Monday, 25 August 2014

IS KENYA SAFE AS A TOURIST DESTINATION?




Game Viewing in Masai Mara
Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety. The great wildebeest migration in Kenya is on, and thousands of wildebeests and herds of Zebras have already crossed the Grumeti River in Tanzania, as thousand others have succumbed to enemy talons. However, this has not stopped the great trek to the lush Mara Triangle in search of pasture. Tourists continue to pitch tents along the crocodile- infested Mara River to witness this phenomenon that defines one of the most famous predator-prey relationships. At the end of this migration circuit, almost 250,000 will have been predated on by crocodiles and other predators that lurk in their migration path. Safety is undoubtedly the basic wheel on which all evolutions thrive.
Kenya is the greatest tourist destination in the Great Lakes countries, with at least 1.2 million tourists drawn from all corners of the globe visiting every year and the numbers continue to surge, potentially because of the conducive environment and safety abounding from Coastal strip to Lake Turkana hinterland. The few security challenges that have rocked Kenya's rise to the zenith as an ultimate investment hub have been sufficiently contained. The September 2013 Westgate attack in an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi's Westland area remains the worst case of enemy invasion.
Terrorism is a global challenge that requires elaborate global support to stump out the vice. The enemies of peace are an impeding block to harmony and free movement of people and goods. It is a threat that we can collectively thwart but can never be won singly. The president of the United States Barack Obama promised to support Kenya in the war against terrorism in the recent African Leaders summit in Washington DC.

Kenya's confidence as a safe country was overwhelming during the recent floating of the Euro Bond which was oversubscribed by American and European investors stating that they believe in Kenya as the ultimate destination. Kenya's commitment as Africa's safest country is one that has borne fruits with major changes and improvements in the police service and the defense forces. Needless to say, the security stability in the country can largely be contributed to effective measures implemented by law and order enforcement agencies.

Major international organizations' headquarters are found in Kenya including United Nations Environment Program and United Nations Human Settlement Program in Nairobi. During the recent UNEP assembly held at the UN Gigiri complex in Nairobi, UN boss Ban Ki Moon met with President Uhuru Kenyatta to discuss the attacks on innocent Kenyans.“I have had a very fruitful discussion on major political and security issues concerning counter-terrorism in Somalia, South Sudan and the Great Lakes region,” the UN Secretary General said at State House, Nairobi.
He added: “We have exchanged views at length about how the UN and Kenya can work together in countering the heinous attacks against the people and the country.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the presence of the UN in Kenya continues to grow, adding the UNAids had just started its global IT hub in Nairobi and the World Health Organization located its global security unit in the country.
Travel warnings against visiting Kenya are of course meant to protect citizens from different countries, but should not be indicative of a gloomy cloud of insecurity in the country. Tourists continue to visit Kenya despite the advisories because they understand safety, as an individual undertaking.

Safety does not happen as an accident but is rather a culture of staying vigilant for our sake and that of others. These efforts can only make the security situation in Kenya better.
When all has been said and done, the gauntlet rests with God true to the words enshrined in Kenya's national anthem, "Oh God of all creation bless this our land and nation..."Just like the wildebeest scamper from predators, so do we humans look out for any danger that threatens our safety..because as Horace concludes, Who can hope to be safe? Who sufficiently cautious?
Guard himself as he may, every moment's an ambush.

Hello and welcome to Kenya, - Let our safari together continue!


Stephen Mwasio is a Tourism Consultant and CEO for Inclusive Holidays Africa – Twitter @inclusiveafrica

Monday, 18 August 2014

WHY I LOVE KENYA



The intercom blares to announce yet another arrival at destination Kenya as the plane touches down on the major runway at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on a beautiful August morning in Nairobi, "Karibu Kenya, Hakuna Matata", a mellow-voiced air hostess clad in a chic Kenya Airways uniform announces in Swahili. Many come to Kenya for various dreams that once sounded like sheer utopia; frolicking in the white sand of Watamu and witness the Great Wildebeest migration. The chirping of birds and the virgin rays of the sun at breakfast in one of the best hotels in Nairobi like Hotel Intercontinental, beholding the magical view of the city under the sun, alternating between a tour guide and travel brochures is a typical morning after arrival for most visitors.
On the central Kenyan plateau where Nairobi stands at an altitude of 5500 ft is the capital which is home to more than 4 million Kenyans drawn from all ends of the country, a hardworking and hospitable people with a charm for visitors. The Maasai, one of the 42 ethnic groups were as real as I had read about them, adorned in colorful shukas and with an accent so friendly you want to listen to them even though it all sounded like a sing song twang, hardly making out any meaning, but it is all fun.

