Nakuru means "Dust or Dusty Place" in Maasai language. Lake Nakuru National Park (168 kmē), created in 1961 around Lake Nakuru, near Nakuru Town. It is best known for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos nesting along the shores. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. The number of flamingoes on the lake varies with water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from Baboon Cliff. Also of interest is an area of 188 km around the lake fenced off as a sanctuary to protect Rothschild giraffes and black rhinos.
The park has recently been enlarged partly to provide the sanctuary for the black rhino. This undertaking has necessitated a fence - to keep out poachers rather than to restrict the movement of wildlife. The park now has more than 25 rhinos, one of the largest concentrations in the country, so the chances of spotting these survivors are good. There are also a number of Rothschild's giraffe, again translocated for safety from western Kenya beginning in 1977. Waterbuck are very common and both the Kenyan species are found here. Among the predators are lion and leopard, the latter being seen much more frequently in recent times. The park also has large sized pythons that inhabit the dense woodlands, and can often be seen crossing the roads or dangling from trees.
Habitat and Wildlife
Lake Nakuru, a small (it varies from 5 to 45 square kilometers) shallow alkaline lake on the southern edge of the town of Nakuru lies about 160 kilometers north of Nairobi. It can therefore be visited in a day tour from the capital or more likely as part of a circuit taking in the Masai Mara or Lake Baringo and east to Samburu. The lake is world famous as the location of the greatest bird spectacle on earth - myriads of fuchsia pink flamingos whose numbers are legion, often more than a million - or even two million. They feed on the abundant algae, which thrives in the warm waters. Scientists reckon that the flamingo population at Nakuru consumes about 250,000 kilos of algae per hectare of surface area per year. There are two types of flamingo species: the Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater, which has a bill with a black tip.
The Lesser flamingos are ones that are commonly pictured in documentaries mainly because they are large in number. The number of Flamingos has been decreasing recently, perhaps due to too much tourism, pollution resulting from industries waterworks nearby who dump waste into the waters or simply because of changes in water quality which makes the lake temporarily inhospitable. Usually, the lake recedes during the dry season and floods during the wet season. In recent years, there have been wide variations between the dry and wet seasons' water levels. It's suspected that this is caused by increasing watershed land conversion to intensive crop production and urbanization, both which reduce the capacity of soils to absorb water, recharge groundwaters and thus increase seasonal flooding. Pollution and drought destroy the flamingos' food, Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, and causing them to migrate to the nearby Lakes, more recently lakes Elmenteita, Simbi Nyaima and Bogoria.
Local climate changes have also been hypothesized to contribute to the changing environmental conditions in the lakes catchment. Recent media reports indicate increasing concern among stakeholders, as mass flamingo migrations and deaths could spell doom to the tourism industry. The flamingos feed on algae, created from their droppings mixing in the warm alkaline waters, and plankton. But flamingo are not the only avian attraction, also present are two large fish eating birds, pelicans and cormorants. Despite the tepid and alkaline waters, a diminutive fish, Tilapia grahami has flourished after being introduced in the early 1960s. The lake is rich in other birdlife. There are over 400 resident species on the lake and in the surrounding park. Thousands of both little grebes and white winged black terns are frequently seen as are stilts, avocets, ducks, and in the European winter the migrant waders.
Amboseli National Park - "Kilimanjaro's Royal Court..."
Amboseli lies immediately North West of Mt. Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. Amboseli was established as a reserve in 1968 and gazetted as a National Park in 1974. The Park covers 392 km2, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 Km2 Amboseli ecosystem. Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season, making Amboseli a popular tourist destination. It is surrounded by 6 communally owned group ranches.
The National Park embodies 5 main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Within this basin is a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, that floods during years of heavy rainfall. Amboseli is famous for its big game and its great scenic beauty - the landscape is dominated by Mt. Kilimanjaro.
On the border with Tanzania, Kajiado District, South Kenya; Covers 392km2
The climate is mainly hot and dry. Amboseli is in the rain shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The maximum average temperature of the warmest month is 33°C during the day, while that of the coldest is 27-28°C. An annual rainfall of 300mm per annum is distributed in two seasons: April/May and November/December. Recurrent droughts and potential evaporation of 2200mm per annum typifies the region (KWS, 1991).
HOW TO GET THERE
The main road into the Park is from Nairobi are via Namanga (240 km) on the Nairobi - Arusha Road, via Meshanani Gate. The road is tarmac upto Namanga but is badly corrugated and potholed in places from Namanga to Meshanani Gate (75km). The other road and via Emali (228 km) on the Nairobi - Mombasa Road. The road is tarmac up to Emali and murram from Emali to Remito Gate (64 km) Access from Mombasa is mainly through Tsavo West via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) Gate.
