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Sunday, 28 February 2010 19:00

Kenya A Great Adventure

Written by  Susan McKee
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You may not think it but Kenya’s geography is as diverse as that of the United States. Great Lakes? They’ve got ‘em. Beautiful coastline? Yep, they’ve got that too. Mountain ranges and big cities? Check and check—not to mention something most other countries do not have: indigenous tribes and the Big Five.

City Life
Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is among the largest in East Africa. The modern world has taken hold of it and has filled it with wonderful lodging and attractions. Accommodations here vary. The Giraffe Manor is a small and exclusive hotel known to keep guests on their toes, especially during mealtime when it is not unheard of to find one of their resident giraffes leaning over your shoulder for a sampling of dinner. Rates include accommodations and meals. Visit www.giraffemanor.com
Fairmont’s Norfolk Hotel is one of Nairobi’s most famous. With 165 guestrooms and suites it is a popular destination for the pre-Safari crowd. Even if your clients opt not to stay there, be sure they set out for an evening cocktail at the Lord Delaware Bar, which has been, and still is, the most fashionable place in Nairobi for a meet-up. Visit www.fairmont.com Lying just outside the skyscrapers of the big city, the Nairobi National Park is an easy drive and perfect for a half-day game viewing.

Safari Dreaming
Once your clients have re-fueled and re-energized with a few nights in Nairobi, get them out on Safari. The Masai Mara, the largest game reserve in western Kenya, is no doubt where you’ll want to send them. It’s about a 4-5 hour drive from Nairobi and there are scheduled flights twice daily from Wilson Airport Nairobi, which take about 45 minutes. If you have any clients planning to go in June, you may want to tack on an extra day or two to witness the stunning wildebeest migration. Another recommended activity in the Masai Mara National Reserve is a balloon safari. An experience not easily forgotten, the balloon safari sets off in the early morning to catch views of the sun between the mountains, and the adventure is topped off with a champagne breakfast. The Safari and Conservation Company (www.thesafariandconservationcompany.com), owned by two of the oldest Safari families in Kenya, Willie and Richard Roberts, will choose the right accommodation for your client’s style and needs as tented fly camps and luxury lodges all fall within their portfolio of properties. Cox and Kings, an expert in wildlife adventures can fix you up with a variety of itineraries including their “Quintessential Kenya” package. Visit www.coxandkingsusa.com
The Great Lakes of Kenya are a haven for exotic bird life and sure to satisfy any nature photographer, with thousands of pink flamingos congregating around Lake Nakuru. With spectacular views of this pink-bordered lake, the the Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge (www.sarovahotels.com), is just a short two hour drive from Nairobi.

Coastal Bliss
White-sand beaches and coral reefs line the coast of Kenya and can be a great add-on after a Safari. Marine parks, scuba diving and snorkeling are a few of the attractions that can be found along the shoreline. Away from the beach there are culture attractions easy to access on a day tour. Fort Jesus and the old town in Mombasa and Shimba Hills National Reserve are easy half-day tours. North of Mombasa are the Gedi Ruins; ancient Swahili ruins dating back to the 8th Century. Along Diani beach there are a number of high-end hotels to choose from, including Waterlovers located directly on the Indian Ocean. The Sands at Nomad was the first boutique hotel to open in the area and Leopard Beach Resort and Spa is surrounded by 25 acres of tropical gardens. Visit www.waterlovers.it, www.thesandsatnomad.com and www.leopardbeachresort.com
If there are a couple of extra days to be had, add on a trip to the island of Lamu, specifically Lamu Old Town, for a fascinating alternative to the city, safari and beach experience. One of the original Swahili settlements in East Africa, Lamu is one of the best preserved and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The culture here has been influenced over the years by the Portuguese, Turks and Omani Arabs; strolling through the winding streets of stone and exploring the markets offers a unique glimpse into a very traditional and conservative people. With all these influences, Lamu also serves as an important center for the study of Swahili and Islamic culture.

Getting There
Kenya Airways has 30 international and regional destinations. Additional airlines operating flights from New York to Nairobi include American, British Airways, Emirates, KLM, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic. U.S. citizens need visas to visit Kenya either prior to departure or upon arrival.
For information, contact the Kenya Tourist Board at 866-44-KENYA or visit www.MagicalKenya.com

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