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Guests can view game from the bathtub of their futuristic orange tents at Sir Richard Branson’s latest African hospitality venture. The retreat opens in August, along the path of the Great Wildebeest Migration. From $590. (877) 577-8777. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: courtesy of Virgin Limited Edition
Eagle View’s nine tented suites opened a year ago on a ridge that overlooks a broad swath of savannah in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. The camp pays a guaranteed income to each of the approximately 500 families who own the conservancy. Masai guides lead guests on night drives or walks and use animal-friendly spotlights to illuminate nocturnal creatures. Suites overlook a salt lick that attracts one of the highest densities of lions in Africa. On occasion, guests may find a lion’s kill in the morning. From $380. 254/(0) 73-333- 3909. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: courtesy of Basecamp’s Eagle View
Residents of Diani Beach on the Kenyan coast must have a good laugh when the camels are brought out: travelers trip over themselves to ogle them. Something about seeing camels on a white sand beach in Kenya sends a clear message that you’re not in Kansas anymore. The bedecked - and somewhat beleaguered-looking - camels can be seen lounging at all hours on the southern coast (not a bad job). These were photographed waiting patiently just outside of Forty Thieves' Beach Bar in Diani, Kenya, where we opted for piña coladas rather than a ride. If you’re the type who doesn’t mind being “that person up on the camel,” negotiate with the accompanying handler to enjoy the camel’s-eye view of the lively bars and the lively inhabitants and visitors from the beach.
After spending a few days camping in a nearby park and exploring the animal reserve the Maasai Mara Tribesman took us on a hike where we gathered fruit and herbs that they later used to cook us a home cooked meal. Half way through the hike we discovered a cliff that reminded us of the "pride rock" in Lion King where we watched the sunset shine across the Kenya landscape.
Five open-plan huts sit on the shores of a private island, deep in the wildlife-rich wetlands of Lake Baringo. In the morning, after a breakfast of fresh fruit, take a canoe out to spot hippos and some 450 species of birds. Doubles from $690, Samatian Island, Lake Baringo, 254/(0) 72-723-2445, samatianislandlodge.com.Photo courtesy of the Safari & Conservation Company/Flickr. This appeared in the July/August 2012 issue. Read Matt Gross’s feature on running in Kenya.
On our honeymoon, my wife and I stayed at Kichwa Tembo Bateleur Camp on the edge of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Every morning we awoke to the sounds of animals and sat down to a fantastic breakfast on a patio looking out over the grasslands filled with giraffe, impala, wildebeest, and warthogs. What a magnificent beginning it was to each day, a prelude to the spectacular game drives we would enjoy afterwards.
My colleagues and I at e2 education & environment (www.e2education.org) booked a stay at Bush Adventures (http://www.bush-adventures.com) to augment research for our distance learning program, The Mizizi Project. We went in wanting a rich educational experience and emerged not just informed, but fuller in the heart and soul from the incredible warmth of the community. The whole affair was nothing short of luminous. Liz Titone www.e2education.org
Visiting endurance runners at the High Altitude Training Centre benefit from two weeks at a 7,800-feet elevation. The program offers running sessions with local athletes on soft dirt trails, plus trips to feed giraffes and visit orphaned elephants. From $1,162 per person (based on double occupancy), P.O. Box 195, Iten, traininkenya.com.Photo by Jason Florio. This appeared in the July/August 2012 issue. Read Matt Gross’s feature on running in Kenya.
My family and I are big cat lovers. I mean BIG CAT lovers, such as lions, leopards, and especially cheetahs. Our son's 13th birthday was fast approaching and traditionally, kids in our New York neighborhood would celebrate their bar/ bat mitzvahs with a huge party. We decided to give our son a choice: a party (he had been to dozens of them) or something different. Really different... a safari in Kenya. He picked Kenya. Off we went and spent almost 2 weeks traveling the usual safari route from Nairobi down to Amboseli, up to Samburu, over to Lake Nakuru, and then to the crown jewel of safari locations.... Maasai Mara, or "the Mara" as it's affectionately known by those of us lucky to have been there. We had no idea the spiritual impact the place would have on all of us. We were fortunate to have been there to witness the annual migration -- one of the most amazing events in the natural world. If there ever was a place where one could be in total sync with nature, total spirituality, it was there. A touching example of this rhythm was witnessing a small part of the daily life of this cheetah family. An experience that I personally will never forget.
Kenya is an amazing country of contrasts. However, nothing can prepare you for how diverse a Kenya Safari is. The main attraction remains the big five - Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard which can be viewed in Kenya's numerous parks. Apart from the game,relax on the sandy beaches of Kenya or engage in water sports. With excellent wildlife, great landscapes and scenery, perfect tropical weather, romantic secluded islands and good quality luxury safari lodges, a Kenya vacation holiday whether it be on a Luxury Kenya Safari, Family Safari or a romantic Kenya Honeymoon, Kenya will exceed all your holiday expectations.
At the Lake Bogoria National Reserve, soak in the public hot springs and spend the night amid hundreds of thousands of flamingos at an acacia-shaded campsite. Cruise nearby Lake Baringo in a motorboat or a canoe to spy hippos and crocodiles. Lake Bogoria camping: $20, Lake Baringo boat tour: $5, Marigat, 254/(0) 20-514-0746, lake-baringo.com.Photo by Jason Florio. This appeared in the July/August 2012 issue. Read Matt Gross’s feature on running in Kenya.
