Kenya is the quintessential African wildlife safari destination. In almost every designated wilderness location within the country, you see plains herbivores and carnivores engaging amidst rare and endangered species. The skies, floras and lakes are abuzz with birdlife, small and large, raptors, insects, plants and fruit eaters.
Heart-pounding excitement awaits in Masai Mara National Reserve and its private Mara conservancies, one of the premier Kenya nature vacation destinations! The massive Great Migration enters the reserve from July to October. As over a million wildebeests and thousands of zebras, elands and gazelles traverse the landscape, the peaceful savannah plains are transformed into a thunderous hub of activity. The immense herds travel to the northern grazing grounds fed by the rains and fresh pasture, and their path is marked by the dust clouds that linger in the air. The journey is wrought with dangers and obstacles, including ever-watchful lions, leopards and cheetahs crouched in the grasses and the crocodile-infested Mara River taking the front row seats of the greatest spectacle on earth!
Further south, the stealthy predators of Amboseli National Park give prey animals a reason to be nervous! A mother elephant moves her outspread ears forward, and without warning, she emits an almost deafening blast from her trunk. The other elephants in the family stop all activity and gather around the young calves. Two larger elephants break from the safety of the group and charge toward the tall grasses. Suddenly, the lioness hunter scampers from its hiding place and runs the opposite way. With the threat to the young under control, the elephants settle back into their grazing. As the clouds clear the mountain during midday, you raise your camera to capture a spectacular scene – the caring, gentle giants against a backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro in the borders of Tanzania.
Mammals are not the only vulnerable species in Kenya! You have an opportunity to see rare feathered species, such as martial eagle, southern white-faced owl, palm nut vultures, tana river cisticola, yellow-billed oxpecker, hinde’s babbler, williams’ lark and many more. Hundreds of bird species have been recorded at Kenya’s lakes, making it a desired destination for superb avi-fauna tours in Eastern Africa. Even the conservation community is charmed by the Great Rift Valley ecology and animals of the lakes, earning some of them the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site, RAMSAR and Important Bird Area designations. Each lake offers a speckled birding experience, and one of the most incredible and awe-inspiring occurs at Lake Nakuru National Park and Lake Bogoria. The unique characteristics of the alkaline water promote the growth of special algae that is the genesis of one of nature’s most spectacular scenes! Millions of lesser and greater flamingoes feed on the algae, and the result is a dynamic pink feathered blanket. Watching such a mass of birds feed is quite awesome, but wait until the flock takes to the sky!
The iconic Mount Kenya is the centerpiece of Mount Kenya National Park and the Lewa Conservancy – both are also part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The impressive mountain may dominate the landscape, but the small creatures hidden amidst the lower slope forests of Mount Kenya take you into a discerning small-scale world! Olive baboons, black and white colobus and sykes’ monkeys intrigue you with their sapiens-like behaviors. Smaller denizens dart in and out of rocks and vegetation. Perhaps you will see a rock hyrax, ruppell’s root rat, giant Kenya mole and other ground-hugging animals. Take a moment, though, to take in the surrounding plains, montane and woodlands, because you may find zebras, buffalos, duikers, elands, bushbucks, waterbucks and other medium-size creatures!
The climate of Kenya varies by location, from mostly cool every day, to always warm/hot.The climate along the coast is tropical. This means rainfall and temperatures are higher throughout the year. At the coastal cities, Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi, the air changes from cool to hot, almost every day.
The further inside Kenya, the more arid the climate becomes. An arid climate is nearly devoid of rainfall, and temperature swings widely according to the general time of the day/night. For many areas of Kenya, the daytime temperature rises about 12 °C (corresponding to a rise of about 22 °F), almost every day.
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As far as population density is concerned, Kenya is the 47th largest country in the world in terms of pure land mass. It is relatively sparsely populated, however, and for every square kilometer of land, there is an average of 79.2 people (205 per square mile).Kenya’s population is very diverse and home to most of Africa’s linguistic and ethnic groups. There are believed to be at least 42 communities, although Nilotes (30%) and Bantus (67%) account for a majority, followed by Cushitic groups, Arabs, Indians, and Europeans.
Kenya is a multilingual country. The Swahili language and English, the latter being inherited from colonial rule, are widely spoken as lingua franca. They serve as the two official working languages. There are more speakers of Swahili than English in Kenya.
Sun block lotion, sunglasses, hats and insect repellents are essential. Binoculars are an absolute must!