Monday, 20 February 2012

Enriching encounter with the wild in Kenya

A walk into Haller Park is a walk into a rich nature park where flora and fauna peacefully co-exist. As we disembarked from our tour van, the sound of whistling pine welcomed us to this rehabilitated park on the north coast of Mombasa. At a stone’s throw away were monkeys playing about as they ran from one end of the compound to another. This forms the welcome point at Haller Park, a compound filled with brown and green leaves. You would least expect that this nature park, green and natural as it seems, was once an abandoned stretch where the only activity was making cement and basically a quarry.
“In the 1970s Rene Haller started a quarry rehabilitation drive with the backing of Bamburi Portland Cement Company,” Haller Park’s tour guide, James Mutua, explains to us as we register before officially starting on our adventure.

He adds that Haller, after whom the park gets its name, rehabilitated the southern part of the quarry that comprised 75 hectares and northern which was eleven square kilometres. The tortoise has found home at this former quarry and so have a lot more wild animals that are now tamed and accustomed to tourists’ visits.

Bosom buddies
Tortoises are a common sight at the park and they live quite freely with the monkeys which do not get intimidated even when tourists move one metre close to them. Among the tortoises is a celebrated one, called Mzee (elderly one). In 2004, Mzee met Owen, a distressed young hippo that has just been rescued from the Indian Ocean.
“The baby hippo had been rescued off the Ocean after a tsunami swept it away from its family, so he was shocked and when he was rescued by the Kenya Wildlife Service who brought him here and he was put in the animal rescue home where he met Mzee,” Mutua explains.
He says the two animals stayed together and Owen extended the first friendly gesture by going to rest with the tortoise that was wary of the new friend but after a few days, they got along. This unique friendship between two different animals became a tourism attraction until a few months ago when Mzee began a “risky” game of putting his head in Owen’s mouth.
 “We feared for Mzee’s life and we separated the two animals,” Mutua adds. Whereas Mzee will be missing, Owen might not be missing him that much after all, since he found a new friend and love in Cleo, a female hippo with whom he swims and plays with all day and night. The couple is becoming the new attraction at Haller Park, but not the only charm there is. There are other animals to see.
Every tourist would like to marvel at the tallest of all land-living animal species, the Giraffe. Feeding time is particularly amusing as the towering animals come to be fed by tourists. They are a sight to marvel at as they reach out with their long tongues.
You will also like the sight of the pretentious crocodiles as they pretend to sleep with their mouths open. Flies and smalls jungle and water animals that fall for the make-believe act will always end up being swallowed by these species.

Reptile haven
Haller Park is also has a small collection of reptiles from monitor lizards to snakes occupying different cages. Our guide makes good of our visit to also double as an educational tour as he explains to us about the different reptiles and what defines them, their poisonous levels.
All these different points are located in a cool environment, because there are old, wild trees, flowers that make this sojourn a sweat-free one with clean air to breathe in and carbon out for the benefit of the trees. There are a number of concrete fish basins with real fish and another good place you can relax rather than walking in humid Mombasa.
From a distance, across the main fish pond you will see some waterbucks as they enjoy their afternoon siesta in the tree shades. You will also see a few birds as you go along, touring the park.


  1. Nice stuff you have posted in your blog. i hope you will continue with the same.

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