The park has a single airstrip for light aircraft at Empusel gate. Other airstrips exist at Kilimanjaro Buffalo lodge and Namanga town.
Viewing roads network covers the park adequately. Many of the park viewing roads are not usable during the rains and because of the loose ashy nature of volcanic soil, the roads become very dusty during the dry season.
The park has five gates, Kelunyiet, lremito, Ilmeshanan; Kitirua and Airstrip.
Observation Hill which allows an overall view of the whole park especially the swamps and elephants,
Contemporary Maasai culture and indigenous lifestyle
Oltukai Lodge; Amboseli Serena Lodge; Kimana Lodge; Tortilis Tented Lodge.
Nairushari Special; Olgulului Public Campsite; Abercrombie & Kent Tented Camp; Ker & Downy Tented Camp; Chyulu Tented Camp; Kimbla Campsite; Cottar's Tented Camp; Leopard Tented Camp; Tortilis Tented Camp.
ABERDARE NATIONAL PARK
The Aberdare National Park covers the higher areas of the Aberdare Range of central Kenya, and the Aberdare Salient to their east.
This park is located 180 km from Nairobi and stretches over a wide variety of terrains because it covers altitudes from about 7,000 feet to 14,000 feet above sea level. Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park covers an area of 767 square kilometers and forms part of the Aberdare Mountain Range. The park contains a wide range of landscapes - from the mountain peaks that rise to 14,000 feet above sea level, to their deep, v-shaped valleys intersected by streams, rivers, and waterfalls. Moorland, bamboo forests and rainforests are found at lower altitudes.
Animals easily observed include the lion, leopard, baboon, black and white Colobus monkey, and sykes monkey. Rarer sightings include those of the golden cat and the bongo - an elusive forest antelope that lives in the bamboo forest. Animals like the eland and spotted and melanistic serval cats can be found higher up in the moorlands. The Aberdare National Park also contains a large population of the black rhino. Visitors can also indulge in walking, picnics, trout fishing in the rivers and camping in the moorlands. Even the bird viewing is rewarding, with over 250 species of birds in the park, including the Jackson's Francolin, sparry hawk, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds and plovers. It is a traditional belief of the Kikuyu that the Aberdare Mountain Range, where this park is located, is one of the homes of Ngai, or God.
Visitors to the park can find different types of accommodation according to their taste, ranging from the Treetops tree-house lodge, to the Ark - built in the shape of Noah's Ark - and three self-help banda sites, eight special campsites and a public campsite in the moorland. There are also five picnic sites. Both Treetops and Ark provide excellent nighttime wildlife viewing. From here, visitors can observe various animals, such as elephant, buffalo, lion and rhino, which get attracted to the waterholes. The park also includes two airstrips - at Mweiga & Nyeri.
Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya National Park ( 0°07'26?S, 37°20'12?E), established in 1949, protects the region surrounding Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa. 1,300 kmē of the park is a forest reserve with 715 kmē above the 3000m (10,500ft) tree line. The park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997.
The Government of Kenya had four reasons for creating a national park on and around Mount Kenya. These were the importance of tourism for the local and national economies, to preserve an area of great scenic beauty, to conserve the biodiversity within the park, and to preserve the water catchment for the surrounding area.
At lower altitudes Colobus and other monkeys and Cape Buffalo are prevalent. Some larger mammals such as elephants range up to 4,500 m (15,000ft).
A small portion of this park's borders near heavy populations have electrified fences to keep the elephants out of the surrounding farmland. Volcanic sediment in the surrounding region's soil and the huge volume of fresh water coming down the slopes makes the area particularly favourable for agriculture.
MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
The Masai Mara (aka Maasai Mara) is a large park reserve in south-western Kenya, which is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park game reserve in Tanzania. Named for the Maasai tribespeople (the traditional inhabitants of the area) and the Mara River which divides it, it is famous for its exceptional population of game and the annual migration of the wildebeest every July and August, a migration so immense it is called the Great Migration.
With an area of 1510 kmē the Masai Mara is not the largest game park in Kenya, but it is probably the most famous. The entire area of the park is nestled within the enormous Great Rift Valley that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to South Africa. The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland, with clusters of the distinctive acacia tree in the south-east region. The western border is the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment of the Rift Valley, and wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good and tourist disruption is minimal. The easternmost border is 224 km from Nairobi, and hence it is the eastern regions which are most visited by tourists.
