Clothing to carry on safari
Safari clothing should be casual and comfortable, and this is the dress code at the safari lodges and camps you would be visiting. It is not necessary to wear khakis from head to toe, however it is wise to dress in colours that conceal the ever-present dust on East Africa’s roads. Whatever the weather, there is always lots of dust around! Most of the roads both inside and outside the national parks and reserves you will be visiting are unpaved. This means that in the dry weather dust may be prolific while in the wet weather, it can get quite muddy. If you will be taking a flight in light aircraft between the parks, note that there is a 15kg (33 pound) luggage limit per person. All hotels, lodges and safari camps offer an inexpensive or free (basic) same day laundry service (washed by hand in most cases, and subject to the weather), so pack light! Camouflage clothing is not allowed in East Africa. Khaki, brown and subdued colours are only really necessary if you will be taking part in walking safaris, when you would need to blend in with the environment. Dressing in layers (just like an onion!) is an effective method of compensating for the wide variations in temperatures during the day. It tends to be cool in the morning, warm or hot during the day and cool again in the evening. A sweatshirt, and a jacket/fleece is needed for evenings and early mornings, as it can be quite cold especially at high altitudes. 2 quick-drying long trousers/slacks, which can include a pair of jeans; 1 pair of shorts; 4-5 tops including tee shirts and/or polo shirts, long-sleeved shirts and short-sleeved shirts (cotton is your friend); 1 pair hiking boots; 1 pair sandals; 1 pair sneakers; socks; underwear; a bathing suit; and while not exactly items of clothing, sunglasses are recommended, and sunscreen and lip balm are absolutely necessary, even while it is overcast, as the UV rays of the sun filter through the clouds. A safari hat is useful- we provide you with beautiful Tano Safaris hats or caps when you are on safari with us! We also provide you with a small hold-all bag, ideal for carrying documents and cash while you are out on the game drives and other safari activities. If you will be staying at a city hotel or at one of the grander beach hotels that require a more put-together dress-code for diners in the evening, ladies should include at least 1 dress or skirt and gentlemen should have a smart-casual pair of trousers, and a correspondingly smarter pair of shoes for the evening. Leave behind your gleaming leather shoes, killer heels, white jeans and grandmother’s pearls. You won’t impress the King of the Jungle… A suggested packing list for Chimp Tracking and Gorilla Tracking and Mountain Climbing is provided when you book the safari experience with us in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda. Pack light, be practical, and if you can, PACK for a PURPOSE.
NEW VISA APPLICATION PROCESS FOR TRAVEL TO KENYA
ONLINE VISA APPLICATION PROCESS FOR TRAVEL TO KENYA Most foreign citizens wishing to travel to Kenya require a tourist visa, which can currently be obtained on arrival, or more conveniently, can be paid for online. There is a dedicated website for this service http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html, and visitors can apply for a Single entry visa or Transit to Kenya and pay securely using a VISA card or Mastercard. The website also lists the countries whose nationals do not require a visa for travel to Kenya for tourism. Single Entry visa: USD $51. Transit visa USD $21. These are issued to persons connecting through Kenya to other destinations for a period not exceeding 72 hours. Those connecting with flights directly without leaving the airport don’t need to apply for the Transit visas. PROCEDURE 1. Create an account A single account is all you need for all your future evisa applications 2. Apply and pay Fill the application form and pay securely using visa or Mastercard. 3. Download The processing time is 2 business days. Download the evisa PDF from your evisa visitor account. Once the application is approved, the evisa will be made available to your evisa account. You must print a copy to carry with your passport and bring it along when you travel to Kenya. When you arrive in Kenya, you must have your evisa printout with your passport. An evisa to Kenya once issued is valid for 3 months before you travel. Once you present yourself to immigration control at the port of entry, you may be issued with a stay period not exceeding 90 days, which may be renewed for a further 90 days at the immigration headquarters. The maximum number of days a visitor may stay in Kenya is 6 months. Notes: The above information is based on the information availed on the EVisa Website as of September 2017, and all visitors should ensure that they have all their travel documents in order prior to travel. Passports need to be valid for at least 6 months after the dates of travel to Kenya. Additional Information can also be obtained via the nearest Kenyan High Commission/Consulate in your country of residence. Please visit our Travel Info page on our website for further information on the East Africa Tourist Visa, which is a single visa allowing the holder to visit Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
It’s Lion Day!
