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Fly to Mara, tourists told
02 Jan 2007 - Daily Nation by Michael Mugwang’a

Tourists have been advised to use aeroplanes when visiting or leaving the Maasai Mara and Amboseli national parks to avoid getting stuck in the mud. Alternatively, tour firms should ensure that only four wheel-drive vehicles are used to ferry the tourists.

In a joint statement, tourism players also urged those travelling to and from the Mara to use alternative routes and avoid the Ngamia bridge that has been damaged by floods.

They advised operators going to Amboseli to use the Namanga route.

The statement signed by the chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation, Mr Peter Karanja, said: “We wish to inform the public that following torrential rains in the Mara region over the last few days, there have been disruption to tourist traffic heading to the world-famous game reserve.

“A couple of bridges have been affected; the Ngosuani bridge is currently passable while the second bridge known as Ngamia was submerged. It has however not been washed away but was damaged by running water and requires to be repaired before normal traffic can resume.”

Mr Karanja said engineers from the Ministry of Roads and Public Works and the Narok county council were on the site assisting in repairs.

“The team is also offering assistance to vehicles en-route to and from the Maasai Mara.” He expected the damaged bridge to be restored in the next 24 hours.

Mr Duncan Muriuki, the chairman of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators, said: “We are liaising with engineers on the ground to ensure that the bridge is repaired as soon as possible.”

A tour guide who earlier spoke to the Nation said the Mara Bridge near the Serena Lodge was impassable, leaving more than 18 vans stranded for most of the day.

Mr Karanja also said an inspection of the road to Amboseli National Park had been done and the only available route is through Namanga.

He asked tour operators not to use the Chyulu or Loitokitok routes unless advised otherwise.

Maasai Mara National Reserve was cut off after a seasonal river burst its banks. Tour operators said that even some of the air strips were seriously affected making it impossible for light aircraft to land or take off.

The most affected roads were the ones leading into and out of the park, between Narok Town and the Sekanani gate. This is the first time for the Mara to be cut off by heavy rains since the bridges were built.

Mara senior warden Michael Koikai said all rivers and streams in the region were flooded and the 1,520 square kilometres park was water logged.

Four tractors have been hired by the Narok council and the Kenya Tourism Federation to assist tourists stuck in the reserve.

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