Kenya is very well mapped although a travel company like Inclusive Holidays Africa  makes the visit more scheduled more than anyone could ever imagine of, giving comfort and that awesome feeling of a home away home. Most visitors will spend most of their first afternoon sampling  Kenyan cuisine, delicious and served from the captains order, mouth- watering charcoal-grilled goat meat served alongside corn meal, the Nyama choma speciality that makes seafood seem so obvious. Kenyans have all it takes to want you prolong your stay so that you keep enjoying their great variety of their foods and drinks alike. I reminisce about a savoury of gourdful sour milk and fresh cattle blood, what I came to learn is called mursik. Every of Kenyan delicacy is nostalgic.
Kenya culture is a fascinating way of life that blends the traditions of thousands of years of African social evolution with the modern influences of the 20th century. The multifaceted culture of Kenya is expressed in different forms, ranging from its people and language, food, music and dance, art, artifacts, theatre and literature to its ethnic values and ethical norms. Combined with other traditions, these forms of expression and lifestyle form an identity that is uniquely Kenyan. The Kenyan population is comprised of more than 40 ethnic groups, each with its own unique dialect. As Kenya's national languages, Swahili and English bridge the communication gap and unite Kenyans as a single nation.
Another fascinating aspect of Kenyan culture is the art and artifacts that Kenya's different ethnic groups craft manually, using readily available local materials. Beautifully carved wood sculptures showing exquisite detail and craftsmanship really dazzled me with a panache I have never seen elsewhere and took with me souvenirs that antiquely dangle from my walls and every visitor awes as much as I do when they behold them.
Other popular Kenya artifacts include colorful hand-woven sisal baskets, Maasai beaded jewelry, gold and silver jewelry, musical instruments, soapstone sculptures, tribal masks, figurines, paintings, prints, batik cloth, kangas and the beautiful traditional Kikoys (African sarongs).

Travel to Kenya is never complete without visiting the much a famed eighth wonder of the world, the Great Migration, an inter-corridor migration of wildebeest that happens only in Kenya. Up to 2 million wildebeest, zebra and Thompson’s gazelle make their way across the Serengeti into the Masai Mara National park region every year. The annual migration is prompted by the availability of grass for grazing which is governed by the annual rain supply. From December to April the herds are located in the Serengeti Tanzania where there is ample water supply. When watering holes begin to dry up and grass becomes less plentiful, the animals trek westward to a “corridor” area of the Serengeti. Here they remain from May to July, gathering in vast numbers throughout the acacia woodlands.
By July – August, the herds are again in search of fresh quantities of grass, and journey northward into the Mara and the well-watered plains there. By October, instinct motivates the herds to return south to the central Serengeti Plains. Calving takes place November-December in the Serengeti with over half a million calves born in January and February. Two out of three calves born at this time will perish before returning to the Serengeti after the next migration.

Leaving the port city of Mombasa for the next destination to Watamu is one great feat because everything from the beaches of Mombasa to the palm wine called mnazi in Swahili dialect is just too good to get anywhere else, but yet again  beach tenting at Watamu, a small town located approximately 105 km north of Mombasa, lying on a headland between the Blue Lagoon and Watamu Bay is even more fun.
The shoreline in Watamu features white sand beaches and offshore coral formations arranged in different bays, most spectacular Turtle Bay, Garoda Beach, Blue Lagoon Bay and diving and snorkeling adventure is at its best in Watamu. The locals, the Bajuni people have perfected different international languages, most earning their lives as tour  guides and make lifetime friends with whom they fluently chat on the white sand sunbathing. They are wonderful people. The largest spitting cobra in the world, Naja ashei was recently discovered in Watamu.

There are also other great attractive sites in Kenya including Tsavo National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Hell's Gate National Park, The Great Mt Kenya, The Masai Mara, Nairobi National Park among many others. There is just too much to see, feel, touch, taste and learn in Kenya, from the wildlife safaris  to the great culture therein that keeps visitors looking forward to the next visit.


Author is Stephen Mwasio, Tourism Consultant and CEO for Inclusive Holidays Africa Ltd 
Twitter - - @inclusiveafrica