Mystic and reality in Kenya

Dry land with welcoming shores and an aurorean history, Kenya was remained inside much time unknown. The equatorial forest, inaccessible and virgin created huge obstacles to increase the economical and cultural relations between Kenya and other countries.

The first explorers such as Mungo Park (1975); H. Owen (1822); David Livingstone (1841) and H. Makinder (who escaladed in 1899 Kenya Mountain (White Mountain) and from where comes the country name) were the people who opened the geographic era to the Eastern Africa.

Besides those geographic discoveries, the health of Kenyan land was the reason that made those capitalist adventurers to settle there at the end of the 19th century. The conquering of Kenya by the English colonialists transformed it into an inexhaustible source of enrichment.

Jomo Kenyatta (the president of Kenya after WW II) wrote „In different corners of Africa, the African wakes up and starts to understand that a river which flows cannot be sluiced forever, as one fine day this river will sweep the dams which stand in its way. Its forces are prisoned; but they start to come up and soon the African will shake the tutelage and the oppression that have been imposed”. Following this direction, the Kenyan people gained the independence in 1963 December 12th. Since then until now Kenya, also gained 32 millions of inhabitants for  582 646 km2! A huge growth when other countries are confronting with a decrease. I believe that a short brief about Kenya’s history and geography will make our jaunt more interesting and in fact will influence us to visit it or not.

Tourism is a major business in Kenya and represents the second industry of the country. Kenya features the most opportunities to practise tourism: its national parks, attractive landscape, flora and fauna, a remarkable richness. The biggest attraction for tourists is the wild life of jungle and the safari tour. The majority of tourists comes from UK (where a fight takes 9 hours between capitals), then from USA, Asia and Europe.

Among principal touristic objectives we can enumerate:  Nairobi – Kenya’s capital where the distinctive note is given by the Buddhistic temples and its amazing surrounds, Mombasa, Lamu, Malindi with its antique vestiges and astonishing originality.

The geographic elements which characterised Kenya are given prominently by the volcanic mountains and a medium high of 1000-1200 m for which Kenya was called an „African Switzerland”; the open to Indian Ocean has a big importance for Kenyans but this also was the entrance for colonialism. Besides all above, in Kenya we meet a varied landscape from a vast desert into the North to 5199 m high into the Kenya’s heart where we find an eternal spring.

Fauna in Kenya imprints to those regions where it can be found, a distinctive note, fauna is without doubt an element of landscape. For this reason and to protect the wild life, the Kenyan authorities chose to create natural reservations and parks, where hunting is prohibited and the visitors cannot bring guns, explosives, tools for capturing or poison.

The most visited park of Kenya – „ Nairobi National Park” was created in 1946. This is situated in the South of capital on an area  of 115 km squares and on an altitude between 1500 and 1800 m.  The park is surrounded by dense forests and deep valleys.

On the large depression Lion Valley, the tourist can meet a varied fauna from many antelopes to african struts and where the animals do what they wish and the only human presence is the one which admires these wild creatures. An russian tourist wrote years ago „ In National Park of Nairobi we have luck. We can see a female lion with her babies. Surrounded by cars with tourists, the female lion enjoys all what life has to offer her: she lays or rolls in the grass. The little lions play as kitties. Neither they , nor even her mother pay attention to the cars which are passing near them. Perhaps they find that the administration of the Park forbids categorically for tourists to open the windows.”

The tourists also can admire the splendid gardens arranged especially for this purpose or the Coryndom Museum where can be found  archeologic, ethnographic elements of natural history. In the wild life, the tourists have on their disposal some houses for accommodation which are suspended on pylons and their stairs are protected or removed to avoid the wild  intruders.

The National Park of Nairobi can be visited with a driver guide, renting a car for several hours. There are some accidental roads where it walks lined up closed one to another without noise and words, just quiet. These conditions are absolutely necessary to explore and  finish the expedition.

The National Park Tsavo is extended on 20880 km squares and was created in 1948. It is located in the South-East of Kenya. There is a huge reservation of fauna wich are protected against hunters and which finds the peace in this park: elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, buffalos and varied types of antelopes. Being a semi-arid zone, the flora has small and high trees with dense green crowns. The park is closed in April, May, November, December and during the night. With all measures, there are some tribes who hunt against the law and consist a real danger for the wild fauna, inside or outside the park.

Another important park is „ Mount Kenya” with 600 km squares which hosts the most attractive volcanic cone Kenya which because of its highness (5199 m) made possible here  a bug number of icebergs between small eyes of water and Morones, contrasting considerably with the Ecuadorian climate. At the beautiful landscape concur the richness of flora, especially fauna. The forests cover all muddy area and toward the peaks appear varied species of montane and rare plants. We can hear the presence of a numerous birds, very coloured and see small rodents.

