What to Expect on Safari at Mount Kenya

What to Expect on Safari at Mount Kenya

My previous articles on Kenya traced my safari adventure which began with a layover in Nairobi followed by a bush plane transfer to Maasai Mara. Next on the itinerary – a bush plane flight northeast to Nanyuki in central Kenya. Known as the gateway to three-million-year-old, Mount Kenya, and the wilderness of Mount Kenya National Park, Nanyuki is also home to the famous Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club — Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway stayed here.

With magnificent views of Mount Kenya, the Fairmont offers 110 luxuriously appointed rooms set in over 100 acres of landscaped gardens. This more traditional, and historical inspired property is a nice compliment to the more rustic/luxury tented camps or boutique lodge experiences found in other parts of the country. The Safari Club, with its central low rise main building, is ringed by individual quaint cottages that offer more privacy. There are a variety of dining options including private al fresco dining experiences; open-kitchen restaurant, Colobus; or cozy wood paneled bar, Zebar. A wide range of services and amenities are offered from rigorous to relaxing – golf, trout fishing, spa, horseback riding, and mountain ascents, which can be combined with visits to local game reserves to continue that Kenya safari experience.

Nestled in the lush foothills of Mount Kenya, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is uniquely located right on the Equator, stretching into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. We were welcomed on property with an Equator Ceremony, accompanied by local Kikuyu songs and dance (and an equatorial demonstration that proves water does indeed run down the drain clockwise in the Northern side, and counterclockwise on the Southern side).

Plan to stay a few days at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club because there are plenty of excursions within a short driving distance to keep you busy. Safaris can be exhausting with early morning game drives and bush flights therefore you might want to also put a visit to the pool or the spa on your itinerary if you need a little down time or pampering.

Here are a few other day trips and experiences to enjoy in the Mount Kenya area:

Animal Orphanage:
Visit the animal orphanage, just a short walk from the hotel, for an opportunity to learn more about endangered wildlife including the Mountain Bongo, one of the largest forest antelopes known for its striking reddish-brown coat, distinctive white and yellow stripe markings, and spiraling antlers. The orphanage, located within the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, is also home to injured, neglected, abused, or frightened wild animals that are tended to with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. Rare white zebras are safe from extinction due to the orphanage’s active breeding and release program. Motivating local youth to become future conservationists is another goal of the organization, hosting over 10,000 students annually giving them one to one contact with wildlife. A stroll through the orphanage will put you up close and personal with a variety of species roaming free including friendly warthogs, tortoises, and llamas.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy:
A safari drive through this 90,000-acre ranch will give you the chance to gaze upon the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and two of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino. The conservancy’s goal is to ensure the protection of existing rhino, elephant, and other wildlife that call this landscape home. And, it is the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy also supports the people living around its borders to ensure that wildlife conservation translates to better education, healthcare, and infrastructure for the next generation of wildlife guardians.

Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary:
This sanctuary was established as an agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service, and the Jane Goodall Institute to provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from Western and Central Africa. Many were confiscated from cramped and unnatural living conditions and arrive with injuries sustained from abuse at the hands of humans. Some arrive with broken bones or bullet wounds and others are psychologically traumatized after witnessing the slaughter of their family members. At Sweetwaters, they are nursed back to health and coached to relearn the many skills necessary to survive in the wild like hunting, eating leaves off a tree, or building a sleeping nest. Some must learn to shed human behaviors such as walking upright. During your visit you will have the chance to watch the chimps as they explore, climb, socialize, and learn to be chimpanzees all over again.

I can’t forget to mention these adorable “domesticated” animals which call the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club their home. Tusker and Grammy, Canine Ambassadors, who come from a local guide dog association, don’t actually live at the hotel day and night. They are cared for by a staff member who brings them home in the evening and handles all their vet care. These precious pups take their role of welcoming guests very seriously and are available for a leisurely walk around the property.

It’s never TOO early to plan your African Safari Adventure. Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, for assistance planning a Kenya Safari itinerary and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers regardless of credit card membership.

