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The Heart of Kenya & Tanzania
Plenteous and Pithy East Africa
The names alone are magic: The Serengeti. Ngorongoro Crater. The Maasai Mara. We're reminded that when we travel, we visit names as well as places-names with romantic heft, names that resound, names that may have captivated us for many years. Names like Ngorongoro. (Then again, if we'd never heard that sonorous name, and we made the exhilarating drive up the flank of the old volcano and reached its rim and suddenly beheld the green and animal-thronged crater far below, Ngorongoro would be just as utterly amazing.)
In less than two weeks, The Heart of Kenya and Tanzania introduces us-or re-introduces us-to places with famous names, but most of all, it brings us to fantastic places, fantastic in the sense that their like is to be found exactly nowhere else on earth.
Supplier: Micato Safaris
Nairobi is Kenya's capital and one of Africa's most modern and fastest growing major cities. The original center retains Asian influence in its older buildings with glassy modern buildings. Visit City Market with local produce and handicrafts. Other attractions are: National Museum, displaying ethnographic, paleontological and ornithological exhibits; the Arboretum, with an excellent collection of East African flora; the University, known for its unique architecture; the excellent Kenya Railway Museum; and Nairobi's landmark, the extraordinary Kenyatta Conference Center, the country's most monumental building, visible from miles outside the city. There are casinos at Safari Park Hotel and Inter-Continental, and there's Sunday-afternoon horse-racing. Visit Karen Blixen Museum, where some action of the book and film Out of Africa took place. The beautiful forested Ngong Hills is a spiritual place for the Maasai and an excellent area for hiking and enjoying views of Nairobi and the Rift Valley. Nairobi National Park is a wildlife game reserve.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve (Masai Mara) is Kenya's finest and most outstanding wildlife sanctuary where gentle rolling grassland ensures animals are never out of sight. The climate is gentle, rarely too hot and well spread rainfall year round. The sensation of the great wildebeest migration between July and October is unparalleled. The wildlife is far from being confined within the Reserve boundaries and an even larger area extends beyond the game Reserve. Centuries of close association with the wildllife has resulted in an almost symbiotic relationship where wildlife and Masai people live in peace with one another. The first sight of this park is breathtaking. There is nowhere else on earth to compare with this wildlife marvel. The combination of a gentle climate, scenic splendour and untold numbers of wildlife makes the Maasai Mara National Reserve Kenya's most popular inland destination.
As you enter Tarangire National Park a vast number of baobabs catch your eye. The gently rolling countryside is dotted with these majestic trees, which seem to dwarf the animals that feed beneath them. The park is spectacular in the dry season when many migratory wildlife species come back to the waters of the Tarangire River. Huge herds of wildebeest, zebras, elephants, eland and oryx gather to stay in Tarangire until the onset of the rains when they migrate again to good grazing areas. Tarangire National Park is second only to Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in concentrations of wildlife and lies to the south of the large, open grass plains of southern Maasailand.
An ancient hole in northern Tanzania, Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa's best wildlife-viewing spots since it acts like a natural cage; the crater's depth makes for a difficult escape for some animals, but most have no need to leave, finding plenty of resources inside. For the traveler, it means not only awesome wildlife viewing, but incredible views from accommodations on the crater's rim. Descend to the crater floor in a four-wheel drive; and once there just cruise around slowly and take in the scene — on any given day see lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo, wildebeest, Thomson's gazelle, zebra, and reedbuck. The small soda lake inside the crater is also the seasonal home of thousands of flamingos.
Today, the Serengeti National Park helps protect the greatest and most varied collection of terrestrial wildlife on earth, and one of the last great migratory systems still intact. The Serengeti is the jewel in the crown of Tanzania's protected areas and has come to symbolize paradise. The region encompasses Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the region. It's unique ecosystem has inspired writers and filmakers as well as numerous photographers and scientists. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
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