Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Size: 1,500 sq. miles (8,300 sq. km.) Best time to visit: Anytime

The Ngorongoro Conservation area, home to the famous Ngorongoro Crater, is not a national park and members of the Masai tribe do live within its boundaries; however, the wildlife in the area is overwhelming.

Thousands of animals can be found grazing on the open plains of the conservation area and many more live on the slopes that lead up to Ngorongoro Crater. The crater itself is 11 miles (18 km) wide and contains over 25,000 large mammals alone. It is thought that before the eruption that formed the crater, Ngorongoro may have rivalled Kilimanjaro in size. Lake Magadi, situated at the bottom of the crater, provides good wallowing for the huge water buffalo that gather at its edges. As you move through herds of these massive beasts, their stares can seem more challenging than disinterested.

You won’t see many giraffe or zebra here as competition for food is high in the crater; however, it is one of the best places to spot the endangered African black rhino as well as large prides of lions whose males develop striking black manes. From the rim of the crater it is possible to get a bird’s eye view of the animals and, with a good pair of field glasses, you can identify many of them from afar. There is no accommodation in the crater and the ascent must be made by nightfall but from the many campgrounds and lodges on the crater rim you may be lucky enough to hear the night time activities of the animals as they go about their nocturnal business.

Many types of bird make Ngorongoro crater their home and at times the lake is overed with thousands of greater and lesser flamingos. (Lesser flamingos are smaller, but have brighter plumage.) Sand-pipers, storks, the ever-present vultures and other birds will often be found floating overhead.

Archaeological sites

Olduvai Gorge is the famous home of 1.75 million-year-old “nutcracker man” – known to the scientific community as Australopithecus boisei – one of the oldest known ancestors of man. The remains were discovered by Mary Leakey who was carrying out archaeological work there with her husband, Louis Leakey. The Olduvai Gorge site is extremely rich in fossilized remains and has yielded many types of ancient flora and fauna including 50 different hominids. The site consists of five layers, ranging in age from 15,000 to 2.1 million years.

Other archaeological sites in northern Tanzania include the Hominid track way at Laetoli (the track way is now reburied for preservation, a cast of the track way can be viewed at Olduvai) and the spectacular ancient cave paintings north of Kondoa which can be viewed in their original state. For archaeology buffs, a visit to the 27 painting sites is a must.

The Masai

The Masai tribe is the predominant tribe in northern Tanzania and many of them call the Ngorongoro Conservation Area their home. The Masai people have been given permission to live within the Conservation Area boundaries and as you drive through the area you will often espy the traditional red garb of the Masai. The Masai have never been a hunting people – they live from the milk and blood of cattle – and as a result get along splendidly in this large wildlife preservation area. The Masai are generally distrustful of photographs but some traditional villages have been opened up to tourism and a visit can be arranged for a fee.
.

Accommodation

Gibbs Farm

Situated between Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater, Gibbs farm (link) offers charming accommodations in rustic cabins in the gorgeous setting of a colonial coffee farm. The grounds are immaculate and nature walks can be arranged to view a majestic waterfall and the serene east African countryside.

Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge

The lodge is built on the rim of the crater, offering a breath taking view. 90 bedrooms, a lounge with panoramic windows and an observation deck make the wildlife lodge a scenic choice of accommodations.

Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

The Ngorongoro Serena Lodge (link) is built into the rim of the ancient crater, its design of rambling stone walls covered with ivy and plants blends beautifully into the crater environment. Most rooms have private terraces with views of the crater floor on which on can sometimes discern groups of animals. An observation deck with telescopes is a favourite place to relax in the shade.

Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Like the others, this lodge offers breathtaking views of the crater floor and lake. As all Sopa lodges (link), the Ngorongoro lodge features suites with two queen size beds as its standard accommodation.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

This architectural wonder was inspired by the Masai Manyatta. Each suite is served by a personal butler, and are all include private bathrooms and showers with a private deck and lounge with fireplace.
.
.

Advertisements

Mount Kenya National Park

Size: 700 sq. km. Best time to visit: Jan.-Feb., July-Oct.

Mt. Kenya National Park has got it all… from icy glaciers to bamboo forest. The mountain can be climbed by trekkers of many different skill levels and always offers breath-taking views.

Wildlife at Mt. Kenya is diverse and includes many of the safari favorites including black rhino, leopard, Black and White Colobus and Sykes monkeys, bushbuck, buffalo, elephant, baboon, waterbuck, giant forest hog, genet cat, and hyena. Because of the ever-changing altitude, the plant life in the park is varied as well; among park plants grow the striking Giant groundsel and Lobelia. Habitats like mountain forest, bamboo forest, high-altitude heath and moorland all support a variety of animals and birds.

