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KENYA: THE SAFARI COUNTRY

Kenya has long been a world leader in tourism.

Accordingly, the Kenyan government’s stated policy is to conserve wildlife for posterity while giving due regard to human interests. Therefore, the government encourages self sustaining tourism that does not degrade the environment while at the same time reducing the conflicts between the local communities and wildlife. It is not surprising therefore that Kenya is one of the few touristic destinations that give visitors a veritable spectacle of wildlife that co-exists harmoniously with its human neighbours.

Wildlife in Kenya is not only a precious natural resource and heritage but it also makes Kenya the ultimate destination of unlimited adventure. Great names among them, Queen Elizabeth of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Earnest Hemingway and others have lived with lasting memories of a land vivid with contrasts, with open wide spaces, snow capped mountains on the Equator, vast rolling plains teeming with wild animals that was and still is awe inspiring and cannot be rivaled anywhere else in the world.

The visits by these luminaries and Royalty have given the seal of approval of Kenya’s claim as Nature’s wonderland and the home of “Safari” which is a Kiswahili word meaning “journey”

Kenya is one of the world’s greatest tourism destinations, known for its remarkable diversity of landscapes, wildlife and cultures. From sweeping savannahs to tropical beaches and coral reef, dense equatorial forests to mighty mountains, endless opportunities for adventure and discovery and more, Kenya is a world in itself. In fact, Kenya is particularly attractive to the travelers as it offers a number of exciting journeys or popularly known as “Safaris”. Safaris range from wildlife safari to business and conference safari.

Wildlife safari

Kenya is home of the wildlife safari and offers some of the best accessible game viewing in the world including the “Big 5 (Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, Rhino and Leopard). These together with many other animals that are unique in Africa can be seen at Kenya’s National Parks and Game Reserves.

Kenya’s prolific and well conserved wildlife is unparalled anywhere in the World. This is a land where the world’s remaining populations of big cats, big mammals and plains’ game still roam free in their natural habitats.

For bird-watchers and ornithologists, there is plenty to see. Kenya is home to over 1,000 different types of birds, from the fastest bird on earth (the ostrich) to the smallest bird on earth (the bee hummingbird),

You will also be mesmerized by watching the slow tortoise to the fastest mammal on earth, the cheetah living in the same habitat!

You do not also have to be an entomologist to be enthralled by the huge colonies of colourful and rare butterflies, sometimes in their millions that can be seen in the Kenyan forest breeding grounds or while on their annual migration from Africa to Europe, Northern America and Canada.

For those thrilled by the sight of over five million hooves and horns of browsers trudging and shoving each other to jump first into a crocodile and hippo infested mighty and fast flowing river to cross to the other side for pastures, there is Masai Mara. The experience of the wildebeest, zebra and Thomson's gazelles migration in the Maasai Mara National Park will leave you breathless...It only happens once per year!!

Indeed, the annual migration of these animals from Serengeti National Park (Tanzania) into Masai Mara National Park once every year from July to October is so immense and intense, that it is called the Great Migration!

For those lovers of the great and extremely intelligent apes…you will be thrilled to have a look at the closest ape to human beings, the chimpanzee in their natural habitats. Kenya has been accepting numerous numbers of orphaned chimps from Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of wars and outbreak of diseases. Please visit www.olpejetaconservancy.org/chimpanzee_sanctuary to learn more about these magnificent animals.

Sun and Sand Beach Safaris

The Kenyan coastline is approximately 536 kilometers long fronting the Indian Ocean with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The long white sandy Kenyan beaches are home to some of the most diverse marine life in the oceans, with the abundance of beautiful bright and enchanting corals, dolphins, butterfly fish, sharks and turtle, complemented by the large number of yellow and red tuna and snappers which are not to be missed while on a tour at the Kenyan coast. You will indeed relax on the South or North coast tropical beaches and enjoy the glorious Kenyan sunshine.

