Meru National Park, Kenya

Meru National Park is in Kenya located at Meru, about 350 km from Nairobi. Covering an area of 870 sq.km. This is one of the best known National Park in Kenya.

The road to Meru National park is not in good condition. In some places there were rocks all over the road. There are no groceries/shops to buy food near the National Park. Hence, you have to be preparing yourself in advance for arranging food, beverages and drinking water.

We all can remember the film “Born Free”. Born Free was a bestselling novel written by Joy Adamson. It was a true story of how Adamson raised an orphan lioness cub named Elsa. In 1956, Joy’s husband George shot Elsa’s mother. Later Joy decided to raise the young lions themselves. Elsa survived several years at Meru National Park and reared three cubs before dying in 1961. We all know that Elsa’s grave is at Meru National Park, but it is sad to say that visitors are not taken see her grave.

The park is un-crowded. It is very worth to visit when there is no crowd at a wild park. Meru is an ideal park for the photographs to snap some good memorable photos. I chose this park to visit twice, within a short period, since I like to have experience with new adventures in each trip.

But take extra careful about your vehicle that travelling inside park. The picture below shows my experience. We got flat tire in side Meru National Park and there was no any spare wheel.

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Flat Tire and no Spare wheel

 Before travelling check the availability of spare wheel. My advice is to have at least two spare wheels. 

We wasted almost 4 hours at this place. However, we were lucky to get help from the Kenyan Special Task Force Officers who were in duty at the park. We give our gratefulness to the officers who helped us.

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Special Task Force Officers duty at Meru

Also make sure about your Park Guide. My experience is the Guide provided by the Meru National Park to us had not much knowledge about the park and the animals/birds. Also in both occasions we had to wait about an hour at the park gate to get a Guide for our safari. 

We really enjoyed our time at Meru National Park. We were able to see lot of animals and birds. See my photographs the animals are seems to be used to vehicles.If you keep driving you’ll find lots of variety and things to see.

 

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The Origin of Ceylon Tea

The origin of Tea was with the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. Some 5,000 years ago the life was tough, people suffered from hunger and numerous diseases. Shen Nung was determined to find safe food and remedies for his people, he started to hike among the mountains and tasted hundreds of herbs to test their medical value. He tested different parts of the plants to find out the best use of the roots, stems, leaves etc.

Camellia sinensis (Tea plants)

Camellia sinensis (Tea plants)

 

Chinese Emperor Shen Nung

One day, he encountered poisonous herbs and felt so weak, stumbled, and grabbed some leaves as he fell. Lying on the ground, he thought that he would taste the leaves in his hand, and then he could die without regret. The leaves swam around in Shen Nung’s body as soon as he put them in his mouth. They swiftly checked the infected areas and performed wonders. Shen Nung was saved by their healing power, he pleasantly surprised and decided to name this plant “cha” (Chinese: 查) meaning “examine” or “check”. Since then, Shen Nung often used cha as an antidote. Cha was known by people because of him, but with a different character “茶”, which means tea in Chinese.

In 1839 tea seeds were first planted at Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Until the 1860’s the main crop produced on the island of Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was coffee. But in 1869, the coffee-rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, killed the majority of the coffee plants and estate owners had to diversify into other crops in order to avoid total ruin.

Loolecondera Estate

The owners of Loolecondera Estate had been interested in tea since the late 1850’s and in 1866, James Taylor, Scottish, was selected to be in charge of the first sowing of tea seeds in 1867.

James Taylor : Born: March 29, 1835  Died: May 2, 1892

James Taylor started the first commercial scale planting in 1867 and 7.72 hectares were planted in Loolecondera Estate, Hewahata, Ceylon. James Taylor had acquired some basic knowledge of tea cultivation in North India. He made some initial experiments in manufacture, using his bungalow verandah as the factory and rolling the leaf by hand on tables. Firing of the oxidized leaf was carried out on clay stoves over charcoal fires with the leaf on wire trays. His first teas were sold locally and were declared delicious. By 1872, James Taylor had a fully equipped factory. In the year 1872 he first exported 10.45 kg made tea from Ceylon and, in 1873, his first quality teas were sold for a good price at the London auction.

British companies, which took over many of the small estates, expanded the Ceylon’s tea industry. Four estates were purchased by a grocer whose name is almost a synonym for tea: Thomas Lipton.

Thomas Lipton

Thomas Lipton, son of poor Irish family settled in Glasgow, England. He left school at the age of 10 to help support his family and in 1865 sailed to America to work as a manual laborer and later managed a successful New York grocery store. He returned to Glasgow in 1871 and worked for a couple of years in the grocery shop run by his parents. By the age of 21, he had opened his own grocery store. In 1890, already a millionaire, Lipton was in need of a holiday and booked a passage to Australia. On the way, he broke his journey in Ceylon. He had an interest in tea as a product to sell in his shops. Lipton did not trust middlemen, and wanted to explore the possibilities of growing tea and bringing it direct to Britain. His other novel idea was to begin packaging it. Instead of selling it loose from the chest, as was the custom at that time, Lipton packed his tea in brightly-colored, eye-catching packets bearing the slogan “Straight from the tea gardens to the tea pot.” Lipton’s foray into tea was a huge success, and vastly increased his wealth. The name of Lipton had migrated from a chain of grocery stores and became a trademark for Lipton Ceylon Tea, famous the world-over.