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[ Kenya | Tanzania ]


KENYA

The information on Kenya provided in this section is of a summary nature. If you require more detailed and entertaining information on Kenya, please visit KenyaWeb by clicking on the icon below

 

Kenya is situated on the eastern coast of Africa, set astride the Equator and bisected from North to South by the Great Rift Valley, Kenya covers a total area of 580,530 square kilometres, including 13,395 sq. km of inland water. Its Indian Ocean coastline stretches for 480 km.. Nairobi, the capital of the country, is a colourful striking city 500 km inland from Mombasa, the major port on the Indian Ocean. Official languages are Swahili and English. With an estimated population of more than 30 millions people, this country gained full independence on 12th December 1963 and was admitted to the United Nations four days later. In 1964, the country became a sovereign republic within the Commonwealth, with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as its first president. He remained in office until his death in 1978 when President Daniel Arap Moi was elected leader of the Nation.

For the traveller Kenya is an enchanting country because few places in the world can better its varied touristic attractions. The overwhelming appeal of the wildlife sanctuaries, glorious beaches, breathtaking scenery in a vast and unspoilt land, an almost perfect climate, sophisticated accommodation and a hospitable happy people. Kenya contains almost every known land form from true glacial ice to arid desert, mountain massifs to rich savannahs, large lakes and dense forest: Mount Kenya (5,199 m.) with its breathless snow capped peaks stands sentinel above rolling grassland plains and the fascinating semideserts are much further to the North; Lake Victoria, the first lake to be discovered and largest in Africa; Lake Turkana now known as the "Cradle of Mankind"; the Indian Ocean coast, a place of white sandy beaches, turquoise seas and archaeological antiquities...

Above all are the wildlife sanctuaries: the 25 National Parks, devoted to the absolute protection of the indigenous flora and fauna; the 29 National Reserves, where wildlife coexist from time immemorial in perfect harmony with the pastoral nomadic tribes ... These wild and lovely places vary in the abundance and variety of their animals, in scenery, in climate and altitude; from the famous savannah of Masai Mara to the ornithological paradise of Lake Nakuru. Variations in altitude and terrain create contrasts in the climate: from the hot and humid coast to the fresh, sometimes frosty mornings of the central highlands and the dry burning heat of the northern desert; however, overall, it is seldom harsh, neither too hot nor too cold with long sun filled days. In almost every part of Kenya there are hotels which hold their own with any in the world. Many, like the famous Treetops, the Norfolk in Nairobi and Mount Kenya Safari Club are internationally know. Some are architectural masterpieces, some are tented camps, true luxury in the bush. All have one common aim, to offer the best in comfort, quality and service in true safari style.

NAIROBI
Just south of the Equator at an altitude of 1,675 m Nairobi enjoys an almost perfect, healthy climate: warm sunny cloudless days with the temperature seldom rising above 25 C and cooler nights. This city, born in the spirit of adventure in the days of the early pioneers, less than 100 years ago, was then an insignificant jumble of tents and ox wagons beside the Uganda Railhead, which halted here 500 km inland from the coast to gather steam for the way ahead. The good climate and the abundance of water made it grow quickly, becoming one of the most important and vibrant cities of Africa, truly a Babel Tower of races and cultures with a population of almost 3 million colourful people from many nations. A city of great contrast, strikingly modern with tall imposing buildings, yet reminders of the early days are there. Look for the Law Courts and Parliament Buildings; Railway Station and Museum, with its steam locomotives so emotive of a more romantic age; Jamia Mosque; the City Market with its arrays of tropical fruits and flowers; the famous Norfolk Hotel, linked with Kenya s history since 1904; Kenyatta Conference Centre built in 1983; the National Museum, founded in 1910, with its unique collections so relevant to Kenya s early history and the prehistory of mankind; the Karen Blixen Museum, outside the city, a memorial to a woman admired both for her writing and her spirit; the Bomas of Kenya, the nation s cultural centre where it is possible to watch a vivid display of tribal dancing in a rural lovely setting ... Throughout the country and specially in Nairobi shopping is an absorbing pastime. Look around first, there is so much on offer: wood carvings and traditional handcrafts; sensuous soapstone from Kisii; colorful sisal mats; "kiondos", the famous Kenya bags; "kangas" and "kikois", traditionally worn by women and these days used as tablecloths or beach wraps; batiks, as the silk ones printed by Heidi Lange or Robin Anderson ... Also two gem stones originate in this part of Africa: the blue Tanzanite and the vivid green Tsavorite. Visitors to Nairobi will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the hotels in and around the city. All are well appointed with spacious rooms, most have swimming pools and the service is friendly and attentive. Most of the leading hotels offer gourmet, a la carte dining in sophisticated grill rooms. For visitors who wish to dine out the choice is appealing: the Tamarind, with superb seafood from the Indian Ocean; the Ibis Grill, in the Norfolk Hotel, an exceptional meal for a special occasion; the Carnivore, famous for its exotic game meats ...

