Walking on the Wild Side:
Ramblers’ Walking Safari in Kenya
By Alyssa Pirrello
Photographs Courtesy of KA Photography
After over twenty five years of organizing walking tours in Britain, the Ramblers Worldwide Holidays decided to take their walking trips to a new level and get a little wild- quite literally. Enter the “Walk on the Wild Side” tour, a new Ramblers’ tour of the walking safaris in Kenyabeginning in January 2014.
Tour leader Hildy Rubin went to Kenya while she was in the Peace Corps, and she’s continued going back to Kenya ever since. Rubin stated, “I’ve done these walks myself and planned this, it’s really a fantastic place to walk. Ramblers are walkers, so why not take a walk a little bit outside of the UK and experience something different?”
The Karura Forest
After the first night in Kenya, the group will begin walking- starting with the legendary Karura Forest. Being so close to the city, one would not expect to find such incredible scenery and wildlife, but the Karura Forest has it all. In addition to waterfalls and rivers, the Karura Forest houses all of the species of wildlife that can be found in Kenya as a whole. This includes monkeys, pigs, porcupines, hares, and over two hundred species of birds.
Not only is this forest rich in wildlife, but it’s also rich in history. Ramblers are able to see the Mau Mau Cave, a hideout used by the Kenyan Freedom Fighters during the Mau Mau uprising. British forces bombed the cave upon finding out its location, and the remains of over 200 Kenyan Freedom Fighters can still be seen amongst the rubble. Other sites include the incinerator where the Central Bank of Kenya used to burn currency notes and the area where Nobel Prize winning Professor Wangari Maathai campaigned against the Kenyan government’s illegal acquisition of land.
Incredible Scenery and Wildlife
The rambler’s will also walk in Hell’s Gate National Park, one of the only parks in Kenya where hiking, biking, and rock-climbing are allowed. Again, the wildlife is amazing, zebras, buffalo, gazelles, and more can all be spotted, but the focus while walking is mainly on the scenery.
On the other hand, at the next destination on the trip, the Crescent Island Wildlife Sanctuary, ramblers will be able to truly walk among the animals. The experience at the sanctuary is incredibly peaceful: there are no fences, cars, or predators to be seen. Numerous species of birds live in the sanctuary in addition to giraffes, gazelles, zebras, and more.
Each stop in the tour has it’s own unique features for the ramblers. At Lake Nakuru National Park, ramblers will be able to see the endangered white rhino in addition to the large flocks of flamingo that live on the edge of the lake. Other destinations are more focused on the scenery, such as the walk in the Menengai Crater. There are many stories behind this extinct volcano filled with hot springs and mud pots.Many are convinced the Menengai Crater is haunted, and some Kenyans come to the volcano to feel closer to God.
Of course, the trip wouldn’t be complete without walking at Lake Bogoria, a lake that is considered to be the most beautiful view in Africa.Geysers and geothermal pools are dispersed throughout the lake since it’s still volcanically active, but that doesn’t stop hundreds of different species from making this lake their home.
In addition to seeing forests, lakes, and volcanoes, ramblers will also experience the rainforest while walking in the Kakemega Forest. The Kakemega Forest is the only forest in Kenya that is part of the Guineo-Congolian forest ecosystem, allowing the forest to support an incredibly diverse array of wildlife. From trees to butterflies, this forest has incredible diversity and hundreds of different species living in it.
Seeing the Predators
Rubin, the tour leader, explains that while ramblers will see a lot of animals while on the walking tours, they won’t see any predators.Rubin explains that “with the big predators, you have to be more careful walking up to them. To see them we drive for about two days of game drives. Then you can see the predators.”
Although this is a walking tour, there are game drives during the trip to ensure that the ramblers get everything that Kenya has to offer. The Masai Mara Game Reserve, considered one of Africa’s greatest wildlife areas, is basically a continuation of the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, rhinos, and more can all be seen on the rambler’s game drive in this reserve, making it an incredible experience.
Lodging: From Five Star Hotels to Cottages and Tents
The ramblers can definitely expect to experience different types of lodging on this tour. On their first day, they will arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and stay in the Nairobi Serena Hotel, an award-winning hotel that is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World group.
While the ramblers will be staying in a hotel many nights, there are several nights where the ramblers will have theprivilege of staying at the Rondo Retreat Center. This homestead consists of a main house with five cottages that are an old colonial style,decorated with antiques and some newer pieces as well. The center provides three delicious home cooked meals a day, great views, and a charming atmosphere overall.
Another special overnight experience occurs inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve at the Ashnil Mara Camp. The camp, which is considered an “oasis in the wildnerness,” features 40 luxury tents from which ramblers can look out onto the plains and watch game. The camp includes dining areas, a bar, an ice cream shop, a lounge, and a pool. International, Oriental, and African cuisine are all served at the camp in addition to a wide array of beers and liquors.
Wondering if you can handle participating in the walking tour of Kenya? Rubin simply answers, “No one should feel like they’re not able to do it. The focus isn’t let’s walk ten miles today. It’s really easy walking; anyone
can do it. It’s just a couple hours and you can take breaks. It’s really geared towards where you’re walking and what you’re seeing. The trip is all short walks to see sights. It’s great for people who like a little exercise, but it’s by no means demanding”
While this tour sounds breathtaking, some people are sure to wonder why they should participate in a walking tour rather than the more typical game drive type of tour while in Kenya.
“I’ve been to Kenya many times and being able to walk there is different. Most people just drive the whole time and never get out of the car,” Rubin states, “[this tour] is more just for the experiential safari that you don’t get in 99% of the other tours. You really walk and get in some incredible scenery with craters, giraffes, islands… you don’t just get the safari.”
If you enjoy walking and love an adventure, the new Rambler’s trip in Kenya should be a perfect fit. Find out more information about Ramblers’ Walking Tour in Kenya here.
Alyssa Pirrello is an editorial assistant for GoNOMAD.com and a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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