LAKE BARINGO

This is one of the fresh water lakes in the Great Rift Valley. It provides sanctuary to hippopotamus and crocodile and it is a birder’s paradise. Many of the species here are unique to the area. The area has two major ornithological attractions, the escapement west of Kampi ya Samaki which is the home of Verreaux eagle, bristle-crowned starlings and Hemp Ricks hornbill, and the Gibraltar Island in the centre of the lake, an extinct volcano rising 50 meters above the lake. It has deposits of sulphur and hot water springs.

A small tribe called the Njemps occupy the south and west shores of the lake and one of the activities for visitors to lake Baringo is a visit to their villages for an insight into their ways of life. Although they are somehow related to both the Masai and the Samburu, the Njemps, unlike their counterparts, have become expert fishermen and fish is a major part of their diet. Interestingly, to the Masai and the Samburu as well, eating fish is almost a taboo.

A boat ride on the lake takes you closer to the schools of hippo and bird colonies and gives you a chance to see the Njemps fishing for Tilapia and crocodiles.

LAKE BOGORIA

This is one of the Great Rift valley lakes, situated only 50km south of lake Baringo. Bogoria is a soda lake and one of the attractions here is the spouting fountains of boiling water and the pink Flamingos that use this lake as nesting grounds. The birds and the hot water springs provide a spectacular show of flaming colours crowned by the wall of Laikipia escarpment as a backdrop. This gives the lake the looks of a glistening sheet of blue and white, tinted by the vivid pink of the flamboyant flamingos wading on its shores.

Around the lake is a small reserve where the greater Kudu is a regular citing.

LAKE NAIVASHA

This 68 square kilometer fresh water lake is considered a bird watcher’s paradise. It has been described as a bewilderment of birds. It is estimated that there are more than 400 species around it. Water birds exist in great varieties and abundance. The lake has no apparent outlet but remains fresh and changes noticeably in size according to rainfall in the nearby Mau hills and Aberdare mountain ranges. The Lake has a resident population of hippo and many fish. It was here that Joy Adamson’s book Born Free was written. Activities in this area include boat rides to see the hippo schools and watch birds, visits and walking on the Crescent Island.

The Crescent Island is one of the major features on this lake and is one of the rare places in the country where one can wander among the wildlife on foot. The Island takes its name from its shape. It is the visible tip of a volcanic crater rim, forming a bay in the deepest part of the lake.

The lake is surrounded by private game sanctuaries and lush farm lands. Mammals also include water buck, Impala, Gazelle and birds found here include the black necked Grebe, Great crested Grebe, Little Grebe, the Night Heron, Fish Eagle, Sacred Ibis, Hadada Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Pelicans, Cormorants and the African Darter among others.

KAKAMEGA FOREST

This rain forest is a peaceful ornithologist’s paradise. A remnant of unbroken Equatorial jungle that arched west to east across the continent and cannot be found anywhere else in Kenya. Finally gazetted as a National reserve in 1985, the forest covers some 45sq kilometers and is home to a great variety of bird species, some of them only found in this part of Kenya. Some of the birds to be found here include, the Great Blue Turacco, Emerald Cuckoo, Hornbill, Zebra waxbill and the Hammer-headed fruit bat among others.

SHIMBA HILLS RAIN FOREST

With 192 square kilometers, this is a pastoral wonder world of rolling grassland and forests of giant primeval trees. A herd of elephants and buffalo, a few lion and leopard are seen while the rare Sable and Ran antelopes are the key attraction.

Although not significantly higher than the coastal strip, the Shimba Hills at 350 metres are remarkably cool. None of the animals provide deterrent to walking in the area. Bird life is profuse including the carmine bee-eaters, palm nut vultures, turacos and spur fowl.

NAIROBI CITY

Nairobi is the largest city between Cairo and Johannesburg. Though just South of the equator, it enjoys a spring-like climate. It is a modern city, yet its main avenues blaze with color from tropical bushes and vines. Just 80 years ago, there was a river in an empty wilderness where Nairobi now stands. Despite health hazard and the eve-present danger from wild animals, Nairobi became established by 1907 and quickly grew as a white farming community. It also attracted world attention as the center of big-game safaris for the rich and famous. Perhaps the most famous was the safari of Teddy Roosevelt, which needed 500 porters to carry supplies and returned with 500 trophies.

By 1931, the city had 50,000 residents and was the seat of the colonial administration. Today, Nairobi has a population of around 2 million. It is a business and conference center for East and Central Africa and a base for international tourism on the extensive safari circuits of Kenya. Nairobi has a wealth of international hotels and restaurants. Cuisine of all types is available from Chinese for French and Italian; several restaurants also offer the local favorites. Nightlife varies from local nightclubs with disco and beat bands to international floorshows at the hotel, nightclubs and casinos. Shopping in Nairobi varies from modern supermarkets to bazaar stalls and open-air markets. Souvenir hunters will find bargains ranging from woodcarvings to Persian carpets. And there are also three excellent museums that offer insights into the fauna and culture of Kenya as well as the history of the country.

THE COAST

Mombasa is the capital of the Kenyan coast.

Lamu archipelago off the Kenyan coast is one of the few remaining pieces of history in the region. Old 18th century stone houses, huge intricately carved doors and hanging balconies, women dressed in traditional black bui-buis and traditional dhows with huge triangular sails are some of the trade marks of the island. The biggest attraction however, is the unspoilt culture and atmosphere of busy days of the past where Donkeys take the place of cars.

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