MASAI MARA
Situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, with an area of 1,812 sq. km, limited to the East by the Talek river and Loita plains, Masai Mara, Kenya s leading Game Reserve, lies on the border between Kenya and Tanzania and is the northern extension to the renowned Serengeti plain. A reserve of breathless vistas, a panorama of vast rolling plains, hills and woodland groves, well watered by the Mara River, concentrating in its proximities permanent populations of wildlife: this is lion, leopard, cheetah and elephant country, with buffalo lurking in the forest and a superb abundance of plains game: zebras, Thompson and Grant gazelles, topis ... But all this richness is secondary to the Mara main attraction: the annual migration, which takes place between July and September. Over a million wildebeest, more than two hundred thousand zebra with their attendant predators cross the Mara River and spread across the plains in a seemingly endless procession.

LAKE NAKURU
With a total area of 368 sq. km, home for more than 450 different kinds of birds, Lake Nakuru is one of the finest ornithological sites. It should not be regarded only as a flamingo sanctuary - particularly as these birds migrate from Nakuru to other Rift Valley lakes. It is an outstanding place for watching a variety of birds including other brackish water species and birds of prey. Herds of waterbuck, gazelle, impala and reedbuck graze in the pretty surrounding acacia woods and grasslands of Lake Nakuru National Park, the environment of which are constantly being extended with the assistance of the World Wildlife Fund. Lake Nakuru is now the home of numerous leopard and rhino, who have been placed in the Park for safety - the Park has recently been designated a rhino sanctuary.

LAKE NAIVASHA
Few lakes have a more commanding or lovely setting than Lake Naivasha, the highest and purest of the Rift Valley lakes. Ornithological paradise and home for hippopotamus it is surrounded by Mount Longonot, a extinct volcano of 2,777 m of altitude which shades the lake in misty blues and purples. At Hell's Gate gorge with its steam jets, and Fischer s Tower a pinnacle of soaring rock, game abounds and the rarest of Kenya s birds of prey, the Lammergeyer nest.

SAMBURU, BUFFALO SPRINGS AND SHABA NATIONAL RESERVES
Rugged and remote, with the same faunal structure, these wildlife reserves, with a total area of 428 sq. km, lie just within the fascinating semi-desert Northern Frontier District of Kenya. The tranquil Uaso Nyiro River, flowing through Shaba and Samburu, attract a wide number of rare wildlife and provides a natural habitat for crocodile. Long necked gerenuk, Grevy s zebra and reticulated giraffe are species not found in the less arid areas to the south. Elephant seek solace and contentment in the shallow waters of this wide sauntering river, fringed with acacia, down palms and tamarind, which together with Buffalo Springs, support a large variety of african mammals, cheetah and leopard being particularly well represented. Doves and guinea fowl abound and the giant Martial Eagle perched on some high vantage point. The past volcanic intensity of the area is demonstrated by the formidable lava flow at the southern end of Shaba (its name comes from a cone of volcanic rock). With a magnificent background of jagged, purple mountains, a safari in these small gems in the wildlife wilderness, will provide some of the best and most colorful gameviewing in the country.

MOUNT KENYA
Mount Kenya, with its snow-capped peaks 5,199 m. high, is Kenya s highest mountain and certainly one of the most beautiful mountains anywhere. Its slopes are covered with rich deciduous and bamboo forests and open high altitude moorland just below the glaciers and snowfields. Wildlife resident within the forest includes elephant, buffalo and even lion, with several species of antelope and other smaller animals.

THE ABERDARES
Within a beautiful mountain range in the central highlands of Kenya is the Aberdares National Park, a fairy tale place of dense forest, misty moorlands and alpine plants where icy rivers plunge in glorious cascades and waterfalls. The 766 sq. km of the area are rich in wildlife. The Salient stretching out towards the nearby town of Nyeri, was once an elephant migration route, not used today. These great animals remain within the park together with buffalo, a wide variety of antelope, giant forest hog, the elusive bongo, rhino, lions and hyenas. Tacazze and Malachite Sunbird, Mountain Buzzard and African Goshawk are found in this area where the birdlife is abundant and varied.

AMBOSELI
This seasonal swamp of 3,810 sq. km in Amboseli National Park, is one of the finest areas in the country for big game photography, attracting a vast population of wildlife. The landscape, with its parched alkaline pan and strange mirages, is everywhere dominated by the glistening majestic snowcap of Mount Kilimanjaro, a extinct volcano of 5,894 m. known as the "roof of Africa". This is Maasai country, a proud nomadic people, who have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. Game viewing is an adventure in this park, with lion, cheetah and buffalo almost an assured sight and hosts of antelope, zebra and other small creatures of the wild. Bird life is abundant. But the most impressive inhabitants of this arid landscape are the elephants, moving in large columns in their daily peregrination to the water.