Today is Lion’s Day! To celebrate this fantastic day (I can’t resist, being a Leo myself!), I thought it would be nice to write about “Scar”, one of the Masai Mara’s 4 Musketeers. The 4 Musketeers are the 4 lions who rule of the Musiara Marsh area of the Masai Mara in Kenya, “Scar” and his brothers “Hunter”, “Morani” and “Sikio”. Scar is one of the most easily recognisable lions in the country, thanks to the impressive scar he bears above his right eye, the result of a territorial fight he and his brothers “Hunter”, “Morani” and “Sikio” participated in, 3 years ago. A beautiful beast, boasting a thick dark mane, it is always a thrill to see him on safari, and we were fortunate enough to spot him 2 weeks ago, while we enjoyed a game drive from the beautiful Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp. The grass is quite long in the area, and we would have missed an incredible sighting of this lion had we not stopped to admire a large group of elephants in the distance. I apologise for the poor quality of the pictures, but let me explain the exciting sighting we had! Scar slowly lifted his head out of the grass, and shortly got up stretch and amble a few metres to what looked like a wildebeest kill. Then from the right, approached 2 lionesses and one young male lion, hesitantly approaching, to join him in the feast. He was not having any of that! It’s hard to catch a running lion on (amateur) camera, especially at a distance, but I can assure you that it is one of the most impressive sights ever! We think the 3 guests were from the Madomo Pride, currently made up of 2 lionesses, three cubs and “Pengu”, a sub-adult male. He quickly saw them off, and then casually returned to guard his meal. He did not eat, rather just sat there, keeping the others off, and snarling at those who dared to approach.
Meet the Dik-diks!
Meet the tiny and delightful Dik-Diks! Usually found skulking amongst the roadside bushes on safari, the sweet little Dik-dik antelopes are some of the smallest antelopes to be found in East Africa, especially in Kenya and Tanzania. Their nervous disposition means that they are usually seen for a few seconds before they sprint off into the cover of the vegetation. They are sometimes encountered on our guided bush-walks, where evidence of their presence is given away by the characteristic piles of little dung pellets they deposit as territory markers, as by the presence of thick, black smears they deposit on short plants from the pre-orbital glands in front of their eyes. Dik-diks get their comical name from the alarm calls given by the females, which some say sounds like “dik-dik, or “zik-zik”.” Both the females and males issue alarm whistles that other animals also respond to. Dik-diks have a characteristic long, prehensile nose, which they use to sniff their way around, and also to regulate their body temperatures when it gets too hot. In areas such as Samburu, in Kenya, the temperatures can often reach the high 30s, and dik-diks cool off by resting in the shade and the blood flow to their noses increases, which cools the blood as it is circulated in their bodies. They prefer to feed on shoots, leaves and fruits, and do not require extra water necessarily, as they get all the moisture they require from the food they browse on. Dik-diks stand at about 30–40 cm (12–16 in) at the shoulder, and weigh between 3-6kg. The females are generally larger in size than the males of the species. They live in monogamous pairs, and mate for life. Dik-diks have a lifespan of about 10yrs. It is said that if one of the pair dies, the other will soon follow suit, as they cannot bear the loneliness, and they do not usually search for new mates. A female will give birth to one offspring at a time, following a gestation of just under 6 months. The young grow quickly, and by the age of 7 months, both males and females are ejected from the family home, to fend for themselves. All sorts of predators, ranging from eagles, to snakes, the big cats, hyenas, jackals and even baboons, hunt these delicate little antelopes. No wonder they are so nervous all the time!
