The Republic of Kenya in Eastern Africa is bordered to its north by Ethiopia, Somalia to its east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west and Sudan to the northwest. The Indian Ocean runs along its south-east border.
Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake near the town of the same name, north-west of Nairobi, the country's capital. It is part of the Great Rift Valley and its name is derived from the local Maasai language, meaning ''rough water'' because of the storms that hit quite suddenly.
The Great Rift Valley was formed between two and seven million years ago and is the longest rift on the surface of the earth. It runs from northern Syria in south-west Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa, a distance of around 6437 kilometres. It was formed through geological tension in the earth’s crust causing deep depression and forcing the sides upwards.
The Lake's surface area is 139 square kilometre and it is surrounded by a 64 square kilometre swamp. Those measurements can vary greatly depending on rainfall. Situated at 1884 metres above sea level, the Lake has an average depth of six metres, its deepest area being at Crescent Island.
In the 1930s, the British social set settled there and the Lake was used as a landing place for flying boats carrying tourists and mail to and from Britain.
Natural beauty was no doubt a big attraction Lake Naivasha is fringed by thick papyrus and forests of yellow-barked Acacia Xanthophela, which abound with bird life. The waters attract a great range of game. Giraffes wander among the trees, buffalos wallow in the swamps and Colobus monkeys swing through the treetops. Fertile soils and water supply have converged to create one of Kenya's prime agricultural regions.
One of the biggest in every way attractions is the hippopotamus herds, or more correctly bloats. They live a primarily aquatic lifestyle in rivers and lakes and number up to forty in a group.
During the day, they remain submerged and feed on grass in the coolness of night. They spend hours grazing and can consume up to 70 kilograms of grass in one session. It is thought up to 150,000 remain in Africa, but their existence is threatened by poaching and a loss of habitat.
Despite their barrel-shaped torso, stubby legs and enormous size, they can run up to 50km/h, but not for long distances. They have often been called the deadliest animal in Africa, known to be aggressive towards humans and particularly hostile towards crocodiles living in the same pools.
Peregrine Adventures offers boat rides where you will see the huge animals keeping cool. They are quite curious and usually can't resist popping their heads up for a look, usually grunting loudly.
For a closer look on land, Crescent Island is the place to stop. Bruce and Linda Gaymer have been there for more than 30 years. It is actually a crescent-shaped piece of land jutting into the lake from the shore. The 162 hectares are on the elevated rim of an old crater still connected to the mainland by a small isthmus. The submerged rim forms a bay, which is the deepest point of the lake. The last time it was an island was during the 1998 El Niño.
The Sanctuary is a protected reserve and visitors can walk amongst the animals as they come to the water’s edge to drink. There are no fences, cars or predators, so it is one of the few places in Kenya offering the opportunity to walk among the animals. There are around 1500 of them, including zebra, wildebeest, eland, gazelle, Maasai giraffe, antelope, dik dik, steenbok and lots of marvellous birds.
Hippo Point is one of the most luxurious, albeit eccentric, retreats in the world. It is owned by Michael Cunningham-Reid, a nephew of the late Lord Louis Mountbatten. Michael spent many years of his youth in Kenya and became determined to protect its dwindling wildlife. He was thrilled when Nderit Estate came up for sale and once again, he was overlooking his beloved Ndabibi Plains.
The nine-storey wooden tower resembles a Chinese pagoda. It has master, drawing, blue and yellow rooms, all giving wonderful views of Oloidien Bay. Breakfast is served under towering acacia trees and intimate candlelit dinners take diners to a bygone era. Greens are straight from Hippo Point's organic gardens and seafood is straight from the Indian Ocean.
Hippo Point House is quite stunning and far more conventional than the tower. The 1930s Elizabethan house was built by an Irish magistrate and remains a relic of colonial Africa. It was beautifully restored by Dodo Cunningham-Reid and perfectly reflects its English/African character.
The house has seven double bedrooms, warm wooden floors, deep bathtubs, pool and a gazebo where guests indulge in body treatments. A traditional English garden of scented roses and lush, green lawns contrasts sharply with the yellowish native acacias
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Around two hours north-west of Nairobi in Kenya
Peregrine Adventures has 12-day Essence of Kenya Tours from Nairobi. Accommodation, transfers, all transport, visits to five reserves and most meals are included with prices starting at $4605 per person, twin share. They operate in March and between June and October.
Hippo Point accommodation starts at about $642 per person a night. Full board, accommodation, drinks, laundry, activities and transfers are included.
Emirates has flights to Nairobi.
- Perth $2253
- Perth $3263
- Melbourne $3415
- Brisbane $3424
- Sydney $3433
Valid for sale until May 12, 2008 and for travel until March 31, 2009. Conditions apply.
Prices correct at May 1, 2008
For further information
Ph: 1300 854 500
Contact Peregrine for updates on tour departures.
Box 1852, Post Office
Ph: +254 733 333 014
Ph: 1300 303 777
It is recommended travellers to Kenya see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information visit www.welltogo.com.au.
The Department of Foreign Affairs currently has a travel warning on Kenya so we suggest you check the situation there before you book. Visit smarttraveller.com.au.
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