a peaceful tropical island where life is lived at its own relaxed rhythm. It is also a place whose history is as mysterious and fascinating as the winding streets of its medieval town.

How to get there
Lamu Island can be reached by air from Malindi, Mombasa, Nairobi and Diani Beach. Flights to Lamu Island land on Manda Island which is just across the channel from Lamu. Mountkenyaclimbing.com can arrange flights and transfers to Lamu Island's hotels and lodges.

Lamu Island
Introduction

Lamu Town began life as a 14th century Swahili settlement. But the island has seen many visitors and influences, including Portuguese explorers, Turkish traders and the Omani Arabs. Despite all these influences, Lamu developed its own particular culture which has ultimately endured. The island is a beautiful place of rolling dunes and endless beaches, where tiny villages nestle among coconut and mango plantations and lateen sailed dhows ply the waters. Dense mangrove forests fringe the mainland and the inland sides of the island. The beach on Lamu Island is 12km of empty sands backing on to an ocean protected by a reef.

Lamu Activities
The pristine beaches are not the only attraction to Lamu. Lamu Town is a delightful anachronism carrying on its daily life as it has done for centuries. As Kenya's oldest living town, Lamu has retained all the charm and character built up over centuries. There are still many remnants of the elegant, refined life led by the richer folk in past eras. Electricity only arrived a few decades ago, and there are still almost no motor vehicles. Life moves at a pace of a monkey or a dhow. Spices and the smell of grilled foot scent the air around the markets, museums, fort and ancient house. The winding streets of the towns are best explored on foot or by donkey, as you shop for local woodcarvings and batik. Or you can sit at an open-air restaurant by the water and watching the world go by is an irresistible past-time. Shela is the other main town on Lamu Island, and is a 10 minute boat ride from Lamu. Although it lacks the vibrancy of Lamu Town, it is smaller, quieter and more elegant than Lamu - distinctively more upmarket. Manda Island itself is also fascinating. The huge baobab trees dominate the skyline and the ruins of Takwa can be found after negotiating through thick mangrove swamps. Furthest north of the Lamu archipelago, is the remote paradise island of Kiwayu. Its beaches are believed to be amongst the best in Kenya.

Seasons in Lamu
The best time to visit Lamu Island is from January through March when the snorkeling is ideal. Although it is clear and dry in August and September, the ocean is rough and visibility low after the long rains. In March the humidity begins to rise while most tourists have all but disappeared. June and July can be quite windy, which is good for sailing. The long rains come late March to May and the short rains in October and November.

PEPONI HOTEL
Lamu Island
Kenya
Introduction

Peponi Hotel is situated on the exotic island of Lamu, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya. The hotel is located upon a headland of Lamu Island and offers easy access to miles of sandy beach as well as being within walking distance of Shela village.

Peponi Hotel Description
Peponi Hotel was never planned, it simply happened. Starting as the Korschen family home, over the past 30 years Peponi Hotel has grown into a hotel offering attentive service, delicious meals and endless relaxation. Peponi Hotel has a total of 24 rooms which are divided into standard and superior rooms. Five of the rooms are built on the beach with private veranda areas which overlook the sea. The other rooms have a combination of ocean and garden views. All rooms have mosquito nets, overhead fans, showers, fresh flowers and personal safes. Meals are served under the colourful bougainvillea on the terrace which overlooks the ocean and movement of dhows and local fisherman. The hotel bar is a favourite watering hole for guests and Shela village inhabitants alike. Peponi Hotel also boats a swimming pool, under the baobab trees overlooking the ocean.

Activities• Dhow cruises
• Trips to a range of sites on the archipelago
• Snorkelling
• Diving
• Waterskiing
• Windsurfing
• Deep sea fishing
• Scuba diving

How To Get There
Mountkenyaclimbing.com can arrange scheduled flights and transfers to Peponi Hotel.

Seasons
Closed May and June

MANDA BAY HOTEL
Lamu Island
Kenya
Introduction

Manda Bay is a small boutique resort on the northern tip of Manda Island, one of the many unspoilt idyllic islands within the romantic Lamu archipelago. The resort is surrounded by indigenous woodland, empty beaches and magnificent coral gardens. Though close to Lamu Island, Manta Bay is far away from the bustle to enjoy some quiet seclusion and privacy.

Manda Bay Hotel Description
Manda Bay has 16 cottages are constructed from local materials and designed in keeping with the local landscape. Five of the rooms are set along the seafront with the other rooms set in-between and slightly behind. All cottages have overhead fans, large flowing mosquito nets, en-suite bathrooms and their own private verandas overlooking the Indian Ocean. Meal times are relaxed and casual, served in the dining room, on the beach, on the 60 foot dhow or your private veranda. There is a marine flavour to the cuisine served at Manda Bay. Freshly caught tuna, Mangrove crab and prawns are a Manda Bay delicacy. Manda Bay also actively promotes efforts to preserve the Lamu archipelago and supports development projects for the local community. By setting up ad-hoc funds, it has been possible to provide assistance for the construction of schools, medical clinics and other facilities.

