Do It Yourself: A Safari Destination Guide


Amboseli Game Reserve
Kenya's Amboseli Game Reserve sits beneath snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro. Although the reserve is quite dry, there are many water holes that attract elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffe, and countless bird species. Because of its proximity to Nairobi and its many permanent lodges, Amboseli suffers from heavy tourism and lacks some of the wilderness ambience you can find at other sites. Still, it's worth the visit to see Kilimanjaro, however—best done at dawn or dusk.

Lake Nakuru
Centrally located in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru is famed for its huge flocks of lesser and greater pink flamingos. (More than half of the world's five million flamingos nest in the Rift Valley, with the largest populations at Lake Nakuru.) The soda lake is ringed by acacia groves and dense forest. There are herds of waterbuck, gazelle, and impala at water's edge, along with many shorebirds including pelicans, storks, and the fish eagle. Giraffe herds range close by. Lake Nakuru has also been recently designated as a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino.

Maasai Mara Game Reserve
Situated on the northern edge of the Serengeti Plain at an elevation of 5,200 feet, the Mara justly enjoys its fame as one of the few areas left in Africa where game can still be observed in vast numbers. The diverse terrain—savannah, rolling hills, forests, and water courses—supports a wide variety of animals, including the big cats—lions, leopards, and cheetahs—which prey on migrating herds. If you visit during the August wildebeest migration, you can see as many as 150,000 animals in one area. The Maasai Mara is also home to virtually all of the other popular species—elephants, rhinos, giraffe, zebras, and gazelles.

Mount Kenya National Park
At 17,058 feet, Mount Kenya is East Africa's second highest summit. The surrounding foothills and lowlands, with their lakes, rainforests, and dense woodlands, are among the most scenic regions in Kenya, This is one of the best spots in East Africa for a walking tour. Although the game viewing is not as good as at Samburu or Maasai Mara to the south, you can still expect to see elephant, buffalo, bushback, and a rhino or two if you're lucky. If you can afford it, spend a night or two at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, a classic colonial-era lodge—one of the best in Africa.

Samburu National Park
Samburu, together with nearby Buffalo Springs and Shaba, compose the best game-viewing area north of Nairobi. Hence, most Kenyan safari intineraries include a stop at Samburu. All the major big-game species are here, plus hippos and crocodiles. There are large herds of zebra and antelope, many giraffe, and ostrich are quite common. Try to visit a Samburu village. The women wear elaborate, colorful necklaces, and the tribal dances are inspiring, to say the least.

Tsavo National Park
A huge (8,034 square mile) and very arid park, Tsavo has some of Africa's largest elephant herds, but they can be hard to locate. Tsavo West, dominated by the Yatta Plateau, an ancient lava flow, contains the more interesting terrain, but more wildlife is found in Tsavo East, which consists mostly of open savannah. Along with elephants, look for rhinos, lions and lesser kudus. Don't miss the Mzima Springs oasis, where hippos and crocodiles can be viewed from a submerged tank and observation platform.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 8 Aug 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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