TSAVO NATIONAL PARK
Forming one of the world s largest game parks is the combined area of Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, together with the adjoining private sanctuary of Taita. A model national park in layout, geophysical, animal and plant diversity, situated midway between Nairobi and Mombasa. This starkly beautiful park suffered considerable deprivation both in physical damage and animal loss in the 1970 s, but this is now well past, and today the park is thriving once more. The many natural wonders in this harsh countryside include the fascinating Mzima Springs a marvelous eruption of underground crystal waters arising in the Chyulu Hills from Mount Kilimanjaro, reaching the surface to form clear pools, a heaven for a rich wildlife pageant. The wildlife in this park includes herds of elephant and prides of lion. Less common species include fringed-eared oryx, klipspringer, striped hyena and caracal. South of the park is a private sanctuary with lovely lakes and waterholes, which ensures an exciting variety of animals at all times of the year. Weaver birds and their fascinating nests are found throughout the park, as are Fisher s starling, hornbills and parrots.

THE KENYA COAST
480 km of vast uninterrupted white sand beaches, fringed with palms, casuarinas, oleanders and brilliant bougainvillaea, washed by the incredible sparkling blue waters of an opal Indian Ocean, refreshed by gentle monsoon breezes, makes the Kenya coast one of the most idyllic resort areas anywhere in the world. The tropical coastline of East Africa has been recognized by historians for a thousand years, from Ptolemy to the Turks, from the Arabs to the Portuguese who took Mombasa in the 16th Century. They stayed for over a century, building Fort Jesus, eventually being starved by the Arabs. In the North and South coast stand some of Kenya s finest hotels, nestling in cleared beach front areas, offering a very wide variety of watersports and activities. The Kisite Marine National Park, almost at the Tanzania border, an intriguing underwater world, can be reached from Shimoni or Wasini Island in a lovely dhow trip. In the North, Nyali, Bamburi, Shanzu and Kikambala are a paradise of sand and bright blue sea, with its calm unruffled water.

MOMBASA
The second most important city of the country, Mombasa is the largest and most popular island on the Kenya coast. This old but vibrant gateway to Kenya is a mystical mixture of ancient and modern, with a cosmopolitan population blending Africa, Arabia and Asia. But not everyone realizes that this picturesque port is an island with two deep water harbors. Evocative of the east, graceful sailing dhows unchanged throughout the centuries, arrive on the monsoon winds, while ocean liners berth just around the headland. Fringing the dhow harbor is the Old Town, dominated by the ancient Portuguese Fort Jesus, a maze of narrows streets overshadowed by high ornamental balconies of quaint shuttered houses and vibrant open bazaars.

MALINDI
Historically, Malindi dates back to the 9th Century with Arab occupation from the 13th Century onwards. A rich trading centre with the near East with Arabic influence for more than 500 years, Malindi is now a popular beach resort. 18kms south of the ancient town, surrounded by the Sokokwe Forest, is situated the lost City of Gedi whose inhabitants inexplicably vanished over 300 years ago. Two marine national parks with wonderful underwater coral gardens and thousands of tropical fish, secluded curved bays with incredible beaches that defy description.

LAMU
As one of the earliest Arab settlements along the coast, Lamu has preserved his architecture and a tempo reminiscent of the 18th Century. This swahili town, last remaining bastion of the Shirazi, the oldest of the cultures on this coast, is a delightful anachronism carrying on its daily life as it has for centuries. There are beautiful beaches, a wonderful underwater world along the reefs in the Kiunga Marine National Park and two remote hideaways on Kiwayu and Manda for those who dream of deserted tropical islands in the sun.


TANZANIA

East Africa's best kept secret is a country of stunning beauty, a kaleidoscope of landscape, wildlife and people. With an area of 939,701 sq. km., Tanzania is situated below the Equator and is bordered by shimmering lakes and the Indian Ocean, from Mount Kilimanjaro in the North to Mozambique in the South. Its landscapes varies from the green tropical 800 km of coastline, with silver sand, coral reefs and mangrove swamps, to the beige semidesert of the central plateau, the eternal snow of the northern mountains and the savannah of the largest and best game reserves in the world. What first strikes the visitor to Tanzania is its sheer physical size and infinite variety. The country embraces the green islands of Pemba, Zanzibar and Mafia. Over a quarter of Tanzania is made up of National Parks, game reserves, and controlled areas. In the North, the remarkable Serengeti plains support over three million animals; further east is Ngorongoro Crater, an inequalable caldera which reveals on its floor a magic world teeming with animals; nearby, Lake Manyara at the foot of the Rift Valley is a bird watchers paradise. Tanzania has 53,000 sq. km. of inland water. Lake Tanganyika is Africa s deepest and longest fresh water lake. In the north-west, Lake Victoria, the second largest on earth, lies in a huge shallow depression. But above all, at 5,895 m, there is mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, which rises majestically out of the dusty bush of the northern Masai Steppe. Its densely forested sides give way to the blue glaciers and unbelievably white snow of its rounded peak.