The Kenyan Coast is also rich in history, dating back over 1,000 years, epitomized by the Vasco da Gama Pillar built by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama in 1498, Fort Jesus built by the Portuguese in 1593, the 15th Century Mwana Mosque, Mnarani Ruins (consisting of 2 mosques and tombs built between 1475 and 1500), Gede Ruins and Museum built in the 12th Century and the famous Jumba la Mtwana (or the “house of the slave”) which was built in the 13th Century as a slave trade center.

The diverse cultures found at the Kenyan coast has been influenced by a mixture of Swahili, Arabic, Portuguese and European cultures mainly from Italy, Germany, France and England. The region comprises of five sub-regions, namely, the City of Mombasa, the North Coast, the South Coast, Malindi and Lamu, each with unique features and tourist attractions.

There is a very rich diversity of attractions ranging from the friendly people, white sandy beaches, coral barrier reefs teeming with underwater marine wonders, bird-life, national parks with wide variety of animals, fantastic coastal and sea foods, religions, dressing/clothes, buildings and architecture, drinks and water sports including scuba diving visit http://www.dianimarine.com/, sailing and fishing.

Sports Safaris

Kenya is a great destination for sports. Kenya is known for having some of the greatest runners in the world. Tourists can also join Kenyan marathoners during their practice running on the hills of the Great Rift Valley. Kenya hosts many marathons throughout the year. Some races take place in the highlands, wilderness of National parks; e.g. the Safaricom Lewa Marathon combines community conservation and sports. You can visit http://www.lewa.org. Proceeds that come from the race go to development projects for the local community.

Marathon is not the only kind of sports found in Kenya. Visitors can participate or watch football, cricket, polo, horse racing, kayaking, golfing - Kenya has one of the greatest concentrations of international golf courses. Other sports found in Kenya; horse-riding, scuba diving, mountain climbing etc. For more info, visit http://www.tourism.or.ke/, www.brandkenya.or.ke

Photography Safaris

Ever since the arrival in Kenya of the late American President, Theodore Roosevelt in 1909 on an expedition to collect natural history specimens for American Museum, world interest on Kenya as nature’s wonderland was enhanced. By then, photography was not the objective of the safaris since big game-hunting was the major pursuit. Today, capturing the big five or any other type of game is done by camera as hunting for sport or otherwise is banned in Kenya since 1978 in line with Kenya’s Wildlife Conservation and Management policy please visit www.kws.org.

A renowned Israeli photographer Vadim Onishchenko of Photolight Company organizes many photography  tours (Fotosafaris) to Kenya each year. If you are interested in undertaking a photo-tour to Kenya, you can visit http://www.photolight.co.il/ for more information about this exciting safari of a lifetime.

Cultural Safaris

With a diverse ethnic composition, Kenya welcomes you to sample her wide-ranging cultural diversity. The Kenyan people are renowned for their warmth, friendliness and hospitability. Unique culture of some ethnic groups especially the Maasai is a great experience to be enjoyed. You will meet the tall elegant Maasai whose dress code would make you want to take a thousand and one pictures.

Bull fighting in Kakamega is a spectacular event that is gaining popularity. Visitors can also be able to experience different cultural ceremonies like the traditional circumcision of boys in the Western province that takes place in the month of August, that is, once every two years.

Ecotourism Safaris

Ecotourism promotes responsible tourism practices within the tourism industry. This entails encouraging the adoption of best practices in the use of tourism resources, working with local communities and managing wastes and emissions.

Ecotourism also means responsible travelling when touring in natural areas and involves supporting the fauna and flora and the local economy. It was started in Kenya in 1996 and involves encouraging of building of eco-friendly lodges and camps. Buildings are constructed from local material like lava rocks, thatch and lumber from reforestation programme, electricity is generated by solar system. Waste is collected recycled or even used as compost. The aim of eco-tourism is to protect wildlife, the wilderness and the culture of the local people.

