Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kenya - a Family Holiday

In Febrary 2012 we brought our family to Kenya for a ten day African experience. Our goal was to see different kind of Africa within small distances. The trip became a great success, due to our planning as well as our local organizer, Wildlife Sun Safaris, which provided guide and drivers which really enhanced the experience!

Our travel had four specific experiences planned: safari, Rift Vallay, Lake Victoria and rain forest, all concentrated in western Kenya out of Nairobi, skipping the great Indian Ocean cost this time, as well as the famous mountains in the area (Norwegian do not go to Africa for cold experiences!).

We started with safari in The great Masai Mara Nature Reserve, the classical grassy open savanna picture which we all relate to as real Africa! The area is an unfenced park, connected with the Serengeti in Tanzania, where man and wildlife seems to be too close to each other. But the safari experience was great: elephants, hippos, giraffes, ostriches, zebras, lions, gepard, buffalos, gnus (a few at this time of year) were all seen at close range!

Male Ostrich, Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya, February 2012
Male Lion, Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya, February 2012

Going back to Rift Valley we stopped over at Lake Nakuru, one of the soda lakes in Rift Valley. Again under heavy pressure from the nearby villages, the Lake and it's southern shores and National Park, was magnificent. Here here we met the rhinos, a species under heavy hunting pressure, but still present and well tended in this small park (actually the southern subspecies, imported from South Africa). And again, a lot of birds, flamingos being the lakes most famous inhabitants.

Augur Buzzard, Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya, February 2012
White Rhino (Grass Rhino), Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya, February 2012
Then we turned west to Lake Victoria, the famous inland African Lake as huge as Southern Norway! We stopped over outside of the famous port of Kisumu, where the railway meets the Lake. It's haydays are long gone, but still trains and boats where present, supplying some of the remote areas in Tanzania with goods the old-fashioned way of last century. Here we basically relaxed at the lake front, getting up in the middle of the night for observing a hippo walking around between our cottages.

Sunset over Lake Victoria, Kisumu, Kenya, February 2012
Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Kisumu, Kenya, February 2012
Next stop was what is left of rain forest in Eastern Africa, the Kakamega Forest Reserve. Here we stayed at a very peaceful place, a missionary retreat centre called Rondo. And the woods were fantastic, teaming with life and birdlife, only found from western Uganda and the Congo basin elsewhere. Strange that it can hold on, many centuries after it was cut of from the great forests in west. But again, under heavy human pressure, and bad numbers when it comes to renewal of foliage coverage, probably loosing the battle to sustain as a rainforest in the (near) future.

The Luyha Tribe offered entertainment, Rondo Retreat Center,
 Kakamega Forest Reserve, Kenya, February 2012
My daughters, at 2900 meter above sea-level, Equator, Rift Valley higlands, Kenya, February 2012
Then we turn back to Rift Valley, and stopped by the freshwater Lake Naivasha. This lake has a different tune than the soda lakes, with fish, fishermen and fishing birds, including the very nice African Fish Eagle. The best way to sea the lake is definitely to take a boat trip, wich give great view to mammals as wel las birdlife on the lake.

Yellow-billed Stork, Lake Naivasha, Kenya, February 2012
African Fish Eagle, Lake Naivasha, Kenya, February 2012
The trip was very nice, a lot of Africa in just eight days. Of course, Kenya has a lot more to offer, but to avoid staying in cars the holiday, some priorities has to be made. Roads and traffic outside main roads is very variable, and risks for detours or slow speed excist, making long drive planning hard.

Our recommandations is still clear, Kenya is a great African country!