Travel With Tamara

My what-where-when-who-why guide to the Great Migration

WHAT In November 2006, the newspaper USA Todayand the TV show Good Morning Americarevealed a new list of Seven Wonders of the World, as chosen by six judges: the great migration was named one of the seven. However, contrary to what its name suggests, this isn’t a single annual event, but a constant cycle in which vast numbers of animals flow in a circuit around Kenya and Tanzania. While watching these animals trying to dodge waiting crocodiles as they plunge across the great Mara River makes for the most exciting moments of the migration, the crossings are far from being the only thrill of the season. Watching the golden savannah turn black from the sheer numbers of animals coursing across it, or spotting the animals

Me I Love Kenya

Mt Kenya Mt Kenya towers over central Kenya, its three craggy peaks jutting into the sky. Gazing up at the summit, it’s easy to understand why the Kikuyu believed it to be God’s throne, seat of the God Ngai. Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, called his book about the Kikuyu Facing Mount Kenyaand the mountain’s name, Kirinyaga, gave the country its name. The mountain stands at just over 5,100m, making it the second highest peak in Africa; it was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Safari Kenya’s most famous activity, safari is loved by Kenyans and visitors alike. The number of wild animals in Kenya is amongst the highest in Africa and the

Lamu: the island where time stood still

Perhaps it’s the absence of cars, or the alleyways that weave through the town, or the Arabic houses with their riveted wooden doors, but walk through Lamu town and you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back to a former time. The hustle and bustle around the port is that of the old trading post it once was, in the bygone days of the trade routes. Still today, you’ll see heavily laden dhows sailing into port, and men unloading them onto the backs of waiting donkeys. Still today you’ll see ladies draped in hijab or burqa strolling down the alleys and shopping in the markets. Still today you’ll see boys in prayer caps and girls in headscarves converging on

Tales from Ethiopia

A priest in Tigrey climbs daily to his church cut into the top of a cliff. The climb takes him two hours and includes several treacherous stretches and one completely vertical rock-face. He celebrates mass, spends the day reading religious texts, then climbs down at dusk. It’s this persistency, this dogged tenacity, that built the rock hewn churches for which Ethiopia is famed. In Tigrey, a mountainous region in the far north of the country, there are at least 120 churches carved from craggy cliffs, and it’s thought there are many more that because of their inaccessibility have yet to be excavated. Built between the 4th and 12th centuries, these churches are testament to the determination of a people. Similarly, the churches of Lalibela

Yoga in Kenya

ONE: MAASAI MARA What: Acroyoga fuses the wisdom of yoga, the power of acrobatics and the loving kindness of Thai massage. To try this form of yoga, you need trust, fitness and a sense of humour. The practice requires three people – a base, who is the foundation of the pose; a flyer, who performs postures supported by the base; and a spotter who, like a mother lion, makes sure no harm comes to her cubs. Where: Bogani Camp is an initiative of me.org of Canada, whose motto is ‘together we can shift the world from me to we’. This camp has leadership programmes, community empowerment, social impact initiatives – and yoga. Who: Chelot iis a certified second level Power Vinyasa Flow yoga instructor and an

Top Ten Restaurants at the Coast

Peponi Hotel, Shela Village, Lamu Island Established in 1967 by the Korschen family, this landmark hotel is still in the hands of the family today. The hotel’s whitewashed walls, historic photos and veranda shaded with bright bougainvillea make this a place that’s both classy and inviting. Add to this a seafront restaurant with delectable dishes and unbeatable cocktails, and you have a venue that’s destined for success. Settle into your seat, gaze at the dhows cruising up the channel, then turn your eyes to the marvellous menu. Our favourites: Old Pal, Peponi’s signature cocktail; Spicy Thai Fish Soup; Prawns flambéed in Brandy; Beef Carpaccio; and Chocolate Truffles. And all the sushi (we just can’t make our minds up)! Moonrise Restaurant,

Shimba Hills

The Sable Antelope is large and stately, with white stripes down its face and imposing arched horns. It’s also highly endangered. The last remaining population in Kenya is less than 100 strong, and lives in the Shimba Hills. Sable Antelope males are almost black, while the females are smaller and a rusty brown colour; their bellies, cheeks and chins are white; and while they’re mostly grazers, they have been known to lick salt and chew bones to collect minerals. Perhaps the most unexpected thing about them is, however, that they’ve been seen to confront lions with their razor-sharp horns, and even to kill them. Yet the Sable Antelope is not the only unusual animal that has made its home on these forested slopes.

The Museum of Humankind

When Richard Leakey, world-renowned palaeontologist and conservationist, speaks of the ‘wow factor’ the world sits up and takes notice. And his newest project certainly has ‘wow’. Leakey is planning a memorial monument to the human story on a dramatic escarpment overlooking the Rift Valley. It’s intended to be the most complete record of humanity in Africa, telling the story of how and why life began when and where it did, and how life came to be what it is today. The series of exhibits will include a state-of-the-art planetarium, full models of various species in the human story over several million years, and models of giant reptiles, otherwise known as dinosaurs. But that’s not all. Using technology being developed called immersive reality, these

Getting Fit the Fun Way

CAPOEIRA Capoeira is a martial art that combines dance, acrobatics and music. It was developed in Brazil in the 16thCentury, predominantly by slaves who’d been brought by the Portuguese from Angola. Capoeira is grounded in the music; traditional instruments lead the tempo and rhythm of the game. Capoeira songs can be about an event in history, a famous capoeirista, daily happenings, or can even contain hidden messages. Folk stories, Afro-Brazilian history, poetry and philosophy are all a part of the music and the dance. Participants form a Roda (pronounced Hoda), a circle, singing and clapping while two capoeiristas play in the centre. While there’s a seriousness to the history of Capoeira, there’s a lot of space for theatre, drama, comedy and fun.

Watamu

Watamu means ‘sweet people’ in Swahili. While some see this as a tribute to the sweet nature of the folk here, there’s a darker possibility. It’s alleged that slave traders lured locals into their notorious slave ships with sweets. Certainly Gede, the ancient settlement at Watamu, was established during the days of the trade routes; the settlement originated in the twelfth century, when Arab dhows were ploughing up and down the east coast of Africa trading in leopard skins, tortoiseshells, rhino horns, ivory, gold and slaves. Gede was abandoned in the seventeenth century, possibly because of attacks by bands of Turks, Ethiopians and Somalis, and possibly because the drop in the water table made water scarce. The crumbling houses, mosques and palaces have

Flip Flop Art

A life-size sculpture of a lion – made entirely of recycled plastic – is this week to go on show at the Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters in Nairobi. The striking green lion is to draw attention to the dramatic decrease in lion populations while also highlighting the problem of plastic in our oceans. Its display signifies the start of the 12-month Greening Simba Campaign, a collaboration between Kenya Commercial Bank, the Irish Embassy, the Kenya Wildlife Service and Ocean Sole. Such stunning pieces of lion wall art will for the next year be available for 500USD, of which 25% goes to lion conservation programmes in Kenya. Ocean Sole, the movers and shakers of the scheme, have been working towards just such a scheme for over a decade. It

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