We really couldn’t go to Kenya, without at least one day on safari could we? So we arranged a day trip out to the nearby Shimba Hills Game Reserve and nearby newly declared Elephant Reserve. We woke early, piled the kids into the two minibuses & we were off, weaving through the early morning traffic & slowly wending our way up into the coastal hills. This part of Kenya is densely settled, with lots of small farms & villages along the roadside. We arrived at the gate, completed formalities & we were in!
This coastal ecosystem comprises of a mosaic of heterogeneous habitat, including forest lands, exotic plantations, scrub lands and grasslands. The ecosystem holds one of the largest coastal forests in East Africa after Arabuko-Sokoke forest, which lies to the north. The reserve is rich in flora and fauna and hosts the highest density of African Elephant in Kenya. Other animal species found in the area are Sable Antelope and introduced Buffalo.
Forest Elephants -
very different from their savanna cousins!
Sable Antelope - quite rare in Kenya.
The grandchildren quite liked riding in the minibuses, especially with the pop up roofs! It was a bit of an adventure for them. In truth, the game viewing was slow going, with dense coastal vegetation impeding us seeing the animals. But we saw a few species in the end!
Then we drove to the Shimba Hills Game Lodge for lunch. This lodge is somewhat eccentric in construction, but gives great views over a small lake and coastal evergreen forest is all around. The lunch was pretty poor fare, but the location was great & the kids enjoyed running around on the walkways.
In the afternoon we drove to the nearby Elephant Reserve. Really, it was a bit of a waste of time. The whole area was heavily poached & we didn't see any live animals in a two hour drive. We did find one poached elephant though! The authorities really need to give this place more protection otherwise it is doomed.