Below the hotel’s cottages, the Kerio Valley’s grasslands spread toward the horizon like an infinity pool. Take the plunge on mountain bike or on foot, or marvel from a distance while enjoying a goat barbecue. The restaurant also serves a hearty beef stew by the fire in the stonewalled lodge. Doubles from $98, Kerio View Rd., Iten, 254/(0) 20-203-9559, kerioview.com.Photo by Jason Florio. This appeared in the July/August 2012 issue. Read Matt Gross’s feature on running in Kenya.
This new tented eco-camp just opened on the shores of Lake Naivasha. It has 16 luxury tented camps and 5 bungalows. I've stayed here several times and marvel at the level of service, the quality of the food, and the location. Boat rides on Lake Naivasha are available, walking safaris on Crescent Island are close by, and visits to local women's cooperatives can be arranged. There is nothing quite like sleeping in a tented camp, hot water bottle at your feet, and the sound of hippos foraging for food in the middle of the night. I highly recommend staying here instead of over-nighting in Nairobi. It's a short drive, so much quieter, and feels like an authentic African experience.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescues and houses baby elephants that were orphaned throughout Kenya. Animal-lovers can see these little guys at the Trust's compound. There is a public feeding hour every day, but a visitor can contribute to the elephants' well-being by "adopting" one and visiting them during "parents" hours, which are more frequent. At feeding time, these minute pachyderms bound in from the park and rush to their bottles and branches. Each elephant has a human attendant who fits them with a blanket and lays out their mattress.
An expansive cattle ranch, the upscale Borana has eight family-friendly cottages. Look for views of snowcapped Mount Kenya and elephants bathing in a nearby lake. Guests can accompany the manager on his daily rounds to see lions outside the cattle bomas (corrals) and explore the far reaches of the property. Borana Ranch & Safari Lodge, Samangua Valley, Laikipia, Kenya. 254/20-211-5453, borana.co.ke. From $560 per person. Photo courtesy of Borana Ranch. This appeared in the January/February 2011 issue. See more working ranches.
Kenya will change your life. I took my first trip to Africa with in 2009 with a service organization, Heart for Africa. We worked with AIDS widows and street kids who have been placed in a home. It will break your heart and open your eyes. I have visited four other countries through various volunteer work and I cannot recommend it enough. Also check out Cross Cultural Solutions.
Giraffe Manor is one of the most unique and iconic hotels in Africa. The Manor is home to a herd of resident giraffe and the beautiful animals visit the Manor twice a day in hope of receiving treats. The giraffes poke their long necks into the windows both early in the morning, joining guests for breakfast, as well as in the early evening at cocktail time.
Lake Nakuru National Park is a favorite, and a not to be missed during your visit to Kenya. Located about 130kms out of the capital, Nairobi, Lake Nakuru National Park ecosystem provides for about 56 different species of mammals and a variety of terrestrial birds numbering nearly 450 species and is an important sanctuary for Rhino. It has wonderful views and excellent accommodations and will never disappoint.
We enjoyed a 3-day safari in Masai Mara. We saw many beautiful animals including lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and many more. The Kichwa Tembo camp provided great food, service, and wonderful privacy.
Every day we saw something different. I would definitely recommend at least a 3 day safari. We were able to see the big five (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo) and then some. Simply spectacular!
I visited this tea plantation in Kenya in January. The new leaf was out on some of the fields creating an unearthly, vivid greenness to the hills. A short hike through one of the last remaining stands of the forest that used to cover these hills revealed a plethora of herbal medicines and wildlife hidden in the higher branches. A different kind of safari!
December 31, 2013: When we got to Crescent Island, we marveled out how much it looked just like the movie _Out_of_Africa_. That's when our guide let us know that this site is actually where the movie was filmed. Animals were imported to the island and left there after filming. Interestingly, no predators were brought to Crescent Island, so it's one of the few places in Africa where you can safari outside of a vehicle with some safety. It's actually a great place for a picnic, which is what we did.
Our fist night in Nairobi at The Giraffe Manor, a giraffe stuck her long neck into the dining room. Her 18 inch tongue curled around our fingers as she plucked giraffe food pellets from our hands and watched us with dark soulful eyes. The next morning she joined us again for breakfast. Read the full story and other Africa adventures at AfricaInside.org
After completing our missions work, my friends and I spent a few hours riding through the Kenya Wildlife Service's Lake Nakuru National Park. This male zebra and his harem were just feet from us--I hardly needed my telephoto lens. We also saw thousands of flamingos and pelicans, which were stunning both up close and from the lookout at Baboon Point above the lake. It was not uncommon to come across a group of giraffes, just having a snack, or some rhinos taking shade under an acacia tree. We even saw some warthogs careening around one field and a pride of lions in the distance. It truly was a fascinating opportunity to see these animals up close, but not in a zoo. Consider hiring a reputable tour/safari company van/driver for this type of experience (or any in Kenya, from my experience; we use Mission Tour & Travel: http://www.missiontourandtravel.org/). Most of the safari vans have pop-up tops so you are able to stand within the safety of your vans to see the wildlife. At the lookout at Baboon Point, especially, be wary of your surroundings, leave your food in your car, and close all your car doors and windows. As the name suggests, baboons frequent the area and will grab your sandwich at best or bite you at worst. I would not recommend picnicking at the tables provided. There was one lookout point higher than Baboon Point that was appropriate for a respite and lunch. This experience was well worth the group-per-person rate of about $40 to enter the park.
The Maasai Market is an excellent spot to get all kinds of handmade crafts, jewelry, beads, woodwork and art in the middle of Nairobi. My favorite items were the stacks of fabrics with Maasai prints, plaids, and Barack Obama screens. At this market you walk among aisles, head down, as the "booths" are made up of women sitting on the ground, their wares spread before them on blankets.
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