Activities• Windsurfing
• Laser Sailing
• Mangrove trips
• Bird walks/drives
• Games room with pool table, darts and table tennis
• Excursions to Lamu by boat
• Cultural visits
• Scenic flights
• Swimming pool
• Cultural visits
• Spa treatments and massage

How To Get There
Mount Kenya Climbing Expeditions can arrange flights and transfers to Manda Bay. To/From Nairobi: Manda has a private airstrip for private charters. Lamu airstrip is a 25 minute boat trip away, and serviced daily with scheduled flights from Nairobi.

Seasons
Closed from 15th April till 14th July

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shaba National Reserve - Sarova Shaba Lodge


Shaba National Reserve - Sarova Shaba Lodge:

It is impossible to talk about the Shaba National Reserve without mentioning Samburu National Reserve, and Buffalo Springs National Reserve, because they are all intertwined, and they form a trio of unusual and attractive game sanctuaries, and all neighbours.

Shaba is a relatively small National Park being a little over 239 sq. kms, and it is only 70 kms north of Mount Kenya, at an altitude varying between 700-1500metres.

Visitors go to Parks to see wildlife, and the Shaba Game is outstanding. You have a very good chance of seeing Giraffe, Cheetah, leopard, and lion. You can add to this gazelle, oryx, zebra, and Gerenuk, but of course it is the predators that are most sought after.

Shaba National Reserve is named after a huge cone of volcanic rock which dominates the whole area.

The Ewaso Ngiro River is the northern border of the park, and as the progress of the river is slow and wide as the river bends and straightens there is good viewing of the wildlife here, and there is a lot more water than the neighbouring reserves

It would be fair to say that visitors to Shaba don’t just come for the wildlife, this place in a real experience from the difficulties of access, only possible through Archer’s Post, and the near impossibility of the tracks in the wet season. Shaba is a total escape from 21st century life.

In addition to the previously mentioned wildlife species, you will have a chance of seeing the following at one of the seventeen springs where the animals congregate during the dry season.

Reticulated giraffe, Somalia ostrich, Baboon, Olive, Buffalo, African Bush Baby, Bushbuck, Caracal, Dik-dik, Kirk's Duiker, Bush, Eland, Elephant, Grant's Giraffe, Reticulated Klipspringer, Mongoose, Monkey, Beisa, Warthog, Waterbuck

It was at Shaba that Joy Adamson the author was murdered nearly thirty years ago, and for that reason alone a pilgrimage to Joy Adamson’s monument is a must do on any Kenya Safari Holiday to Shaba National Reserve.

Check offers and Kenya safari trips for and Samburu Safaris in Kenya from Mount Kenya Climbing Expeditions.

Salt Lick Safari Lodge in Taita Hills, Kenya


Salt Lick Safari Lodge in Taita Hills, Kenya

A Kenya Safari Holiday is unlikely to take you to more than one or two National parks, but you should check out Salt Lick Lodge at the Tsavo National Park if that is one National Park you are thinking of visiting on your Safari in Kenya.

Salt Lick Safari Lodge is right in the middle of a private twenty eight thousand square acres game sanctuary between the West and east parts of the Tsavo National Park.

It is a five hour drive from Nairobi, two hours from Mombasa, and an hour from Voi railway station

The luxurious Salt Lick Lodge is built on top of stilts overlooking a waterhole, and is linked by suspended walkways, so you can look down on the elephants wandering around underneath your feet. The name as you may imagine has been taken from a natural salt lick, which is a place that animals need to replenish their body salt levels, so it is a popular place!

The private sanctuary surrounding the lodge means there is a lot of game to view.
The accommodation on this part of your Kenya safari Holiday is of deluxe standard with extremely high levels of service, and you will find it very comfortable indeed. All of the 96 bedrooms have views of the waterholes and the game sanctuary, and are well equipped with modern facilities, including private bath, shower, and balcony.

The main restaurant is the Bura restaurant, and you will find that on this part of your Kenya Safari Tour the food is of a very good standard. You can organise champagne breakfasts, barbecues, and ‘Ou of Africa’ dinners.

Obviously to be successful a safari in Kenya needs wildlife, preferably large game to view, and Salt Lick Lodge is ideally placed to see almost as much as you might want, especially if like many other tourists you have taken a few days away from your hotel by the Indian Ocean.

You can expect to see elephants, lions, cheetahs, and buffalo, amongst the fifty or so mammals who have made their home in this part of the Tsavo National Park, plus over 300 bird species. There is no off road driving aloud which has been a great help in the preservation and healthy growth of the species who live here.

It is important to be able to relax as well, and there is an outdoor pool so you can do just that. When you go on safari for the first time you might not realise that game drives take place in the early morning, and late afternoon, and at night, although other times as well, but there is quite a lot of time to kill between drives. This is why a swimming pool is so important.

It is also good to be able to be close to the game without travelling, or walking and feeling at risk, and Salt Lick Safari Lodge has taken care of that as well by building a secure ground level bunker with steel bars so you can be close up and get some great photographs.

