Saturday, September 25, 2010
Even when the first permanent buildings were constructed, Nairobi remained a real frontier town, with rhinos and lions freely roaming the streets, and lines of iron-roofed bungalows stretching ignominiously across the plain. However, once the railway was up and running, wealth began to flow into the city. The colonial government built some grand hotels to accommodate the first tourists to Kenya - big-game hunters, lured by the attraction of shooting the country's almost naively tame wildlife. However, almost all of the colonial-era buildings were replaced by bland modern of lice buildings following independence in 1963.
As East Africa's largest city and the region's main transport hub, Nairobi is situated firmly at the centre of national life and politics, a position that did the city no favours in 1998, when the US embassy on Moi Ave was blown up by militants linked to Osama bin Laden, killing more than 200 Kenyans and 8 Americans.
The compact city centre is bounded by Uhuru Highway, Haile Selassie Ave. Tom Mboya St and University Way. Northeast of the centre, on the eastern side of Tom Mboya St, is the rougher River Rd area, where most cheap holds and bus offices are found; this district has a bad reputation for robbery and counterfeit products, so be careful.
Various suburbs surround the downtown area Southwest of the centre, beyond Uhuru and Central Parks, are Upper Hill, Milimani and Hurlingham, with several hostels, campsites and midrange hotels. Further out are Wilson Airport, Nairobi National Park and the expat enclaves of Langata and Karen. The country's main airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, is southeast of the centre.
North of the centre you will find the suburbs of Westlands and Parklands. The suburbs further out, such as Kibera, Kayole and Githurai, are mainly poverty-stricken slums.
For a rudimentary guide to the downtown area, many hotels and travel companies give out free promotional maps. For more detailed coverage, the best option is the City of Nairobi: Map & Guide produced by Survey of Kenya. It covers the suburbs and has a detailed map of the central area, but it's difficult to get. Also adequate, with some hotels and places of interest marked, is the 1:15,000 Map Guide of Nairobi City Censure (KSh200) published by Interland Maps.
Much better, though bulkier, is Nairobi Adz (KSh510) by RW Moss. Like the equivalents in other countries, the AtoZ covers the whole city in detail.
Barely one hundred years old, Nairobi like the country it capitalizes, is a city of many contrasts. Nairobi's inhabitants are just as diverse as the heritage from which they come. Indigenous African Kenyans are the clear majority in town. But Asian Kenyans are prominent in many areas of commerce and industry. Most Asian Kenyans are third or fourth generation descendants of those who came a century ago from the Indian sub-continent to build the country's railway. The numbers of Somali, Ethiopian and Ugandan residents are growing, as Nairobi has become a haven for the politically and business minded. Kenya'sover40differenttribesconvergeandmix well with the Europeans and other foreign nationals and expatriates. The spirit of the Kenyan people is sometimes overwhelming to the newcomer. Hospitality, warm smiles and graciousness are everyday expressions of welcome.
Nairobi buzzes with local and international travelers coming and going for business, pleasure, or simply transiting. The city has over 60 hotels to accommodate visitors, whether they prefer luxury all the way, are here on a shoestring budget or fall somewhere in between. The city has more than adequate numbers of three-, four- and five-star hotels, including some of the oldest and finest in East Africa
With great diversity in the people and cultures found in Kenya's capital city, it is no surprise that there is a wide variety restaurants. Nearly every major ethnic group in the world is represented in Nairobi through its cuisine. The variety goes one step farther with choices ranging from five-star restaurants to take-out service and everything in between. Assuredly, no one goes away from Nairobi feeling disappointed in the food!
The city and its environs have everything to offer the visitor and resident alike. Sight-seeing and attractions in and around the city are plentiful. The Nairobi National Park is one of the country's most frequented game parks. It is unique in that it borders on the city limits and is just eight kilometres (five miles) from downtown. The National Museum of Kenya is a must-see for all Nairobi visitors. A visit to the museum is useful for gathering information on the background of the country, the land, the people, the history, the birds and the animals, especially before going off on safari.
Day excursions to game parks and other attractions are easily arranged. A visit to the Nairobi suburb of Karen is quite popular. The town was named after Karen Blixen who wrote "Out of Africa" under the pen name of Isak Dinesen. It is very easy to spend a full day in the Karen area Among the town's attractions is one of the country's top golf courses. Karen Country Club. Other popular attractions include Giraffe Manor, the Ostrich Park, Mamba Village, the cultural dance program at the Bomas of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden and Museum, and bats of wonderful shopping.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Nairobi National Park is just 117 sq. kms. in area but within its boundaries can be seen most of East Africa's big five, except the elephant. There are quite a number of lions in the park while several families of cheetah are resident and there is a healthy black rhinoceros and buffalo population. Several leopards live in the park but being mainly nocturnal, they are rarely seen. African wild cats and serval are occasionally encountered.
The population of animals fluctuates with the season, because the park is not ant entirely enclosed. The cats are mainly resident but most of the wildebeest, kongoni and zebra disperse southwards across the Athi Plains during the rains. When the water supply dries up outside,the herds return to the park where there is always water available for them.
