Kenya is undoubtedly the Hollywood of safaris, and if you can stomach the paparazzi (in the form of legions of camera-wielding tourists), you’re in for a mind-blowing show.
Besides the fact that safari is a Swahili word...
Here are 10 reasons you should go on safari in this spectacular country:
1. The endless plains
The quintessential open savannahs mean that, for much of the year, you can see for miles, which makes it easier to spot animals and affords excellent opportunities to watch not only the huge ungulate herds, but to witness the predators hunting them.
Kenya is a birder’s mecca, hosting over 1100 species of birds. That’s more than there are in the entire North American continent!
3. Flamingo flocks
Of these birds, special mention must be made of the tens of thousands of lesser and greater flamingos that gather in the alkaline lakes of the Great Rift Valley and turn them from blue to pink. Best places to see this breathtaking spectacle would be Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria but, since the flocks move, make sure you get good local updates before you go.
The mystical forests of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares National Park provide a hauntingly beautiful setting for animals like elephant, buffalo and leopard, and are well worth a visit for those wanting something different on their safari itinerary. You might see a giant forest hog (that can weigh just under 300kg), the guereza colobus (one of the most beautiful monkeys in the world) and, if you’re really lucky, the rarely seen bongo.
There’s a reason why the BBC chose Kenya’s Masai Mara as the location for their television series “Big Cat Diaries”. This is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to watch the big felines in action. And some of the small ones too: it is not uncommon to find the majestic serval hunting the Mara’s grasslands.
6. Big Tuskers
There are very few elephants alive that carry the ivory of the giants of the past. But if you wish to see, arguably, Africa’s most magnificent bulls, Tsavo National Park should be on your itinerary.
7. The Samburu District
This part of the country is not only incredibly scenic, with strong flowing rivers lined with palm trees carving through the semi-arid landscape, but it is full of special creatures you might not see elsewhere, like Beisa oryx, the striking reticulated giraffe, the bizarre gerenuk, and even a striped hyena.
8. Underwater safaris
Kenya has some excellent diving. At Watamu Marine National Park, green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Nearby Moray Reef is excellent for octopus and whale shark. Kisite Mpunguti Marine Reserve boasts giant manta rays, while Mombasa harbours beautiful coral reefs, and abundant marine life.
9. Kilimanjaro backdrop
Although the roof of Africa resides across the border in Tanzania, Kenya’s Amboseli National Reserve is the best place to try and get a herd of elephant and Kili’s snow-capped peaks in the same frame.
10. The greatest show on earth
1.6 million wildebeest, 250 000 zebra (and 450 000 gazelle) partake annually in this powerful movement of animals between Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara. But the Mara must surely be the most dramatic of all their obstacles. Witnessing the intensity of the herds plunging themselves into the crocodile infested waters should be on every safari lover’s bucket list.