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Wildebeest migration attracts thousands of tourists at the Coast

Tuesday June 13 2017

Thousands of Wildebeest cross River Mara on June 9, 2016 to usher in the tourists' peak season in the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Thousands of Wildebeest cross River Mara on June 9, 2016 to usher in the tourists' peak season in the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MATHIAS RINGA
By MATHIAS RINGA
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National parks and game reserves are experiencing a rise in visitor numbers ahead of the high season next month.

The Kenya Association of Tour Operators (Kato) Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli branch chairman Willie Mwadilo on Tuesday said lodges and tented camps were busy due to rise in visitor numbers.

He added that lodges and camps in Tsavo East and West National Parks and Amboseli National Park were enjoying an occupancy rate of between 60 and 70 per cent up from 30 and 50 per cent last month respectively.

Mr Mwadilo, who is also the general manager of Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge and Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge, said guest numbers are expected to jump to 80 per cent next month.

“Tourists from Poland and Germany are flocking to the parks thanks to charter flights operated by TUI Poland to Mombasa,” he said.

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MADARAKA EXPRESS

On the other hand, he attributed the rise of visitors in lodges and camps in Tsavo to the Madaraka Express trains.

“Both local and international tourists from Nairobi and Mombasa nowadays travel by train to Voi and then head to the national parks for game drives,” he added.

Heritage Hotels’ Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Hersi, said more international wildlife enthusiasts are expected to flock to the Mara next month to watch the wildebeest migration spectacle.

He said wildlife lovers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Australia, Japan, China and other parts of the world are set to tour the Mara to view the biggest wildebeest migration in the world.

OCCUPANCY RATE

Mr Hersi said the Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer camps are expected to enjoy occupancy rate of between 70 and 80 per cent from July up from the current 50 per cent.

Ashnil Hotels Managing Director Rajan Bhandari, said the Ashnil Mara Camp will be busy from next month following a surge in bookings for the summer season.

“We have strong sales for the summer season as international tourists are visiting the country for game viewing in the national parks,” he said.

Mr Bhandari added that apart from the Mara, he expects wildlife enthusiasts to tour Tsavo East National Park and Buffalo Springs Game Reserve for game drives.