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Kenya Holiday - Kenya Travel & Tourism

Country and People

To get up, close, and well, not so personal with the wilderness, there's no place like Kenya. As one of the most famous places in Africa, Kenya spells adventure, thrill and excitement, and remains a must-see destination for all lovers of the wild.

Facing the Indian Ocean on its east, Kenya has an expansive forest area supported by the largely tropical climate that it enjoys. The Maasai Mara is the country's largest park reserve in the south west, and home to the traditional Maasai tribe and the "Big Five" of Africa - the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant.

Kenya's wild life shares its popularity with the Rift Valley which runs through the country from north to south and has a physical landscape like no other. Tea, horticulture and livestock farming have ameliorated the living conditions of the Kenyans in this province to some extent.

Kenya has over 30 ethnic groups, and a tiny fraction of it is of non-African descent. The first Europeans in Kenya, the Portuguese had their settlements taken over by the British, Dutch and Omani Arabs in the 17th century. British East Africa, as Kenya came to be known till 1920, was occupied by British and European farmers running large coffee and tea plantations. Kenya finally achieved independence from the British in December 1963.

What to do in Kenya

When you take a safari through the wilderness of Kenya, you're experiencing the natural unaffected world untouched by time. The savannah grasslands are the natural habitat of animals and thousands of birds. Similarly, Kenya's coast throbs with a colorful marine life.

Kenya's safari parks are globally known - Amboseli, Laikipia, Maasai Mara, Meru, Sambure, Shaba and Tsavo are some of the world's best.

Four hours from Nairobi is Amboseli, the "land of giants" or the elephant's domain, looking up to the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. The herds of African elephants can be observed from very close quarters, and the safari in the company of trained guides can be very informative. Besides elephants, zebra, wildebeest, cheetah and impala can also be sighted within its boundaries. It is best to move out very early in the morning or the late afternoon to catch a sight of the animals amble through the open country. They take recourse to the shade during the day, and are not visible. The sunrise and sunset views from the natural park are an awesome and humbling sight.

Open top vehicles are the best way to observe and photograph the game, but if you prefer to walk through the park, doing so on its fringes or from the observation spots within the park only is advisable. The swamps and grove of acacia trees support an amazing variety of birds.

The Maasai Mara Game Reserve in south west Kenya is the home of the African Lion. Within the 200 sq miles of the Game Reserve are open plains and forests which also sustain herds of zebra, giraffe, gazelle and topi. The clusters of acacia have an abundance of bird life, while the swamps have a concentration of elephants and buffaloes. The Mara and Talek rivers that flow through the reserve have large numbers of hippos and crocodiles.

The Great Wildebeest Migration from July to October brings the park into the limelight. During this time, more than a million wildebeest troop into the park in search of food and plunge together into the gushing waters of the Mara River

Cohabiting peacefully with the lions is the well known Maasai tribe. The lion and wildebeest are intrinsic to their cultural beliefs, and lion hunting by the Maasai warriors is practiced in accordance with some ground rules laid down by the community. Take a cultural tour of the Maasai "manyatta" or village with a Maasai guide to learn more about their life. You can even take a few lessons in their traditional herbal medicine.

The Tsavo East and West game reserves near the coast are Kenya's largest stretches of wilderness stretching 10 million acres. This ecosystem encloses the African savanna, hills, acacia trees, rivers and wetlands. Ideal for birdwatchers, you can spot weaver birds, hornbills, rollers and sunbirds. The volcanic springs at Mzima have an abundance of barbel waterfowl and the hippopotamus. An underwater observatory offers tourists an "inside" view of the waters.

A trip to the Great Rift Valley cannot be missed, and its unique geographical features have invited a lot of attention from tourists. The lakes lining the entire stretch have a large flamingo population in Nakuru and Elmenteita and at the thermal springs in Bogoria. The source of the Great Nile, Lake Victoria is Kenya's pride and fishing is a popular activity amongst tourists here.

Development has caught up with Kenya's largest cities of Nairobi and Mombasa. Nairobi the capital has a multicultural populace with a strong British influence. Mombasa is located on an island and is a major trade centre. You can try the Swahili dishes at any of the restaurants here which are a fusion of Arabic and African cuisines.

The Kenyan adventure promises a night in a tent within any of the national parks, with just the canvas between you and the wild! Of course, safer options like the safari lodges, exclusive luxury camps are also available for the not so hardy!

And for folks back home do carry back the magic of Kenya in a colorful beaded bracelet or a necklace, or perhaps a watch strap and some footwear from the gift shops at the lodges!

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