Tall trees and flat pans
An area covering approximately 600km2, Sinya truly epitomizes the very best East Africa has to offer. Its endless mottled plains and mineral streaked pans, scattered with giant Acacia trees represent a natural safe haven for wildlife.
Amidst ragged flatlands circled by silenced volcanoes, Sinya represents a large part of the Tanzanian side of the greater Amboseli ecosystem, which in entirety totals approximately 5,000 km2 and is centered on Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. The Tanzanian portion of this ecosystem is commonly referred to as West Kilimanjaro, and covers a triangular area defined by Kilimanjaro to the east, Mount Longido to the west, and Mount Meru to the south.
Sinya possess important migratory routes and dispersal areas for wildlife including wildebeest, zebra and elephants. From the air these migratory corridors look like veins, stretching from the contrasting marshes and dust devils of Amboseli National Park (in neighboring Kenya), south to the Ngasurai plains and up to Kilimanjaro’s massive greenbelt. An ancient highway created by the world’s largest surviving walking dinosaur, Sinya remains the stomping ground for some of Africa’s most impressive elephants.
Sinya is rich with history – be its peoples, wildlife or ecology. At a glance Sinya looks desolate and unforgiving but it is home to a huge variety of wildlife and the Maasai people. Both have lived side by side for generations. On the whole, the Maasai have a deep-rooted understanding and respect for nature and wildlife, reflected in their culture, traditions and attitudes. They occupy the same land and as is often the case, the same water source! Herds of zebra and hundreds of Maasai cattle share the same grasslands and can be seen drinking side by side at the same water holes!
Sinya is one of the most arid areas in northern Tanzania. On average it receives only 200–400mm of rain annually (because it lies in Mount Kilimanjaro’s rain shadow), yet deep below its surface flows a network of mineral enriched subterranean rivers feeding the swamps of Amboseli. But even Sinya benefits from this hidden mineral and water source that flows down from Kilimanjaro. The Maasai know where to find water, as do the elephants, as do the plants!
The sun-bleached landscape is hot for most of the year, but the cloud base surrounding Kilimanjaro offers welcoming relief most mornings and evenings. Its mineral streaked flat pans are dotted with areas of short thick bush and spectacular stretches of giant yellow Acacia trees – their bright yellow bark and towering beauty a dramatic contrast to the salt & peppered landscape. Hills of loose rock and striped like zebra stand sentry, whilst carpets of wiry grass spread out for miles.
Sinya supports a striking variety of wildlife from the top of the food chain to the bottom. Herds of game including zebra, giraffe, Impala, Grant and Thomson gazelle, wildebeest, buffalo and eland occupy the plains, as well as prolific migrating & endemic birds.
Herds of giraffe sail pass, eating the Acacia’s tiny leaves hidden amongst lethal thorns longer than your finger! Cat families are having a revival but Sinya (like its neighboring sister Amboseli) still belongs to elephants. It’s common to see bachelor groups of elephants dozing under canopies of Acacia or a matriarch with her family marching through the thickets, crashing about for selective bits of bark and vegetation.