Kenya Festival A Showcase Of Culture, Old School

Kenya

The annual Lamu Cultural Festival in Kenya is a showcase of tradition featuring much of what earned the island off Africa’s northern coast its World Heritage Site designation in 2001. Coming up November 15-18, 2012, the three-day festival offers a unique opportunity to explore the history, people, sights and sounds of Africa.

Lamu Island is home to Lamu Town, Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town and one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa. The town’s history dates back to 1441 and can be explored via a number of museums.

A full schedule of traditional dances, handicraft displays, competitions on water and land, Swahili poetry, donkey races, dhow races, henna paintings, Swahili bridal ceremonies and music. Since its inception as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, the festival has been a celebration of the island’s unique Swahili heritage.Getting there is tricky but, like so many other travel experiences, getting there is a great deal of the fun.

Scheduled flights daily from Nairobi, Mombasa, Diani Beach and Malindi land at close-by Manda Island airport (MAU). From there, dhow ferries bring visitors to Lamu where there are no vehicles. None. No tour busses, taxicabs, rental cars or even public transportation. This is about as close to the Africa of hundreds of years ago as we can get.

It is possible to hire donkeys to ride around the island though.

Check out the Lamu Cultural Festival and other Kenya information at www.magicalkenya.com.



[Photo Credit: Flickr user hktang]

Mountain Travel Sobek Offers Rafting Adventure That Spans 25 Days, 6 Continents

Mountain Travel Sobek has a 25-day, 6-Continent rafting adventureAdrenaline junkies and globetrotting adventure travelers will want to take note of an impressive new itinerary being offered by Mountain Travel Sobek. Yesterday, the company unveiled a new excursion that will send travelers on a whitewater odyssey that spans six continents in 25 days, taking them to some remote corners of the planet in the process.

The trip runs from May 9 to June 2, 2013, and begins in California where the thrill seekers will cut their teeth on Class III and IV rapids along the Kings, Kaweah and Upper Kern Rivers. After getting their feet wet on those rafting experiences, it’ll be on to Ecuador, followed by Spain, Kenya and India, before finally wrapping up in Australia.

Each destination will provide a similar, yet uniquely different, rafting experience, as travelers take on South America’s famed Rio Blanco and raging rivers in the high Pyrenees. In Africa they’ll spot wildlife along the Athi River and in India they’ll take to the water in the shadow of Nanda Devi, considered to be one of the most beautiful of all the Himalayan peaks. Finally, after three weeks of travel and training, the group will run the famed North Johnstone River in Australia, which rushes through a remote volcanic gorge that few people ever see.

For adventurous travelers this is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The opportunity to visit any one of these rivers independently is a fantastic experience but to get them all on one itinerary is unbelievable. The trip will even be led by Mountain Travel Sobek’s co-founder John Yost, a renowned rafting guide in his own right. Cost for the trip is $8695 without airfare and group size is limited to just 8-12 guests. For more information click here.

On a personal note, when I read about this new rafting option, it immediately earned a spot on my bucket list. A whirlwind adventure that spans the globe, visiting highly diverse landscapes, sounds like a fantastic journey to me. I would absolutely love to join this expedition.

Mt. Kenya To Be Surrounded By Electric Fence

Mt. Kenya will be surrounded in an electric fence to keep wild animals out.According to the BBC, the Kenyan government has approved a proposal to construct an electric fence around the country’s tallest mountain, the 5199-meter (17,057-foot) Mt. Kenya. The plan, which is backed by several conservation groups, was developed to help keep wild animals from straying onto farmland and destroying crops there.

The project is a collaboration between Rhino Ark, an organization dedicated to conservation in Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forest Service. The three groups feel that the electrified fence will not only protect the crops but the animals as well. When wildlife strays onto farmland, it often comes into conflict with the farmers that live there. The fence will help prevent those kinds of interactions, saving the lives of animals in the process.

When completed, the fence will stretch for more than 250 miles and surround about 772 square miles. It’ll stand 2 meters in height and extend another meter into the ground, just to ensure that especially determined critters are kept at bay. Construction started this past week with the first segment expected to be finished in early 2014. The entire project will wrap up in about five years at a total cost of $11.8 million.

Lest this seem like an overly ambitious endeavor it should be pointed out that Rhino Ark has completed a similar project in the past. The organization spent 12 years fencing in the Aberdare Mountains, the source of the clean water supply for Nairobi.

South African Airways introduces virtual itineraries

Elephants on the Serengeti South African Airways Vacations has introduced a new feature on its website that gives visitors the ability to explore options for travel in Africa like never before. The company has launched a series of “virtual itineraries” that use a combination of maps, photos and points of interest data to help travelers choose the right trip for themselves and to prepare them for their experience when they reach their destinations.

The site offers tours to a variety of locations including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and more. To explore those options simply visit the SAAV website and search for itineraries based on the location you would most like to visit or the type of travel experience that you’re looking for. The search results will provide the name of the available tours, a brief description and the price. There will be a button that will allow you to view the virtual itinerary for any given tour as well.

Opening one of those virtual itineraries presents you with an overview of the tour that includes each of the destinations that you’ll be visiting, the number of nights you’ll be staying there and the type of accommodations you can expect. Selecting the “day-by-day” view zooms the map in close to show more details about the area you’ll be visiting on any given day and offers some suggestions of things to see and do in the region. It will also show you where your hotel for that night is located and even offers images and detailed information about those accommodations. The virtual itineraries also provide notes about the daily activities, giving travelers plenty of information about what’s on the agenda for that day of the tour.

All of these tools help to take the guesswork out of a visit to southern or eastern Africa. Those two regions are popular dream destinations for may travelers, but planning and preparing for such a trip can be an intimidating experience for many. With the SAAV virtual itineraries you’ll know exactly what you’ll be getting when spending your hard-earned dollars, which can be very reassuring for travelers who aren’t particularly fond of surprises.

Poachers may now be setting fires in Kenya

Mt. Kenya in AfricaPoachers in Kenya may have added a new weapon to their arsenal as they continue to look for ways to illegally harvest ivory in the African country. Earlier this week a series of wildfires ignited on and around Mt. Kenya and officials believe that they were started by poachers looking to draw attention away from their nefarious activities.

Officials at Mt. Kenya National Park scrambled more than 100 firefighters to combat the fires, which sent wildlife fleeing for safety at lower altitudes. The blaze scorched hundreds of acres of forests along the slopes of the mountain, which is Africa’s second tallest at 5199 meters (17,057 feet). Typically, these types of fires are ignited naturally by lightning, but the region hasn’t had storms of any kind in recent weeks. The fact that they also sprung up near important structures, such as a school, has also fueled suspicion as to their origins.

As we’ve reported numerous times on Gadling, illegal poaching has become a serious problem throughout Africa. Elephants and rhinos are the biggest targets as their tusks and horns fetch large sums of money in Asia where they are commonly used in traditional medicines. Those two species have been hunted to near extinction in several regions of the continent and despite increased anti-poaching operations they continue to be killed at an alarming rate.

The concern is that while park officials were busy putting out these fires, the poachers were hunting the elephants that were forced off the mountain by the blaze. It is too early to tell if they managed to slaughter any of the animals, but authorities fear that they could see the hunters employing fire in future poaching operations as well.

[Photo credit: Chris 73 via WikiMedia]