Top Experiences – Kenya

February 22nd 2019  |  Kenya, Travel  |  by  Alice Gully
Visiting the baby rhino © Lewa Wilderness

Kenya epitomises everything that is Africa.  It hosted the first real wildlife holidays and its diversity of landscape, people and wildlife has drawn more people on safari than any other country in Africa.  We probably still plan more holidays to Kenya than any other country in Africa.  Here are some of our favourite memories.

Francis – Visiting the singing wells at Sarara

We sit quietly beside the riverbed, respectful observers of an ancient tradition, born from the need to keep domestic animals alive through the long dry season. Chains of Samburu men pass containers of water from hand to hand from deep below the river bed to troughs on the surface. The herds wait in turn to drink, each summoned by a specific song particular to that family. We watch in awe as herds move in turn, hardly a single animal breaching this timeless protocol despite their evident thirst.  The semi-nomadic people of the Northern Rangelands have developed this skill over the eons, learning the best and safest places to dig deep in the riverbed, and training their livestock to be patient.

The singing wells close to Sarara Camp in northern Kenya

The singing wells close to Sarara Camp in northern Kenya

Alice – Riding with the migration

These are real ‘pinch me’ moments.  To see the Masai Mara away from a vehicle and with no one else around is in itself incredible.  That you are on a horse amid the wildlife takes the experience to a whole new level.

Riding with the wildebeest migration, Safaris Unlimited

Riding with the wildebeest migration, Safaris Unlimited

Charlotte – Giraffe Manor and the elephant orphanage in Nairobi

Nairobi is the gateway to safaris in the Masai Mara, if you find yourself there for 24 hours Giraffe Manor is a wonderful spot for an overnight stay.  Opening the window (or door) to a doe-eyed giraffe looking for cattle nuts is one of Africa’s wonderful peculiarities.  If time permits arrange a visit to the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage. Foster a baby elephant and you can visit after hours as the residents settle down for the night. It’s heart-warming to see the bond between the orphans and their keepers.

Waiting patiently for breakfast at Giraffe Manor

Waiting patiently for breakfast at Giraffe Manor

Jess – Helicopter flight with Jamie from Tropic Air

An experience like nothing else I’ve done in Africa:  two helicopters landing in the garden at Segera to collect us and take us flying over Laikipia, at one point pivoting around a cliff to get a David Attenborough-style view of a troop of baboons.  We landed, perching precariously of the tip of an escarpment, with phenomenal views in all directions. And then they brought out champagne. My father would have called this the ‘Smug Life’.

Flying over Segera Lakes and flamingos with Tropic Air Kenya

Flying over Segera Lakes and flamingos with Tropic Air Kenya

Lucinda – Accompanying the anti-poaching dogs at Lewa

I spent a fascinating morning learning about the on-going work to protect elephant and rhino in the Lewa Downs Conservancy.  The dogs’ enthusiasm and gentle personalities, together with the engaging relationship with their handlers, was wonderful to watch.

Out with the rangers at Lewa Wilderness

Out with the rangers at Lewa Wilderness

Jess – Alfajiri Garden Villa to myself

For great food on the Kenyan Coast and a feeling of being totally spoiled, this is your place. It’s a real home-from-home with fantastic views over the Indian Ocean, total privacy and total luxury. Marika handpicks the fruit and vegetables and brings her Italian heritage into the kitchen – the kingfish carpaccio alone is worth travelling to Africa for.

Glorious views at Alfajiri

Glorious views at Alfajiri

Francis – Riding with rhino in Lewa

Lewa has a stable of good horses, all wonderfully calm in the presence of the prolific wildlife on this beautiful conservancy. The highlight of my stay was a morning ride across the plains finishing with a delicious breakfast under a large acacia tree.  We rode past and between several families of white rhino all aware of, but blissfully unconcerned by our presence. We sat and watched, as these extraordinary beasts had their own breakfast, protecting their calf with one parent in front and one behind. We could see 16 of them at all points of the compass as we had brekkie – just magnificent, and how Africa should be.

Fabulous riding country at Lewa Wilderness

Fabulous riding country at Lewa Wilderness

Richard – Karisia’s camel assisted walking safaris

Karisia Safaris have a charming herd of camels, used as baggage carriers for their mobile walking safaris. Combine private wilderness, no engines, great people, fabulous scenery, charismatic luggage wagons, and truly amazing food, and you have one of Africa’s most enthralling and deepest safari experiences.

Walking safari in northern Kenya with Karisia Safaris

Walking safari in northern Kenya with Karisia Safaris

Francis – Climbing Mt Kenya

Mt Kenya is the country’s highest mountain, and can only be summited by a proper climber with the right equipment. This means the mountain is visited by only a few and the scenery and walking on the lower slopes is better than most people will ever experience anywhere else.  I’d highly recommend it – it’s wonderful to camp in remote and very beautiful places, and walk decent distances at an altitude which, while not hazardous, you’ll be aware of.

View of Mount Kenya from Borana Lodge

View of Mount Kenya from Borana Lodge

Lucinda – 45 minutes alone with a cheetah and her cubs

If proof were needed that good guides and the right camps can get you away from the crowds, even in peak migration season, Sala’s Camp delivered in spades on this particular occasion.  Driving through a quiet corner of the park we came across the cheetah Malaika, made famous by the BBC, and her three cubs feeding on a wildebeest calf. We sat with her for 45 minutes totally undisturbed, before the cats chose to find some shade.  A truly memorable sighting as we had long enough to watch the behaviour and characters within the family, never intruding on their space as our vehicle remained stationary with the engine off the entire time.

Enjoying the wildlife away from the crowds at Sala’s Camp

Enjoying the wildlife away from the crowds at Sala’s Camp

Jess – Sundowners in the birds nest at Segera

Someone had a lot of fun building this nest, which is even more amazing in real life than it looks in the pictures. Incredible canapes and a glass of champagne made lounging up here as the sun went down a total dream.

The Birds Nest at Segera

The Birds Nest at Segera

Any questions?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

 

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