This safari focuses on the sights and delights of one of Kenya’s most remarkable geographical formations, the Great Rift Valley.
The Kenyan Rift Valley is a section of 6,000 km rift system which stretches from the Dead Sea in the Middle East, south through the Red Sea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique.
Major geological upheavals have created a series of lakes in Kenya, some of which (Turkana, Naivasha and Baringo) are freshwater, but the others are soda lakes, with a high saline content. These are rich in algae and tiny crustaceans, which are the main food sources for the millions of flamingos gracing the lakes. The quantity of flamingoes is so vast, that travelers driving up the escarpment fifty miles away are greeted with a ribbon of pink in the distance lining the edges of these remarkable lakes.
The upheavals also resulted in the sprouting of volcanic mountains, including Longonot and Mt Kenya. The scenery in the Rift Valley is breathtaking and the approach, via road or rail, from Nairobi will take you up gently through the highlands and bring you suddenly to the edge of the Rift valley, which drops away to a ribbon of green in the valley floor below.
This safari ends with a few days at the breathtaking Maasai Mara. South Western Kenya is the heartland of the Maasai. The Maasai are a strongly independent people who still value tradition and ritual as an integral part of their everyday lives. They regard themselves not just as residents of this area but, as much a part of the life of the land as the land is part of their lives. The Maasai believe that all cattle in the world belong to them, and that all of Kenya is their pasture.
Traditionally, the Maasai rarely hunt. Living alongside wildlife in harmony is an important part of their beliefs. Lions and Wildebeest play as important a role in their cultural beliefs as their own herds of cattle. This unique co-existence of man and wildlife makes this Maasai land one of the world’s most unique wilderness regions.
At the heart of these lands is the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, widely considered to be Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve. The Mara comprises 200 sq miles of open plains, woodlands and riverine forest. Contiguous with the plains of the Serengeti, the Mara is home to a breathtaking array of life. The vast grassland plains are scattered with herds of Zebra, Giraffe, Gazelle, and Topi. The Acacia forests abound with Birdlife and Monkeys. Elephants and Buffalo wallow in the wide Musiara Swamp. The Mara and Talek rivers are brimming with Hippos and Crocodiles.
Each year the Mara plays host to the world’s greatest natural spectacle, the Great Wildebeest Migration from the Serengeti. From July to October, the promise of rain and fresh life-giving grass in the north brings more than 1.3 million Wildebeest together into a single massive herd. They pour across the border into the Mara, making a spectacular entrance in a surging column of life that stretches from horizon to horizon.
At the Mara River they mass together on the banks before finally plunging forward through the raging waters, creating a frenzy as they fight against swift currents and waiting crocodiles. The wildebeest bring new life to the Mara, not just through their cycle of regeneration of the grasslands, but for the predators who follow the herds.
The Mara has been called the Kingdom of Lions and these regal and powerful hunters dominate these grasslands. The deeply endangered Cheetahs are also a common sight in the Mara, as are Hyena and smaller predators such as Jackals. The Mara is an awesome natural wonder, a place where Maasai warriors share the plains with hunting lions, a place of mighty herds and timeless cycles of life, death and regeneration.