Taking a road trip through Kenya is a great way to explore this iconic destination. My safari begins in the lush rainforest of Mount Kenya National Park where I discover that a good guide can turn an uneventful stroll into a magical experience. What more could you ask for: the haunting skull of a forest buffalo, monkeys whooshing through the canopy, and mid-morning tea served in a woodland clearing?
After meandering through the Great Rift Valley, I reach Lake Elmenteita – a body of water too alkaline to drink but bound by a magnificent fever tree forest on one side and an enigmatic outcrop known as The Sleeping Warrior on the other. My accommodation is Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp, a sumptuous stopover between more demanding safari attractions, but fellow travellers be warned: the menu is superb and the high tea irresistible!
My last stop is the Masai Mara National Reserve, home to Kenya’s Great Migration. My previous visit was during the migration when thousands of wildebeest were crossing the Mara River. As the grotesque bodies of drowned animals - far too many for the feasting crocodiles to consume - piled up in the rapids, the scene looked more like the River Styx pouring into a sulphurous Hades. There is, however, nothing sinister about the Mara in the quiet season: the crocs bask contentedly in the sunshine, seemingly as harmless as the family labrador.
In fact, the whole park is as serene as a chapel between services. Instead of vast, noisy herds stretching across the horizon, a lone wildebeest stands sentry while a buffalo bull, like a heavyweight prizefighter at an out-of-season spa, wallows alone in glorious mud. And in place of a blood-speckled pack squabbling at a kill, adorable hyena cubs play hide-and-seek in the long grass. There is a hush over Kenya's great plains at this time, a silence that nevertheless calls up the spirits of the first people, our common human ancestors, who thrived here. Perhaps it is their presence we feel when the wind sends ripples through the grasslands.
Visiting Kenya outside the July to October high season has definite advantages. Far fewer visitors mean a more personalised safari at a slower pace with less pressure all round. Where high season can become an urgent blur of thrilling experiences, Kenya's quiet season allows you to stop and smell the wild sage along the way.