Visit the sprawling South rift for a view of your life time
Kenya southern rift circuit is the best place you shouldn't miss while on your vacation in Kenya. It is Ideal destination for your first safari experience.
THE South Rift circuit comprises the most varied as well as some of the best known attractions in Kenya, including the famed Maasai Mara National Reserve and Lake Naivasha.
The popular and easily accessible Lake Nakuru National Park is justly famed for its large flamingo population and its rhino sanctuary.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is without doubt Kenya’s most highly regarded wildlife experience. It is the northernmost point of the famous migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti Plains that occurs each year between July and September.
The Masai Mara is the ideal first-time safari destination because it has a little bit of everything, including big cats in abundance, plenty of accommodation options – both inside and outside the Reserve – and a ‘must do’ activity in the form of sunrise balloon flights.
To the north, meanwhile, lies breathtaking Lake Naivasha, the most southerly of a series of Rift Valley lakes within Kenya and once the location of a flying boat service to London.
The elegance of the lake’s flamingos is matched by the quality of some of the surrounding accommodation. Located very close to Naivasha is Hell’s Gate National Park, a perfect place for hiking, camping, rock climbing and bird watching – not to mention the chance to see some unusual animals found only in this area.
Further south, we experience the rare treat of wildlife, culture, and the beaches, a pleasure many hardly dare to avoid in their trips on this circuit.
The Amboseli National Park.
This park, situated approximately 140kms south of Nairobi on the border with Tanzania, is most famed for its large herds of elephants. Amboseli is the second most popular park in Kenya after Masai Mara, mainly because of the spectacular backdrop of Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, which broods over the southern boundary.
Amboseli means salty dust in the Maasai language. The 'salty dust' is volcanic ash from Mount Kilimanjaro eruptions thousands of years ago. During the dry seasons, a curious feature is the shimmering dry lake bed where false mirages of populated horizons, punctuated by real herds of zebras and wildebeests hover in front of visitors. The principal attraction in Amboseli is its vast herds of elephants within the park. The bull elephants here have some of the largest tusks in Kenya.
At 392 km² Amboseli is a small park and lacks the profusion of animal species found in the Mara, but the landscape provides limited cover, so there is good chance of seeing some of the larger predators. The vegetation used to be much denser, but rising salination, damage by elephants and irresponsible behavior by safari vehicle owners has caused terrible erosion.
Buffaloes, lions, gazelles, wildebeest, cheetahs, jackals, hyenas, warthogs, zebras, Masai giraffes and baboons are all present, but the last few black rhinos were moved to Tsavo West in 1995 after a sustained period of poaching. In the permanent swamps of Enkongo Narok and Olokenya, large elephant herds can be seen grazing with Kilimanjaro in the background - this is probably the definitive Kenyan wildlife photo.
Amboseli is an important rangeland in Masai culture. The ranch areas outside the park offer a wealth of game viewing and walking safaris. The Kenya Wildlife Community Service works closely with the local elders to develop eco-tourism attractions which benefit the indigenous communities and protect this fragile eco-system.
Cinder cones, extinct volcanoes, springs bubbling from a subterranean river, savannah, dense thickets and montane forest...these are the features which characterise the dramatic landscape of the Chyulu Hills.
Dividing the open plains of Amboseli in the west and the iconic Tsavo in the east, the Chyulu Hills lie in the Kibwezi district of Kenya. It is in fact the world's youngest mountain range, its highest peak reaching an impressive 2160 metres above sea level. The magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen looming in the distance, crowned with cloud, from some of Chyulu's highest points.
All the volcanoes here are now extinct, with two of them, Shaitani and Chainu, erupting last in the mid-nineteenth century. However, the effects of this erstwhile hive of volcanic activity are still palpable today. Chyulu's underground river is formed from rainfall which soaks through the porous rocks of of the mountains and cones, which then goes on to feed two crucial permanent sources of water – the Tsavo and Galana rivers.
The forests and thickets which flank the sides of Chyulu's peaks have created a series of caves which are a wonder and a joy to explore. Wildlife which is commonly found in this area include elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, eland, bush pig, wildebeest, steenbok and reedbuck. More rarely sighted creatures include lion, leopard, cheetah and black rhino.