Angama Mara Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya. Located atop the picturesque Oloololo Escarpment, overlooking the beautiful dotted plains of the Mara Triangle, sits a brand new luxury tented lodge- Angama Mara. Having avidly followed all updates on the development of the camp following a presentation carried out by Kate and Nicky Fitzgerald, in November last year, we could hardly contain our excitement when Tano Safaris was lucky to be given the opportunity to experience the new tented lodge, which opened a few weeks ago. There are still a few final touches to be done, however the lodge is open and is already receiving (very happy) guests! The drive up the escarpment is breathtaking. We came across hyenas, impalas, zebras and even an elusive Mountain reedbuck on the hilly slopes. The Angama Airstrip, a 4min drive away from the lodge, or a refreshing 10min walk, begun receiving scheduled flights on the 9th of Sptember. The approach to the main buildings on the gravelled paths presents interestingly shaped domes and structures, but it’s the stunning views visible from every angle that are truly incredible. The inviting and stylish interiors of the bar, lounge and indoor dining areas are superb, however they do take a back seat to the raw, timeless beauty of the natural landscape around, and below the lodge. The public areas at Angama Mara feature the lounge and dining area, bar and library. Private dining in the guest tents is catered for. The gorgeous 12m x 6m infinity swimming pool overlooks the plains of the Mara Triangle. There is a craft centre, or Design Studio, at the lodge, where the women from the local community create and sell create modern, high-end bespoke jewellery and embellishments (traditional jewellery and curios can be purchased at the villages, visits to which can be arranged directly), however the team behind Angama Mara is keen to explore the lengths to which traditional materials and craft making can take on a modern, sharp edge. All guests contribute towards a fund which has been set up to improve the livelihood of the local people in the area, by providing employment to the men and women, and one of the projects the Angama team hopes to complete by the end of the year is the construction of a fully equipped clinic. Divided into 2 camps, the 15 guest tents and public area in each camp (30 tented suites in total) are set on the first two kopjes. The rooms have one spacious, super king size bed, or two twin beds. Each camp has a set of interconnected tents, ideal for families, connected by a covered walkway between each tent. The maximum occupancy for the camp is 30 guests at a time. Only children aged up to 12yrs may share a triple (an extra bed would be a bunk bed). There is no single room supplement for the first 2 singles per booking. There is one tent with better access for disabled/ physically challenged guests. Each olive green tent is set on a raised 35sqm wooden platform, with sweeping views of the plains, always visible through the 10m length of floor to ceiling retractable glass windows. There is a set of mesh sliding doors, and blinds are available for the windows, should guests prefer to use them. Two of the tents in the North Camp are situated slightly in front of the others and have prime views, however, every single tented suite has uninterrupted views of the Mara Triangle’s breathtaking plains. (The tents are spaced quite close together, approximately 6m apart. Bearing in mind that the camp is brand new, it will take time for the vegetation around each tent to grow back fully. While there are no direct views into the neighbouring tent, there are plans to put up canvas fly-sheets between the tents for added privacy until the vegetation is of the optimal height). The luxurious tented 70sqm suites have en suite bathroom and loo facilities, including a romantic old style tin bathtub, twin vanities, and a separate shower (optionally accessible from the deck as well). The tents have a spacious interior, with limited furniture so they do not appear crowded, a polished wooden deck, and are all equipped with a safe, mini bar, two ceiling fans, and a hair dryer. There is a pair of binoculars for guests to use in the room only. Electric blankets are provided between May and August. In-room massage can be done in the room (extra charge), and each tent has a Butler’s lobby, where the morning tea/coffee is delivered with the wake-up call. Smoking is not allowed in the tents, or inside the public buildings. There are ashtrays provided on all the outdoor decks of the rooms and other areas of the camp. Every guest tent is equipped with a tablet with a built in telephone service that serves as the lodge’s communication system. On arrival, guests are shown how to use the tablet. It can be used to make and receive calls, communicate with the lodge staff and for emergencies (to contact the security or camp manager) or if guests prefer, a 2-way radio can be provided. There is free Wireless Internet throughout the camp (although guests are encouraged not to utilise their phones or laptops in the dining areas). Mobile phone reception is good