Masai Mara Wildlife
The Masai Mara is perhaps most famous for its lions. All other members of the "Big Five" are to be found in the Masai Mara, although the population of black rhinoceros is severely threatened, with a population of only 37 recorded in 2000. Hippopotami are found in large groups in the Masai Mara and Talek Rivers. Cheetah are also to be found, although their numbers are also threatened, chiefly due to tourist disruption of their day-time hunting. As mentioned above, the plains between the Mara river and the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment are probably the best area for game viewing, in particular regarding lion and cheetah.
Like in the Serengeti, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitant of the Masai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year these ungainly animals migrate in a vast ensemble north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving an immensity of hervibores: some 1,300,000 Wildebeest, 360,000 Thomson's Gazelle, and 191,000 Zebra. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by a block of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena.
Numerous other antelope can be found, including Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, impala, topi and Coke's hartebeest. Large herds of zebra are found through the reserve. The plains are also home to the distinctive Masai giraffe as well as the common giraffe. The large Roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders. The Masai Mara is a major research centre for the spotted hyena. Additionally, over 450 species of birdlife have been identified in the park, including vulture, marabou, secretary bird, hornbill, crowned crane, ostrich, long-crested eagle, and pygmy falcon.
The Masai Mara is administered by the Mara conservancy,under contract with the (Transmara county council) a local non profit organization formed by the local Maasai, and contains a number of anti-poaching units that are stationed well away from the regions frequented by tourists. Game parks are a major source of hard currency. There are a number of lodges and tented camps for tourists inside the reserve's borders.The tourists/visitors cater for their own expenses unless prior arranged by their agencies.
Lodges and camps inside the reserve include Mara Serena, Governor's camp, Siana Springs tented camp, Mara simba, Keekorok, and Sarova Mara. Outside the reserve borders are Mara Sopa, Elephant Pepper, Royal Mara Safari Lodge and Sekenani camp.
Mara Serena Airport and Keekorok Airport are located in Masai Mara.
The BBC Television show Big Cat Diary is filmed in the Masai Mara.
Samburu National Reserve
Samburu National Reserve is located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro river in Kenya; on the other side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. It is 104 kmē in size and 350 kilometers from Nairobi. Geographically, it is located in Samburu District of the Rift Valley Province.
Samburu National Reserve is located north of Nairobi, and was established in the 1970's. Samburu Reserve is 40 square miles in size; temperature during the day is hot, but tends to cool during the night. This area of the region to this date is referred to as the Northern Frontier District because of the war in the 1960's and early 70's with the Somali people. Culturally, Northern Kenya has always had a strong influence of Somali, Oromo and Borana communities/tribes, who have lived as nomads in the area for many centuries.
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 Uaso Nyiro flows from the Kenyan highlands and empties into the famous Lorian Swamp. The natural serenity that is evident here is due to its distance from industries and the inaccessibility of the reserve for many years.
There is a wide variety of animal and bird life seen at Samburu National Reserve. Several species are considered unique to the region:
Other mammals frequently seen in the park include:
Rhino are no longer present in the park due to heavy poaching.
There are over 350 species of bird. These include:
The Uaso Nyiro River contains large numbers of Nile crocodile.
Shaba National Reserve
Shaba National Reserve has a place in history as the reserve where, Joy Adamson - author of Born Free, was murdered early in 1980. Shaba was named for a massive cone of volcanic rock, which dominates the region. Additional wildlife is found in the woodland and grassland areas of Shaba National Reserve including gazelle, lions, cheetahs and leopards. Shaba is popular for organized safaris.
Buffalo Springs National Reserve
Buffalo Springs took its name for the crystal clear water at the western end of the sanctuary. Tourists can swim in on of the Buffalo Springs pools that are specially conditioned for bathing. In addition to other wildlife the common zebra is abundant in Buffalo Springs and Samburu. The crater in Buffalo Springs National Reserve was created when an Italian bomber mistook buffalo for targets during WW II.
Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is 117 kmē but is only a few km south from the centre of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.
The park is unique in being a protected game reserve within the boundaries of a major city. Lions, cheetahs and rhinos can be seen in the park. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in the park.