Amboseli” is one of the natural reservation created in Kenya in 1948 with an area of 3270 km sq. Located near Tanzania on altitude of 1200 m. The natural reservation is dominated by a high plain, easily undulated with a land formed by volcanic ash from Kilimanjaro. This reservation is very rich in flora and populated with all kind of wild life. Less dressed with vegetation but with the same fauna „Marsabit” has 26720 km sq, located in the North and is the biggest from Kenya.

Besides those parks and natural reservation, there are some areas where safari is allowed and travel agencies organise them:

http://www.goodearthtours.com/ContactUs.html

http://www.kenyasafaris.com/

If the predatory hunting would be left free for those unscrupulous individuals or organisations, we would have now a mutilation of one of the most beautiful regions on the globe, how is well-known, Kenya.

Source: „Kenya” by Benone Zotta & Constantin Nedelcu (1970 edition)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq3HK0JMMs4

Lake George – “The queen of American Lakes”

Lake GeorgeReading a magazine, I saw an article about the most attractive vacation in the world. According to it, Lake George is one of the 10 places where you must spend some quality time. Of course the article didn’t make me go there, as I was already there but, the article provoked me more. So let’s discover the area step by step.

The first day I went to explore the surroundings with my lovely niece and my brave nephews, as they had already been in Lake George many times. One of the twins said: „hey Aunt Dana let’s show you some history”. Leaving the camping area, as we had chosen to sleep under the stars, to wake up with the smell of the forest, to sit around the campfire, roasting marshmallows, hearing the birds’ concert… Amazing! We reached the Battleground Park where there is a statue of a priest who is missing three fingers. The legend my nephew told me says: „ Father Isaac Jogues was captured by Indians who left him without fingers and then he escaped from them. This lake (he pointed to the lake) was discovered by this priest who named it: Lac du Saint Sacrament. The name of the lake was changed later in honor of King George of England”.

As we can see, the town has a lot of history; it also hosts the Fort William Henry and, even more, the famous writer James Fenimore Cooper used its history as the background for his well-known book “The Last of Mohicans”. The Fort is opened to the public as a museum and you may spend a whole day visiting it, while the staff offers fun history lessons with loud shows of past military battles. I didn’t visit it as we had only a week and there were a too many events to attend, but my nephews gave me a short review of what they had experienced on another occasion.

The second day, as the weather was appropriate for „Million dollar beach” we went there. Of course I had heard some rumors “why did they call the beach like this; it’s not worth it”. The name comes from the amount spent for sand and not for accommodation. I must admit that the sand, the location, the beach are worth every penny! Million Dollar State Beach is the largest beach in the Lake George area. The beach is run by the state of New York and boasts lifeguards (as you may read a book or a magazine without being scared that your kids need to be watched by you every second), a picnic area in the Battleground Park, which is across the beach, restrooms, a sand volleyball court, where you may play or watch some organized games and even daily locker rentals.

The same day, in the evening, we took a ride on the lake with the “Mohican” ship, where for twenty dollars for an adult you may have dinner, a one hour and a half cruise, you may drink as much as you can carry and, most importantly, you will find that inner peace, seeing how the sky becomes one with the lake and where the mountains are the welcoming and brave hosts. My cruise will be the topic of another story, as there are too many words and even these won’t be able to reveal the piece of heaven you can find in this place and which Thomas Jefferson described so beautifully: „Lake George is without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw; formed by a  contour of mountains into a basin thirty-five miles long and from two to four miles broad, finely interspersed with islands, its water limpid as crystal and the mountain sides covered with rich groves of silver fir, white pine, aspen and paper birch down to the water, here and there precipices of rock to checker the scene and save it from monotony. An abundance of speckled trout, salmon trout, bass, and other fish with which it is stored, have added to our other amusements the sport of taking them.”

It is a town you will never forget! I spent one week in Lake George and it wasn’t enough. As it has a very good location, you may easily reach the Saratoga Springs NY, a town which hosts the well-known Saratoga Race Course where there is no limit to the variety of fun, as we spent a whole day with other friendly bettors, along with my family. Lake George is a town for lovers, family or singles. I think a month is not enough to discover and enjoy all the opportunities and attractions which the place has to offer, and I’m not blathering. We had another memorable day at The Great Escape & Spalshwater Kingdom. You may go there daily and you will never have enough of it!

As a single, or if you want to hang out with your friends, you may easily get involved in an exciting nightlife where nobody will be rude, there are a lot of clubs, bars where you may sip your drink or dance, or enjoy a show at a local dinner theater or you may “catch a rising star in a comedy club” or you can just stop walking and start listening to one of the street’s bands or stare at the fireworks.