If a Kenya Safari Holiday is something new to you, and you are a bit apprehensive about a camp with no fences then Salt Lick Safari Lodge at Tsavo National Park will ensure a good start to your Safari Kenya adventure.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mount Kenya: Mount Kenya National Park - Mount Kenya Climbing, Trekking Mt Kenya hiking


Mount Kenya: Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya plays a crucial role in the life of the country being Kenya's single most important permanent watershed and her largest forest reserve. The fertile soils of its lower slopes also sustain the growth of the nation's richest farmlands whilst much of its vegetation is globally unique. In recent years, however, the Mountain has suffered greatly from the adverse effects of deforestation, resulting in large tracts of its lower slopes being entirely denuded of trees and occupied by squatters. And, although much of the vast forest cover remains intact, the growing demand for timber (Kenya's staple construction and fuel source) threatens to lead to even more serious deforestation and subsequent soil erosion.

Over half of Africa's forests have been destroyed, in this century alone, by means as varied as illegal logging, charcoal burning, agricultural encroachment, 'land grabbing' and the unscheduled de-gazetting of supposedly protected forest areas. Indeed recent estimates state that only 2.9% of Kenya's original forest cover still exists. There is also evidence that not only is the water-catchment area suffering, but also that the montane glaciers have shrunk so rapidly over the last 20 years that some of them have completely disappeared. Finally the popularity of trekking and hiking holidays on the mountain is placing enormous pressure on the natural environment thanks to the attendant ills of tourist refuse, forest fires, feeding wildlife, off-road driving and erosion of climbing routes.

The People of Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya represents the ancestral home and heartland of the Bantu-speaking Kikuyu people, Kenya's largest ethnic group. Heavily influential throughout Kenya's history, the Kikuyu were instrumental in leading the fight for independence, provided the country with its first President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, and have forced the pace of all subsequent political developments. The original Kikuyu are thought to have migrated from the east and north-east of the continent in the 16th century. Because land was the dominant factor in their social, political, religious and economic life, however, this brought them into conflict first with the Maasai and then with the European settlers, who seized large tracts of their territory. That said, the Kikuyu have adapted to the challenges of Western culture more successfully than any other tribe and are enlightened businessmen and successful and progressive farmers who grow coffee, tea, pyrethrum horticultural crops, vegetables and flowers for the export market.

Traditionally the Kikuyu have always believed that Ngai's (God's) most frequent resting place is on 'Kirinyaga' or Mount Kenya and although Christianity has altered these beliefs there are still many churchgoers who maintain that their ancestors control their destiny thanks to their closeness to 'Ngai'. Today the Kikuyu remain at the forefront of Kenyan development as both successful business people and formidable politicians.

Climate July to August marks the Kenyan winter. Broadly speaking, January-February is dry. March-May is wet. June-September is dry. October-December is wet, the rains passing in time for Christmas.

Climbing Mount Kenya
An extinct volcano, some three and a half million years old with permanently snow-covered, ice-shattered peaks, Mount Kenya is the second-highest mountain in Africa after Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro. There are four main routes of ascent, the Naro Moru trail, the Burguret and Sirimon trails and the Chogoria trail and, whilst the icy peaks of Batian (5199m) and Nelion (5,189m) are accessible only to experienced mountaineers, Point Lenana (4,985m) can be conquered by anyone who is reasonably fit. In fact, the task has been made considerably easier thanks to Serena Hotels and the Kenya Wildlife Service who have recently cooperated to pioneer a new climbing route, which offers maximum adventure, panorama and enjoyment and minimal hardship.

Depending upon the weather conditions and the fitness level of the climbing party, the trip takes approximately 3 days in ascent and 2 days in descent and is led by a team of experienced mountaineers and naturalists who remain in constant radio contact with the Lodge. Mountain accommodation is provided in the form of ready-pitched camps of comfortable and fully-equipped high-altitude tents (or alternatively, bunk-houses) whilst the food, provided daily by the hotel, will include tasty packed lunches, hot drinks, fortifying snacks and individually presented supper menus. Upon arrival at Lenana Point guests will also be met with hot drinks, biscuits and brandy before being transported back down the mountain to a celebratory dinner at the hotel. There's also just lazing by the pool, taking in some sun and looking out over the aquamarine reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Mt Kenya Forest
Mt Kenya, Africa's second highest peak is regarded as the realm of Ngai, god of the local Kikuyu people. Traditionally, all Kikuyu homes were built to face this sacred peak. They call it Kirinyaga, or place of light.

The mountain itself is an awe-inspiring sight with its ragged peaks, and equatorial snow. But the Mountain is surrounded by a belt of verdant forest that is an equally fascinating destination.

While the 5199 metre summit is a difficult technical climb, the lesser peak of Point Lenana (4985m) can be easily reached by any fit trekker. This trek takes between 3 and 5 days, through a fascinating world of forests, wildlife, unique montane vegetation including podocarpus and grounsel, and finally one of the worlds rarest sights, equatorial snow.

