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Kenya

Happy Steps Travels

Lamu Island / Kenya

The small island of Lamu situated northeast of Mombasa has old-world charm. Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Kenya's oldest continually inhabited settlement dating back to the 12th century. This island's rich trading history is reflected in the buildings. Architectural cocktail of intermingled cultures, the Arab world, Europe, and India are evident but with a discernible Swahili influence. Intricately carved wooden doors, coral stone buildings, hidden courtyards, verandas, and rooftop patios are common features. Visiting Lamu is a journey into the history. Dhows plow the harbor and donkeys still rule the streets as they have done for centuries.
Most of Lamu's population is Muslim. Both men and women dress in traditional attire. Top attractions on the island include Lamu Museum, with displays on Swahili culture and the region's nautical history; Lamu Fort; and the Donkey Sanctuary. The beach buffs can bask on one of the island's white-sand beaches or sip Arabic coffee in a local cafe.

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Hell's Gate National Park / Kenya

A hot spot for climbers, Hell's Gate National Park is one of the few parks in Kenya that allows camping and enables you to explore on foot or bicycle. Hell's Gate offers excellent climbing and hiking opportunities, with two extinct volcanoes; the red cliffs of Hell's Gate Gorge; ObsidianCaves; and the pointed column of rock known as Fischer's Tower, a former volcanic plug.
Geothermal features include hot springs and natural geysers hissing steam through vents in the earth's crust. The park also protects a wide variety of wildlife, including leopards; baboons; hartebeest; eland; ostriches; gazelles; and more than 100 species of birds, as well as eagle and vulture breeding grounds. The first Geothermal power station in Africa, Olkaria Geothermal Station, lies within Hell's Gate National Park and generates power from underground heated and pressurized water. The OloorKaria Maasai Cultural Centre within the park is worth a visit with Maasai singing, dancing, and jewelry-making demonstrations.

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Amboseli National Reserve / Kenya

Amboseli National Reserve is one of Kenya's most popular tourist parks. The name "Amboseli" is a Maasai word which means 'salty dust', signifying the parched conditions in the park. The reserve is home to large herds of elephants. That makes it one of the best places in Africa to view them from the close quarters. Other wildlife commonly spotted in the park includes big cats, such as lion and cheetah, as well as giraffe, impala, eland, waterbuck, gazelle, and more than 600 species of birds.
Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here. The park has the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulfur springs, savannah, and woodlands. Look for the local Maasai people who live in the area around the park.
Another major attraction at Amboseli National Reserve is the view of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak situated in Tanzania.

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Lake Naivasha / Kenya

Lake Naivasha is a haven for bird lovers. Thislake lies at the highest point of the Great Rift Valley and shrink considerably in times of extreme drought. A flourishing floriculture industry in the area also has adverse impact on water levels and quality.
One of the best ways to view the wildlife is to take cruise in the lake by boat. More than 400 species of birds have been spotted here, including African fish eagles. The Hippos are seen sloshing in the lake. Giraffes, zebras, buffalos, and eland graze in the Crescent island around the edges of the lake. Keep a lookout for colobus monkeys in the canopies of the trees on this island.
On the southern shore of Lake Naivasha, you can pop in for a cup of tea at the Elsamere Conservation Centre, the former home of the late Joy Adamson, author of Born Free and her husband George.

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Lake Nakuru National Park / Kenya

Lake Nakuru National Park, in Central Kenya, is famous for its huge flocks of pink flamingos. Thesebirds throng on Lake Nakuru itself, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes that comprises almost a third of the park's area. More than 450 other species of birds have been recorded here. Apart from birds the park Nakuru National Park - Lioness has rich diversity of other wildlife. Lions, leopards, warthogs, waterbucks, pythons, and white rhinos are some of the animals you might see. The landscapes in the park range from sweeping grasslands bordering the lake and the rocky cliffs and woodland elsewhere.
The park also protects the largest euphorbia candelabrum forest in Africa. These tall, branching succulents are endemic to the region. These provide an interesting textural element to the arid landscapes.

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Malindi / Kenya

North of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast, Malindi is a beach resort popular with European visitors. Thanks to its rich trading history, it is also a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, with a split personality. Part historic old town, part modern tourist hub, Malindi is where travelers come to sun on the white sands of Watamu Beach; dive the coral reefs of the Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks; and soak up a dose of Swahili history in the historic town, dating from the 12th century. Here, you can visit the Jami Mosque; two pillar tombs from the 14th century; and the Church of St. Francis Xavier, one of East Africa's oldest churches. On the promontory, the Vasco De Gama Cross is one of the oldest standing monuments in Africa.
Another popular tourist attraction is the Falconry of Kenya, a rehabilitation center for sick and injured birds. About 30 kilometers northeast of Malindi, the Marafa Depression, also called Hell's Kitchen or Nyari, is a set of sandstone gorges sculpted by the wind and rain.

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Maasai Mara National Reserve / Kenya

Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the world's most sought after game reserves. The Masai Mara reserve is actually the northern part of the Serengeti National Reserve which is part of Tanzania and forms a wildlife corridor between the two countries. It's named after the majestic, red-cloaked Maasai people who live in the park and graze their animals here as they have done for centuries.
The park is famous for the Great Migration, when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson's gazelle travel to and from the Serengetifrom July through October across Mara River, risking themselves as the Mara River is thronged by lurking hippos and crocodiles eager to make the migrating animals their pray.
The park is also known for excellent predator sightings, due to its large populations of lion, cheetah, and leopard. The viewing becomes even better especially in the dry summer months beyond October through February. The weather here is mild and gentle year-round due to its altitude.