At the beginning of the 20th century, many colonialists and travelers passing by Nairobi indulged themselves in hunting with no limits.  The idea of creating a national park in the Nairobi area is credited to Mervyn Cowie, a former hunter-turned-conservationist. Cowie was stationed with the King's Corps in Nairobi. In 1933, a Royal Commission accepted the idea to create a "Nairobi Commons", a conservation area for wildlife. Cowie held meetings between 1933 and 1939 to educate and alert the population around the area, stretching from Karen, where most white settlers lived, to the Embakasi plains where it is bordered by the Railway and the Mbagathi river. Cowie undertook several conservation projects, including adopting a lion which he named Lulu. After World War 2 broke out, a military camp was established in the area, known as King's African Rifles, now Langata Barracks. Crowie's lions, including Lulu, were all killed by the soldiers, enforcing the need to separate the park from the barracks. A barbed wire fence was erected, still standing today. After the war, Cowie was appointed head of the park. Various changes were made, including the establishment of roads and the removal of the Maasai herders who grazed their cattle on the plains. The conservation area was upgraded to a national park and was officially opened on Christmas Day 1946, in the process becoming the first national park in East Africa. After 30 years as a non-governmental organization, Nairobi National Park was handed over to the Kenya Wildlife Service. In 1989, then President Daniel Arap Moi burned 60 million Kenya shillings worth of ivory on a site in within the park, showing how far Kenya was willing to go to curb elephant poaching.
The vegetation is primarily dry savanna, open grass plains with scattered acacia bushes. The park also has a permanent river with a riverine forest.
The western upland areas has an upland dry forest with stands of Olea africana and Croton dichogamus/Brachylaena hutchinsii[verification needed] and calodendrum. The lower slopes are a grassland composed of such species as: Themeda, Cyprus, Digitaria, and Cynodon with scattered yellow-barked acacia, Acacia xanthophloea. In addition there are stretches of broken bush country and deep rocky valleys and gorges with scrub and long grass.
The park also serves many residents and citizens living in the city. The park has a diversity of environments with characteristic fauna and flora. Open grass plains with scattered acacia bush are predominant. Man-made dams have also added a further habitat, favourable to certain species of birds and other aquatic life forms. The dams also attract water dependent herbivores during the dry season.
The park has a rich/diverse birdlife with 400 species recorded. However all species are not always present and some are seasonal. Northern migrants pass through the park primarily during late March through April.
Nairobi National Park is one of the most successful of Kenya's rhino sanctuaries that is already generating a stock for reintroduction in the species former range and other upcoming sanctuaries. Due to this success, it is one of the few parks where a visitor can be certain of seeing a black rhino in its natural habitat.
To the south of the park is the Athi-Kapiti Plains and Kitengela migration and dispersal area. These are vital areas for herbivores dispersal during the rains and concentrate in the park in the dry season.
Large predators - lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah.
Aggregations of large herbivores - eland, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest
Ivory Burning Site Monument
Walking trails at hippo pools
Nairobi Safari Walk & the animal Orphanage
Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 11,747 square kilometers. Opened in April of 1948, it is located near the village of Voi in the Taita District of Coast Province. The park is divided into east and west sections by the A109 road and a railway. Named for the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park, it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park, and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania.
The park can be accessed by three main gates, from Voi through the Manyani gate, from Mombasa through the Bachuma gate or from Malindi through the Sala gate. There are also several airstrips in the park that allow chartered light planes. Inside the park, the Athi and Tsavo rivers converge to form the Galana River. Most of the park consists of semi-arid grasslands and savanna. It is considered one of the world's biodiversity strongholds, and its popularity is mostly due to the vast amounts of diverse wildlife that can be seen. The park also offers camping and several geographical points of interest.
The slightly larger Tsavo East is generally flat, with dry plains across which the Galana River flows. Other features include the Yatta Plateau and Lugards Falls. Wildlife in Tsavo East includes black rhinos and hirola antelopes.
Tsavo West is more mountainous and wetter than its counterpart, with swamps, Lake Jipe and the Mzima Springs. It is known for birdlife and for its large mammals. It is also home to a black rhino sanctuary.
The Mudanda Rock is a 1.6 km inselberg of stratified rock that acts as a water catchment that supplies a natural dam below. It offers an excellent vantage point for the hundreds of elephants and other wildlife that come to drink during the dry season.
The Yatta Plateau, the world's longest lava flow, runs along the western boundary of the park above the Athi river. Its 290 km length was formed by lava from Ol Doinyo Sabuk Mountain.
Lugard Falls, named after Frederick Lugard, is actually a series of rapids on the Galana river.
Aruba Dam was built in 1952 across the Voi river. The reservoir created by the dam attracts many animals and water birds.