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email. For more information on my trip planning services, for assistance with Amex “Pay with Points” and Amex Fine Hotels & Resort Hotels, please click HERE

Kenya Safari Planning Basics

Kenya Safari Planning Basics

Now that we have turned the calendar page and put 2020 behind us, it’s time to think positive, look forward and plan for future travel. It’s the perfect time to put some serious thought into a bucket list trip: an African Safari. A safari is a magical and unique experience that envelopes you in nature, culture, and history. Safaris enrich the mind, stretch the imagination, calm the soul, and encourage self-reflection. Out of the many countries our two sons have visited with us, our safari experiences definitely stand out as most memorable. This is an itinerary that requires advance planning to ensure availability in the more intimate and authentic tented camps and lodges, arrange for visas, as well as inquire about any necessary inoculations. As a travel agent, I can help ensure the entire process runs smoothly from initial inquiry, to your safe return home.

LOCATION
A relatively small country in East Africa, Kenya’s capital and central transportation hub is Nairobi. Travelers fly into the international airport Jomo Kenyatta, while connecting flights within Kenya or to neighboring countries are booked from Wilson, the domestic airport just next door. After a short stay in Nairobi (most international flights arrive in the evening), you will reach the other areas of the country primarily by bush plane. There’s plenty to explore within Kenya, but if you have more time, a Kenya safari can be booked in conjunction with a visit to Tanzania (to the south), Uganda (to the west) or Rwanda (to the south west). These countries, plus 15 others, comprise what is known as East Africa.

LANDSCAPE
When compared with popular safari destination South Africa (located in the southernmost point on the African continent,) Kenya has a more temperate climate. To learn more, check out my previous articles on South Africa Safaris: here. The further north in Kenya you travel, the drier and hillier the landscape becomes as the area doesn’t benefit as much from the rains received in the south-west of Kenya. Because it shares its longest border with Tanzania, Southern Kenya is the best place to see glacier-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.

GAME VIEWING
Fantastic year-round game viewing makes Kenya a TOP safari location. Although it is a “Big 5” destination in the sense that lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino are found here, it’s difficult to see them all in the same place. Rhinos are the rarest and most difficult to find and unfortunately, due to poachers, have become a critically endangered species. Safari itineraries will often include overnight stays in Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu, Mt. Kenya, or the Laikipia Reserve in order to increase the variety of game viewing.

Kenya is the perfect place for first-time safari goers – because the land is so flat and open, it’s easy to enjoy 360-degree views and spot game throughout the year. Roads are well-maintained and English is widely spoken throughout the country. Long-standing conservation projects in Kenya also means that animals are generally plentiful and in good condition. Special relationships between tribal landowners, the government, conservationists, and safari operators mean that the needs of humans, nature, and agriculture are carefully balanced.

MAASAI MARA
Kenya’s most well known wildlife gem is the Great Migration: the 1,900-mile journey of over two million wildebeest (and zebra and gazelle) as they follow the rains over the Mara River into the Maasai Mara National Reserve where they feast on thousands of hectares of fresh grazing land. They stay for about four to five months, slowly mowing the Mara between approximately July and November when they cross back into Tanzania’s Serengeti region. (Only humans require a passport to cross this border!) The massive herds also attract large predators including lion, leopard, hyena and the occasional cheetah, therefore witnessing a “kill” on safari is most likely to occur during this time period.

Our guide took us on a bush walk to visit a rhino, heavily guarded against poachers

The main reason the Maasai Mara attracts the Migration is because its open, flat savannah dotted with flat-topped acacia trees, provides superb grazing. The wide landscape gives you that classic “safari look” with green grass turning golden as the seasons change. It’s impossible to know exactly when wildebeest will cross the Mara River – they don’t all cross in one place at the same time. Large groups can be viewed at different points and on different days. This unpredictability and sense of exploration is what makes safaris so exciting.

Subscribe to my blog to read my upcoming articles on Kenya including Safari Packing Tips, Weekend in Nairobi, and specifics on Maasai Mara, Mt. Kenya, and the Laikipia Reserve.

Need help planning your Bucket-list Trip?

It’s never TOO early to plan. Would you like to maximize the redemption of your American Express Points? Email me: mollie@herrickstravel.com, and find out about upgrades, special amenities, and VIP service for all Herricks Travel American Express/Altour customers regardless of credit card membership

Become a SUBSCRIBER and receive all my latest articles right to your inbox: look for the “subscribe to this blog by email” box and then respond to the follow-up email. For more information on my trip planning services, please click HERE