Now prices are down, travelers are few while the recently formed coalition government are making massive efforts to revive their all important tourist trade and ensure that every visitor has a safe and rewarding trip. A country that offers over and above everything that even the most fastidious traveller might demand, it is just an 8-hour night flight away with a three-hour time difference.
Leg 1:A Speedboat across Lake Victoria and breakfast in the Bush
From Jomo Kenyattaairport Nairobi board a small plane to the quietly luxurious Rusinga Island Lodge (www.rusinga.com) that, just 90 minutes away is in the middle of Lake Victoria, is the site of Mary Leakey’s discovery of an 18 million year old jawbone of the Proconsul africanus - the common ancestor to human and ape . Take a speedboat across the world’s second biggest lake, past local fishermen in their ancient dhows chuckling at us crazy Westerners in such a mad, mad rush. Stop off at the ornithologists paradise of Bird Island-home to 270 bird species - relish a Bloody Mary and watch monitor lizards the size of a small dog go toe to toe with birds the size of a large cat as they attempt to purloin their eggs. On the other side of the lake drive through the tourist free Ruma National Park and enjoy a quick safari followed by a fullEnglish ‘ Bush’ breakfast, replete with silver service, servedbeneath a flat-topped acacia in the middle of the open savannah while giraffe and gazelle look on in envy.
Leg 2: Hot air ballooning and a dance with the Masai
After a magnificent 45 minutes journey in a very small plane heading North West over the Aberdare Mountains you’ll arrive at Loisaba (www.loisaba.com). Perched perilously on a colossal escarpment looking south towards Mt. Kenya the lodge, replete with spas and infinity pools, is undoubtedly five stars yet is the centre of a massive conservancy scheme. Start the day with a ride in a hot air balloon, and float gently over the Lakipia plateau past extended families of elephant chilling at their water holes alongside vast herds of zebra going nowhere in a hurry. After lunch visit Koija - the local Samburu Masai village - and watch their eligible young men turn out in theirfinery then dance and sing en masse and, in an effort to attract a young lady, throw down the gauntlet to see who can perform the highest vertical jump.
Leg 3: A raft, a game drive and a night under the stars
In the morning chance your luck with a bit of white water rafting down the N’Giro River then, late afternoon, journey deep into the bush - passing 18 feet giraffe, majestic Oryx and even the odd lion- to the renowned Masai managed Koija ‘star beds.’ Slap bang on the Equator, and some 6000 feet above sea level, the star beds are covered in netting, sit in a 15-foot high bedroom on stilts and afford a view of the Milky Way that will knock you sideways. Lie back, savour the moment and stare at the heavens while the bass roar of hippo, the cackle of hyena and the incessant chatter of monkeys will noisily serenade you to sleep.
Day 4: A game drive, a hike, a horse and a camel
On the drive from Loisaba South East to Lewa Wilderness Lodge (www.lewa.org/wilderness_trails.php) you’ll lose count of the large mammals you’ll see until the sight of a massive 13,000 pound Loxodontus Africanus (African Elephant) becomes almost mundane. The British Government initially bequeathed Lewa to the grandmother of current owner, William Craig, for services rendered as a nurse in WW1.Capitalizing on the fashion for big game hunting she soon attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, made a fortune and expanded the property to 62,0000 acres. Today Will and wife Emma donate most of their proceeds to the area and have built 3 schools, nine nurseries and an Aids clinic that has treated some 7000 sufferers. Dogged wildlife conservationists, the couple are responsible for restocking the area with an incredible array of species -best seen aboard a camel, astride a horse or, on foot, as guided by a Masai Warrior and a man with a very large gun.
Leg 5: Scuba, snorkel a Swahili feast and a new shirt
Fly south to Mombassa, dine at the Tamarind, sip a few dawas (a Kenyan specialty of vodka, fresh lime and honey) and see the Mombassa hoi polloi get a little bit lively. Next day sidle off to Nehru Road and get one of the many local tailors to copy your fave shirt for a song, then take the coast road to the former slave port of Shimoni. Board a gloriously antiquated sailboat to Kisite Marine National Park, Kenya’s most well preserved reef, that, easily viewed with either snorkel or scuba tank, is home to a baffling array of ocean dwellers including green sea turtles curious dolphins and wacky looking Nudiebranch. From here go to Charlie Claws on Wasini Island (www.wasini.com <http://www.wasini.com> ) catch a Swahili feast of the freshest crab cooked in ginger, enjoy a swim in the milky turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and relax.
Need To Know
Kenya is pretty much an all year round destination although long rains occur from March until June and short rains in November and early December. Temperatures range from 70 – 90 degrees by day rarely falling below 55 degrees at night.
For tailor made packages to Kenya contact Rainbow Tours Tel: 020 7226 2621 - www.rainbowtours.co.uk.
Currency: The Kenyan Shilling (approximately 130 to the pound sterling)
Population: 32,499.400 (Estimate)
Getting there: Kenya Airlines (0208 283 1800 - www.kenya-airways.com) and Virgin Atlantic (0870 380 2007 - www.virgin-atlantic.com) fly direct to Jomo Kenyatta Airport Nairobi.
Further info: The Kenyan Tourist Board: www.magicalkenya.com