Another attraction associated with Mt. Kenya is the equator, which runs across the mountain’s slopes. There are many places to pay a visit to the equatorial boundary and snap a few pictures straddling the hemispheres.

Did You Know?

According to the Kikuyu, Mt. Kenya is the home of the supreme being, Ngai. The Kikuyu word for the mountain is Kere Nyaga, meaning Mountain of Brightness.

.

Accommodation

Mount Kenya Safari Club

Elegant cottages, manicured lawns and decorative ponds provide a backdrop for the jet-setting crowd that frequents the Mt. Kenya Safari Club. With 114 luxury-class villas, cottages and suites and unparalleled gourmet dining, the club is sure to satisfy the most discerning guests.

Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Located outside of Mt. Kenya National Park, in a private 24,000 acre game reserve, Sweetwaters offers spectacular views of Mt. Kenya. En-suite luxury tents under thatched roofs ensure a pleasant stay while photographing the animals that come drink at the floodlit waterhole ensure an exciting one.

Lewa Downs

On the northern slopes of Mt. Kenya lies Lewa Downs, one of Kenya’s original colonial ranches and home to the Craig family. Wilderness Trails, the Craig’s safari operation, caters for 12 guests in comfortable cottages. Horse-back riding, nature walks and night game drives are all available.

.

.

Nairobi National Park

Size: 117 sq. km. Best time to visit: Anytime

The park is home to black rhino, buffalo, eland, Maasai giraffe, plain’s zebra, wildebeest, coke’s hartebeest, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles, impala, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, jackal civet and genet.

Over 400 species of birds have been recorded as well. The park is unfenced to the south and migratory animals move in and out according to the seasons. The park serves as a sanctuary for black rhino, which provides a certain opportunity of seeing the rhino in its natural habitat. Over 50 rhino have been moved to the park from areas where they were endangered by poaching.

Nairobi Animal Orphanage

At the main gate of the park, the Nairobi Animal Orphanage provides a safe home and upbringing for baby animals orphaned by poachers or other disasters. The orphanage only allows viewing for an hour a day while the animals are being fed. These orphans are not zoo animals; once they have matured, the babies will be reintroduced into the wild.

Karen Blixen Museum

Made famous by her autobiographical Out of Africa – also an academy award winning film – Karen Blixen‘s stay in colonial Kenya was a constant adventure. Her love of the country and its people is now world-famous and her house, which has been made into a museum, can be visited on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor (link), a rambling stone residence built in 1932, has become a haven for the endangered Rothschild giraffe. The giraffes roam about the grounds freely (along with a few resident warthogs) and guests at the manor can feed them through the windows and doors of the building. Adjacent to the manor is the giraffe sanctuary, where anyone is welcome to pat, feed and even kiss the giraffes!
.

Accommodation

Giraffe Manor

Guests at Giraffe Manor (link)can pet and feed the Rothschild giraffes that wander freely about the grounds. These giraffes are part of the adjacent giraffe sanctuary (on Giraffe Manor grounds) but are by no means the only reason to stay at the Manor. The resident owners of the rambling stone manor, Jock and Bryony, will welcome you as their guests and you’ll enjoy the finest cuisine and most comfortable lodgings in their home. The location is just a few miles outside of downtown Nairobi.

Ngong House

A truly unique and luxurious lodging, Ngong House is located on the land once cultivated by Karen Blixen. Guests stay in one of five wooden houses raised on stilts with views of the misty Ngong Hills and the surrounding countryside. Gourmet cuisine may be served in the main dining room or under the trees in the open air. There is also a further bedroom within the original house.

Grand Regency

A brand new, elegant Western-style hotel in the city centre, the Grand Regency is a favourite among heads of state and other important visitors to the city. An all-weather pool, conference rooms and exquisite cuisine ensure that no Western comforts will be missed during your stay.

The Norfolk

One of the original colonial hotels, the Norfolk has been visited by many a famous historical figure. Luxuriously decorated and beautifully maintained, the hotel offers all the modern amenities of a world-class hotel in an historical setting right in the heart of Nairobi.

The New Stanley

Like the Norfolk, the New Stanley (link) is one of Nairobi’s original hotels that has been maintained impeccably and now offers all the modern amenities as well as a charming atmosphere and ideal location.

Nairobi Serena

Another of the finest hotels in Nairobi, this is the flagship of Serena hotels. With colour TVs in every room, a beautiful pool area, lush gardens, and international cuisine the Serena Nairobi is definitely a luxury accommodation.

.

.