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Business booming at hotels, lodges and tented camps

On Sunday and Monday, lodges in the world famous Maasai Mara were bursting with domestic, regional and international tourists, mostly from Europe.

Lodges and tented camps in the Amboseli, Samburu, Nakuru and Tsavo national parks were also busy with visitors pouring in for Christmas.

A spot check by the Nation found most of the tourists had by Friday evening checked into their rooms in readiness for Christmas celebrations on Sunday with most bookings going into New Year 2017.

Business is booming at hotels, lodges and tented camps across the country as visitors flock to popular tourist destinations to celebrate during the festive season.

It was unusual experience for those visitors in the Maasai Mara as for the first time an ecological phenomenon has delayed hundreds of wildebeests to cross back to Serengeti plains with the visitors witnessing the crossing of the gnus through the crocodile-infested Mara River something which does not usually happen at this time.

According to the Mara Reserve chief warden Samson Parsimei Lenjirr, thousands of wildebeests, zebras and Thomson gazelles delayed crossing to Serengeti by October, an unusual happening occasioned by lack of enough pastures on the Tanzania side with sources indicating Tanzania Authorities had set grass on fire.

“This Christmas will be a different experience since we have plenty of wildlife to watch,” said Mr Lenjirr who welcomed both domestic and foreign tourists to the reserve.

“Apart from enjoying the Christmas break, most of the tourists are here for game drives with the Big Five being the centre of attraction,” he said.

Almost all airstrips inside and outside the reserve, namely, Keekorok, Enkerede, Keekorok, Serena, Kichwa Tembo, Angama and Olkiombo are busy as planes ferrying visitors from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Nairobi and Mombasa to Maasai Mara jet in and out.

PORT TOWN

In Lamu, visitors have been flocking into island from all corners of the globe since last week, turning the port town into a beehive of activity.

The mass exodus to the archipelago has been occasioned by the special event which promises to eclipse all others before in colour and attendance, style and character.

Lamu’s Maulid, the most coveted around Eastern and Central Africa region, will be 127 years old and so will be the Riyadh mosque which hosts this annual event which started on Tuesday.

The event is marked by a section of Muslims to commemorate the birth of Prophet Mohammed in the holy city of Mecca in 570AD and is held each year in the third month of Islamic calendar.

Organisers estimate that over 20,000 visitors will grace the occasion that will end on Friday.

The event has been split into two categories with National Museums of Kenya staging the cultural part and Riyadha Mosque committee organising the religious aspect.

The museum has been sponsoring various cultural competitions such as swimming, dhow races, henna competition, tug-of war, and donkey races event since 1990.

The agency also organises recitals of Swahili poems (mashairi), music and dances, Islamic calligraphy and art exhibits and donkey races which attract huge spectators who throng along the seafront and narrow streets of Lamu to cheer on.

Museum’s principal curator Haji Mohamed said they are taking advantage of the event to enhance the cultural preservation of the Island that has been placed in the World Heritage site.

PILGRIMAGE PRAYERS

At the same time, dozens of Kenyans trooped to Mt Kenya for the annual pilgrimage prayers that were dedicated to the country’s peace ahead of the general elections.

The prayers are usually organised by the Gikuyu and Mumbi Cultural Museum officials Prof Samuel Kamitha and Ms Ruth Enkeseni who said they have become popular with people from various races, religions and tribes.

“The reason we are converging in Mt Kenya this year is to pray for our country. We do not want fellow Kenyans to suffer because of chaos that usually erupt in almost every election year,” said Mr Kamitha.

 The pilgrims started arriving in the region at around 4am from various parts of the country in both private and public vehicles. Their vehicles strapped in light blue ribbons.

“We started as a small group, but we can now announce that we have hundreds of vehicles ferrying pilgrims for the prayers.

We have also received correspondences from African Americans and Jamaicans who have indicated interest in attending next year’s prayers,” said Mr Kamitha.

The pilgrimage was the ninth since it was unveiled in 2008.

However, the pilgrims were subjected to stringent security checks after security agencies’ claimed they may be intruded by members of inadmissible groups that were causing havoc in the region at the time.

The pilgrims drove anti-clockwise around the mountain, in roads surrounding the mountain, where they made seven stopovers for personal or group prayers making stopovers at a location of choice.

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