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Mombasa / Kenya

Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city and biggest port, is a multicultural city. British, Portuguese, Arab, Indian, and Asian immigrants form the rich cultural caldron. The multicultural influence is evident in the architecture, as well as the many different types of cuisine. Mombasa is,in reality, an island connected to its mushrooming development on the mainland by a causeway, bridges, and ferries. Coral reefs fringe the coast for hundreds of kilometers providing fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities. The diving heavens are in Mombasa Marine National Park and around Wasini Island. Dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing are also popular.
A visit to the 16th-century Fort Jesus and Old Town with its narrow streets, ancient Swahili dwellings, markets, and souvenir shops are the paradise for history buffs. The north shore of Mombasa has the modern attractions including Mombasa Go-Kart, cinemas, sports, and a cornucopia of restaurants. This being a coastal hub, beach lovers will find some worthy strands nearby. North of the city, Nyali and Bamburi Beaches are favorites, while the white strands of Shelly, Tiwi, and Diani Beaches are popular spots south of Mombasa.

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Mount Kenya National Park / Kenya

In the Central Highlands, east of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing the country's namesake highest mountain at 5,199 meters. This Mountain provides the rare sight of equatorial snow. Mount Kenya was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions. It actually comprised of three glacier-cloaked peaks. The highest is Batian, although Nelion, the next highest, is a tougher climb. The lowest peak, Lenana, is considered the easiest climb, although unpredictable weather can pose challenges.
Scenery in Mount Kenya National Park varies from glaciers, lakes, and mineral springs to alpine forest and dense pockets of bamboo. The diversity of flora and fauna makes the safaris a rewarding experience. Among the wildlife here, you may spot black and white colobus monkeys, buffalo, elephant, tree hyrax, leopard, and hyena. Mount Kenya is a paradise for the trekkers.

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Nairobi / Kenya

Kenya's capital and largest city, Nairobi is legendary for its colorful colonial history. It was once the capital of British East Africa, luring settlers who came here to stake their fortune in the coffee and tea industries. Today, you can explore the city's famous historic sites, as well as some excellent wildlife-related attractions.
The important places to visit in Nairobi include The Nairobi National Museum, Karen Blixen Museum, the restored residence of the famous Danish author of the book Out of Africa, also known by her pen name, Isak Dinesen, Giraffe Centre and David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Kazure Beads. Nairobi also boosts of a National Park.
To see wildlife without venturing far from the city center, one can Nairobi National Park, now a black rhino sanctuary and also home to a diversity of other African wildlife.

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Ol Pejeta Conservancy / Kenya

About 200 kilometers north of Nairobi, near Mount Kenya National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is set against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-capped Mount Kenya. It is a prime place for close-up wildlife encounters. Conservation and sustainability are key at this 90,000-acre private game reserve, where you can view the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo). Apart from big five, one can see many other animals such as cheetah, hyenas, zebra, and hartebeest.
The conservancy is perhaps best known for its northern and southern white rhinos, including Baraka, a blind black rhino, who lucky visitors might have the chance to feed. You can view the wildlife on self-drive or guided tours, and entry includes a visit to the chimpanzee sanctuary.
Day visitors are welcome, and if you want to extend your wilderness adventure, you can stay overnight in accommodations that range from bush camps and safari cottages to a charming colonial ranch house.

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Tsavo National Park / Kenya

Tsavo National Park is Kenya's largest park. Tsavois sliced in two parts called Tsavo West and Tsavo East. Together these both put together comprise four percent of the country's total area. They also encompass rivers, waterfalls, savannah, volcanic hills, a massive lava-rock plateau. The Tsavo National Park has an impressive diversity of wildlife. Situated between Nairobi and Mombasa, Tsavo East is famous for sightings of large elephant herds rolling and bathing in red dust, perfect for photography.
The palm-fringed Galana River twists through the park. This water source provides for excellent game viewing and a lush landscape in the midst of the arid plains. There are many other highlights. Some of them are the Yatta Plateau, the world's longest lava flow; Mudanda Rock; and the Lugard Falls.
Tsavo West has more varied topography and is wetter. It has some of the most beautiful scenery in the northern reaches of the park. Highlights Tsavo West are Mzima Springs, a series of natural springs with large populations of hippos and crocodiles; a bird sighting location of Chaimu Crater and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. Denser vegetation in Tsavo West makes viewing wildlife difficult, but the beautiful scenery more than compensates for it.

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Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves / Kenya

On the banks of the palm-lined EwasoNyiro River, Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves lie in an arid region in the north of Kenya. Shaba National Reserve is one of the areas where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness, made famous in the film Born Free. The region being arid, wildlife in all three reserves depends on the waters of the river to survive. Many species are specially adapted to the parched conditions of this park. A notable few areGrevy's zebras; Somali ostriches; and gerenuks, the long-necked antelope that stand on two rear legs to reach the fresh shoots on upper tree limbs.
A top attraction in Samburu National Reserve are the Sarara Singing Wells, local watering holes where Samburu warriors sing traditional songs while hauling water for their cattle to drink. You might also be rewarded with sightings of big cats and wild dogs.

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