Join Sky & Telescope on a one-week tour of Kenya from October 29th to November 4th. You'll get a chance to see rhinos, chimpanzees, zebras, elephants — and a spectacular total solar eclipse.
Say the word "totality", and veteran skygazers get dreamy-eyed as they recall amazing adventures in pursuit of one of nature's most amazing events.As the last bit of the Sun's disk disappears behind the Moon's disk, everything changes. The sky darkens, with sunset colors surrounding you. The air cools, and animals go silent. Up in the sky, the Sun's searing disk is gone, replaced by a black hole encircled by the electric-white halo of the solar corona.
Around the world, thousands of eclipse-chasers have circled November 3rd on this year's calendar, the date of the next total solar eclipse. But only a select few will witness totality this year. "The only landfall for the Moon's shadow is central Africa," explains Kelly Beatty, who'll be accompanying S&T's expedition, "and we've picked the best spot to view this eclipse: the eastern shore of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, inside the world-renown Sibiloi National Park."
Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) is known as the Jade Sea, and it will provide a dramatic foreground for the celestial spectacle happening in the sky above it. This location offers the best chance of clear skies along the entire eclipse track through Africa. "Seeing the eclipse amid such majestic surroundings is something I don't want to miss," Beatty says.On the first leg of the tour, we'll visit Samburu Game Reserve, a lava plain crossed by the 20-mile-long Uaso Nyiro River. Here you might glimpse the reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, the blue-legged Somali ostrich, and the long-necked gerenuk antelope. Above all, burgeoning herds of elephants roam the plains. Few lights scatter the darkness in either game reserve, so you can stargaze to your heart's content beneath dark, equatorial skies, glimpsing constellations from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at the same time. Then retire to the comfortable and modern tents of Samburu Intrepids Club, which are raised on stilts to catch the cool breeze blowing off the river. Almost half of the club's employees hail from the local Samburu community. The Samburu are traditionally a semi-nomadic pastoral community. Although these people present a visual temptation to photographers, it is strongly advised never to take pictures of them without their consent, out of courtesy as well as respect. The Samburu Intrepids Club offers opportunities to experience Samburu culture.
The next stop will be the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, staying overnight at the Sweetwaters Tented Camp within the park. The 110,000-acre park is situated in the plains of Mount Kenya, where the "Big Five" (elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo, and leopards) make their home.Resident game can be found in their home ranges year-round. The conservancy shelters large numbers of rare and endangered species, with a higher wildlife-to-area ratio than any of Kenya's national parks. In addition to game drives with expert guides, you'll be able to visit Kenya's only chimpanzee sanctuary, which offers a large, natural refuge for orphaned and abused chimpanzees.
The wildlife and cultural adventures build up to the tour's main event: a spectacular total solar eclipse. Although this particular eclipse begins its journey across the Atlantic as an annular, the eclipse is total in Africa.We'll view the eclipse from Alia Bay on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana, which promises good viewing conditions thanks to a semi-arid climate and the cooling effects of the lake's waters. A fleeting, 11-second totality begins at 5:35 p.m. (local time) with a flaring diamond ring. The Sun will be suspended roughly 12° above the horizon between 2nd and 3rd contact. You will probably see the white whispers of the Sun's corona, red arcs called prominences at the Moon's edge, and a sunset-tinged glow ringing the horizon before a second diamond ring ends totality. We'll fly back to Nairobi with spectacular views as twilight descends. After a celebratory dinner and a night's rest at the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden, take part in a guided tour of Nairobi, Kenya's bustling and cosmopolitan capital city. Nairobi offers a fascinating mix of old churches and colonial-era buildings, as well as craft centers, night clubs, horse racing, and cultural centers. Just 4 miles from the city center, visit the Nairobi National Park, a wildlife refuge hosting giraffes, buffalo, and the occasional leopard or lion. The city tour will complete your Kenyan journey.
|If you're thinking about joining this exciting tour but are still undecided, be sure to read this special commentary by Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor for Sky & Telescope and one of the Kenya tour's leaders.|
|Kenya Itinerary at a Glance|
|1||Nairobi, Kenya||Safari Park Hotel||-||Transfer|
|2||Samburu Game Reserve||Samburu Intrepids Club||BLD||Afternoon game drive|
|3||Samburu Game Reserve||Samburu Intrepids Club||BLD||Full day of game-viewing|
|4||Ol Pejeta||Sweetwaters Tented Camp||BLD||Afternoon game drive|
|5||Ol Pejeta||Sweetwaters Tented Camp||BLD||Full day of game-viewing|
|6||Lake Turkana and Nairobi, Kenya||Karen Blixen Coffee Garden||B-D||Total solar eclipse, Transfer|
Itinerary HighlightsOctober 29: We will meet at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. You will be transported by private vehicle to the Safari Park Hotel, a deluxe resort in Nairobi.
October 30: We will drive north through the settlement town of Nanyuki and, for lunch, we'll stop by the Trout-Tree Restaurant to eat some freshly caught trout while seated high in a fig tree. We continue 3 to 4 hours further north, crossing the equator and over the shoulder of Mount Kenya before descending down to the frontier town of Isiolo and onto the Samburu Game Reserve. We'll arrive in time for an afternoon game drive before spending the night at Samburu Intrepids Club.October 31: Today we'll experience a full day of game-viewing in the Samburu Game Reserve. The reserve is home to six special species rarely seen elsewhere: Grevy's Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Somali Ostrich, Gerenuk, Guenther's Dik-Dik, and Beisa Oryx. There will also be an opportunity to learn about Samburu tribal culture.
November 1: After a morning in Samburu, we'll travel southward, back across the equator and through Nanyuki to visit Ol Pejeta Conservancy, East Africa's largest rhinoceros sanctuary. After an afternoon game drive, we will retire to our rooms at the Sweetwaters Tented Camp.
November 2: We'll experience a full day of game viewing at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.November 3: After a final briefing, we'll take a 2-hour sightseeing flight to Lake Turkana aboard Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft. We'll land near Alia Bay, where we will view the total solar eclipse. Weather prospects are optimum due to the semi-arid climate and the cooling effects of the lake waters. At 4:13 p.m. local time, the Moon will begin its journey across the Sun, offering 11 seconds of totality at 5:25 p.m. (Sun's altitude: 12°)and a spectacular light show as the Sun sets over the lake's western shore. Following the eclipse, we'll fly back to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, where we'll have dinner at Tamambo Restaurant and stay overnight at the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden.
November 4: On our last day in Kenya, we will take a tour of the beautiful capital city, with a lunch at Tamambo Restaurant. We'll have a day room at the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden for use before the flight out of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Tour Price Per Person (Kenya only; airfare not included):
Double – $5,695.00
Single – $6,389.00
Items included in basic tour land price:
- Arrival transfer in a private coach with local guide
- Meals as mentioned
- Private coach and guide for touring days
- Entrance fees to museums and national reserves where mentioned
- Beverages where indicated
- Excursions and transfers mentioned
- Transfers and excursions where noted in itinerary
- Private services
Items NOT included in basic tour land price:
- International airfare
- Passport fees
- Visa fees
- Travel insurance (highly recommended)
- Airport transfers if not arriving or departing with group bulk air
- Beverages unless otherwise noted
- Room outside of normal check-in/check-out times
- Optional excursions or pre and post trips
- Tips and gratuities
- Personal expenses and anything not listed in the included list