throughout the camp. The camp runs on 24hr electricity from the national grid (240V) and multiple international adaptors are available in the tents and the public areas. The camp has standby generators in case of power failure. The accommodation is based on Full Board with a selection of quality drinks (excluding French champagne). The food is fantastic! They have a constantly changing menu, no buffets. Meals are served in each camp’s dining room, on the impressive deck looking out to the plains, next to the swimming pool, out in the open for bush dinners or even in the privacy of the guests’ tents. Every meal is freshly prepared, from juicy tasty hamburgers to traditionally roasted meat (Nyama Choma), to fine dining that would make a French chef proud! The picnic boxes contain couscous, salads with dressings, fresh fruit salads and freshly baked brownies, macadamia nuts etc, along with ice cold drinks or steamy, hot, freshly pressed coffee. Drinking water, sparkling and still, is distilled and purified on the property, and is provided in the glass bottles found throughout the lodge. The lodge has a water purification plant on the premises, however if guests would prefer to have commercially bottled water, this is provided on request. Activities included during the stay are shared morning and afternoon or full day game drives in the Mara Triangle*, limited night drives and walking safaris atop the escarpment and use of the swimming pool, and the Fitness Centre, library and the other facilities within the camp. Laundry is included. The Fitness centre has treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals, and dumbbells, cross fitness machines, Pilates balls and yoga mats. Yoga mats can also be provided in the guest tents on request. The library has a TV, DVD collection and handpicked books for children and adults. The library also has 2 computers for guests to use, a printer, and board games such as backgammon, chess and scrabble, and playing cards. Umbrellas for use by the guests are found in the rooms and in the main building, and extra blankets, fleeces wraps and rain ponchos are provided in the game drive vehicles. Guests who wish have a late check-out have access to the changing room, complete with a shower, where they can refresh themselves and change before being transferred back to the airstrip in the late afternoon. (* The camp has a direct access road leading straight down in to the Mara Triangle and guests will not have to enter the reserve through the park gate in the future, as the park rangers will be stationed at the Camp to facilitate the tickets checks. At the moment, the tickets checks have to be done at the reserve gate). Optional extras, which can also be paid for direct, include visits to the local Maasai villages, balloon safaris, private use of the vehicle, in-room massage and beauty treatments, bar extras such as cigarettes or premium drinks and French champagne, safari shop purchases, and any other optional excursion or requested service. An exciting option for those who long and dream of driving in the Mara is the hire of one of the safari vehicles at an extra daily surcharge. The guest driver must be over 30yrs of age, and one of the junior guides will accompany the guest/s in the vehicle. Payments for extras can be done in Kenya Shillings, US Dollars, British Pounds, and in Euros. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diner’s Club and Union Pay cards, and Traveller’s Cheques are accepted. Angama Mara is very much for clients looking for a modern and very high-end experience. It is very polished and elegant, offers personalised service and attention, is an incredible location for the views and the game drives, has incredible food and an impressively stocked bar, and the managers and staff are constantly at hand to cater to their guests wishes and are very flexible when it comes to catering to special requests. Inspired by local Maasai architecture, and the romance of the grand and romantic safari era, with just the right touch of the modern and functional, Angama Mara delivers a scrumptious coming together of the old, the new, the practical, and the whimsical. There is a special introductory offer of Pay 3, Stay 4 offer valid up to the end of this year and a Pay 5, Stay 7 offer valid from November to mid-December this year. Contact us for more details.
The Cats of Lamu
The Cats of the Lamu Archipelago Cats hold a fascinating place in the history and culture of the East African coast and it’s islands. No visitor to the islands can miss catching sight of these distinctively thin, shorthaired and long-limbed felines, which bear a strong resemblance to the cats depicted in the history of ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians first begun to domesticate wild cats some 4000-5000 years ago, and despite the fact that this line of cats is extinct in northern Africa, the Lamu cats are believed to be the last true remaining descendants, apparently having found passage to Lamu aboard Arab traders’ dhows centuries ago. Contact us if you would like to explore the Lamu Archipelago and uncover it’s history, culture and attractions.
