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What else to see ..besides the animals?

NairobiNairobi

Traditionally Maasai land, Nairobi was originally called this highland  swamp Ewaso Nai’beri – the place of cold water. The areas to the immediate  south and north were originally inhabited by the Kikuyu. The town was born when  railway construction workers reached this area in 1899 and set up a basic camp  and supply depot, simply called ‘Mile 327’.

The history of the region in it’s colonial days is  fascinating. In Karen , a suburb of Nairobi  you can catch a glimpse of some of the houses and churches of the time. There  you can also visit the Karen Blixen Museum featured in the Out of Africa film  Visit the slightly fading Railway Museum in Nairobi to understand its pivotal  role in the regions development. Or the Nairobi National   Museum near the city  centre.

See the historic buildings such as the Norfolk Hotel, built  in 1904 to house new arrivals to the colony.

Mombasa

Welcome to Mombasa!

Kenya’s  second largest city at approximately 1.5 million people has about half the  population of Nairobi.  A walk through the streets of this island city’s old town is like a walk  through time — to an era when control of what is now Kenya came  first under Arab rule, then Portuguese and later Arabs again. Through it all, Mombasa was a key port in Africa’s  slave trade. Mombasa  old town is a fine example of Arab architecture, the winding streets surrounded  by attractive mashrabia houses. The old dhow harbor is still a busy trading  hub.

Mombasa Ft. JesusFort   Jesus was the site of  battles between Portuguese and Arab colonizers, and today holds an  archaeological trove, including objects from a 1697 shipwreck.

Flora and Fauna

Kenya’s  flora is considered exotic and unique to the traveler from Europe or America. Kenya’s  indigenous forests have no less than 50 species, fully double that of any North  American forests. The vast plains of the south are dotted with flat-topped  acacia trees, thorn bushes and the “roots up” appearance of the  baobab tree. On the slopes of Mount Elgon and Mount Kenya,  bamboo forests sprout and even higher up is the unique groundsel tree with huge  cabbage-like flowers and giant lobelias with long spikes.

The Beach

At sea level, the coast is a tropical paradise. Three  hundred miles of white sand beach meet stunning turquoise blue waters and lush  tropical trees and brilliant floral gardens. Reef- lined beaches are lined with  coastal rainforest, broad river deltas, estuaries and broad fertile  floodplains. High coastal hinterlands such as the Shimba, Taita and Chyulu  Hills offer cool forested retreats rich with game, including elephant.

Bird Watching

Kenya is  considered the greatest country in Africa for  birdwatching with 1,054 recorded feathered species. Birdwatchers in Kenya stand a  good chance of seeing nearly 60 percent of all African birds. Within the Nairobi area lies 50 percent of all Kenya’s bird  species. Kenya  holds the world record for the greatest number of bird species spotted in one  day. It is not unreasonable to see more than 100 species of birds in a day in  certain areas of Kenya.

The alkaline Great Rift Valley  lakes support an immense number of water birds and many other species are found  in grasslands and acacia woodlands surrounding them. Lake Nakuru  is world-famous for its concentration of lesser and greater flamingos at about  6½ million. Vultures, ostrich, secretary bird, paradise flycatcher and hornbill  are also well known exotic birds found in abundance.

Archaeology

Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site outside Nakuru was unearthed by  Louis Leakey in the 1920s and ever since has been a rich source of Neolithic  fossils, tools, and Iron Age artifacts. On the fossil-rich north shores of Lake Turkana, there is a prehistoric site at Koobi Fora.  Ongoing excavation here has produced such significant human fossil finds that  it has been designated a World Heritage Site. Olorgasalie, located near Lake Magadi,  is an area where a significant population of Homo erectus lived around 500,000  years ago. The digs here have uncovered plenty of fossils, tools and early  artifacts.

Shopping

Throughout Nairobi  and its suburbs, there are a range of supermarkets, shopping centers, large  open markets and city stores. The largest shopping centers are the Sarit  Centre, a very modern mall in Westlands, the YaYa Center  near Hurlingham and the Village Market in Gigiri. In the center of the town is  the large City Market, selling a great selection of produce, meats and  handicrafts. Kariakor Market is another excellent market for handicrafts and is  renowned all over town as the best place to sample real traditional Kenyan  food.

Mombasa  old town and Lamu are ideal places to shop for well-priced coastal handicrafts.             In Mombasa,  there is a large central fish market, and several produce market including             the large Maembe Tayari (Fresh Mango) market. Mombasa and Lamu are home to excellent woodcarvers from  all over Kenya,  producing many traditional designs. But the             coast’s specialty is fine woodwork, including furniture, and  Swahili boxes, intricately carved and inlaid with brass, copper or marble work.

Mount KenyaTrekking

This is Mount Kenya’s main  attraction, and anybody of reasonable fitness can attempt Point Lenana at 3.1  mi./4,985 m. The high isolated passes and moorlands of Mount   Elgon also make for excellent trekking. The series of craggy peaks  around the caldera reaching 2.7 mi./4,321 m. are an enjoyable climb, but  equally rewarding is exploring its forests, geothermal springs and caves. Wild  and isolated yet easily accessible, the Cherangani Hills are a series of  rolling hills, gently rising to a peak of 2.2 mi./3,529 m. at Kamalagon. There  are extensive series of tracks and paths that wind through semi-arid scrub,  farmland, open fields, and higher into dense forest. Mount Longonot  at 1.3 mi/2,100 m. is an enjoyable way to spend a day. The views from the top  across to Naivasha and the Aberdares are sensational, and the views of the  crater within the mountain even more breathtaking.

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