Upon your arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport you will be met by our staff as you step from the plane. You will then be escorted through immigration, baggage and customs (very tourist-friendly), to your waiting driver/guide. You will then drive 15 miles, skirting the city, in a westerly direction to the beautiful Hemingways Hotel in Karen (the hotel is located on Karen Blixen’s original farm).
This morning we will transfer early to Wilson Airport for a one hour bush flight to Tsavo National Park. Upon arrival we will have breakfast at Kilaguni Lodge, then embark upon the two hour game drive to Kudu Camp. We will have lunch in camp and the afternoon will be spent at leisure.
We rise with first light, and after breakfast we begin our foot safari across the vast 8,000 square mile wilderness that is Tsavo. Our route closely follows the Tsavo River, flanked by rich riverine vegetation, as we walk along hippo trails winding their way through thickets of fig and tamarind trees, doum and raffia palms. The craggy, sharp-rising Ngulia Mountains offer a dramatic backdrop to this section of the river. They say that in order to experience the wonders of the African bush, it is essential one does precisely The Great Walk of Africa as the animals do – our daily routine therefore emulates the schedule of the wildlife. Up at first light, eat a fresh breakfast, and head out along the trail. Today our foot safari will make its way along an 11 mile (18 km) course, continuing along the Tsavo River, as it winds across the country below the Ngulia range. As the morning moves along, our route leads us to a point beneath the spectacular Kichwa Tembo (elephant’s head) peak. This dramatic 3,000 foot spire soars above the banks of the river. We reach our camp in time for lunch, followed by a well-earned siesta (the animals insist on this too). This region of Tsavo was the location of intense fighting during the First World War, when Tanzania was known as German East Africa, and Kenya was British East Africa. The Tsavo River was of vital logistical importance during the battle for Kilimanjaro – it offered, for the British, a well-watered direct route to the mountain, while the Germans were well aware of it’s comparative easy access to the British railway, linking the Kenyan coast (Mombasa) to the interior (Nairobi). This railway was blown up several times. As a result of this the Tsavo River region was heavily fortified, and today many indications of the First World War still exist.
A 10 mile (16 km) walk distances us from Kichwa Tembo, as we enter drier country leading to Maji Ya Chumvi (salt water). As with every day on our foot safari, wildlife is continually encountered. Impala, Grant’s gazelle, zebra and giraffe are frequently seen. Tsavo is the largest elephant ecosystem in the world, and the Tsavo River is a vital destination for them. After lunch and siesta, we will have a game-drive down the river, returning to camp at dusk.
Today the Tsavo River leads us into the area of the famous “Maneaters Of Tsavo”. Our morning walk of about 8 miles (13 km) takes us to the region where in 1896 two lions ruthlessly (and, somehow inspiringly), halted the advance of the British Empire literally in its tracks. During a three month period, while the British were building the railway bridge across the Tsavo River, using imported labourers from India, these lions ate over 130 men. Col. John Paterson eventually, after an exhaustive effort, killed them. Again we reach camp in time for lunch, and after a short siesta (today we trounce the wildlife), we continue our foot safari in the late afternoon for a further 6 miles (10 km) to Tsavo Bridge, which still proudly stands in pristine condition. We are met here by our vehicles and driven back to camp. Interestingly enough this region today sports a large lion population, and we often see them as they take advantage of the shade offered by doum palms on the banks of the river, and hear them at night from our camp.
We drive the short distance to Tsavo Bridge, and from the point we left off, continue our walk down the river. Today we enter Tsavo East National Park (owing to the immensity of Tsavo, for administrative purposes, it has been divided into two separate regions: Tsavo West and Tsavo East. At this point the Tsavo River makes its way down towards the confluence of the Athi River, beneath the prominent Yatta Plateau, where it forms the Galana River at a place called Tabagunji. Our walk today is about 5 miles (8 km), across country dominated by many rock kopjes (outcrops). We reach our waiting vehicles in the late morning, and drive to our camp. After lunch and siesta, we gamedrive down the Galana River.
After breakfast we continue our walk, but this time down the Galana River. This, Kenya’s most beautiful river, is very different in atmosphere to where we have been; it is wider, palm-fringed, and excellent predator country. Our walk is 6 miles (10 km) and ends at Lugard Falls. Game drive in the afternoon.
It is now evident that we have entered into a different ecosystem. The dense undergrowth of Tsavo West has now given way to semi-desert country, bordered to the north by the Yatta Plateau (the longest lava flow on earth – 260 miles in length). In this country, because of its openness, game is easier to see and there is a lot of it. The Galana River is wide, and is characterised by wide sandy beaches, and palm trees. It sports one of the largest lion populations in East Africa, as well as a wealth of plains game (including the very rare Peter’s gazelle). Big herds of zebra, hartebeest, impala and Fringe-eared oryx are frequently seen along the Galana River. This is also the region of Tsavo’s biggest elephant populations. Our walk today is 10 miles (16 km) and takes us to our camp, which is located at the point of the Yatta Plateau. We game-drive the river in the late afternoon.
To see a herd of elephants, silently loping across the sand to the river’s edge, then wading through the blue water to the distant shore, is a sight which can’t be improved. At this point of our safari, one can easily, and naturally, feel as much a part of the wilderness as the wildlife we are seeing. Without doubt our senses have awakened to a state where we can instinctively hear, see, and feel things, that no amount of concentration at the beginning of our walk could ever have produced. After a 10 mile (16 km) walk, we drive back to our camp for lunch and a well-earned rest. As is now the norm, we’ll game-drive along the river late in the day.
Day 10 & 11
We are the only people walking in this region, and our experiences with lions, has enabled us to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the maneless lions of this area. And there are still many unanswered questions. We have now amassed a considerable amount of information, and have developed a good idea of where the lions of the Galana are located from month to month. As our foot safari continues down the Galana River, it is highly likely we’ll be able to make contact with some of these lions. Lunch is in camp, followed by late afternoon game drives.
This is a two-part walking day as we move down river into ever increasing elephant and lion country. Lunch today will be a picnic in an atmospheric grove of palm trees. We begin the second section of our walk in the mid-afternoon, arriving at Sala Gate about 6.00 p.m, the conclusion of The Great Walk of Africa 14 miles (23 km walk).
Tonight we will celebrate our adventure at a fantastic resort in Malindi along the Indian Ocean with showers, swimming, beach-time, dinner & drinks!
This morning we will board a scheduled afternoon flight to Nairobi. Our day-rooms in Nairobi are at a hotel close to the international airport. Our vehicles will transfer you back to the airport for your international flight home.