Things to Do in Central Kenya
One of several private conservancies in Kenya, the Elsamere Conservation Centre is located on the southern shore of Lake Naivasha in the Rift Valley.
It's here that conservationist Joy Adamson nurtured some of her orphaned big cats -- including the most famous: Elsa. This orphaned lion cub was hand-raised in the 1950s by Joy and her husband, George, and released into the African bush. The book Joy wrote about the experience, "Born Free", was made into a movie.
The area is still a haven for wildlife, with its own small troop of black and white colobus monkeys in the acacia trees. Fish eagles can be found on the lakeshore, and hippos, eland and zebra graze on the lawns at night. More than 260 species of bird including rare species such as the Verreaux's Giant Eagle Owl have been spotted.
Aberdare National Park is in a cloud forest in some of the higher areas of Kenya's central highlands marked by deep ravines and forested mountain slopes. Because of its altitude -- mostly above 10,000 feet -- it's often shrouded in mist.
Animals often observed in the park include the black rhino, leopard, baboon, black and white colobus monkey and Sykes' monkey (Cercopithecus albogularis). Rarer are lions and the bongo, an elusive forest antelope that lives in the bamboo forest. Animals like the eland (a type of antelope) and serval cat (a solitary, nocturnal feline) can be found higher up in the moorlands.
Birders will note that there are more than 250 species of birds in the park, including the Jackson's Francolin (Pternistis jacksoni), sparrowhawk, goshawk, eagle, sunbird and plover.
Made up of the lake itself and the rocky caves and bushy grassland that surrounds it, Lake Nakuru National Park especially draws visitors looking to see pink flamingos, as there may be as many as 2 million lesser and great flamingos seen around the edges of the lake at a given time. The birds are drawn here by their favorite food, cyanophyta spirulina plantensis, a typeof blue-green algae that fills the lake.
In addition to the flamingos, more than 400 different bird species have been spotted in the park, which is on a migration route for many European birds. This is one national park where you definitely want a bird-watchers' guide in hand to identify all the feathered creatures and ensure the species you need for your life list are expected to be in residence when you visit. The park is also home to many water-loving animals such as hippos and waterbucks, and among other mammals found in the park, visitors who get lucky will also be able to spot lions, leopards, giraffes, hyenas, buffalo, baboons, monkeys and gazelles. In addition, once simply a bird sanctuary, the Lake Nakuru National Park has since become a national rhino sanctuary and is the best place in Kenya to see protected black and white rhinos.
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