10 things I want people to know about Kenya

by Dereck Joubert on 22 October 2014, 09:10AM

This could be titled 'Why I love Kenya' so be ready for some unabashed positive messages about the country.

intro1
image credit: Great Plains Conservation

I keep coming across people who ask me if it's safe in Kenya, and while at first I was surprised, having lived for some time in Johannesburg in South Africa, later I realized that people are reading the Kenyan situation all wrong. If you hang out in any bad neighbourhood bad stuff is going to happen.

All of the incidents have been in isolated dark and dingy areas of Mombasa or Nairobi where like most places in the world, there are certain areas you really do not want to wander around. We caught the underground in New York last month ending up in just one such dark and dingy stop at 2am which was as uncomfortable as in the back streets of Mombasa. The pristine wildlife camps and high-end lodges are almost like a different world in Kenya.

intro2

So the first thing I wish people knew about Kenya is that it's safe in the areas you actually go to Kenya for! Some safari operations with camps in the Maasai Mara and in other regions now pick guests up at the international airport and whisk them off directly to the bush to start their adventure, avoiding the hustle and bustle of cities, isolating them from any threat.

A little magic was sprinkled onto the destiny of Kenya in late 1977 when a group of local women banded together with Richard Leakey and other conservationists and marched on parliament calling for a ban on hunting. The lion population was in trouble even 37 years ago and today there are fewer than 1,500 in Kenya. But I love the fact that Kenya was the first country in Africa to take a stand like this and make it stick.

intro3

Some say that numbers today are even lower than when they were back then. The same can be said for just about any wildlife population (except a couple of species that cohabit well with man such as rats and mice, viruses, and bacteria). Generally wildlife numbers have declined in proportion to increased human population.

I was sitting on a small hill in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy mulling over all this recently, and as I scanned around for big cats my binoculars passed over giraffe, topi, wildebeest, zebra, Thompson's gazelle, impala, some ostriches, eland, buffalo, elephants, a blur of warthogs, Grants gazelle and finally a pride of lions sitting virtually eye level to me on a far hill. Having found my 'prey' I realized that there is probably no other place in the world where one can see this amount of wildlife in one place! The sheer biomass is staggering. First time visitors to Africa should choose the Maasai Mara because there won't be a dull moment and it is what safaris are all about: wild animals in their natural habitat. It's like stepping into a National Geographic film, on steroids.

intro4

Then there is the migration, although I see that more as the moving, bleating, crazy brochure for Kenya that doesn't need much announcement. Every cable channel around the world has had some kind of film on the poor wildebeest leaping into brown churning rivers that hide giant gnarly crocodiles but for me the Mara is much more about lush green rolling plains that are punctuated with the first steps of a new born Thompson's gazelle as he stands up, no taller than the average sized camera I use, and these hills further punctuated by a watching cheetah. This wildlife only exists today because of tourism. Without the income, cattle would soon overwhelm the Mara and it will be just like any other place in Africa, dry, barren, overgrazed, with a scattering of poverty and sadness.

It's also not just isolated to the Maasai Mara. Last month we got in a small Cessna and flew south from the Mara to ol Donyo Lodge, out of the lush green rolling savannas that you expect to see if you grew up on Out of Africa, as I did, across the Great Rift Valley that holds so much mystique for me.

intro5

At the foothills of the Chyulu Hills where the shadow of Kilimanjaro really does stretch across the plains I spotted a gerenuk antelope, a weird long necked beauty that stands on its hind legs to reach up to new buds on acacia trees. I then caught a glimpse of some great grey giants. Despite the fact that Africa loses five elephants an hour now, these giants still survive here, protected to a large degree by the tourism that supports the anti-poaching. With tusks reaching down to the ground and with names like One Ton and Unbelievable, elephants that come from ancestors with a tradition of names like "He who Ploughs the Earth" are valued representatives of an elephant population that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. They represent the elephants that once where, the stories of our childhoods, the memories of a time when giants ruled this continent from coast to coast and ploughing the earth with gleaming ivory. An anti-poaching force run by the Big Life Foundation of over 270 rangers patrol and secure two million acres of land.

People should know that there is a battle going on in for Africa which is being fought on three major wildlife fronts: lions, elephants and rhinos. In Kenya we help fund the Predator Compensation Fund (under Big Life) by paying fair value for cows killed by lions and Maasai warriors have agreed to stop spearing lions. It's a major coup. The warmth of a warrior's smile one day, a six foot tall man in red checked robes with beads and spears and swords is something I will not forget but when he told me that real warriors don't need to kill lions anymore, my heart swelled with pride, compassion and a sense of shared hope.

intro6

A few years ago, an electrical fire burned down most of the international airport. Like a few thousand other people we were trying to fly out and I was struck by the kindness and willingness of officials to help, to direct and just be good at making the best of a smoke filled bad thing. When we handed in our passports, and said: "Tough day?" she looked up at us and smiled, "Could have been much worse." And I took this to be the attitude of Kenyans in general.

