Last week, flash floods swept through the Samburu National Park in northern Kenya, sending travelers scrambling for high ground, while campsites, 4×4 vehicles, and even bridges were swept away in just moments. The same area was afflicted by a major drought just last fall, which also disrupted travel through the region, but now it faces an entirely different problem, that could have even longer lasting effects.
According to the BBC, more than 17 tourists on safari had to be evacuated by helicopter following the flash floods, which also took out a local elephant research station. Most of the travelers were from the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, and some of them were forced to scramble up trees to avoid the rush of water that resulted when torrential rainfall caused the Ewaso Nyiro River to swell out of its banks.
Tourism is an important part of the Kenyan economy, and the classic safari is at the center of that trade. The Samburu National Park is one of the top safari destinations in the entire country, and many visitors flock to the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro as well. Many of the traditional big game animals are plentiful there, with elephants, zebras, hippos, and giraffes all in abundance.
While the waters have already begun to recede, the washed out bridges will need to be replaced before normal travel in the area can be restored. There is no time frame as to when that will happen, but visitors are still getting the opportunity to visit the park, although alternate routes are necessary for the time being.