On a rainy day you may take the children to the game machines where they can happily spend many hours with just a few dollars, earning tickets and choosing gifts. You may also give it a try as they have a large diversity.

Lake George is also well-known as a “shopping mecca” because of Outlets. I have to agree, as it was my last day there, I spent all my cash on great products along with the other tourists. You may find more info about this place on www.lakegeorgechamber.com. I will quote from their website „Pure and simple, Lake George is a memorable place full of diverse attractions that many generations have enjoyed, and will continue to for years to come”.

Nothing untrue! Astonishing places, welcoming and trustful people! A vacation of a lifetime. Indeed, a provoking area as I told myself “it is a town where one day I may settle down”!

A daydreamy cruise

When you want to run away from the busy city and frantic daily schedule and simply relax for a couple of days, there is no better choice than a sea cruise on the endless waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I’ve always been fascinated by the contrast between the calm, crystal clear sea and the rocky shores of the islands, their gulfs inviting you to stop for a few hours and simply explore. One of my dreams is to cruise the Balearic Sea and there are many reasons for which I won’t stop pursuing it.

The Balearic Sea, also called the Iberian Sea, is a part of the Mediterranean Sea and it is near the Balearic Islands, an archipelago belonging to Spain. So, the first opportunity this cruise offers is to admire these beautiful islands, four of them being the largest ones and, surely, the most well-known: Majorca (3626 sq km), Minorca (689 sq km), Ibiza (571 sq km) and Formentera (83 sq km). The islands are mostly flat and hilly, with wide beaches, and they have everything a tourist may dream of, for tourism is the main industry of this Spanish province.

Remaining within Spanish borders, the Balearic Sea cruise offers the chance to see two of the most exotic cities on the Mediterranean Coast: Valencia and Barcelona. Valencia is the biggest port on the Western Coast and before 1990 it was known as an industrial city. Since then, it has changed a lot, expanding its cultural and touristic possibilities and becoming a vibrant city, full of life and countless museums and monuments worth visiting. Also, it is famous for the amazing Marvarrosa Beach and the evening walks during which you can enjoy the sand, the sound of the waves and the palm trees, all the while relaxing and being at peace with everything around you.

Barcelona is too special to be described in just a couple of words. A true global city, it is the leader in almost every field: history, culture, sports, entertainment, fashion, tourism, science and art. It takes weeks to properly enjoy it, but for a short stop, you can see the Olympic Port and visit the surroundings and some major points of interest: Ramble del Mar, the Wax Museum, the Aquarium.

While cruising the Balearic Sea you have the opportunity to admire the second largest city in France and the largest commercial port of this romantic country – Marseille. The most amazing experience you can have here is to see the Calanques, a coastal area that was also named the Mediterranean fjord. Climbing the steep rocks, you will be rewarded with a breath-taking scenery over the sea, a view that will surely convince you that Heaven can indeed be found on Earth. If you are a passionate hiker or climber, this is the place you need to go, for there are areas that have been especially arranged for these activities.

And, of course, the journey wouldn’t be complete without seeing the shores of two of the most beautiful Italian islands: Sardinia and Corsica. The second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia will amaze you with the contrast I was mentioning in the beginning: clear, blue water… and all of a sudden, high, rocky coasts jutting out of the sea. The landscape that Sardinia has to offer seems to have been taken out from a fairytale: long stretches of coastline, spectacular headlands, a few wide, deep bays and smaller islands off the coast. Another reason for which this island is worth as much time as possible, is its history. Its monuments will take you back to Ancient times, when the Phoenicians stopped on its coasts during their trade routes and the Carthaginians had to surrender Sardinia to Rome after the first Punic War. The best thing is that you can visit the island whenever you want, for during the year there are 300 days of sunshine, due to its typical Mediterranean climate.

On the north of Sardinia you can see the island of Corsica, which is known as the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean Sea. The highest peak is Monte Cinto, with 2706 meters. Corsica was the result of numerous volcanic explosions and it has a surface of about 8680 sq km, out of which 3500 sq km belong to the Natural Park of Corse. The island is worth visiting for the marine landscapes which are unique to the Mediterranean. The activities you can enjoy here seem to be countless, for Corsica is full of places where you can swim, fish, dive, or simply walk. It is also known for its hiking trails of about 180 km that can be made in approximately 15 days. Moreover, if you don’t forget that Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, you will realize how much history there is to discover here.

With so many opportunities and unforgettable experiences, a Balearic Sea Cruise can become more that a touristic attraction, but also a special journey that everyone should make. Exploring amazing shores, visiting some of the most famous cities in Europe and letting the tranquility of the sea envelop you… you will finally find the peace that will help you move on with your life once you get back home.