Information courtesy of Nature Kenya:

Location and topography

Kenya lies astride the equator on the eastern coast of Africa. It is a medium-sized country by continental standards, covering an area of about 586,600km sq. Inland water bodies cover some 10,700km sq, the bulk of this in Lakes Victoria and Turkana. Kenya is bordered by Somalia and the Indian Ocean to the east, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. The coastline, about 550km long, faces the Indian Ocean.


Kenya has tremendous topographical diversity, including glaciated mountains with snow-capped peaks, the Rift Valley with its scarps and volcanoes, ancient granitic hills, flat desert landscapes and coral reefs

and islets. However, the basic configuration is simple. Coastal plains give way to and inland plateau that rises gradually to the central highlands, which are the result of the relatively recent volcanic activity

associated with the formation of the rift valley. To the west the land drops again to the Nyanza plateau that surrounds the Kenyan sector of Lake Victoria; and to the north, to the rugged low country around Lake Turkana.


Climate

Kenya is generally a dry country; over75% of its area is classed as arid of semi-arid with only around 20% being viable for agriculture. Inland, rainfall and temperatures are closely related to altitude changes, with

variations induced by local topography. Generally the climate is warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east.


EASTERN KENYA

The largest peak in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, provides the majestic back drop for this park. Although not as large as others in the southern region, Amboseli features a unique ecosystem and a variety of game that is easy to spot. The park also features five different wildlife habitats: the seasonal lake bed of Lake Amboseli, sulfur springs surrounded by swamps and marshes, open plains, woodlands, and lava rock thornbush country. Amboseli is best known for its great elephant herds. The park also provides the best chance of spotting the elusive black rhino. Lion and cheetah are common as well as Maasai giraffe, eland, Coke's hartebeest, waterbuck, impala and gazelle.


WESTERN KENYA

This fertile farm county is lush with vegetation and beautiful rolling hills, yet tourists are few and far between. The region is home to the Luo people, the third largest ethnic group in Kenya. Western Kenya is the most densely populated part of the county so travelers can tour with ease on a well developed road system. Western Kenya is also the agricultural center of the country with fertile farmland to the north and vast tea plantations in the south.


SOUTHERN KENYA

This spectacular expanse of open grassland covers 320 sq km in the south-west corner of Kenya. It receives ample water from the tree-lined Mara River, a tributary of the Talek River. The western border of the park features the Oloololo Escarpment as well as the highest concentration of game. This area is often difficult to traverse as the swampy ground often becomes impassable after heavy rains. Because of its accessibility from Nairobi, the eastern edge of the park is most popular with tourists and minibuses.


RIFT VALLEY (click here for more info)

The three national reserves in the Rift Valley region are located in the remote area north of Isiolo cover over 300 sq km (117 sq miles). Samburu, Buffalo Spring, and Shaba are situated along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River and are surrounded by a combination of desert scrub and open savannah plains. The 32km (19 mile) river supports abundant wildlife as it never dries up. Visitors to the Samburu region will see two species found only in northern Kenya: Grevy's zebra and the reticulated giraffe. The reserves are approximately 64 km (38 miles) north of the equator and the temperatures remain hot with low humidity.


THE COAST (click here for more info)

Throughout history, the coastal region of Kenya and the interior have experienced very unique but connected histories. The first traders on the coast were Arabs from the Persian Gulf and by the 12th century several substantial settlements had developed. The primary trade export during this period included leopard skins, ivory, and tortoiseshell. Settlements continued to grow into established towns by the end of the 15th century. The inhabitants were primarily Arab although there were significant numbers of Africans who worked as laborers. Intermarriage was common and a unique culture developed that more closely resembled people of the Islamic Persian Gulf than tribes of the interior of Kenya. Today the people of the coast are the Swahili who speak KiSwahili, a language that evolved as a means of communication between the locals and the Arab traders.


MOMBASA (click here for more info)

By the 15th century this important port was a thriving, sophisticated city with established trade routes to China, Persia, and India. Today Mombasa continues to be the largest port on the East African coast serving the countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern Zaire, and of course, Kenya. The population is fast approaching half a million with 70% of African descent and a small minority of Asians and Europeans.


 
UNTAMED SAFARIS
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