Hidden In Plain Sight – Kenya
Away from the Masai Mara, the Rift Valley lakes and Amboseli National Park in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, Kenya has some little known parks away from the gaze of the majority of visitors.
Meru National Park
Meru National Park is a little visited gem which ought to be better known; after all it was here that George and Joy Adamson released Elsa the lioness (of Born Free fame) and after which Elsa’s Kopje is named. Described as a ‘remote and rugged wilderness’ Meru was established in 1958 and is one of Kenya’s least visited large parks at 87,000 hectares. The park boasts varied and striking scenery including vast open plains, swampland, tropical forest and bush. Meru’s unspoilt rolling grasslands are covered with a network of streams which flow into the Tana River, and the riverine woodlands are full of birds such as brightly-coloured kingfishers, bee-eaters and occasionally a Pel’s fishing owl. Meru offers game viewing to match some of the more popular wildlife safari destinations including frequent sightings of the ‘Big Five’. Alongside Elsa’s Kopje, another option for stays here is the semi mobile tented camp Meru Wilderness.
Chyulu Hills National Park
With views of Kilimanjaro to its south, the Chyulu Hills National Park is one of the least known and least visited reserves in Kenya. It sits between Tsavo West National Park and Amboseli National Park, and enjoys incredible views and diverse habitats. The lower western slopes, around Ol Donyo, offer a woodland savannah populated with elephant, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, eland and a few (highly protected) wild black rhinos. The hilltops, accessible from Campi ya Kanzi, offer a completely different environment. The highlands often swathed in cloud, are home to cloud forest in which you may find exotic forest birds and chameleon. The Chyulu Hills National Park covers an area bigger than the Masai Mara, and is home to lion, cheetah and a lot of elephants, including a number of bulls with dramatic tusks. With only two luxury lodges in the whole area you can be assured of an exclusive experience.
Situated in a remote and hidden corner of Kenya, Lake Turkana extends from the Ethiopian border 155 miles along the Great Rift Valley to form Africa’s fourth largest lake. For an eagle’s eye view of the extraordinary landscape of the Turkana region, take a private helicopter trip with Ol Malo Nomad from their Laikipia base to Lake Turkana. Often referred to as the Jade Sea due to its breath taking colour, Lake Turkana is one of Africa’s most dramatic and least explored landscapes with a volcanic moonscape of blackened lava flows and dramatic calderas alongside awe inspiring sand dunes. The curious collapsed craters that form Central Island are each filled with a small lake and are home to giant crocodiles, shoals of tilapia and flocks of flamingos. Fishing for enormous Nile Perch on the lake is a great attraction for keen anglers.
Standing at 5,199m Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa, only slightly lower than its more famous neighbour Mount Kilimanjaro, and visible from much of northern Kenya. Considered to be the hidden alternative to climbing Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya boasts three jagged peaks with distinctive serrated outlines. Point Lanana can be reached via several hiking routes generally taking 2-3 days, although day treks are also possible. The other peaks require proper rock and mountain climbing skills to summit and appeal to those with more expertise. The diverse vegetation and wildlife is ever changing as you ascend through different climatic zones and there is a surprising amount of wildlife and birdlife on the mountain’s slopes. We work with the team at Karisia to arrange fully supported Mount Kenya treks using campsites away from the mountain huts.
If this article has inspired you to find our more, we would be delighted to help plan your perfect Kenyan safari.
If you would like to combine one of the off the beaten track areas in Kenya with the Masai Mara, and perhaps to see the wildebeest migration, take a look at our article on that phenomenon here.
Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever.