Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, was established at the turn of the century by the Europeans as a stores depot during the building of the East African railway. Without plan or design, it established itself as the capital of the British protectorate, and today has a population of around one million comprising of a mixture of African, Asian and European. While the predominant tribe is the Kikuyu, the city does not have one single dominating ethnic group. Its accidental choice as capital, virtually located on the meeting of territories of three important tribes, has been diplomatically fortunate for the economic growth of the country.
Places of Interest:
Masai Mara Game Reserve
Masai Mara is the Kenyan portion of the great Serengeti Plains, which means that it is quite simply one of the most astounding game parks in the world. Wildlife of all sorts is abundant here, but the particular attraction of the Serengeti has always been the migration of its enormous herds of wildebeest (1.3 million) and Zebra (400,000). In search of water, the herds move north from the Serengeti in Tanzania in May or June, arriving in Masai Mara around mid-July. The return to the South usually begins in the middle of October. Accompanying the herds, of course, are their natural predators, so that the migration also brings to Masai Mara large prides of Lion.
While the migration period is undoubtedly the best time to visit Masai Mara, the reserve easily outpaces almost any other park even when the wildebeest are in the South. Many different species of Antelope, Elephant, Leopard, Cheetah, Rhino, Giraffe, Buffalo--virtually all of Africa's big game animals in fact--can be found in abundance in Masai Mara.
Amboseli National Park
The most distinguishing feature of Amboseli is its dramatic setting. Mt. Kilamanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, rises a majestic 19,340 feet (5,895 meters) just across the Tanzanian border, in full view of the park. Most of the game can be found clinging to the swamps and grasslands in the center of the park, an oasis for Buffalo, Lions, Cheetah, and over 420 species of birds. Amboseli is also one of the best parks in Kenya to see Elephant, which travel in large herds near Ekongo Narok Swamp.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru is a shallow, alkaline lake, just the sort of place that flamingoes go crazy for. Estimates of the flamingo population of Lake Nakaru vary by the millions--what is certain is that any visitor to Lake Nakuru is likely to encounter flocks large enough to induce absolute awe. Over four hundred species of birds have been sighted at the park, but it also serves as a sanctuary for the endangered Black Rhino as well as being home to various other large game species, including Leopard.
Mount Kenya National Park
Africa's second highest mountain is one of the continent's most popular destinations for mountaineers and trekkers. Its two highest peaks, Batian (5,199 m.) and Nelion (5,188 m.), require considerable technical climbing skills. However, the third highest peak, Point Lenana (4,985 m.), can be reached by hikers who are in reasonably good condition. The climb can be made in three days, the descent in one or two, and the views from the top are as spectacular as you would expect. The most scenic trek, the Chogoria route, takes 5 - 7 days.
While such accessibility presents rare opportunities, it has also resulted in a good deal of misjudgment by casual visitors. The most common error is overly rapid ascent, which can cause headaches, nausea, and even death. Improper preparation for bad weather conditions is another common problem. The best times to make the ascent are from January to March, and September to October, when the weather tends to be warmer and dryer.
Surrounded by an arid, extraterrestrial landscape that is often devoid of life, the long body of Lake Turkana droops down from the Ethiopian border, extending nearly 200 miles from north to south and 30 miles at its widest point. It is Africa's fourth largest lake, fondly called the Jade Sea because of its breathtaking color.
Turkana is home to a burgeoning population of Crocodiles, who are unmolested by poachers because the lake's waters are heavily alkaline: a trait that makes their skin worthless. Consequently, some of them grow to monstrous sizes, and swimming in the lake is risky. Fishing, however, is of course safe and very good here. The world's largest fresh water fish, the Nile perch, lives in the lake, and it can get up to 400 pounds (181.4 kilograms).