SUN AFRICA SET FOR TWO MORE CAMP OPENINGS
Details were obtained that Sun Africa Hotels, owners and managers of the soon to formally opening Sovereign Suites, the Lake Baringo Club, the Lake Naivasha Country Club and the Keekorok Lodge will shortly embark on the setting up of two more safari camps. Tent sizes were given as approximately 60 square metres with en suite bathrooms, and the first of the two locations is going to be within the sprawling ground of the Lake Naivasha Country Club – to be named the ‘Kiboko Camp’. The second property will be approximately 8 kilometres from the Keekorok Lodge, towards the Tanzanian border, to be named ‘Mara Makari’ when open in mid 2012.
The Naivasha Kiboko luxury camp will only offer 8 tents, equipped and furnished to exacting standards, and will be bringing the overall number of accommodation units in the much in demand Lake Naivasha Country Club estate up just slightly, while the new Mara Makari camp will offer 20 tents.
There a soft opening during next year’s low season is possible and being worked towards although full operations will only begin in the early second half of 2012 just ahead of the annual migration of a million and a half of wildebeest and zebras crossing ‘over’ from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara.
Kenya’s tourism industry, truly up and running and offering investment opportunities galore in the sector.
WHALE SHARKING FOR MAFIA’S MARINE PARK
Regular and increased sightings of the ocean’s largest fish, the whale shark, in the waters off Mafia Island, have prompted the Mafia Marine Park management to introduce and licence dedicated ocean tours to show the fish to tourist visitors. Now over 10 years old the park has started to attract more visitors year after year, allowing income generated from entrance fees to be plowed back into park infrastructure, which now features two diving facilities.
It was reported that recently nearly 40 whale sharks were sighted and information was also given that while a migratory species, the whales only journey down the East African seaboard to Mozambique and below, but also across the Indian Ocean, when plankton, their main diet, is getting sparse. They are however regularly returning to the Tanzanian waters, as an apparent satellite tracking project has recently established.
Fed by the Rufiji river the waters off Mafia Island are said to be rich in plankton, encouraging large concentrations of the whale shark to take up ‘residence’, mainly in the months between November and January and again between May and July, when organized whale shark sighting trips are much in demand.
Google Mafia Island or visit the relevant websites of the Tanzania Tourist Board for more information.
NEW TERMINAL AT MALINDI AIRPORT ‘NEARLY READY’
It was learned overnight that work on Malindi Airport’s new terminal building has advanced well enough to consider an informal commissioning in mid to late October this year. A formal opening will then follow at a later stage.
The construction also involved a new control tower, for improved air traffic control services, additional parking bays and general facilities at the airport, which has seen traffic rise substantially in recent years, more so since Kenya Airways resumed daily flights between Nairobi and Mombasa. The capacity for passenger through put will rise from the present 100 to as many as 500 per hour, and finally there will be restaurants and shops to pass the time while waiting for flights to be called. A new power station was also part of the modernization of the airport, and the next phase will likely include a substantial lengthening of the runway to cater for larger planes and possibly nonstop holiday charters from Europe directly to Malindi.
Work had started in 2010 and was reported her. Watch this space for the most current news and updates from the East African and Indian Ocean aviation scenes.
REPRIEVE FOR NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK?
Nairobi National Park’s public voice, FoNNaP or Friend of Nairobi National Park, was heard loud and clear earlier in the week when Dr. Paula Kahumbu, recently honoured by the National Geographic Society for her conservation work in Kenya, spoke to the chief engineer of the Kenya National Highways Authority in Kenya’s capital. With other conservation groups involved in a last ditch effort to review the new proposed Wildlife Bill and coordinate responses ahead of a crucial deadline early in the new week, when stakeholder consultations go underway, it was up to Paula to be Nairobi National Park’s main advocate.
Notably, the highway authority was apparently unaware of the migration patterns of zebra and wildebeest, which were presented to them based on a radio tracking survey conducted by the University of Colorado, in addition of which the Kitengela / Isinya land use plan, itself only publicly launched on Friday, was also handed to the highway authority’s officials.
In response the chief engineer then alleviated the greatest fear of the planned highway being so close to the Nairobi National Park as to ‘hem it in’ when he pointed to a far more distant route, much further away from the park boundaries than had been feared, but concerns remained as the remaining open migration route would nevertheless be greatly impacted. It is understood that the highway authority will consider to include flyovers and underpasses for the projected route to allow wildlife to continue migrating while also assuring FoNNaP of the authority’s desire to make this a model of holistic planning and implementation to aid conservation efforts and retain the identity of the park. Further consultative meetings were agreed in order to monitor progress and allow sufficient time for substantive inputs.
In a related development it was also learned that NEMA Kenya has declared itself in regard of the highway, that it would not permit any construction along or across migratory routes which would disrupt the flow of animals in and out of the park.
Thanks to FoNNaP and to Paula, who’s daily encounters with wildlife and birds in her Langata office you can follow on Twitter via @paulakahumbu