The Great Migration
THE GREAT MIGRATION OF WILDEBEEST & ZEBRAS About 1.5 million wildebeest and half a million zebras and antelopes embark on the yearly Great Migration between the Masai Mara in Kenya, and the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania. The wild animals move around in massive herds stretching far and wide beyond the horizon, their movement governed by the distribution of rains and the availability of grazing and drinking water. Visiting the Serengeti/ Masai Mara area gives you a front row seat to this incredible wildlife spectacle, which is especially dramatic when the animals cross the Grumeti and Mara Rivers, infested with giant Nile Crocodiles. Predators such as the big cats, hyenas, jackals, and eagles abound, and can often be seen hunting. The animals follow a certain pattern in their movements, however due to the vastness of their range and the unpredictable nature of the weather, it is important to be up to date on their current location. We will help you choose the camp or lodge best suited for better chances of seeing them with your own eyes. Mobile luxury camps follow the Migration and may be the best option for you. We can’t guarantee that you will see the famous Crossings, but we can guarantee an exceptional wildlife experience! As a general guideline, the Great Migration can be seen in the areas and time of the year indicated below. The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem: The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is made up of 7 parks and reserves, which are the Masai Mara in Kenya, and in Tanzania, the Serengeti National Park, and the Ngorongoro, Grumeti, Maswa, Ikorongo and Loliondo conservation/controlled areas and their surroundings. The extremities of the routes used by the migratory animals, covering some 30,000 square kilometres, define the extension of the entire ecosystem. The Mara Triangle is the greenest and wettest part of the entire ecosystem. The Ololoolo Escarpment and the curvature of the Mara River define the shape of the Mara Triangle. December to March: Wildebeest, zebras and gazelles congregate in the southern areas of the Serengeti, primarily in the Ndutu area. Here, the grass grows short and is richly packed with minerals (due to the volcanic history of the land), and this grass is extremely important for the growth of the young wildebeest calves. An estimated 400,000 new calves are born each year in the Ndutu/ Ngorongoro area, approximately 80% of them in February. Wildebeest Mama and Wildebeest Baby April to May: The mineral rich grasses of the Serengeti have all dried up, the water pools have disappeared into the dry ground and it is time for the animals to seek greener pastures. It is time for the herds to move on, and by following the rains, they usually trek northeast towards the central Seronera area and to the Western Corridor. There are always plenty of animals in the heart of the Serengeti, thanks to permanent rivers and pools of water that the animals need to survive. While the rest of the park may be devoid of many herbivores during the rest of the year, the Seronera area is special with its resident herds of plains game and well-fed predator population. The Western Serengeti is enchanting, and somewhat mysterious, with an abundance of Whistling Thorn acacia bushes. This area is also home to hunter-gatherer tribes, who welcome the arrival of the migratory herds for an easy (though illegal) source of food. By late May, the wildebeest leave the acacia and Whistling Thorn country and head into the northern Serengeti region. May to June: Sometime between the months of May and June, a curious ritual occurs among the wildebeest. This is “The Rut”, when wildebeest bulls display in a spectacle of noise and frantic activity, competing for the rights to mate with the females. The bulls, which have up to now been part of an enormous, tranquil herd, suddenly fight for identity and for their own territories, anxiously rounding up the female wildebeests. As the Migration progresses, it extends from the central Seronera area of the Serengeti, and up west to the Grumeti Reserves. The Seronera area can get quite busy, however the privately managed Singita Grumeti Reserves offer an exclusive chance to experience the Great Migration. The west is where the animals encounter crocodiles, many for the first time in their lives. The seasonal Grumeti River, home to some of the largest and oldest crocodiles in the world, has amazing beasts that weigh over 1000kgs. In order to maintain their impressive weight and size, these crocodiles need to eat a lot, and they do, at least during the river crossings done by the hapless wildebeest, zebras and gazelles. The crocodiles fill themselves up so much that during the rest of the year, an adult male crocodile will probably eat less than a stork! Do Nile Crocodiles smile? Beginning mid June: The Migration begins to spill over in to Kenya’s Masai Mara, lured by the rainfall and new grasses of the Mara. Perhaps the first sign of the arrival of the visiting herds is the movement of the “resident” wildebeest; they are usually found in small herds bordering the Mara, and they gradually start to congregate and move inside Masai Mara itself. They will eventually meet up with the Tanzanian herds and carry on upwards and onwards, towards the Mara River. The Mara River houses thousands of hippos distributed into family