Innovation, passion, that frontier spirit, huge tusker elephants, lions in the largest density known to scientists, weird long necked antelope, deserts and mountains. Mostly what I would like people to know about Kenya is that it fulfils dreams, against all kinds of odds. But...those dreams only exist on a warm bed of tourism so keeo booking your holidays to Kenya.

intro7
image credit:Beverly Joubert

Author bio: Dereck Joubert is a 7-time Emmy award-winning filmmaker, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and pioneering wildlife conservationist, who has been filming, researching and exploring in Africa for over 30 years with his wife the acclaimed photographer, Beverly Joubert. He is the CEO and co-founder of Great Plains Conservation and founder of the Great Plains Foundation, bringing together conservation, communities and conservation tourism to fund large tracts of land to be protected for the local wildlife and the surrounding communities.


10 Things You Never Knew About Thailand

Read More

Top Tips for Driving Australia’s Great Ocean Road

Read More

Introducing Rixos Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi

Read More

Best Holiday Destinations for 2019

Read More
Post of the month
by Tourism Australia More

Email sign up

Register to receive holiday offers, cheap flights deals, hotel offers and more.

Travelbag Travel/Leisure London

01 Jan 00:00 Read More
Travelbag's Twitter
Common Tags
48 hours in 5 Reasons abseiling Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi UAE Activities Adventure Holiday Africa Alaska America Antigua Architecture Argentina asia Atlantis The Palm Auckland Australasia Australia bahamas Bahrain Bali Bangkok Barbados Beach Holidays Beaches Birdwatching Bora Bora Brazil bungee jumping Byron Bay Caibbean California Cambodia Canada Cancun Cape Town Caribbean celebrity Celebrity Holidays Chicago Chile China City Breaks Coffee Competition Corfu Cruise Holidays Cruises Cuba culture cycling Days Out Dining Dining Abroad Dominican Republic Dubai Dubai Hotels EdgeWalk Europe Events Exotic Holidays Explorers Way Family Holidays Festivals Fiji Fishing Florida food Girlie holidays Gold Coast Greece Hanoi Hawaii Ho Chi Minh City holiday reading holidays Honeymoon Hong Kong Hua Hin India Indian Ocean Indian Ocean Luxury Holidays Indonesia Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Journey Jumeriah Beach Kenya Khao Lak Kiwi Koh Samui Krabi kuala lumpur Laos las vegas last minute Legendary Pacific Coast Literature los angeles Luxury Holidays Macau Majorca Malaysia Maldives Mauritius Mauritius Hotels Melbourne Mexico Miami Middle East money Montreal motorhome holidays museums music Myanmar Nature New York New Zealand Northen Territory Oman Orlando Patong Pattaya Perth Perth Beaches Phuket Qatar Quebec Queensland Queenstown quiz Rail Rail Travel Reading on holiday Relaxing on holiday rollercoaster Royal Jubilee Safari Samoa Samoa Hotels scenic Scuba Diving Self-Drive Seychelles Shopping Sightseeing Trip South Africa South America Southern Spirit Spain Sports Sri Lanka St Lucia sun city Surfing survey Sydney Tahiti Tasmania Texas Thailand Things To Do Tips Tokyo Top 10 Top 5 Things to Do Toronto Toronto Dining tour Train Travel Travelbag Trip of a lifetime UAE UK United States USA USA Roadtrip Vancouver Vietnam Vietnam Beaches Virginia Wellington west coast Western Australia whale watching whales Wildlife Winter Sun
Archive
  • 2018
    • December
    • November
    • October
    • July
    • June
    • May
    • April
    • March
    • February
    • January
  • 2017
    • December
    • November
    • October
    • September
    • August
    • July
    • June
    • March
    • February
  • 2016
    • December
    • November
    • October
    • September
    • August
    • July
    • June
    • May
    • April
    • March
    • February
    • January
  • 2015
    • December
    • November
    • October
    • September
    • August
    • July
    • June
    • May
    • April
    • March
    • February
    • January
  • 2014
    • December
    • November
    • October
    • September
    • August
    • July
    • June
    • May
    • April
    • March
    • February
    • January
  • 2013
    • December
    • November
    • October
    • September
    • August
    • June
    • May
    • April
    • March
    • February
  • 2012
    • November
    • October
    • September
    • August
    • July
    • May
    • April
    • March
    • February
    • January
Please Wait...


We use cookies Read more

Cookies: We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our website, you are agreeing to use our site cookies. See our cookie policy for more information on cookies and how to manage them.

Great Deals

X
Just pop your email in below to subscribe

Please enter a valid email address

An error has occurred please try again later


Follow us on

Call us on

0207 001 5243

By choosing to subscribe, you will receive emails only from Travelbag.co.uk. We will not share your data with any third parties.Please read our Privacy Policy for all newsletter sign-up information.