Tales of the "Lunatic Express" - Part II
Built during the Scramble for Africa, the „Lunatic Express“ was the one genuinely strategic railway to be constructed in tropical Africa at that time. With steam-powered access to Uganda, the British could transport people and soldiers to ensure their domination of the African Great Lakes region. The Uganda Railway was named after its ultimate destination, for its entire original 1,060-kilometre length actually lay in what would become Kenya. Construction began at the port city of Mombasa in British East Africa in 1896 and finished at the line's terminus, Kisumu, on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, in 1901.
Day 1: Arrival in Nairobi
We pick you up at the International Airport in Nairobi and accompany you to the hotel. After refreshing you will visit the railway museum and start the historic safari.
Nairobi Railway Museum
Located in the center of the capital city, the Nairobi Railway Museum is dedicated to the history of the country’s railway network dating as far back as 1896. There exhibits and photographs detailing the construction and running of the Uganda Railway. The are also models of engines that operated on the line ranging from the early steam engines, coal powered engines and to the early diesel powered ones.
Equally impressive and odd is the motorized railway bicycle and the large and impressive “Garratts” steam engine, which was capable of hauling heavy loads over long distances and steep inclinations.
Day 2: Nairobi – Tsavo
After an early breakfast drive out of the city easterly and across the open plains. Within a short time you will begin to see the Athi plains the same way the early travellers did on the lunatic express. Our first short stop is Athi River station built in 1920. Other stop over stations will be Konza and Emali. Spend a short time at Tsavo Station, renown for the man eater lions that interrupted the construction. D
Day 3: Tsavo East
After a sumptuous breakfast, depart for the nearby Tsavo East National Park. Arrive for lunch followed by an early evening game drive to return back to lodge/camp after sunset. Tsavos’s abundant wildlife will always excite you and the sight of dust-red elephant wallowing, rolling and spraying each other with the midnight blue waters of palm-shaded Galana River is one of the most evocative images in Africa. This along with the 300 kilometer long Yatta Plateau, the longest lava flow in the world, makes for an adventure unlike any other in the Tsavo East. The park forms the largest protected area in Kenya and is home to most of the larger mammals, vast herds of dust–red elephant, Rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, pods of hippo, crocodile, waterbucks, lesser Kudu, gerenuk and the prolific bird life features 500 recorded species.
Man Eaters of Tsavo
They are the infamous Tsavo man-eaters, two lions accused of killing and eating as many as 135 men in Kenya in 1898. The stuff of legend, the deadly Tsavo lions were spoken about in whispers for decades and have since been dramatized in books, movies and even video games. They also remain an active subject of research, as scientists try to unlock clues as to why they killed and how many people they took down.
The story of the Tsavo lions begins in March 1898, when a team of Indian workers led by British Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson arrived in Kenya to build a bridge over the Tsavo River, as part of the Kenya-Uganda Railway project. The project, it seems, was doomed from the start. Few of the men at the railhead knew that the name itself was a warning. Tsavo means 'place of slaughter'" in the local language. That actually referred to killings by the Maasai people, who attacked weaker tribes and took no prisoners, but it was still a bad omen.
Lt. Col. Patterson and company had only just arrived when they noticed that one of their men, a porter, had gone missing. A search quickly uncovered his mutilated body. Patterson, fearing that a lion had killed his employee, set out the next day to find the beast. Instead he stumbled upon other corpses, all men who had disappeared from previous expeditions.
Almost immediately, a second of Patterson's men disappeared. By April, the count had grown to 17. And this was just the beginning. The killings continued for months as the lions circumvented every fence, barrier and trap erected to keep them out. Hundreds of workers fled the site, putting a stop to bridge construction. Those who remained lived in fear of the night.
The violence didn't end until December, when Patterson finally stalked and killed the two lions that he blamed for the killings. It wasn't an easy hunt. The first lion fell on Dec. 9, but it took Patterson nearly three more weeks to deal with the second. By then, Patterson claimed, the lions had killed a total of 135 people from his crew. (The Ugandan Railway Company downplayed the claim, putting the death toll at just 28.)
Day 5 & 6: Mombasa
Wake up to the sounds of the Indian Ocean for a relaxed breakfast at the main hotel restaurant. After breakfast, embark on excursion to Mombasa old Town and Fort Jesus.
Fort Jesus is perhaps the most popular attraction in the Old Town. Constructed by the Portuguese during 1593-1596 and designed by an Italian architect, Cairati, Fort Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it is partly damaged, Fort Jesus is a fine display of 16th-century Portuguese military architecture. Originally used by the Portuguese, the imposing structure rests upon a coral ridge at the entrance of the old town harbor, and its strategic location has resulted in many battles for its control. The site has also been used as soldier barracks and a prison before being obtained by the Trustees of the Kenya National Museum in 1958, and the on-site museum was opened in 1962 Enjoy the exhibition of the wide collection of ceramics and pottery reflecting the various cultures that traded along the coast. Within the compound are many fascinating battlements and derelict buildings including the Omani house, a building with Omani jewelry and displays on Swahili life.
After the fort, your guide leads you into alleys of Old Town, the original Mombasa city that was built in the 13th century and still maintains many significant architectural features of the time, such as filigree timber balconies, beautifully carved wooden doors, Indian and colonial designs and more than 20 mosques, and in 1985, the area received protected status as a conservation project to preserve the historically significant buildings
Day 7: Nairobi - Lake Naivasha
Early morning you board the SGR train from Mombasa to Nairobi and will pass a few of the stations you have visited already and can enjoy a last time the Tsavo East NP and it´s wildlife. You can finish the tour here.