groups along the length of the river. As they move in and out of the water, they create pathways that are subsequently used by the wildebeest and zebra to approach, and to cross the river. Wildebeest need to drink water daily, and nervous herds amassed at the river’s edge are a common sight at this time, however it can take you hours, even days, to have the luck to observe a river crossing. Once they do decide to cross, nothing comes between them and the green grass on the other side of the river, not even the attacks by the crocodiles which can be savage and brutal, but taking into account the number of animals that does make it safely across the river, it is a sacrifice that is required for the benefit of the rest of the herds. The wildebeest and zebra do not all cross at one go, but over a period of days or weeks, and quite often they will cross- and re-cross the same river, and even venture back into Northern Serengeti, as if undecided on exactly where the grass tastes better! Lush, sweet Red Oat grass and the Mara’s permanent waters maintain the animals during their stay. Yet even in this paradise, there is a hell, well represented by the multitude of hyenas, jackals, leopards, lions, vultures, crocodiles, eagles that eagerly await their arrival. From October: From October, the Migratory herds group up and head back south, yet the chances of seeing them in the Masai Mara are still very high up to mid November. The animals have to cross the Mara River once more to return to Tanzania. The chances of seeing the crocodiles in action are reduced as most of them are still recovering from their initial feasting. Northern Serengeti is busy again, as are the Loliondo plains, east of the Serengeti. They don’t stay around for long, and the gathering clouds and smell of distant rains drive the pregnant herds southwards to the short grass plains. Finally, after having trekked for some 1500km, the Migration returns to Ndutu, to the vast plains of southern Serengeti where a new generation of calves will be born to start the cycle all over again.
Golden Monkey Tracking
GOLDEN MONKEY TRACKING Sharing the high altitude montane forests of the Virungas with its great ape relatives, the Golden Monkey is found mainly in the bamboo forests of the volcanic mountain chain that forms part of the boundary between Rwanda, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Named after their distinctive golden or coppery patch on their upper flanks and backs, the Golden Monkeys can be tracked at the Mhaginga National Park in Uganda and in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The main Kachima Group in Uganda has over 100 individuals, however the terrain at Mgahinga in Uganda is more challenging than in Rwanda, and if you would like to see these endangered and extremely beautiful monkeys, we recommend that you track them at the Volcanoes National Park. Small numbers can also be found in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest area, and plans are underway to habituate the Golden Monkeys at Rwanda’s Gishwati Forest. Golden monkey tracking is less arduous and challenging than gorilla tracking, as they live close to the base of the volcanoes. There are currently two known groups of Golden Monkeys at the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The Musongo Group lives way up on the flanks of the Mt. Karisimbi and the other group, Kabatwa, can be visited in its range on Mt. Sabyinyo. Once you find the group, you have 1hr to watch the delightfully spirited monkeys play, leap from branch to branch, socialise with their family members and feed. They communicate with each other using a range of vocal calls and also visual expressions. Cameras should be set to a fast shutter-speed to allow for low light in the dense undergrowth and to better the chances of capturing the agile golden monkeys on film! At night, they also sleep in the tall, thick bamboo plants, about 2- 3m above the ground. They love to eat bamboo, and they seek out the soft shoots, leaves, flowers and fruit, and small insects and bird eggs. They do sometimes venture out of the forest to feast on potatoes and other food crops in the fields bordering the park. Golden Monkeys live in large family groups of between 30 and 75 individuals, led by the dominant male. Female Golden monkeys mature at about 4–5 years and produce one offspring after a 5 months’ gestation. The babies are nursed until they are about 2yrs old. Male offspring become independent of the group when they reach sexual maturity. Golden monkeys have a life span of around 20yrs. Contact us to arrange your Golden Monkey tracking experience in Uganda and Rwanda with Tano Safaris: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Clothing to carry on safari
Safari clothing should be casual and comfortable, and this is the dress code at the safari lodges and camps yo
NEW VISA APPLICATION PROCESS FOR TRAVEL TO KENYA
ONLINE VISA APPLICATION PROCESS FOR TRAVEL TO KENYA Most foreign citizens wishing to travel to Kenya require
It's Lion Day!
Today is Lion’s Day! To celebrate this fantastic day (I can’t resist, being a Leo myself!), I thought it woul
Meet the Dik-diks!
Meet the tiny and delightful Dik-Diks! Usually found skulking amongst the roadside bushes on safari, the swee
Angama Mara Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya. Located atop the picturesque Oloololo Escarpment, overlooking the beauti