ARUSHA
Once a small trading post, its only significance due to its geographical position in the centre of Africa, mid way between the Cape and Cairo, Arusha is today an agricultural town and the comfortable base for all safaris in the northern part of Tanzania. The Arusha National Park, just outside the city is a string of lovely lakes with a miniature volcanic crater hidden in a forest of mahogany and olive on the slopes of Mount Meru.

MOUNT KILIMANJARO
Discovered by Johannes Rebmann in 1848, Mount Kilimanjaro is a beautiful great shining mountain of 5,895m always bearing a glittering mantle of snow. The highest mountain in Africa is also a national park which extends from mountain rain forest to scrub and alpine moorland and finally snow and ice fields at the summit.

NGORONGORO
Indisputably one of Africa s true wonders of nature and an extraordinary place of haunting beauty, with its grand majestic mountain ring and lake, Ngorongoro, an active volcano some 8 million years ago, covers an area of 264 sq. km and is the largest intact caldera in the world. Approaching Ngorongoro Crater is a unique experience. The road winds upwards through a beautiful area of tropical rainforest and meadows carpeted with wild flowers. Its enduring charm stems from its overwhelming physical beauty and the abundance of wildlife permanently resident on the crater floor.

LAKE MANYARA
Set around a shallow alkaline lake, surrounded by ancient baobabs, ground water forest of fig and mahogany and open grasslands, this park lies at the foot of a dramatic escarpment, offering a rich diversity of scenery and wildlife. Considered as one of Tanzania s most attractive game sanctuaries, it is home for the famous tree climbing lions. Birdlife is prolific, and a very high density of elephant population coexist with buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and other big game.

OLDUVAI GORGE
Between the Ngorongoro Conservation area and the Serengeti National Park lies Olduvai Gorge. This remote spot has become famous as the archaeological site where Dr Mary Leakey in 1959 discovered Australopithecus Boisei dated 1.5 million years ago. A museum overlooking the gorge displays many of their finds such as prehistoric elephant, enormous ostrich and giant horned sheep, explaining the significance of the geology, fossils and artifacts.

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
With 14,500 sq kms., the Serengeti plain is undoubtedly the most famous wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and the greatest concentration of plains game anywhere. It lies between the shores of Lake Victoria in the east and the Maasai Mara to the north west. Serengeti is renown for its black- maned lion and other predators including wild dog, spotted hyena, jackal, cheetah and leopard. The wealth of birdlife is of a special interest including colourful rollers, bee-eaters, kingfishers and sunbirds and a large number of birds of prey. During May and June, Lake Ndutu at the foot of the Ngorongoro highlands, is the starting point for one of the great natural wonders of nature - the famous annual migration. Nearly 2 million wildebeests and a quarter of a million zebra move in winding columns several miles in length towards the Maasai Mara.

DAR ES SALAAM
Haven of peace is the Arab meaning of Tanzania s capital city. A perfect tropical port beautifully situated on the shores of a palm fringed bay. An intriguing mixture of african and oriental influences, this really informal and relaxed african city has narrow winding streets and low buildings dating back to the Arab period. The national museum in the botanical gardens has some fine examples of chinese porcelain, persian pottery and trade beads used instead of coins in earlier times. The outstanding attraction is the Hall of Man with many of the first finds from Olduvai Gorge including the skull of australopithecus Boisei and other human fossils. Kariokor is the main market, a colourful meeting place, with an exotic mixture of tropical fruits, spices and african crafts. Bagamoyo, 64kms. north along the coast was once the capital of German East Africa. Worldwide known as the terminus of the slave caravan route from the interior, this was also the starting point for many legendary explorers, Burton, Speake and Stanley.

ZANZIBAR AND ISLANDS
Few places evoke such romance as the fabled exotic spice islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia. Places of great wealth and power in the turbulent history of East Africa, they are today sleepy islands with the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean washing up on the shores of virgin white sandy beaches. Lush tropical vegetation, redolent of the cloves, cinnamon and other spices flourish everywhere. The Arabic town of Zanzibar possesses interesting relics, the former Sultans Palace set in gardens on the front near the Arab Fort and Beit el Ajaib, the Sultan s House of Wonders, the Marahubi Palace built for the harem of a Sultan Prince, the Kidichi Baths, a gift from an early Sultan to his persian wife, the houses where Livingstone and Burton lived....

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