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Showing posts from July, 2012

KENYA: Of Maasais and the Mara

Rainclouds greeted us as our aircraft began its descent to the JomoKenyattaInternationalAirport in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital situated 1700 metres above sea level. May is a cruel month for the country’s poor living in the city’s slums, when seasonal rains spell floods and misery. But for the millions of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles who troop from Serengeti in Tanzania to the plains of the Mara, rain smells of food and water across man-made borders. And for tourists from across the world, it is the beginning of a grand spectacle – the Great Migration and the drama on the savannah when predator meets prey. A trip to the AmboseliNational Park at the foot of the famed Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, seemed out of the question on account of the rain-ravaged roads. Cracks had developed in some arterial roads and had to be closed to traffic. The obvious choice was the Maasai Mara Reserve, the ultimate safari destination in Kenya and probably Africa.

Maasai Mara, 270 kilometres from…

KENYA: Lake Naivasha

A zebra crossing and a giraffe crossing later, we are once again on the road to Narok. Huge cactus trees dot the landscape. We take a detour toLakeNaivasha, a freshwater lake in a string of saltwater lakes in theGreat Rift Valley. It is also the highest located of the Rift Valley lakes. Floriculture thrives in the vicinity of the lake, depleting as well as polluting the lake water. Flowers exported from the farms – owned by British, Dutch, Israeli and Indian investors - reachEurope’s markets early morning by flight.
Stopping for the night at a resort on the edge of the lake, a Ramsar site that is the habitat of many mammals, birds and fish, we come across hippos, water bucks, the arboreal colobus monkey and many a winged visitor in the evening sky. A superb starling fearlessly walks around our table hoping to grab some crumbs. Like the Ruppel’s starling we sighted in the Mara the previous day, this little bird has the same iridescent blue coat but with an orange chest and belly. The m…