By Deanne Scanlan
When one thinks of Africa Elephants, Lions and Giraffe automatically come to mind- and rightly so because they most certainly are major draw cards. A safari involves the Big 5 – the beautifully horned Rhino and the elusive leopard the Cape buffalo, elephants and lions. The phrase was coined by the big game hunters who said they were the most difficult to hunt on foot.
Some operators conduct tours where you may just see a kill and surprisingly there are people who find this thrilling. For me personally I prefer to see them living in harmony, that is less confronting. Knowing what happens and seeing it first- hand are not my idea of an exciting safari. Kenya is a good place to start a journey as flying into Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport can if you are lucky give you a quick glimpse of Giraffe grazing in the adjoining National Park. It is easy to tell a tourist who has never been before with cameras protruding from car windows.
But never fear, Africa has wildlife wherever you look. With the recent droughts the wildlife have some closer to the towns and cities sadly sometimes resulting in tragedy. Places that are a must see in Nairobi are the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, this to me is the number one where you can sponsor their great work and ‘adopt’ a baby for $50US a year. It is special to follow the path and healing of the babies like our little Duppoto who will one day be integrated back into one of the wild herds. The Giraffe Centre in the suburb of Karen where you can feed them from a platform which is so fulfilling and an experience like no other. There are a few of the funny little warthogs waiting below for what the Giraffe drops- which isn’t much. The Kazuri bead factory is where you will be able to buy exquisite necklaces and bracelets as well as watching the ladies make them from the raw product.
The Rift Valley Lake Elmenteita and Olpajeta Conservation Lodges are more glamping than camping. In Olpajeta you may see your first Lion and definitely and abundance of Zebra, Elephants and Gazelle, Cheetah Hippos and Rhinos including the last male Northern White Rhino in the world. Inside the reserve is the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Opened in conjunction with the Jane Goodall Institute and the Kenya Wildlife Service it is a home for orphaned and abused Chimpanzees. It truly is an inspirational place and one I believe animal lovers would enjoy.
Heading south and skirting the Tanzanian border we now head to the famous Maasai Mara. It is a contradiction in many ways as you visit a village made of mud with no electricity where the animals must live indoors at night for protection. The colourful and lively men of the village wear the knock off Rolex watches and have several laptops (that use solar no doubt). The women of the village still build the huts while the men hunt and tend the livestock. One thing that can be said for Africa – it is an education of mammoth proportions.
BEST TIME TO GO : Anytime but the migration of the Wilderbeest is May to October Northwards and December to February Southwards. Low season months will be cheaper.
FLIGHTS TO JOMO KENYATTA : Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Australia all fly to Kenya with one stop.
VISA REQUIREMENT: All Australian and New Zealand Passport holders must apply for a tourist visa.
TOUR OPERATORS: We travelled with WILDLIFE SAFARI COMPANY.
Phone 0411 682 577
By Deanne Scanlan