For those who don't want to climb the Mountain the cool highlands that surround its base are well worth a visit. The forests are ideal for game viewing, and there are crystal clear mountain streams that are the perfect place to land a Trout.....

Part of the mountain's fascination is the variation in flora, including Giant Groundsel and Lobelia, and fauna as the altitude changes. The lower slopes are covered with dry upland forest, the true montaine (mountain) forest begins at 2,000m is mainly cedar and podo. At 2,500m begins a dense belt of bamboo forest which merges into the upperforest of smaller trees, interspersed with glades. In this area the trees are festooned with high altitude lichen.

These forest belts are host to many different animals and plants with at least 11 unique species. Game to view includes: Black and White Colobus and Sykes Monkeys, bushbuck, Rock and rock Hyrax, Greater galago, white tailed, buffalo, elephant and lower down Olive Baboon, waterbuck, Black Rhino, black fronted duikers, leopard, giant forest hog, genet cat, bush pig and hyena. More elusive is the bongo, a rare type of forest antelope.

A number of other rarer species can be found here: Suni Antelope, Mt. Kenya Mole Rat, skinks (lizard), Montane Viper and a variety of owls. Occasional sightings have been recorded of albino zebra.

Birds are not abundant in the forest. But you can find Crowned hawk eagel and the Jackson's francolin. Rarely you can find the Abyssinian long-eared owl. Birds seen form the lodge include; Green ibis, African black duck, Ayres' hawk eagle, Rufous-breasted and great sparrow hawks, Scaly francolin, Silvery-cheeked hornbill, Hartlaubs turaco, red headed parrot, bronze-naped pigeon, Mackinder's eagle owl, Rupells robin chat.

There are two species of giant Lobelias; the narrow, featherly-leafed lobelia telekii and the broad-leafed lobelia keniensis which are a favourite of sunbirds for their half hidden blossoms or the thin shelled snails that make their home there. Plants also include crocus-like flower; Romuela keniensis, two terrestrial orchids - a Disa and a Habenaria, and an orange flowered gladiolus,Gladiolus Watsonioides.

The high altitude heath at the top (3,000 - 3,5000m) is generally open, dotted with shrubs: African Sage, protea and helichrysum. The peak (above 3,500m) is moorland, with little game other than high altitude zebra and eland, common in the northern moorland.

Mount Kenya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Where to Stay While Visiting Mount Kenya:
Mount Kenya Safari Club, Mt Kenya:
High on the slopes of Africa's second highest mountain, The Mount Kenya Safari Club straddles the Equator in a glory of luxurious cottages and elegant buildings set amid manicured lawns and decorative ponds. Ever since the club was founded in 1959 by the late film star William Holden, eccentric American Ray Ryan, and Swiss financier Carl Hirschmann, it has been a Mecca for the international jet set - its list of members reads like a Who's Who of royalty, aristocracy, and the rich and famous.

Whether visiting Kenya at a leisurely pace or stopping simply for lunch, the Mount Kenya Safari Club maintains an immutably majestic presence and is a touching reminder of the vision of its creators. Mount Kenya Safari Club is a two and a half hour drive from Nairobi. Alternatively, it is a fifty-minute flight to Nanyuki airstrip and a fifteen-minute transfer drive to the club.

Mount Kenya Safari Club's history is as colorful and exciting as its members, guests and visitors from the pioneers who made the homestead and the farm, their own, through its conversion into an upcountry hotel, to the uproarious narrative of the three hell-raisers who bought it on a whim and launched a legend.

Mount Kenya Safari Club has a variety of rooms located in the 100-acres of beautifully manicured lawns, which vary according to their location. One can visit the types of bedrooms on a sweeping circle of the magnificent grounds: the Club Rooms in the main building, to the Garden Cottages by the tennis courts, around the William Holden Cottages, by the Riverside Cottages along the River Likii, returning back up the hill via the Luxury Villas to the main building. The club has a total of 114 ensuite rooms, each room, with its own club-like charm, has a log fireplace, which is lit every evening.

Luxury Villas: "Batian" with 2 twin-bedded rooms and 1 double bedded room. "Lenana" with 1 twin-bedded room and 1 double-bedded room. "River House" with 1 suite with twin beds and sitting room, 1 double-bedded room, 1 twin-bedded room. Each of the villas has large sitting rooms with fireplace, private verandah overlooking Mount Kenya, dining area and kitchen. The mini-bars can be stocked on request.

William Holden Cottages
: There are 12, each with 1 twin-bedded and 1 double-bedded room, a large sitting room in the center, Roman-style bathrooms and fireplace. The mini-bar can be stocked on request.

Garden Suites: Mount Kenya Safari Club has 8 garden suites, with 1 twin-bedded room, large sitting room and fireplace.

Club Building: The Club Building comprises: 6 suites with large sitting room, fireplace, a bar, 1 double-bedded room and private verandah looking out to Mount Kenya - the mini-bars are stocked on request - and 22 Club Rooms, 21 of which are twin-bedded and 1 double-bedded, each with a fireplace.

