Lillian Gaitho’s weekend contribution

Lillian’s weekend thoughts today focus on high profile events in Kenya

The Mara Migration and Other Kenyan Epics

From snow capped mountains, to sun-drenched beaches and picturesque valleys, Kenya’s attractions are definitely a world leader. Among its feted destinations include Diani – twice voted as the continent’s best beach, it’s wild safaris across vast grasslands bursting with both wildlife and bird life, the Rift Valley – with eight of its lakes found within the Kenyan boundaries, to mention but a few. Lillian today explores a few of these epics, with a keen interest on famous and awe-inspiring events unique to the country.

The Wildebeest Migration

Proudly in the list of world’s “Seven New Wonders” which spots other biggies such as the Roman Colosseum, Taj Mahal and The Great Wall of China, the Mara Migration is nothing less of a wondrous amazement. Currently ongoing (July-November), the migration consisting of millions of wildebeest and other grazers (zebras, warthogs) cover around 40,000 square as they trot and gallop in search of greener pastures. The most amazing, amusing and perhaps rewarding moment is the river crossing that perfectly illustrates the primal phrase, “survival of the fittest” The herds are not only expected to rely on their agility, but a little luck as well as they try to out-run, out-number and out-kick predators all along the way.

The Rhino Charge

The Mid-year annual event has gained quite a reputation within and without the motor-sport enthusiasts circles; it’s a lifetime adventure woven around a great course. The event, which premiered in 1989 in a bid to raise money to support the building of a perimeter wall around the Aberdares National Park has since evolved to an annual event which raised an impressive 1 Billion plus in the 2016 edition. This proceedings continue to support the environment, with this year’s going to Kenya’s Water Towers -Aberdares, Mt. Kenya and Mt. Eburu in the Mau Forests Complex

Safaricom Lewa Marathon

A great start for any athlete training for any race, Lewa Marathon has in the last seventeen years grown to an international event which brings together world-renowned runners,local athletes, tourists, and corporates with the objective to raise funds for wildlife conservation and community development programs. Numbers have been on a steady rise, with this year’s spectators going north of five thousand, while oversea runners and participators totaled to a hundred and fifty according to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy website.

The marathon also serves a great role in encouraging local tourism, even as its fame grows beyond the regional borders. This year alone, 45 nationalities were represented, with runners flying in from as far as the South Pacific nation of Fiji, China and Argentina.

Lamu Cultural Festival

The charm in this fort city stands untainted and unmoved in the middle of modernization and westernization; it’s a steaming pot of culture that embraces the old while warming up to the future without losing her arousing magical spell. Lamu, christened “the Island of Festivals” can be said to be one of the few destinations that remain exuberant throughout the four seasons of a tourist’s calendar. Top on the calendar of Lamu’s enchanting events is the Lamu Cultural Festival that takes place in the peak season month of November. The festival brings together thousands of local, regional and international tourists eager to experience the island’s offerings at ‘the source’ Popular activities and experiences include henna painting, cuisine sampling and cook-outs, cross county competition, and the all-so popular dhow sailing. Perhaps, the most coveted and prestigious event of all is the donkey race, which sees the winner feted and celebrated all across the island.

Lake Turkana Festivals

Since it’s inception in 2008, the Marsabit Lake Turkana Festival continues to grow both in popularity and impact on the 14 communities that partake the same. The festival brings together the diverse populace from the Eastern shores of Lake Turkana, in a three day action showcasing unique traditions, customs and cultural features of respective communities. Among these communities is the El-Molo; an endangered tribe whose dialect is said to be among the world’s languages facing imminent extinction. The annual festival takes place in Loiyangalani, in the south-eastern coast of Lake Turkana and has increasingly grown as a tourist attraction. Among the unique sights and sounds include Koobi Fora petrified forest , Sibiloi National Park, century old wildlife fossils, Loiyangalani desert museum, and distinctive flora and fauna.

Maralal Camel Derby

The Maralal International Camel Derby is probably the only of it’s kind in the continent. The event, which attracts locals and internationals alike is characterized by electric and highly emotional moments as the camels sprint out towards the finish line. A cycling race also takes place concurrently, attracting both pros and amateurs alike, on a highly-charged ride across the challenging terrain.

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