Currently, several eco-lodges have been certified and awarded Golden status by the Ecotourism Kenya which manages a certification scheme for tourism accommodation facilities based on environmental and social criteria. These are Amboseli Porini Tented Camp and Campi ya Kanzi Tented Camp (in Amboseli National Park), Basecamp Masai Mara Lodge and Olonana Camp (Masai Mara National Park) and Elephant Pepper Tented Camp and Sanctuary Olonana Lodge (Nairobi National Park). Numerous others have been certified and awarded Silver and Bronze Status please visit www.ecotourismkenya.org.

Business and Conference Safaris

Conference tourism is a relatively new concept in the tourism industry and revolves around service provision to business travelers attending conventions, conferences, seminars and workshops. In the past, contributions from business meetings and conferences to the wider tourism industry and the economy at large have always been underestimated. However, the global picture shows that Conference Tourism to be the largest and fastest growing sector in the Tourism industry with greater economic implications due to the huge amounts of money involved as a result of high spending by the visitors. It is estimated that globally the sector is in excess of $ 40 Billion. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), estimates that Conference Tourism will double by 2013.

Business visitors spend twice as much as ordinary visitors and many of them are on expenses, often their expenses are paid for by the organizations they represent, leaving these tourists with substantial disposable incomes that they can spend on the side to maximize their enjoyment on a short and often demanding business trip or conference.

In Conference Tourism, Kenya is ranked 4th in Africa after South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. Africa accounts for 2 % of the global Conference Tourism market share. The growth is largely attributed to conference facilities of international repute and standards combined with back-up services that were established recently in various major cities and towns in Kenya. The country has a great potential for moving up the ladder when all the necessary strategic plans are implemented especially on focusing on trainings in Conference Tourism.

Since Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) was established as a State Corporation in 2005, Kenya has seen a growing number of international conferences. The initiative to make KICC a conference tourism destination has been done through a raft of rehabilitation and renovation processes of all facilities including 10 exhibition rooms, the Plenary Hall (the Tsavo Ballroom) that can hold up to 5,000 delegates sitting theatre style, Delegates Lounge, VIP Lounge, the Amphitheatre, hotels and catering facilities and also improvement of the information communication technology facilities, sound systems, Wireless Simultaneous Interpretation Equipment Booths and observer Galleries.

Indeed, KICC is now a leading conference tourism destination in Africa after it partnered with excellent service providers offering services like internet, banking, air travel and boutiques, all within easy access inside the KICC facility. For more information please visit www.kicc.co.ke .

Kenya’s other major Cities, Mombasa and Kisumu have also ideal Conference facilities augmented by a warm climate, sufficient bed capacities in international five star hotels which are necessary to attract business tourists. The missing link for these cities is a lack of international conference facilities that can cater for thousands of delegates. However, this is being addressed by the Government in concert with private developers to come up with such facilities.

Top on the list is being spear-headed by the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC) which is currently setting up the Mombasa Convention Center with a special emphasis of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE). The Convention Center will be able to accommodate conferences of up to 5, 000 delegates, including associated activities such as exhibitions. For more information please visit www.ktdc.co.ke.

As a parting shot, the Embassy welcomes you to visit Exotic Kenya, the land of discovery whose unsurpassed attractions have over the years been accorded the seal of approval by the Royalty, Presidents, Celebrities and millions of other holiday makers. With its superb network of well managed National Parks, Game Reserves, Marine Parks, Biosphere Reserves, Archaeological Sites, Museums, awe striking scenic beauty, pearly white sandy beaches along the coral reef sheltered waters, green palms swaying with the breeze, sparkling cocktails and sumptuous international and local cuisines, Kenya is, indeed, the ultimate “dream destination”.

Your Kenyan Safari will be full of cameos that you will treasure for the rest of your life. You will not be the only one because many a visitor who set out to tour other destinations in Africa as well, begin their safari of discovery in Kenya and end it in Kenya. After all, Safari was born in KENYA!!

 

 
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