Riverside Cottages: Mount Kenya Safari Club has 13 riverside cottages, each unit comprising of 1 suite and 2 studio suites - this means there are 39 rooms here in total. The suites have a twin-bedded room, with fireplace, one sitting room, a fully stocked mini-bar, private verandah overlooking the river and Mount Kenya, and a large bathroom with sunken bath. The Studio Suites each have double bed and fireplace, private verandah overlooking the river and Mount Kenya, sitting area, a large bathroom with sunken bath.

The amenities in each room are furnished with rugs, bedside lamps, dressing tables and built-in wardrobes, and a fireplace. In every bathroom there is a 115 / 240v shaving socket. The bathrooms are provided with Mount Kenya Safari Club shampoo, body lotion, bath and shower gel and bathrobes. Each bathroom has overhead showers and bathtubs, flush toilets, washbasin, freshly laundered towels, hot and cold running water, boiled water and glasses

Conferences: A choice of five conference and meeting rooms are available, which seat from 15 to 120 people. The two larger conference facilities open out onto the Club's lawns. Each room has a full range of audio-visual presentation equipment.

Club Restaurant: Overlooking a courtyard, the Club Restaurant serves a buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and 9-course dinner to guests. Each day of the week, except Monday, Mount Kenya Safari Club's Kirinyaga Resident Band entertains guests throughout dinner and afterwards provides dance music. The menu is a cosmopolitan combination of European, African and Asian dishes, made from the abundance of fresh Kenyan produce. A full vegetarian menu is available for all the meals. Seating Capacity is 180 people. Opening hours are: Breakfast 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m.; Lunch 12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.; Dinner 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.

Members Dining Room: Elegantly placed black and white photographs of celebrities who have been guests of the club cover the walls. Open for dinner only, Club Members can enjoy a superb dinner in delightful surroundings. Non-members can now enjoy dinner in the Members Dining Room at a supplementary charge. Dress is smart casual. The menu is a gourmet 9-course a la Carte, with a choice of 6 starters, 6 main courses and 6 desserts. Seating capacity is 70 people. Opening hours are 7.30 p.m. to 09.30 p.m..

A wealth of activities and facilities are available at the Mount Kenya Safari Club including: Swimming pool - Tennis court - Horse riding - Putting green - 9-hole golf course - Bowls - Croquet - Trout fishing - Art gallery - Health and beauty center - Club shops - Club chapel - Game viewing platform - Bush dinner on the banks of the River Likii - Maze. Enjoy your Kenya Safari and African Safari with Mount Kenya Climbing Expeditions, www.mountkenyaclimbing.com or contact info@mountkenyaclimbing.com.

Serena Mountain Lodge, Mount Kenya:
Hidden in a quiet forest glade within the Mount Kenya Forest, Mountain Lodge offers the ultimate window on wild Kenya Safari. From the privacy of your room, steady streams of shy and magnificent creatures are drawn to the ancient waterhole.

Located at 2194 meters on the slopes of Mount Kenya, Serena Mountain Lodge is surrounded by a dense rainforest that comes alive at dusk with myriad of sounds that make the African bush so special and exhilarating; and this is just a sample of what to expect on a Safari.

Just two and a half hours by car from Nairobi, this stunning area is towered over by the rocky peaks of Mount Kenya and prides itself in having one of the most consistent high records of big game 'visits' and sightings. Elephant, buffalo, rhino and waterbuck are regular sights in the evenings and by day, Kenya safari game drives.

The African safari hotel architecture in superb and has the following particular characteristics:

42 total guest rooms.
18 rooms with two single beds.
4 rooms with doubles beds.
2 rooms with single beds.

Guest amenities include:
Satellite TV.
Communication available via telephone, fax and radio.
Nurse on call 24 hours. Flying Doctors Service is also available.
Emergency Medivac to hospital from nearby airstrip.
Daily laundry/pressing service.
Shoe shining service.
Binoculars and hairdryers available at reception desk.
Central safety deposit service available, free-of-charge, at the reception desk.
Voltage is 240 V in rooms; shaver outlets have both 110 V and 240 V. Adaptors available at the reception desk

Serena Mountain Lodge is ideally situated as a base for guests who want to climb Mount Kenya. Hiking and walking tours can be arranged through Kenya.com for those who want to experience a part of Mount Kenya

At Serena Mountain Lodge, at any time of the day one can spot game in the specially constructed bunkers that are connected to the lodge by a short tunnel. Here one will get a spectacularly close to the animals that drink at the waterhole. A spacious verandah also overlooks the waterhole where there is never a dull moment. Enjoy your Kenya Safari and African Safari with Mount Kenya Climbing Expeditions, www.mountkenyaclimbing.com or contact info@mountkenyaclimbing.com.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Nairobi National Park - Nairobi National Park Tour, Tour Of Nairobi National Park


Nairobi National Park - "The World's only wildlife capital, just 8 Km from Nairobi City Center."

