Saturday, September 6, 2008

Snow in Rift Valley... is it another Wonder in Kenya?

The Tuesday evening of 2nd September 2008 will be carried down in the history of Kenya meteorology. The Great Rift Valley formed the jumbo theatre of what residents of Gakingi village will keep to remember for decades. What started as a usual evening downpour, suddenly turned out to be a real climatic reversal……

Hailstones, snowballs, ice crystals, snow, sleet, solid rain…… name them, were the terms used to describe this dramatic event which brought almost all Kenya into a situate tranquil. And, on Wed 3rd all was in the headlines ‘snow in Nyahururu!’ the region has now become a unique attraction for short-timed kenya safari for the residents.

Kenya has for long time been habituated to a tropical weather conditions therefore, the Nyahururu ‘snow fall’ on Tuesday evening would easily be mistaken to a start of ‘Kenya Alps’. The snow covered an area of almost 200 hectares with a depth of 10 inches.

Excited residents of Gakingi had their pleasurable affair as they played with the snow that struck their village after an evening downpour. Whatever title used to refer to this event was of miniature significance to them - all what they know is that it was ‘Mbarafu’ (snow) and Kenya sasa ni kama ulaya (Kenya is like abroad) like to say "Kenya has not been locked out by mother nature"

Nyahururu is located in the eastern warp of the Great Rift Valley. It is in Nyahururu where the great ancient British explorer Sir. Thomson with his German counterpart Sir. Fischer’s discovered the Nyahururu water fall in early 90s. The water fall was later named after Thomson 'Thomson's fall' and it forms a pleasant stop over for many safaris in Kenya. Fischer’s on the other hand was rewarded in Naivasha where a tall rocky outcrop in Hells gate national park was named after him.

Although many theories have come up from a diversity of sources explaining what could be the most possible cause of this ‘snow fall’, effects of global warming should be given a priority. What happened in Nyahururu on Tuesday should not be taken lightly. The event shows how evident the effects of global warming have become significantly unpredictable and perilous. The whole world should take the Nyahururu event as a case study of how unpredictable the magnitudes of global warming effects are.

Adventure Travel Crew

Kenia Safari Desk

Natural Track Safaris

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Best moments: Czech meets Kenya at Elsamere

It's amazing how history carries its lure beyond human indulgence. It works like magic, thriving all the emotions, perceptions and feelings beyond imagination. It also fosters culture and brings strong bonds even among the most diverse ethnicities. It is this history that made Tomas Mareth and party from Czech Republic feel part and parcel of Kenya. History made it easy for them to feel 'at home away from home'. In Kenya they got the history magic …...
Tomas Mareth and party were in their long anticipated Kenya safari. The safari was to take eleven days on kenya wildlife safari tour and then reach its best moments in the white sand sun-baked beaches of the Kenyan coast.
The first activity was climbing Mount Kenya. This saw them ascend the premier peak of the equator also famous as – the only snow capped point on the equator - that is according to early explorer Dr. Ludwig Krapf. Sirimon route was the best for them and on the fourth day, they enjoyed the fantastic view of sunrise at Lenana.
The journey to the peak requires an adventurers' heart. From the gate you pass through the rain forest where some trees are unimaginably huge from where you traverse the mangrove forest before reaching 'Old Moses' camp. The second day is even more tasking and involving. 'Think of hiking a distance of 22 kilometers having to pass through rough terrains, boggy soil, and crossing rivers and 'swamps'. All this happen at an attitude above 3000 meters above sea level. It might sound tiresome and involving, but amazingly, the whole journey turns out to be very interesting and rewarding
Unlike 'Cocacola' (Marangu) route in Kilimanjaro where one walks on gradually outlined paths, Sirimon route takes you through great valleys and rocky outcrops. Among the valleys is Makinda, the longest valley in Mt. Kenya which finds its source slightly below the three peaks (Batian, Nelion and Lenana)
When Mareth learnt about Joy Adamson history and how close they were from the jungles in which the famous born free documentary was filmed he was very impressed. He consulted with the group and enquired whether it was possible to have them pass by Joy and George Adamson's museum. "Yes! It's possible". I said.
When the day came to start their Kenya safari, all the arrangements were in order and now it was confirmed by Peter the driver guide that they would pass through Elsa-mere where the Museum is located.
All this time, I had not known why Mareth and the party were so much interested in visiting any trace of Joy Adamson until I learnt it later at the airport …..
Joy Adamson was born in Troppau, Silesia, Austria-Hungary (now Opava Czech Republic – the home country of Tomas and party). She was born Friederike Victoria Gessner as the second of the three daughters (Traute, her and Dorle) of Victor and Traute Gessner who later divorced while she was still a young girl.
Joy married three times in a span of ten years after her first love affair left her heartbroken. She got the name 'Joy' as a nickname from botanist Peter Bally who she got married to as the second husband after World War II making it her first marriage in Africa.
Joy met her third husband George Adamson while on a Kenya safari and they made a home in Kenya. It is while with George that she (Joy) did what turned to be a global legacy.
Tomas told me that in 'Opava', there still stand a house where Joy spent her childhood with her grandma' who she called 'Oma'.
At Elsa mere, Tomas and Party came live with what two decades ago formed a normal lifestyle of Joy Adamson in Africa.

Adventure Travel Crew
Natural Track Safaris

Monday, September 1, 2008

African Safari: The safaris of the season

The peak season of tourism in Kenya has this time been dramatic like no other in the recent past. Many visitors from many countries feared the worst as a result of post election violence that seized Kenya early this year. However, this is a gone case and Kenya is safe, peaceful and a great destination. Altogether, the new Kenya offers more than ever. If you are among those who cancelled their trips to Kenya or changed to a different destination, pole Sana! You missed big time.

