Published On: 05 Aug
Tania, one of our Africa specialists recently returned to Kenya for the first time in four years.
When asked what my favourite African country is, I usually answer that it's the last one I've visited. This was definitely the case with Kenya. Four years had passed since my last visit, but I was delighted to find a country just as amazing as I remembered it. I visited just after (and slightly during!) the rains, which meant that everything was spectacularly lush, green and even more beautiful than before.
I enjoyed revisiting the familiar areas I'd seen on my previous trip, but also had great fun discovering new places such as the Great Rift Valley, Samburu National Reserve and the Naboisho Conservancy next to the Mara. I was also thrilled to see my first Caracal (in the Great Rift Valley) and my first 'kill' when a Thompson's Gazelle was run down by a cheetah right next to my safari vehicle in the Masai Mara. To see a cheetah in full sprint takes your breath way and the fact that we were the only vehicle to witness it made the experience even more special.
What really struck me was how wonderful it is to combine a safari in the Masai Mara with the Lewa / Laikipia / Samburu areas of northern Kenya and also the Great Rift Valley if time allows. The Mara has its obvious draws - the Great Migration passes through the middle of the reserve and the game viewing is as good as it gets - but there was so much else that gave me equal cause for enjoyment. Game drives are the only wildlife activity permitted within the Mara, so I relished the opportunities for walking, horse riding, village visits, camel trips and night drives that are all on the menu in the north. The scenery here is also incredibly different, with most of the lodges situated in the most beautiful spots with striking views.
Naboisho is a new conservancy just to the north of the Mara with some spectacular camps, so an excellent alternative or add-on to it. As with the Mara, where I would recommend an established favourite such as Rekero (within the Reserve itself), it is always best to stay under canvas so that you can listen to the African bush at night! I also managed to check out a little place called Emakoko on the edge of the Nairobi National Park - very comfortable and delicious food, so an attractive alternative to one of the larger, more impersonal city hotels if you have to overnight in Nairobi.
Kenya is relatively quiet at the moment, but no less beautiful and alluring, with lots of special offers and still a fantastic array of places to stay. It's an amazing country that has something to offer everyone, from seasoned safari-goers to first time visitors, honeymooners and families.