If you extend:
From Nairobi your driver will pick you from the train station and you will continue your tour to Naivasha, the 2nd Rift Valley Lake on your tour, where you will be taken to Crescent Island. The tour usually takes 2 hours and you can explore both the lake and the island with all the birds and animals. Once you arrive at the island, you will meet the guide near the pier. Your guide will show you the best animals: giraffes, hippos, Grant's gazelles, the fox and maybe even the rare pythons. The boat will take you back to Lake Naivasha Country Club, where you will have lunch. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 8: Lake Naivasha - Lake Nakuru National Park
If you want, you can watch birds again at the early morning at the lakeside. After breakfast, we continue to Lake Nakuru National Park, where you will arrive at the Flamingo Hills Camp at noon. Check in and have lunch. In the afternoon you will be on a game drive. The Lake Nakuru National Park was created to protect the huge flamingo population. On the bank, waterbucks, Bohor-Reedbuck and zebras wander around grazing. Lake Nakuru is home to the black and white rhinoceros, In 1987 only two black rhinoceroses had remained because of devastating effects of poaching. By establishing a rhinoceros protected area within the park and crossing with a breeder from Laikipia, the Kenya Wildlife Service (K.W.S.) succeeded in multiplying rhinoceros successfully in the park. Wild observation is relatively easy and will be possible until sunset. Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, Rothschild giraffe, Colobus can be found in the forest.
Day 9: Lake Nakuru - Koru
Leave early for a drive westwards across the rich farmlands of the rift valley. Stop over at Elburgon and Londiani Stations. Around Fort Tenan keep an eye out for the magnificent arch bridges built before 1899. Arrive for lunch at your guesthouse and spend the afternoon at leisure.
Kweisos House which was built in the 1920’s, is situated at Homa Lime in Koru. Enjoy home grown, home cooked traditional Farmhouse Cooking. The house has it’s own kitchen where our staff prepare your meals or picnics if you would like to eat out on the farm or elsewhere.
Day 10: Koru _ Kapsimotwa Gardens
Kapsimotwa Gardens is a serene and secluded site located in the picturesque Nandi Hills, a highland area of lush green rolling hills at the edge of the Great Rift Valley. At about 2000m above sea level, the gardens are part of the Kapsimotwa farm – a huge Tea plantation that dominate the landscape. The farm was established in the 1930s by a British settler called Bushwell.
The Nandi Hills are also the burial site of the renowned Nandi seer Koitalel Arap Samoei. Koitalel Arap Samoei a supreme chief of the Nandi people of Kenya, who led the Nandi rebellion against the British colonial rule. When British colonials began building the Kenya – Uganda Railway through the Nandi area, he led an eleven-year resistance movement against the railway. On October 19, 1905, he was invited by British Col. Richard Meinertzhagen under the guise of negotiating a truce, and was instead murdered along with his companions. He was buried under a symbolic tree. On top of Nandi Hills sits Samoei with its red earth. When he was killed, some believe, the ground turned red on the spot of his death.
Day 11: Koru - Kisumu
After breakfast drive the remaining 50km to Kisumu. This leisurely drive takes you through the heart of Kenya’s renown sugar plantation belt. The area is picturesque with the Nandi escarpment forming a great wall to the west and the open plains on the eastern side.
Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya. What factors led to the emergence of Kisumu as one of the most important cities in Kenya as well as in the Great Lakes region? We argue that the Kenya-Uganda Railway helped make Kisumu one of the most important cities in Kenya and the Great Lakes region.
On December 20, 1901, Florence Preston, the wife of the engineer building the Kenya-Uganda Railway, drove the last nail in the last sleeper of the railway by the shores of Lake Victoria. Port Florence thus came into being.
However, the city was only called Port Florence for one year; it then reverted to its original Luo name–Kisumu, meaning a place to look for food.
Kisumu lies at the northeastern edge of the Winam Gulf, a long, shallow arm that protrudes from the main body of Lake Victoria.
Kisumu emerged as a port in 1901. This can arguably be attributed to its location as the main inland terminal of the Kenya-Uganda Railway. The major aim for building the railway was to link the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa to the interior in Uganda, which the British saw as being of high significance to their strategic and economic interests.
While drumming up support for building the railway, Sir Gerald Portal, the British Consul-General for East Africa from 1889-1892, and British High Commissioner to Uganda from 1892-1893, summed up the potential importance of the railway when speaking in the British Parliament by saying that the railway would "ensure the protection of the source of the river Nile from Britain's enemies; it would be a great potential market for British goods, and it would have a revolutionary effect in settling the region." He was successful in mobilizing the British government support for building the railway.
Day 12: Kisumu – Kakamega
In the morning drive to Kakamega forest. Time has stood still for the Kakamega Forest, a remnant of the rain forest that stretched all across Central Africa. This beautiful forest is home to various mammals including bush pigs, giant forest hedgehogs, colobus monkeys, Debrazzar monkeys and pottos. The forest is an Ornithologists dream where many different rare birds species are found including Great blue turaco, Blue headed bee-eater, Turners Eremomela, Yellow bellied wattle-eye, African shrike-flycatcher, Petits cuckoo-shrike and many other.
Day 13: Kisumu - Nairobi
Depart early morning for the 6hrs drive back to Nairobi, upon arrival transfer to airport for flight home.
#kenya #ugandanrailway #historictour #hiddengem #travelgram #adventure #expeditions #adexpeditions #culturaltravel
Post a Comment