By Lisa Vivirito
The closest most of us have come to a safari is right in our living room watching the Discovery Channel.
A once-in-a-lifetime experience can take place on a Kenya safari. If you only have time to visit one part of Africa, Kenya should be at the top of your list.
You can start your journey by flying in, and possibly out of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. To get there from our area the best way may be through London. That would entail an eight-hour flight to England, then another eight-hour flight to Nairobi.
If time prevails, safari tours can be as short as eight days, though more time would be recommended, as there is so much to see.
Kenya's landscapes are diverse from deserts, to snow-capped mountains.
Drives beginning in Nairobi generally will drive through farmlands of Central Kenya, and cross the slopes of Mount Kenya to Samburu.
A visit to Kenya would be incomplete without a visit to Samburu Game Reserve. Although the park is small, it's the place where you're almost guaranteed to see all you could want from a safari.
A common sight on the way to and from the park (a semi-desert atmosphere), is the Masai and their camels.
Within minutes of entering the park you may be lucky enough to see a bull elephant crossing the road.
On most excursions in Kenya, you will come under some pressure to purchase souvenirs. The children love being given items and are grateful for even just pens.
Mount Kenya National Park has a spectacular "tree" lodge that is built on the edge of a forest glade. Here you can enjoy a 24-hour game viewing area. Animals visit the waterhole and saltlick by the lodge throughout the day. Mount Kenya has the highest elevation in Kenya at 5,199 meters.
From this area, travelers can move on to Lake Nakuru. This is in the Great Rift Valley. Here is the lakebed for buffalo, lion, leopard, and huge flocks of birds.
Nakuru's successful black and white rhino conservation program also ensures that visitors will be treated to regular rhino sightings.
This is also one of the very few places in the world to see the endangered Rothschild giraffe in the wild.
Kenya's most famous game reserve is the Masai Mara National Park. The best time to go for annual migration is between August and October.
Here you can find balloon safaris and an annual wildebeest migration of up to two million animals.
To the south, the Indian Ocean coast offers sandy white beaches, and turquoise seas that are protected by a fascinating coral reef.
East Africa is a great destination year-round. Each season has its advantages, and each area has its best moments.
If your dates are flexible, it's best to plan a visit based on the seasonal trends in the places you'd like to go. The annual wildebeest migration is an incredible event only witnessed in East Africa.
December to March is summer, so temperatures are warm. The long rains are from early April through early June. This time is less crowded and less expensive.
July to November offers the most comfortable temperatures; therefore, it is a popular travel time due to summer holiday vacations. However, no matter when you go, you will need a passport valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and visas are required as well. Appropriate vaccines will also be recommended.
There are numerous areas of Africa to explore. Kenya is an excellent way to begin.
Lisa Vivirito is owner of Diamond Travel in Vero Beach. Call her at (772) 567-8481 or 800-795-1986. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.diamondtravelofvero.com.