Located on the eastern coast of Africa, Kenya is a country rich with big game safari viewing and a diverse terrain boasting snowcapped mountain peaks, pristine beaches and coral reefs. In addition to all this beautiful terrain, Kenya plays host to the great wildebeest migration and has a year-round temperate climate. Topping off all the natural beauty and wildlife of the country, it’s also home to more than 40 distinct tribal groups, keeping Kenya as one of the top safari and cultural destinations on the African continent.
It’s midnight at the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve (www.ulusaba.com) in Sabi Sands, Sir Richard Branson’s uber-luxe lodge consisting of multiple grand tree houses perched on the slope of a koppie; a rocky hill typical in the African veld. After a long dinner of wildebeest and some of South African’s finest wines, sleep comes easily—but not for long. Within an hour of laying my head on the pillow I bolt upright from the loud thumping on my roof. One, two, three and more followed. What’s happening? Then I see them outside my bedroom’s glass doors, 20 to 30 baboons peering in at me. Once my breathing returns to normal I am able grasp the awesomeness of my surroundings and lay back down thinking, Welcome to safari.
The earth begins to tremble with the percussion of stampeding hooves, the noise rising to a crescendo of throaty grunts as the herd approaches, all snout and sinew, in a word: spectacular. This is no Discovery channel show; it’s the real deal. The Great Migration of wildebeest from their calving grounds in the Serengeti to their feeding grounds in the Masai Mara is one of the last great shows on Earth.
Kenya’s appeal in easy to understand. Beneath its snowcapped mountains lie the vast plains and beautiful lakes that support its exotic wildlife and set the stage for the epic migration. Kenya’s temperate year-round climate is a blessing to travelers and travel planners, though the best months for game watching are the dry seasons that last from January – February and July – August.
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.
Elephants, black rhinoceros, leopards, lions and cape buffalo are the “big five” of trophy hunters heading on safari in Africa, but not because they’re the largest animals. These mammals have always been considered the most dangerous to humans wandering the vast savannahs of Kenya.
Although today’s hunters stalk game for photographs, not taxidermy opportunities, the “big five” still draw travelers to Kenya. There is, however, much more to a trip to this East African country than animals – which, truth be told, are easier to see, up close and personal, in an American zoo.
The excitement of your clients’ first encounter with a member of the “Big Five—” lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, or leopard - will outdistance any pause they may have about booking a trip of a lifetime during this economic crisis. At the same time, convincing them that this is the time to go on safari is challenging, but will be rewarding for clients and agents. This could be the best time to go - when money is freefalling and who knows what tomorrow will bring.