Our adventure in Africa starts in Nairobi where we visit the National Museum of Kenya. The wildlife, archaeology and cultural exhibits and talks by the museum staff and researchers of this prestigious institution will provide an excellent introduction to the amazing people and biodiversity of East Africa. From the start you will feel at home in Kenya, and, in a way, this makes sense since the great Rift Valley of East Africa is thought to be our birthplace.
This visit to Nairobi will also give everyone an opportunity to visit local shops to purchase wildlife guides in preparation for game viewing and bird identification. The incredible diversity of bird species in East Africa makes everyone an instant “bird watcher’. Everyone will have a chance to work our annual barbeque at the Regiment Club, raising money to donate to a local children’s AIDS orphanage. We visit a local animal orphanage located near Nairobi National Park as well. We will also have time to see how Nairobi residents socialize as we spend some time in local gathering spots. The highlight of our shopping trips will likely be the Maasai Market.
After a couple of days acclimatizing, we will quickly head off for some serious bush camping south of Nairobi near a small village called Eremit. Here we will get our first taste of roughing it in this hidden valley, sleeping under the acacia trees and enjoying the carefully prepared meals. One Kenyan who you will meet here is making a big difference for the local Masai people in this arid valley since he started his own water development project. This site will also give us our first contact with the famous Masai on their own turf. It may seem at first that traditional way of life in their manyatta is exotic and so different from ours, but soon you will see that we share common problems and human values.
From the Eremit camp we will also visit a very famous archaeological site in Olorgesaille, where we once met Richard Leakey, former Director of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, and a recognized authority on the rich archaeology of the Rift Valley. In the past, our archaeology students have had the opportunity to make their own stone tools, like the ancient ones the students in this photo are looking down at.
Feel like riding a camel or going horseback riding through the countryside? At our next site, on a ranch in Laikipia, these adventures will be available. This huge ranch allows game to freely coexist with their cattle and so our first wildlife viewing becomes a reality. Our camp will be at a beautiful site on the banks of a river where we can relax and watch for game. Perhaps we can have a visit with the folks who manage the ranch and hear some of the amazing stories they have to tell.
At every site we have our own staff with us and each contributes in their own special way. We know everyone will be delighted with the stories told by our Masai senior staff member, Kasoi.
On to visit a Kenyan hero! We travel to western Kenya where we will stay at Kip Keino’s farm. Kip Keino was the first Kenyan to win an Olympic gold medal. Try to keep up with the elite Kenyan runners who regularly train here and perhaps the Kenyan national team coach may give you some advice. This site is also an opportunity to visit the orphanage, schools, and community farm run by Mr. and Mrs. Keino, and see how both Kenyan and international volunteers are making a difference.
Crossing the border into Uganda takes us into another world. Here we can travel by boat on lake Victoria to visit an island reserve for rescued chimpanzees. Later we can sharpen our paddling skills on an amazing white water rafting adventure through the famous rapids of the White Nile. Uganda’s countryside is incredibly lush and fertile and we think it has the sweetest pineapples in the world!
On our return to Kenya, we will travel to a rainforest near Kakamega. This reserve is the final remnant of the original equatorial rain forest that once stretched from the here through the Congo and is known for its unbelievable biodiversity. While walking the hidden trails with naturalist guides, watch the trees over head for monkeys and the Great Blue Turaco. In the morning, we take a sunrise hike to a lookout to marvel at the forest canopy stretching away below us.
We continue our exploration of the Rift Valley when we camp on a working ranch near Nakuru. We will visit Lake Nakuru, an alkali lake famous for its pink flamingoes. This is a park where lions and leopards are on the hunt and, if we have luck, we will spot black rhinos. By this time you will be deep into your wildlife guidebooks, well on your way to becoming ‘experts’ on the wildlife of Kenya. The emphasis on such park visits will be natural history so expect that such site visits to be enhanced by descriptions of ecology and local management practices. Throughout our program, we will have talks and optional classes by local experts personally involved in wildlife conservation and cultural issues. In each area we strive to give you a better understanding of cultural differences and ecological diversity of East Africa.
Next we visit a fresh water lake, Lake Naivasha, where we can enjoy the many hippos, crocs and birdlife in this papyrus fringed lake. We usually also organize a long hike up Mt Longonot, an extinct volcano rising up out of the Rift Valley floor.
So you think you have seen it all by now? Not on your life … Masai Mara, here we come! The magnificent scenery and the diversity of the wildlife you will observe in this part of Kenya will astound you. This world renowned reserve is know for its vast savanna grassland dotted with acacia trees. The abundant herds of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles are closely watched by their predators, and provide us with scenes that appear unreal. Here we will see cheetahs, lions, leopards, elephants, gazelles and more, all in an amazing tapestry of wildlife and environment.
We will be tenting right in the reserve at our own private campsite and our nights will be filled with the sounds of lions, hyenas, and zebras. This part of the safari is filled with twice-daily game drives through the different parts of the reserve. It is best not to miss even a single one, since it may turn out to be the game drive that everyone talks about for the rest of the trip. This may be your chance to learn more about the tracks and animal droppings from the local Masai, and to barter with them for everything from Masai beaded works to spears and knives.
From these higher elevations, we drop down to the shores of the Indian Ocean where we abandon our bush camp life to take up residence in a resort on the beach.
Here we begin to learn about the marine environment with talks on the biology of the Indian Ocean reef ecosystems. We will start a fabulous dive program in which you can learn how to dive and receive PADI Open Water certification, Advanced certification, or further your experience with other PADI specialty courses that include the popular Research Diver course. Our instructors are some of the best in Canada with extensive experience related to diving instruction. We even have our own marine library so you can identify and read about those exotic organisms that you spot while diving or snorkeling. In previous years, we have had many encounters with whale sharks while diving at this location.
Can’t get enough of that warm clear water and amazing underwater vistas? Consider our dive extension for a small additional fee. It involves an extra week of diving with an introduction to Public Safety Diving and Scientific Diving.
We travel to many, many more sites, these are just a few of the highlights that you can expect! Contact us soon so we can start planning your trip of a lifetime!