Background Information:
It became Kenya's first national park when it was established in 1946. The 117 sq Km Nairobi National Park is unique by being the only protected area in the world with a variety of animals and birds close to a capital city. As expected, the park is a principal attraction for visitors to Nairobi.
The park also serves many residents and citizens living in the city The park has a diversity of environments with characteristic fauna and flora. Open grass plains with scattered acacia bush are predominant. The western side has a highland dry forest and a permanent river with a riverine forest in the south. In addition, there are stretches of broken bush country and deep, rocky valleys and gorges with scrub and long grass. Man-made dams have also added a further habitat, favourable to certain species of birds and other aquatic biota(life forms). The dams also attract water dependent herbivores during the dry season.

The park has a rich/diverse birdlife with 400 species recorded. However all species are not always present and some are seasonal. Northern migrants pass through the park primarily during late March through April.

Nairobi National Park is one of the most successful of Kenya's rhino sanctuaries that is already generating a stock for reintroduction in the species former range and other upcoming sanctuaries. Due to this success, it is one of the few parks where a visitor can be certain of seeing a black rhino in its natural habitat.

To the south of the park is the Athi-Kapiti Plains and Kitengela Migration and dispersal area. These are vital areas for herbivores dispersal during the rains and concentrate in the park in the dry season.

Major attractions:
Annual wildebeest and zebra migration in July/August
Black rhinoceros
Diverse birdlife
Large predators- lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah.
Aggregations of large herbivores- eland, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest
Ivory Burning Site Monument
Walking trails at hippo pools
Nairobi Safari Walk & the Orphanage.
Spacious accomodating picnic sites

How to get there:
Roads:
Located only about 7 km from the city centre, the park is easily accessible on tarmac roads, mainly through Langata Road.

Park Roads:

There is an adequate administration and viewing road network with satisfactory signage.

Park gates:
The park has seven gates, the main gate at KWS headquarters, East Gate, Cheetah Gate, Lang'ata Gate, Maasai Gate: Mbagathi and Banda Gate are service gates and therefore not used by tourists.

Facilities:
There are no accommodation facilities in the park. But a wide range of well developed accommodation facilities are available in the city. Further, there is also the Masai Safari Lodge near the park.

Picnic Sites:
Impala Observation Tower;
Ivory Burning Site;
King Fisher Gorge;
Leopard Cliffs;
Mokoiyet;
Hippo Pool;

Other attractions:
Lone Tree
Directors tree planting site
Nature Trails: The park has one nature trail at the Hippo Pool

Common Vegetation:
The vegetation is primarily dry savanna, open grass plains with scattered acacia bushes. The park also has a permanent river with a riverine forest.

The western upland areas has an upland dry forest with stands of Olea africana and Croton dichogamus/Brachylaena hutchinsii and calodendrum. The lower slopes are a grassland composed of such species as: Themeda, Cyprus, Digitaria, and Cynodon with scattered yellow-barked acacia, Acacia xanthophloea. In addition there are stretches of broken bush country and deep rocky valleys and gorges with scrub and long grass.

There is gallery forest in the valleys, predominantly Acacia spp., and Euphobia candelabrum. Other tree species include Apodytes dimidiata, Canthium schimperanum, Elaeodendron buchananii, Newtonia sp., Ficus eriocarpa, Aspilia mossambicensis, and Rhus natalensis.

Several plants growing on the rocky hillsides are unique to the Nairobi area including Euphobia brevitorta, Drimia calcarata, Murdannia clarkeana and the crassula species.

Nairobi National Park Tourism and education:
Nairobi National Park is the main tourist attraction for visitors to Nairobi. Visitor attractions include the park's black rhinoceros, diverse bird species, cheetah, hyena, leopard, and lion. Other attractions are the wildebeest and zebra migrations in July and August, the Ivory Burning Site Monument, and the Nairobi Safari Walk and animal orphanage.[3] Inhabitants of Nairobi visit the park and thousands of African children on school field trips visit the park each week.[16]

The park's Wildlife Conservation Education Centre has lectures and video shows about wildlife and guided tours of the park and animal orphanage. These tours are primarily, but not exclusively, to educate schools and local communities. There has been criticism about animals' housing, and they now have more spacious housing in a more natural environment. The Kenya Wildlife Service has created a Safari Walk that highlights the variety of plants and animals that are in Kenya, and how they affect Kenya's population.

For Nariobi National Park Tour and trips, check with Mount Kenya Climbing Expeditions and email for other Nairobi excursion trips and Kenya at info@mountkenyaclimbing.com.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Aberdare National Park, Kenya: African Safari Holiday


Aberdare National Park, Kenya

The Aberdare is the established name of a mountain range, which thrusts directly north from Nairobi for more than 160 kilometers. The intrepid Scot Joseph Thomson, who explored the region, named the range after the President of the Royal Geographical Society 1883. The Kikuyu name Nyandarua is slowly gaining prominence. Part of the range is protected as the Aberdares National Park and encompasses all land over 3200 meters together with a projection due east known as The Salient, which reaches down to 2130 meters near Nyeri town. The park is a fairyland, awesome in its majesty and beauty.

