There is nothing quite like rounding a corner, in a canvas sided jeep, to come upon a cluster of umbrella-like acacia trees being gently grazed upon by a small herd of giraffes. Necks elegantly long, thick lips and astonishing tongues, these creatures somehow manage the vicious thorns without a grimace. This is an image of Kenya of which travellers never tire, particularly against the backdrop of a setting sun, silhouettes deepening, where the swiftly descending darkness has to be experienced to be understood.
Safaris have always had a romantic element and indeed are on many Silver Travellers’ wish lists. It is easy to understand why, particularly if you choose to stay in one of the luxurious tented camps that Kenya is so famous for. With a wonderfully traditional atmosphere, reminiscent of the stunning film Out of Africa, the traditional wooden furniture, fine rugs and crisp linens are a stark contrast to smell of wood smoke from the campfire and the bush beyond. From an early morning start, wrapped up against the chill morning air, as you partake of the day awakening, through to a late afternoon game drive, the evening seat by the orange fire, gin and tonic in hand, discussing sightings of the animals, has got to be one of the joys of any Kenyan safari. It’s an experience found whichever reserve or park you’re in, and there many of them, 28 at the last count and this does not include the marine section.
The Masai Mara and its tribespeople is a unique feature of Kenya: tall and proud, clad in cloaks, like bright plaid blankets, adorned with intricate ear and neck decorations. If you have a chance to walk with the warriors or see them jumping, your experience will be even richer. The scenery in this National Reserve is mainly open grassland, with occasional bushes and trees, providing shade. And it is the place in Kenya to spot all of the Big Five – the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros, animals originally chosen for their dangerousness and the difficulty in hunting them.
A safari in Kenya brings numerous breath-taking moments: a pride of lions resting at midday in the shade, unruly warthogs crashing through the bush, elephants lumbering slowly alongside the track, however none can beat the Great Wildebeest Migration that takes place between July and October as over 2 million animals, including Thomson’s gazelle and zebras, leave the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania heading for the greener pastures of the Masai Mara. The animals have to cross the Mara River where crocodiles prey on them, making for spectacular viewings as they try to cross the river alive. Once successfully in the Masai Mara, they then run the gauntlet of the larger carnivores, who very much dominant this region. It is little wonder The Migration is called the World Cup of Wildlife!
Kenya offers truly superb experiences with wildlife, staying in beautiful lodges or camps, surrounded by the most incredible scenery, filled with nature in the raw. However luxurious your accommodation, just beyond it is untamed beauty and animal drama.
Best time of year to visit: June to October in the dry season, January & February in the wet season. Interesting for birders, at the Rift Valley Great Lakes, September to April are the best times.
Currency: Kenyan shilling
Time Difference: 3 hours ahead
Languages: Kiswahili, English
For safaris in Kenya, and beach holidays too, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Tropical Sky Touring Holidays.