A safari in Kenya is one of life’s most incredible experiences and the ultimate travel adventure. However, many travellers share some common doubts about security and any media about Kenya seems to bring only stories of terrorism, ebola and road accidents. But you have to be unlucky to get caught up in trouble of these sorts. Kenya has much to offer if you can shake off the media’s negative images, so you should go on safari for the following reasons:
1. To see the Great Wildebeest Migration
2. Beach, bush, mountains, desert, savannah – Kenya has many different environments and with them, different cultures, wildlife and birds
3. Poaching is increasing and gloomy predictions say there won’t be any elephants in 20 years
4. Kenyan people are ready to welcome visitors – low tourist numbers affect the whole economy and Kenyans want to show travellers their beautiful country
The Great Wildebeest Migration
Tourists flock to the Maasai Mara to witness the Wildebeest Migration, often touted as the eighth wonder of the natural world. Each year approximately 120,000 tourists come to see the wildebeest cross the river while crocodiles snap at them. But even if you miss the river crossing, seeing the massive herds (animals in their millions!) grazing the savannah is a sight to behold. Cameras cannot do it justice; you have to see it for yourself.
Whether you want a beach holiday, bush retreat, mountain climb or desert experience, Kenya has it all. And you can put together an itinerary that covers some or all of these environments without having to fly long distances. The most common Kenyan holiday combines a safari with a few days at the beach at the end to wash the dust off. And along with these different environments comes different cultures and wildlife – Samburu in northern Kenya has five endemic species you won’t see in the southern parks. For culture, you can visit a Maasai village, experience 14 different ethnic groups around Lake Turkana and then finish in cosmopolitan Nairobi. The highlight of the central highlands is Mt Kenya, but you don’t have to hike for a week to enjoy the mountains; there are coffee and tea plantations to visit and the beautiful Thomson’s Falls. Through the Rift Valley and into western Kenya are lakes with the myriad birdlife, including the famous flamingos.
Poaching threatens the Kenyan safari
There seems to be a misperception that poaching was a problem in years past, but is not now. Sadly this is untrue, and in fact it is becoming worse. One prediction is that there will be no elephants in 20 years if poaching continues at the current rate. Lions and rhinos are also under significant threat, with rhinos disappearing at a rate that is simply not sustainable. It’s difficult to be optimistic that humans will be able to turn around the trend with market forces so strong for ivory and rhino horn, so it is perhaps better to come to Kenya now to see these magnificent animals before it’s too late.
Tourism is Kenya’s biggest industry so when tourism numbers are low the whole country feels the economic impact. Kenyans are naturally hospitable, keen to welcome visitors and show off their country. Not everyone is a terrorist or a madman; most are proud of their country and excited to meet travellers. Moreover, there is a lot of positive work being carried out by Kenyans to develop Kenya that goes unseen and unheard. Come and see for yourself and be inspired!
A Kenyan safari will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. I came to Kenya in 2010 and have now made it my home. But a word of caution: you may have heard people who have travelled to Africa talk about the “Africa bug” – it bites!
What are your perceptions of Kenya? Do negative news reports impact your decision on where to travel or do you ignore the hype and do your own research on a destination? Please leave your comments below.