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Author: Brooke Squires
The Ngarendare Forest sits on the Lewa boundary and spreads up towards the base of Mt Kenya. In fact, the elephant herds pass through the forest on their way up the mountain, via the good old Elephant tunnel.
The Ngarendare Forest is one of the few intact indigenous forests in Kenya and has an expanding population of cedar trees; hard to believe that the tree species one would most often associate with northern Europe is actually native to this part of Africa. The scent as you walk through the forest is like something out of a Norsca advertisement (for those of us old enough to remember those soap ads), and just when you can imagine yourself about to come across a Scandinavian log hut or some such, out pops a giraffe or a zebra! Just crazy!
The local community has worked extremely hard over the years to protect the forest and allow it to regenerate. Sustainable harvesting and non timber forest products such as honey have allowed the community to maintain the forest and earn an income. The forest is also full of African olive trees, palms and figs.
The best way to see Ngarendare forest is to get right up in it on the only treetop canopy walk in Kenya. I am not a very good birder (much preferring to spot horned beasts rather than winged ones in the wild), but the bird species in the canopy are just spectacular, so different from the species on Lewa’s open grasslands.
I also love walking along the elephant paths through the forest. We take an expert guide with us on this journey as you never know what you will meet under the canopy...rhino...elephant...buffalo.
After a nice walk, the next best thing to do is swim in one of the pristine water pools that originate from springs in the forest. This is usually followed by a picnic lunch including great local cheeses and then a good old afternoon nap by the side of the stream.
Barely anyone comes to the forest so it is a great way to see such an unusual part of Kenya and support a local community conservation enterprise at the same time. I am sure you will love it.
So come with me on this journey and support local conservation efforts to save this beautiful forest!
Brooke Squires has worked in zoos, national parks and conservation areas around the world. These days, she divides her time between her beloved rhinos at Werribee Open Range Zoo, Victoria, where she is a rhino keeper, and the International Conservation Partnerships for Zoos Victoria.
Ph: +61 (0) 423 393 836