KENYA: OFF THE BEATEN PATH DESTINATIONS
When it comes to Africa travel, Kenya is a country that has on occasion been described as being touristy; a commonplace, in authentic, overcrowded and overrun with tourists.
So is Kenya touristy? Far from it, with 1.26 million visitors in 2014 down from a ‘high’ of 1.8 million in 2011, Kenya still lags far behind established African destinations such as Morocco with 10.2 m and South Africa with 9.5 m, not to mention the global tourists Mecca’s like Spain, Italy and France which have well over 50 million annual visitors.
The ‘touristy’ misconception no doubt comes from the intermittent overcrowding in Kenya’s Jewel in the crown the legendary Masai Mara, especially during the epic wild beast annual migration. The noisy, and overwhelming human traffic in this single park has more often than not earned the country the unenviable reputation of being touristy.
Kenya is so much more than the Masai Mara, and with our wide range of Kenyan Safari packages we at Bountiful Safaris readily offer you many off the beaten path destinations. Here are some four off the beaten path treasure troves that will definitely whet your safari wanderlust.
MERU NATIONAL PARK
Made famous by Born Free the bestselling book and subsequent award winning movie recounting the Adamsons’ life in Meru with Elsa, their semi-tame lioness, Meru National Park offers an incredible riches-to-rags-and-back-to-riches story. In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s a huge surge in poaching and general lawlessness saw the park’s infrastructure collapse and large mammals virtually wiped out. Between the years 2000 and 2005, the Kenya Wildlife Service, helped by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), restored Meru National Park from near ruin to one of the most promising tourist destinations in Eastern Africa.
The park teams with wildlife, including the famed Big Five – elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard, plus exceptional bird-life with over 400 bird species reported.
Despite its relaunch, Meru is still one of the least visited of Kenya’s big parks, which is not bad, especially for those who value seclusion and wilderness and like a safari wild and empty.
THE ABERDARE NATIONAL PARK
Located in central Kenya about 180 km north from Nairobi the Aberdare is a mountain range that stretches over a wide variety of terrains covering altitudes from about 7,000 feet (2,100m) to 14,000 feet (4,300m) above sea level. This altitude has given rise to lichen-hung forests with Mist-wreathed moorlands in higher altitudes offering a very unique landscape from the wide, open plains of the African Savannah.
Besides teeming with wildlife, other major attractions of the Aberdare National Park include magnificent waterfalls with the main ones being the Karuru waterfalls and a hike to Satima Peak (the highest peak on the Range) which offers great sight seeing opportunities. It combines views of the most magnificent section of the Great Rift Valley to the west with the awe-inspiring horizon view of the majestic Mount Kenya 40 km to the west.
Despite being an hour or so drive from the city the Aberdare National Park is undeniably the perfect, sequestered, mythical and ethereal holiday destination.
Away from the popular tourist beach destinations of the south coast is Watamu. A small laid back town located in the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya north of Mombasa. Blessed with miles of deserted sugar white sandy beaches, extremely low tides with waters recanting up to a mile at different times of the day, dramatic coral reef formations a few meters from the beach and the magical sunsets and sunrises, Watamu offers a brilliant and unforgettable beach experience.
With long (mostly) deserted sugar white sandy beaches, extremely low tides with waters recanting up to a mile at different times of the day, coral reef Islands few meters from the beach not forgetting the magical sunsets and sunrise, Watamu is the perfect beach destination .
Far flung and lying in the vast remote lands of northern Kenya, is Lake Turkana. Covering an area of about 7,000 sq km with 249 kilometers from north to south and 44 km at its widest point, It is Africa’s fourth largest lake, most saline and the world’s largest permanent desert lake.
Despite being surrounded by an arid landscape that appears devoid of life, the lake is teeming with it. It is a major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, a variety of venomous snakes, and and fish species. Home to hundreds of bird species, it is also an important flyway passage and stopover for migrant birds from Northern Asia and Europe.
The Lake has three national parks which are Sibiloi National Park, the South Island and the Central Island National Parks, Sibiloi National Park being a favorite place of anthropologists, having produced some of the world’s most fascinating human fossil finds.
A visit to Lake Turkana offers you a pleasant change from the usual wildlife and beach attractions that the country is famous for.