Kenya Great Rift Valley Parks Safari
The tip of the snow-capped Mt Kenya peeped at us at an elevation of about 2500 meters. Traveling north from Nairobi, this often cold Mt Kenya region was one of the uplands before going down to the Samburu National Reserve. It was the first destination on this Kenya Great Rift Valley Parks safari.
Over one hundred elephants swimming in the Ewaso Nyiro River is quite a feast for the eyes. This was the gladdening scene that we found at the Samburu National Reserve. It gave us hope of similar encounters despite fewer than usual sightings later. In most respects, the animals fall further back into the park and neighborhood during the rainy season. With many other rain-made water supplies, they can afford to wander distances away from the river.
The Samburu National Reserve is a northern rift valley park. Two nights in the park saw our triumphs include the star attractions of Kenya’s northern parks. These special northern five rarely found in other parks are; the Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk, Reticulated Giraffe, Somali Ostrich and Grevy’s Zebra.
An early morning departure saw us gaining height from Samburu towards Mt Kenya. On a clear day it is possible to get excellent views of the mountain but we missed that. It was not a clear day. Luckily, our next stop got Mt Kenya well exhibited. The Olpejeta Conservancy was the in-between destination on this Kenya Great Rift Valley Safari. The Aberdare ranges and Mt Kenya rise on either side of this private park.
Towards the end of 2009, four of the world’s known eight northern white rhinos were trans-located to Olpejeta. These most endangered rhino sub-species then remained three. One of the three was a male called Sudan. However, unfortunately, Sudan died when it was desperately hoped that there would be an offspring. Najin and Fatu, both females, are the two remaining northern white rhinos. I got to visit to see the three rhinos within the boundary of their 700 acre enclosure. They are majestic. Each day, and an extra cost, a few people are allowed a behind the scenes visit to the rhinos.
The sweet waters chimpanzee sanctuary in the Olpejeta Conservancy is the only place to see chimpanzees in Kenya. Olpejeta is in itself a complete safari pack. If you are thinking of a wildlife experience couple with one or two other activities such as bush dining, night game drives, and camping then you will do well to think of Olpejeta.
We set out early from Olpejeta to the Great Rift Valley destination that was the Lake Nakuru National Park. The tarmac road via Nyeri and Nyahururu towns is the longer road. The shorter all-weather road by Solio ranch has always been the better choice for me. Crossing the equator point at the road is not crossing the equator without the bowl and water test. I like to do it on every occasion. You will find people on standby to give a short lecture about the tea and coffee plantations on that road. We stopped, listened, and rewarded the lecturer. We bought fresh tea and coffee grown and prepared right there at the farms.
There was a time when the known picture of the Lake Nakuru National Park was that of flamingos, thousands to over a million of them. From around the year 2013, Lake Nakuru, like other rift valley lakes, has been breaking banks to reach further around the park. The excessive water inflow is said to have spoiled the flamingo feed in the saline lake. We were eager to see how many of the graceful birds we would find. They were a handful. A larger number of this migratory can be found in the neighboring Lake Bogoria National Park .
We watched a leopard and a lion on top of a tree but they not together. They could not be. Lions in the Lake Nakuru National Park climb trees. A story goes around that the fierce buffaloes in the park drove them to that talent. The lions in the Masai Mara are also tree climbers although there has been no mention of the “danger” that has driven them to the trees.
Kenya is said to have the majority of the world’s remaining population of black rhinos. The Olpejeta Conservancy and the Lake Nakuru National Park are two of the few places to see both the black and white rhinos. Of course black and white does not literally mean that those are the colors of the rhinos. The black are solitary narrow-mouthed rhinos found around bushes because they are browsers. On the other hand, the white have a wider mouth sort of square lipped and are more the social rhino species. They are grazers therefore you will find them feeding in the open.
You can drive into the Lake Nakuru National Park through any of the three official gates. Except for the flamingos, the park does not have wildlife migration seasons. The fence keeps the animals within but cases of escapes have happened especially the baboons and monkeys. Lake Nakuru National Park is edged by some elevations including observation points. I frequent the baboon cliff and out of Africa viewing points.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is often the last destination of my safaris. Driving from Lake Nakuru to Masai Mara takes about five hours non-stop. Even with breaks such as we had, we arrived in Masai Mara on time for lunch. During the afternoon game drive there were over two hundred elephants within a distance of about five kilometers. Five black rhinos waited for us to find them. That is what the Masai Mara can do. It really is the park with the highest number of varied wildlife in one setting.
In many instances, my safaris take me to two or more of the Rift Valley parks and locations. A Kenya Great Rift Valley Safari circuit highlights the region’s riveting natural features and the wildlife, also exhibiting a chain of lakes cutting across from the country north to south set on changing landscapes of grassland plains and bush lands.
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