The total number of animals in the Nairobi National Park varies from year to year but at the end of a particularly dry season, when the rains have failed, there are many ungulates concentrated there while the predator population may Increase, with lions and cheetahs moving in from the south.
Nairobi National Park was established in 1945, the first such park to be created in Kenya Until the late 1950s, it was open on all sides, but as Nairobi grew into East Africa's premier city,it became necessary to fence three sides of the park to prevent what until then had been regular incursions into the suburbs by prides of lions.
The fence cannot stop a determined lion and there are still occasional reports of lions being seen around the suburbs and surrounding areas. But those which enter and leave the park now normally do so via the unfenced southern boundary across the Mbagathi River. Climbing leopards on the other hand more often show up in these residential gardens at night.
Today, Nairobi National Park presents a spectacle similar to that seen by the early explorers who were amazed by the splendor and abundance of Kenya's wildlife. Much of the park is open grassland, unchanged over the centuries and providing seasonally abundant food for herds of antelope and zebra.
Along the western boundary, there is an area of dense highland forest favored by black rhinoceros and buffaloes while the semi-permanent Mbagathi River is bordered by open woodland dominated by spectacular acacias, the yellow 'fever trees' In addition, a number of artificial water holes have been created by damming streams to ensure that water is always available for the herds.
Nairobi National Park is noted for its Masai giraffes and impala, and it is one of the best places to study ostriches in the wild. Hippopotamuses and crocodiles are found in the river and in some of the larger dams while the large troops of olive baboons make a striking sight as they cross the plains, the youngsters alternatively riding on their mothers' backs and slipping to the ground to play with their cousins. But beware! The big males are fearless and many a driver has had the unpleasant experience of trying to eject from his or her car a baboon which has jumped in through an open window.
Visitors are allowed out of their cars at Observation Hill, which overlooks the central plain where the herds of antelope and zebra gather, and by the Hippo Pools on the Mbagathi River. Here, a nature trail has been laid out and it is possible to stroll at leisure through the acacia woodland. Bird watchers in particular enjoy this walk for they have an opportunity to see, often at very close range, a wide variety of African riverine forest birds. Masai giraffes, waterbuck and impala are usually present in this area.
For many, however, the main aim of a visit to the Nairobi national park is the first sighting of a wild lion. Circling vultures may indicate a kill, though more likely it will be a group of mini-buses which will reveal their presence. To see a lion undisturbed by others, you need to get into the park soon after it opens at 6 a.m. Then the lions are on the move, hunting. Careful scanning with binoculars, particularly of areas adjoining the herds my reveal the tawny outline of a Couched lion.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Masai Mara is also the best place to observe prides of lion. Leopards and cheetah are also present but infrequent. The rhino population has also increased steadily after a dramatic fall. Elephant and Buffalo are also plenty. The Masai Mara's grassland also supports an abundance of other plains game such as the topi, kongoni, gazelle, eland, zebra and impala.
Lodges inside the Masai Mara game reserve are: Keekorok Lodge, Mara Serena Lodge, Governors Camp and Little Governors' Camp, Mara Sopa Lodge, Mara Intrepids Club and Mara Sarova. It is also possible to stay outside the reserve at Kichwa Tembo, Fig Tree Camp, Mara River Camp, Mara Buffalo, Mara Safari, Mara paradise lodge, Sekenani Camp, Siana Springs, Ol Kurruk Lodge and Oseur Camp.
One fabulous way to see wildlife in the Masai Mara is from huge hot-air balloons. Hot air balloons are popular and balloon companies exist in the Masai Mara and Taita Hills. Rides take place early in the morning with lift off occurring just before sunrise. The experience of floating over the animals is unforgettable and worth doing at least once. After an hour of divine lightness, you land among whatever game happens to be standing there, and commence a champagne breakfast while the animals stare at you.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010
Altitude 1, 500 - 2, 160m above sea level
Area: 471 km
Fauna: buffalo, eland, mountain reedbuck, steinbuck, bush pig, leopard and elephants
Birds: more than 300 species
The worlds Youngest Mountains
Approximately 80 km long the Chyulu hills are one of the worllds youngest mountain ranges the most recent volcanic activity having occurred about 500 years ago.
A KWS campsite is available 1km from the Chyulu gate.
Where to Stay
Lodges and tented camps are available around the ungazetted areas of the Chyulu Park
Hell’s Gate despite the name provides an ideal venue for a trip from
Situated deep on the floor of the
The scenery is truly enchanting; the glowering cliffs, water gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub-clad volcanoes and belching plumes of geothermal steam make it one of the most atmospheric parks in
Altitude: 1,560 – 2, 187m above sea level
Area: 68 sq. km
Vegetation: A wide variety of Succulents
Birds: More than 100 species
Special Interest: Hell’s Gate has been designated as a World Heritage and enjoys global protection as one of the most unique natural sites on earth.
How to Get There
Take route A104 from
Where to Stay
Although there is no accommodation in the park a lot of accommodation services are available around Naivasha town.