travel guide Masai Mara

Roho Ya Chui, Swahili for "soul of leopard", your partner for innovative training solutions in combination with safari packages and wildlife photography.

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M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya l a K E V I c T o R I a M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya I N F o R M a T I o N M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya R U M a N a T I o N a l P a R K Homa Bay Tourist Hotel HoTEl $$ (% 0727112615; s/d from Ksh2850/4350; p W ) This lakeside 'resort' is the town's original hotel and though the rooms are rather faded they also have character and are a pleasure to sleep in. The expansive lawns, running down to the water's edge, are home to many a colourful songbird and there's an outdoor bar with live music on Saturdays (so avoid rooms at the front). It's a short way from the town centre, down by the lake. Hippo Buck HoTEl $$ (% 0723262000;; s Us$35- 70, d Us$40-100; p a W ) There's much that's right about this smart place at the town's edge. The cheapest standard rooms are sparkling-clean, white-tiled cubes and from there on the more you pay the fancier the rooms become. So what's wrong with this hotel? The non-resident rates, which make it very overpriced. Fortunately, they'll al- most certainly give you the resident rates (s/d from KSh2000/2500), which makes it a bargain. It's located a short way east of the town centre, at the top of the hill on the road from Kisii. 8 Information Barclays Bank (Moi Hwy) With aTM. KWS Warden's Office In the district commis- sioner's compound, it's the place for informa- tion on Ruma Naional Park. 8 Getting There & Away The Easy Coach office is just down the hill from the bus station, in the Total petrol station compound. It has buses to Nairobi (Ksh1000, nine hours) at 8.30am and 8pm. several other companies and matatus (operating from the bus station) ply the routes to Mbita (Ksh250, 1½ hours), Kisii (Ksh200, 1½ hours) and Kisumu (Ksh300, three hours). Ruma National Park Bordered by the dramatic Kanyamaa Escarpment and home to Kenya's only population of roans (one of Africa's rar- est and largest antelope) is the seldom visited, 120-sq-km Ruma National Park (% 0723097573;; adult/child Us$20/10, vehicle from Ksh300; h 6am-6pm). Besides roans, other rarities such as Bohor's reedbucks, Jackson's hartebeests, the tiny oribi antelope and Kenya's largest concen- tration of endangered Rothschild's giraffes can also be seen here. The most treasured residents are 28 (very hard to see) rhinos, both black and white, that have been trans- located from other parks. Birdlife is also prolific, with 145 different species present, including the migratory blue swallow that arrives between June and August. 1 Sights & Activities Although dense bush in large parts of the park makes seeing animals difficult, you'll have more success in the open savannah areas – many visitors are surprised by just how much wildlife is visible in Ruma. In just a short visit you can expect to see masses of giraffes as well as impalas, waterbucks and zebras. The area around the airstrip is par- ticularly rewarding. 4 Sleeping & Eating There are two simple campsites (public/ special camping Us$20/30) near the main gate. The Nyati special campsite is the more scenic. In either case you need to be totally self-sufficient with food and water. Oribi Guesthouse coTTagEs $$ (% 0723097573;; cottage excl breakfast Ksh9000; p ) This KWS-run guest- house, near the park headquarters, is ex- tortionate if there are only two of you, but quite good value for groups. It has dramatic views over the Lambwe Valley and is well equipped with solar power, hot showers RUMA NATIONAL PARK Why Go Few people visit this small and scenic park, but those who do are often surprised by the quantity of wildlife, which includes rhinos, roans and Roth- schild's giraffes. When to Go Be in the dry season of June to February. During the rains, tracks can become impassable. Practicalities Easily accessible from Homa Bay, but to be there at dawn when animals are mo visible, ay in the park. Budget Tips The park is set up for those with vehicles, but if you don't have your own wheels, contact the KWS rangers in Homa Bay, who may be able to arrange a jeep for you. 1 2 9

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