Famous for its "Out of Africa" scenic beauty, diverse cultures and abundant wildlife, Kenya is the most popular safari destination in the world! Kenya and its people have the natural ability to make every traveller feel at home. Wherever you go, you will always hear the word 'Karibu!' Welcome!

The Maasai Mara is a large game reserve in south-western Kenya, and is the northern tip of the Greater Serengeti ecosystem. Named for the Maasai people (the traditional inhabitants of the area) and the Mara River which divides it, it is famous for its world class diversity and concentration of wildlife as well as the Great wildebeest Migration, during which time over a million wildebeest migrate north from the Serengeti following the long grasses that grow after the rains.

With an area of 938 square miles the Mara is not the largest game park in Kenya, but it is the most famous. The entire area of the park is nestled within the Great Rift Valley that extends almost the length of Africa. The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland savannah, with clusters of the distinctive acacia tree throughout. The western border is the Oloololo Escarpment of the Rift Valley.

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By Paul Kirui, Chief Safari Guide, Heritage Hotels

The future of the Maasai Mara’s threatened population of vultures is looking a little more robust, thanks to a unique collaboration involving Narok County Council, the National Museums of Kenya, and safari guides from the three Mara properties managed by Heritage Hotels.

The Mara Vulture Project, launched in July 2003, has now entered a third phase, with data collected over the past four years being compiled in the first comprehensive database of vulture dynamics and behaviour ever established in East Africa. The data will help to support a major grassroots education campaign being launched in the wider Mara-Serengeti to inform conservationists, tour operators, visitors and local communities about the vital importance of these vulnerable birds to the long-term health of the ecosystem.

Vultures have long been a misunderstood and undervalued species, but all that is now changing. Since July 2006, the Mara project has been following a number of locally tagged birds to determine their foraging and breeding ranges. Vultures tagged in the Mara have since been reported in Ngorongoro, Athi River, and as far as Laikipia. To date, a total of 42 vultures have been tagged – allowing a unique glimpse into the mysterious world of these enigmatic birds.

Vultures play a critical ecological role in the Mara-Serengeti through their consumption of up to 70% of all large ungulate carcasses, ridding the environment of potential disease-causing organisms that could threaten the survival of many other species. In recent years, populations of vultures have been reported in decline across Africa due to poisoning, persecution, and threatened food sources and nesting habitats. At least three species of Gypsvultures in South Asia are now listed as ‘critically endangered’ in IUCN’s Red Data Book due to poisoning from livestock carcasses contaminated by the pharmaceutical drug diclofenac, which have caused vulture populations to crash by as much as 95%.

Vultures in East Africa face a similar threat from the poisoning of terrestrial predators and contaminated livestock carcasses. A catastrophic collapse of vultures in the Mara-Serengeti would have dire ecological consequences for the future of the two reserves, and it is hoped that a better understanding of the species will help to design scientifically sound conservation and management strategies to ensure their survival.

Samburu National Reserve is located in semi-arid northern Kenya, and was established in the 1970's. This game reserve is 40 square miles in size and temperature during the day is hot, but tends to cool during the night.

Samburu National Reserve can be entered via the Ngare Mare and Buffalo Springs gates. Once inside the reserve, there are two mountains visible: Koitogor and Ololokwe. Samburu National Reserve is very peaceful and attracts animals because of River Uaso Nyiro (meaning "brown water" and pronounced U-aa-so-Nyee-ro) that runs through it and the mixture of acacia, riverine forest, thorn trees and grass vegetation. The natural serenity that is evident here is due to its distance from industries and the inaccessibility of the reserve for many years.

The light here is also great for photographers. There is also a wide variety of animal and bird life seen at Samburu National Reserve. Several species are considered unique to the region:
Grevy's Zebra: The Grevy’s Zebra is the largest species of zebra. It is found in the wild in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, and is considered endangered, partly due to hunting for its skin, which fetches a high price on the world market. Compared to other zebras, it is tall, has large ears, and its stripes are narrower. The species is named after Jules Grévy, a president of France, who, in the 1880s, was given one by the government of Abyssinia.

Beisa (or East African) Oryx: The Beisa Oryx is found throughout the Horn of Africa. They have a grey coat with a white underside, separated from the grey by a stripe of black, there are also black stripes where the head attaches to the neck, along the nose and from the eye to the mouth and on the forehead. There is a small chestnut colored mane. The ringed horns are thin and straight.

The Beisa Oryx live in semi-desert regions where they eat grass, leaves, fruit and buds. Interestingly, they are able to store water by raising their body temperature (so as to avoid perspiration). They gather in herds of five to forty animals with a cow leading and an alpha male guarding from the rear. Older males are solitary, presumably to avoid burdening their group.

Reticulated (or Somali) Giraffe: The Reticulated Giraffe is a subspecies of giraffe native to Somalia, but found throughout Northeastern Kenya and Ethiopia as well. This giraffe has large, liver-colored spots outlined by a network of bright white lines. The blocks may sometimes appear deep red and may also cover the legs.

The extraordinary height of giraffes allows them to browse on branches of trees that other hoofed animals can't reach. This has helped make them one of the most successful animals of the African savanna. Giraffes are also fast, able to gallop up to 35 mph. Mothers aggressively defend their calves, kicking out with their feet at the approach of lions or hyenas.

Here you can stay at: Samburu Intrepids

Lake Naivasha is a beautiful freshwater lake. The lake is almost 4 miles across, but its waters are shallow with an average depth of sixteen feet. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Naivasha completely dried up and effectively disappeared. The resulting open land was farmed, until heavy rains a few years later caused the lake to return to existence, swallowing up the newly established estates.

The lake and its surroundings are rich in natural bounty, and the fertile soils and water supply have made this one of Kenya’s prime agricultural regions, which you will observe as you drive through the area.

Much of the lake is surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea, known as the yellow fever tree. These forests abound with bird life, and Naivasha is known as a world class birding destination. Other game near the lake includes giraffe, buffalo and Colobus monkeys.

Here you can stay at: The Great Rift Valley Golf Lodge

Activities available at the Great Rift Valley Golf Lodge include:

  • Escorted game and bird walks in Eburu forest
  • Boating and birdwatching on Lake Naivasha
  • Guided horse riding and mountain biking
  • Day trips to Hell’s Gate and Lake Nakuru Parks
  • Trips to the world-famous bird reserves on the shores of lakes Baringo, Bogoria and Nakuru

Lamu town is the largest town on Lamu Island, which in turn is a part of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya. The archipelago contains several archaeological/historical sites of great significance, such as Takwa and Manda Town (both on Manda Island) and Shanga (on Pate Island). Some have been partially excavated in later years, shedding important new light on Swahili history and culture. The Takwa site can be easely reached from Lamu town.

Lamu town was founded in the 14th century and it contains many fine examples of Swahili architecture. The old city is inscribed on the World Heritage List as "the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa".

Once a center for the slave trade, the population of Lamu is ethnically diverse. Lamu was on the main Arabian trading routes, and as a result, the population is largely Muslim. Automobiles are not allowed on the island - the city is easily explored by foot, bicycle, or, as many locals favour, donkey.

Here you can stay at: Kipungani Explorer