Tsavo East National Park.
The landscape in Tsavo East is flatter and drier, despite having one of Kenya’s largest rivers flowing through the middle. Much of the wildlife is concertrated on the Galana River, which has plentiful crocodiles and hippos.
There are several places where you can, with caution, get out of your vehicle; most scenic are Lugards Falls and Crocodile Point. There are usually armed guards around, but you shouldn’t get too close to the water. Kudu’s waterbucks and dik-diks are common along the river banks. Also of interest is the Mudanda rock, which attracts elephants in the dry season.
The bush is thinner than in Tsavo West, so wildlife is easier to spot, though it’s not as plentiful. The rolling hills in the south are home to large herds of elephants, usually covered in red dust. The waterhole at Voi Safari Lodge and the Kanderi Swamp are home to a profusion of wildlife. Further into the park, 30km from voi gate, is the Aruba Dam, built across the Voi River.
The area north of the Galana River is dominated by the Yatta Plateau, a vast pre-historic lava flow, but unfortunately much of this area is off limits due to the ongoing campaign againsts poachers. Four rhinos and ten elephants were killed here in 2001, the first such killings in years.
Until their partial translocation to Tsavo East, the sole surviving population of hirola antelopes was found near the border of Kenya and Somalia. Intense poaching and habitat destruction have reduced their numbers from around 14,000 in 1976 to a pitiful 450 today, 97 of them here. There are also around 48 black rhinos, moved from Nairobi National Park.
Tsavo West National Park.
This fine national park covers a huge variety of landscapes, from swamps and natural springs to rocky peaks, extinct volcanic cones and rolling plains. It’s easily the more beautiful of the two parks, but wildlife can be hard to spot. Birds are very common and there are large populations of elephants, zebras, hippos and leopards. Lions are present, but they tend to stay hidden.
The focus is Mzima Springs, the source of most of Mombasa’s fresh water, where you can walk down to a large pool that is a favorite haunt of hippos and crocodiles. There’s an underwater viewing chamber which unfortunately just gives a view of thousands of primeval-looking fish. Be careful-both hippos and crocs are dangerous.
Chaimu crater and the Roaring rocks view point are other highlights, just southeast of Kilaguni Serena Lodge, and can be climbed in about 15 minutes. The views from both are stunning, with falcons, eagles and buzzards whirling over the plains. While there is little danger walking these trails, be aware that the wildlife is out there.
Another attraction is the Ngulia Rhino Sactuary at the base of Ngulia Hills, part of the Rhino Ark Programme. The 70 km² area is surrounded by a metre-high electric fence and provides a measure of security for the park’s last 49 black rhinos. There are driving tracks and waterholes within the enclosure and there’s a good chance of seeing one of these elusive creatures.
Some of the more unusual species include the naked mole rat and the enigmatically named white-bellied go-away bird, which is often seen perched in dead trees. Red-beaked hornbills and bateleur eagles are also common. Look out for dung beetles rolling huge balls of elephant dung along the tracks.
It’s possible to go rock-climbing at Tembo Peak and and the Ngulia Hills, but you’ll need to arrange this with wardens. This area is also fantastic for bird life and there’s a very reliable hippo pool on the Mukui River. Lake Jipe (Pronounced ji-pay), at the southwest end of the park, is reached a desperately dusty track from near Taveta. You can hire boats here for hippo and crocodile spotting. Huge herds of elephants come to the lake to drink and large flocks of migratory birds stop here from February to May.
From, it is easy to enjoy a beautiful view of the world famous Mount Kilimanjaro, especially in the morning with the weather permitting.
Crossing over, a tour of the Mombasa coast with its numerous beaches and vast cultural display awaits our guests. Swimming can be enjoyed at numerous beaches. There is a mixture of the private beaches for those are looking for a quite interaction with nature. There is however also available, public beaches that allow interaction with many locals as one enjoys the hospitality of our coastal residents who occasionally throng the beaches for fun.
Sprawling South Rift Valley Circuit
Visit the sprawling South rift for a view of your life time