Tsavo East National Park is one of the world's largest game sanctuaries, providing undeveloped wilderness homes to vast numbers of animals. A comprehensive list of the animal types found in Tsavo East Park includes the aardwolf, yellow baboon, bat, cape buffalo, bushbaby, bushbuck, caracal, African wildcat, cheetah, African Civet, dik-dik, African hunting dog, African dormouse, Blue Duiker, bush duiker, red duiker, eland, African elephant, bat-eared fox, greater galago, gazelle, large-spotted genet, small-spotted genet, gerenuk, giraffe, African hare, springhare, Coke hartebeest, hunter hartebeest, East African hedgehog, spotted hyaena, striped hyaena, rock hyrax, tree hyrax, impala, black-backed jackal, side-striped jackal, klipspringer, Lesser Kudu, leopard, lion, banded mongoose, dwarf mongoose, large grey mongoose, marsh mongoose, slender mongoose, white-tailed mongoose, black faced vervet monkey, Sykes's monkey, fringe-eared oryx, clawless otter, ground pangolin, crested porcupine, cane rat, giant rat, naked mole rat, ratel, bohor reedbuck, black rhinoceros, serval, spectacled elephant shrew, bush squirrel, East African red squirrel, striped ground squirrel, unstriped ground squirrel, ibex, suni, warthog, waterbuck, common zebra, and Grevy's zebra.
Over 500 bird species have been recorded in the area, including ostriches, kestrels, buzzards, starlings, weaver birds, kingfishers, hornbills, secretary birds, and herons.
Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo West National Park - "The Land of Lava, Man-eaters, Springs and so much more..."
Tsavo West National Park covers 7065 km2, approximately 30% of Kenya's area under parks, and contains a diversity of habitats, wildlife and a mountainous scenic landscape.
The park is a vast expanse of savanna stretching from Mtito Andei, along the Mombasa-Nairobi road and south to the Tanzanian border. The North Eastern boundary along the Highway adjoins Tsavo East National Park, but Tsavo West has a more varied topography and a more diverse array of habitats than its neighbour.
The park's habitats include open plains alternating with Savannah bush and semi desert scrub, acacia woodlands; rocky ridges and outcrops and more extensive ranges and isolated hills; belts of riverine vegetation; palm thickets and on the Chyulu hills, mountain forest.
There are numerous rocky outcrops and ridges and part of the park, towards the Chyulu Hills, is of recent volcanic origin with lava flows and ash cones including the Shetani lava flow, an example of a recent volacano.
In the far south western corner on the Kenya Tanzania border is Lake Jipe, part of which is in the park. This very attractive lake is fed by runoff from Mt. Kilimanjaro and the North Pare mountains.
At Mzima Springs, in the North of the park, water that has filtered underground from the Chyulu Hills gushes from below a lava ridge into a series of clear pools.
South Eastern Kenya, inland from Mombasa, and the altitude ranges between 200 - 1000m.
Temperature ranges from 20 - 30o C and rainfall from 200mm - 700mm. Two ran seasons: Long rains - March/April & Short rains - Nov/December.
HOW TO GET THERE
The main access routes are through Chyulu Gate from Amboseli and Mtito Andei Gate from Nairobi (240 km) and Mombasa. Visitors from Mombasa also use Tsavo Gate near Manyani. The park can also be reached via Taveta-Voi road through Maktau, Ziwani and Jipe gates.
Kamboyo, Kilaguni, Tsavo Gate, Jipe, Kasigau, Finch Hottons, Ziwani and Maktau airstrips are in good condition.
Chyulu, Mtito Andei, Tsavo, Jipe, Maktau Gate, Kasigau and Ziwani Gates.
Recent volcanoes, lava flows and caves with potential for geological and cave exploration, and hiking. Mzima Springs & underwater hippo watching, Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, Lake Jipe, Mt. Kilimanjaro, elephant, rhino, diverse bird and plant species. And if lucky - Wild dogs.
Ngulia Lodge; Kilaguni Serena Lodge; Severin Safari Camp/Lodge; Finch Hattons.
Lake Jipe (public); Kamboya (public); Royal Little (special); Simba (special); Kenge (special); Kudu (special).
Kamboyo guesthouse; Tsavo West
Lake Nakuru National Park
P.O. Box 51322 - 00200, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: +254 20 2244068 / 317656, Fax: +254 20 317656, Cell phone: +254 722 884748
Website: www.africansermonsafaris.org E-Mail: email@example.com
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