Peter and James, (our guides) have just completed two of the most unique and dramatic Kenya holiday safari of the season. They came back and narrated their experiences to Kenya safari desk of Natural Track Safaris. This is what they had to say;-

"It has been long since I handled a camping safari, but this one had its uniqueness" says James. "Ilikuwa mzuri sana, tulifurahi" adds James in Swahili.

James started his narration by giving me a hand written testimonial from the clients. At first, I thought it was a note from Mara Simba Lodge (Where the guests spent their nights in Masai Mara) but it wasn't. The opening remarks of the recommendation gave a picture of a happy writer who wrote in great hurry. I quote;

"Dear James, Winnie and all the members of Natural Track Safaris, We are YAIR, GALIT, OFRI, YONATHAN and TAMIR – Family from ISRAEL want to thank you a lot for the special, great safari trip in Kenya. James our guide was excellent and did for us everything with love ad kindness. Thank you for the food, Lodges, tents, help and wonderful world in Kenya. We hope many groups from all over the world will choose like us to take a good time in Kenya with you. we have been in many places in the world, YAIR is a tourist guide for many years and we know that you, all of you – James, Winnie, Sami and others are very special, professional persons and leaders……………" (See this full original scanned copy of this on the testimonials section of our website
Personally, I met this family on their 4th day – the day they were doing a trek in Menengai crater and Hells gate in Naivasha. Both treks were fantastic.

According to James, this group was the luckiest in the jungles, for instance, in Samburu; they saw gerenuk gazelle (the browsing antelope) few meters from the park entrance. The camp was fantastic and the food that Sammy (the safari cook) made was comparable to none.

The morning game drive was climaxed by a unique episode – two lionesses were closing the Ewaso Nyiro River. Of even great interest was how these two lionesses were able to swim through the mighty waters of Ewaso nyiro. This family had also a chance to visit the local people to have an authentic African taste – the traditional Samburu community gives a real experience of unspoiled African culture and tradition, a heritage that has been passed to many generations. It is the Samburu's who have very close similarities with the famous Maasai community in Kenya.

Lake Nakuru national park was the next destination. To get here, they drove through the recently constructed all weather roads through Nanyuki (where the rail builders said enough is enough) and passing through beautiful sceneries and landscapes on the slopes of the Africa's second highest mountain – Mt. Kenya. I have no words to explain the joy that this family had while at Thomson's falls – a re-known attraction along this route named after ancient explorer.

Now they are in Lake Nakuru. It is here that, this lucky family saw one of the most endangered games in the world – The black rhino. In fact, they saw two of them. Unbelievable! James also told me that they saw the white rhinos, Rothschild giraffes, buffaloes, common zebras not forgetting the great spectacular view of millions of flamingos, great white pelicans and the marabou stocks at the mouth of Njoro River. .

"Basically, the whole kenya safari was fun. I might not be able to tell the most fulfilling encounters that this family had, but I can remember baboon cliff, Menengai, hells gate and Mara were more than interesting for them" says James.

On the last day – the family was scheduled to fly back to Israel but lol! – there occurred an incidence that made them to reschedule. They lost there bag that had all their five passports and money. For many tour operators, this could have been a nightmare as they would shun off emergencies but thanks to Natural Track – it knows no surprises. Peter, Winnie and the entire company mobilized all the resources that seemed necessary and of help to the emergency and within two days; the passports were found, new air tickets got and the family flew back to Israel safely.

Whatever happened to them on the last day cannot be compared to the memory these family carried back to Israel. Thanks to all.

Peter and his group on the other hand, had a different story, characterized by confidence, risks, determinations and great virtues. I will tell you about; Lynda and Roger

After missing her flight from Heathrow, Lynda had to take a different flight to connect with Roger in Nairobi. On reaching Nairobi at around 9 am, she queued the long line to get her luggage, lol! It was not there. Still more, there was some mis-information about the exact time that Lynda was to arrive at the airport. I mean the representative who was to pick Lynda from the airport for briefing and transfer to the hotel came way too early only to be told that Lynda was to arrive at noon, that flight got delayed. So she went back to prepare a come back at noon.
By the time Lynda got to the airport at 9 am, it was three hours from the time the representative was told that she (Lynda) would arrive. The great confidence to Lynda, I suppose was to know that Roger was already in Nairobi for he had arrived a day before. Good enough, she could remember the name of the hotel. So, she took a taxi which drove her to the hotel where Winnie (the representative) joined them later.

The big dilemma came on the first day of the safari – Lynda was to choose between, safari and the luggage. Thanks to Winnie who promised to do the later for Lynda. And by the time Lynda reached Nairobi from Amboseli, her luggage was just a call away. Winnie was very helpful to Lynda and more so to Roger, whose Kenya safari could not be a success without Lynda.

Now Lynda has her luggage and joy fills them all. Peter (the guide) shared the merry as they drove to Samburu; he said the journey to Samburu from Nairobi seemed 'fupi' (shorter) than other times. I suppose he learnt the joy magic.

Getting the luggage was Lynda's great joy and marked a new beginning of many things including the safari itself. I met Lynda and roger at Menengai where we did a trekking and proceeded to Hells gate for a caving and rock climbing challenge. It was worth a challenge going in and out of 'Hell'

From Naivasha, they proceeded to the picturesque Mara and then to the white sun baked beaches of Mombasa. If they will share with me the experiences they had in Whitesands, which am sure were great, then I will seek their permission to share it with you – but for now ………

Adios amigo!!

Adventure Travel Crew
Natural Track Safaris
Kenya safari desk