Crossing the Aberdare Mountains is an unpredictable event since rain is both frequent and heavy. The highest point of the range is Ol Donyo Satima, which means the mountain of the young bull in Maa, the language of the Maasai, which reaches 3998 meters. There is a road that traverses the mountains from Naivasha to Nyeri, which can be handled by a sturdy car in good weather. At its maximum elevation the road passes through misty moorlands at about 3350 meters, where strange six meter tall mutants of alpine plants: groundsel, erica, hypericum, lobelia and sennecio - grow in profusion. Icy rivers plunge in glorious cascades and spectacular waterfalls. The salient, which thrusts a dense forest through rich farmland, is where both Treetops and the Ark are situated.

The Salient's origin lies in an elephant migration route between the two mountains. The forest is rich in wildlife; elephant and rhino, warthog, bush pig and giant forest hog, waterbuck, duiker, suni, dikdik, bongo and reedbuck are all to be seen. On our many return visits to the Ark, in June 2003 we had the opportunity to see a male and female rhino with ease from The Ark Lodge during the evening hours at the Aberdares National Park. In the canopy the black and white colobus monkey performs its aerial acrobatics and Sykes' monkey and the black faced vervet can also be found. The carnivores are represented by: lions, usually more hairy and spotted than on the plains, leopard and serval cat, the latter often seen on the moorlands and sometimes in its melanistic state.

Birds are not only dazzling but also plentiful. The crowned eagle (which eats monkeys) is everywhere and the forest echoes to the shrill cries of the Silvery-cheeked hornbill. The resplendent sunbirds are well represented, among them the brilliant metallic violet Tacazze, the emerald green Malachite Sunbird and on the moorlands the Scarlet tufted Malachite Sunbird, with its very long slender tail.

The number of visitors to the Aberdares National Park is high in the park rankings but this is because of the Ark and Treetops. The park itself is still very much under-visited despite its grandeur and its powerful vistas.

Accommodations:
Treetops Lodge

The famous Treetops Hotel started life in a very humble way. In 1932, its first visitors gingerly climbed the wild fig tree supporting the two-room tree house. By 1952, Treetops had expanded. Now a four-room construction. Treetops Lodge welcomed a young English girl, its most famous visitor. This young English girl climbed the tree as a princess one afternoon, to descend the following morning as Queen Elizabeth I I, her father, King George VI, had died during the night.

By now, Treetops reputation had spread far and wide; for the globetrotter, the rich, the famous, and the fashionable, no visit to Africa - Kenya was regarded complete without experiencing the Treetops adventure. Even today, with all the exciting safari lodges, and camps Kenya has to offer, 50 room Treetops heads the list for many of our customers. Treetops is sited in the heart of the dense lichen hung forest of the Aberdare National Park and overlooks two waterholes, and the magnificent snowy peaks of Mount Kenya.

For the safety and comfort of several observation lounges, guests can photograph at close quarters the territorial charge of short sighted rhino, a protective elephant matriarch chaperoning her calf, the graceful bounding of a bushbuck doe. A family of lions, have on more than one occasion, made a meal of some poor unfortunate warthog to the fascinated horror of Treetops dinners.
For those guests who value their sleep as much as the nocturnal entertainment, everyone is allocated a comfortable bed in either a single or twin room with plentiful shared bathroom facilities, or on request, suites with its own bathroom. If you wish to do your game viewing the 'lazy way', the professional hunter can wake you up each time one of the big five visits the tree house! Make sure you do not miss out an experience of a lifetime.

The Fairmont Ark Lodge:
Accommodation at The Ark Lodge is in 60 en-suite rooms and is set in the heart of the Aberdare National Park, The Ark is a unique tree lodge that overlooks a floodlit waterhole and a saltlick which attracts a host of wildlife. Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Bushbuck and occasionally an elusive Bongo and giant forest Hog has been sighted.
Resembling and named after Noah's Ark, The Ark is designed with 'decks' from which numerous balconies and lounges provide superb vantage points for game viewing. A ground level bunker provides excellent photographic opportunities and takes you closer than you would believe possible to the animals.

Watch the constant comings and goings at the waterhole and salt lick. Elephants love the natural salt lick and get onto their knees to dig into the ground with their tusks. They then lick up the salty earth. This goes on for hours and they finally quench their thirst at the waterhole. Numerous other animals visit this busy meeting place all day and night so there is always something to see.

A buzzer system operates in each room to alert you when there is something very special to see such as a Leopard, who usually sneaks to the floodlit waterhole in the dead of night. It is of course up to you whether or not you get up!

Child Policy: Children under the age of 7 are not permitted at The Ark unless on special 'Children’s Nights'.

To take Aberdare safari and book yourself into the Treetops Lodge or Ark Lodge in Aberdares, check offers with Mount Kenya Climbing Expeditions or contact: info@mountkenyaclimbing.com

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Masai Mara - Serengeti wildebeest migration: African Wildlife Safari


Masai Mara - Serengeti wildebeest migration: African Wildlife Safari

Wildebeest migration to and back from Serengeti into the Maasai Mara is the single most popular wildlife spectacle in Kenya. The wildebeest migration is such a phenomenon it involves movement of over 1 million animals crossing plains and rivers in the mara migration. River crossings are the most spectacular where the wildebeest of mara jump into rivers full of crocodiles and surging currents. The wildebeest is feted as the clown of the Savannah. Also known as a gnu, the animal has a structure resembling a young horse with a heavily built frontal shoulders and chest and a slender posterior. Its legs are so slender it’s intriguing how it supports the proportionately larger body frame. The ‘clown’ title results from its unusual behavior considered to other bovids, for example a gnu herd will usually scatter in different directions when attacked by a lion.

The Wildebeest Migration:
What gives the gnu its worldwide repute is not its body structure however, but the sheer numbers and spectre created by its migration. The animals migrate between the Serengeti and Mara Savannahs in Tanzania and Kenya respectively, in search of grass and water. It is estimated that over 1 million of these animals are on the move during the annual migration between June and October. The numbers are so high that miles upon miles of grassland is blanketed by a mass of moving gnu. They simply stretch from one horizon to the next; of the conveniently flat and treeless Maasai Mara Savannah. It is a sight to behold when on your wildlife safari. The wildebeest migration phenomenon is so huge that satellites miles away in space are able to capture the surge as a black moving mass on the plains of East Africa. Now, that’s huge: and it’s even more awesome watching it on the ground or with Mara balloon Safaris.

Mara River Crossing:
The most dramatic and memorable safari experience is when you observe the migrating wildebeest/gnus at the several Mara river crossings. Numbers upon numbers gather at such crossings unsure of their next move. The crossings are such notorious spots that the gnus have developed a self preservation instinct over time. Wildebeests will amass in their thousands at banks of river Mara which is rife with the dreaded Nile crocodile and raging currents. Put in the swift current, eminent stampedes and jaw snapping crocodiles in this picture and you get a guaranteed recipe for mass genocide at such river crossings. The Maasai Mara River is usually awash with bloated mass of wildebeest carcass that crocodiles feast on for days on end.

Over 250,000 of the wildebeest die from drowning, stampede, crocodiles and the predators every year. But even this annual carnage is not enough to reduce their numbers. The wildebeest deaths during migration are replenished by the over 400,000 births a year. The deaths during migration are now considered as a natural population check; natural selection at its best.

Do and Die Point:
River crossings in the Mara are favourite vantage points to observe the Mara wildebeest migration on your Kenyan safari. The animals will gather hesitantly in huge numbers on the banks, unsure of when to take the plunge. The other wildebeests behind the frontline keep amassing into hundreds of thousands until the pressure on the front is too much to bear.

They finally take the leap; and when they do, even the waiting crocodiles scatter to the flanks. The fear of being trampled by the millions of wildebeest is too real for even a crocodile to risk a head-on affront. Hundreds upon hundreds make death-daring- high leaps into the water, that the splash makes a swash like a million water falls.

The Wildebeest Predators:
Wildebeest Migration is such that a smattering population of other bovids, join in the migration including Zebras and Gazelles. Lion prides also escort (as they eat some, of course) and welcome the migrating wildebeest on either side of the Mara River Crossings. The lions stark up their stomachs with gnu carcass to a point, the prey subdues the prides in the plains with little fear. As long as a lion has had his 35 odd kilos of meat a day, he poses no threat. “All that is needed is to sacrifice a cousin here, a distant aunt there and we are fine.” It’s surely a game of numbers. Leopards on other hand, don’t have to move far to hunt its prey. All they’ll do is pounce on unsuspecting wildebeest as they pass by their (leopards) tree parches. The rest scatter as usual in different directions. “It’s just another sacrifice after all; we still got the numbers… no matter what. This is one of the most elusive picture-perfect moments when you are on your African Wildlife Safari.

Visiting the Masai Mara:
It’s not only the carnivores that will escort migrating wildebeests but humans as well. The Maasai Maraattracts such interest that the ensuring demand during the months of June-October cannot be met. You will find it difficult to get a space in the lodges if you do not book in advance. Your accommodation in the Mara ranges from 4star to 5star deluxe lodges, tented camps and simple camping tents. The wildebeest Migration takes place everyday of the 4(July-October) month duration. You are as such guaranteed a sighting irrespective of which month of the 4 you visit.

Your bookings are handled by several very professional companies which also provide transportation and transfers from airports, self drive car hire and accommodation in the Mara. Make sure you see the migration the next time you make a Kenyan wildlife safari.

Tanzania while on an -East African Wildlife Safaris tour luxury Lodge or budget Camping, Beach Holidays East Africa Mt Kilimanjaro Climbing-Nairobi hotel bookings and airport shuttle transfers Nairobi Arusha moshi. Mount Kenya Climbing Expeditions offer a variety of African safari trips, sample these from www.mountkenyaclimbing.com or contact safari reservations and bookings at info@mountkenyaclimbing.com.