June 26, 2021 – Finish Toyota driver Kalle Rovanpera and Co-Driver Jonne Halttunen in action during Soysambu stage in Naivasha, Kenya. [REUTERS]

Kenya is a global tourist destination.

This was the message written on the minds of world-beating stars as they cruised through the scenic Chui Lodge, Kedong, Malewa, Sleeping Warrior, Hells Gate, Soysambu, Loldia and Oserian stages in their quest for glory at the ongoing Safari Rally in Naivasha.

Hyundai driver, Thierry Neuville who was the marksman in the 12.75km Chui Lodge stretch held on the Southern shore of Lake Naivasha, admitted that a pack of giraffes almost slowed him down as he raced to the tape.

“The giraffes were in a very straight line, two on the right, and one on the left, they were maybe five to ten meters apart,” he told Standard Sports.

“We were not sure if they were going to move but they were really cool, they stayed and followed us to watch us move,” said Neuville.

Estonia speedster, Ott Tanak confessed he met a pack of buffalos in his last stage in Oserian.

“Encountering animals while racing is quite tricky,” the 2019 WRC champion stated.

“You don’t want to get in touch with them, but they are also lovely to watch.”

Last Monday, Tanak hilariously captured the attention of Kenyans on Twitter (KOT)with his picturesque image, captured in the Naivasha wild while looking eye with an African giraffe.

 “Jambo Kenya” he tweeted to tell his fans about his arrival in Africa for the first time.

He had jetted into the country on a private jet for the Safari Rally.

Zebra’s enjoys a moment on a rough road that was used by Safari Rally at Soysambu Conservancy [FILE PHOTO STANDARD]

KOT seized on the opportunity to reveal for him some exotic destinations to visit while in the country.

“Don’t miss a trip to Masai Mara and Amboseli. The best experience ever,” Muturi Mwangi wrote.

“Welcome to Kenya champion. Feel at home,” renowned sports journalist Hassan Jumaa commented.

Others like Gilbert Rotich teased the speed merchant saying: “There is no country called Africa, You are in a nation called Kenya.”

Others like Herod Antipas chose to sell “Mburoti Maguta” (big plots) to him online at Sh5 million, promising to chase away the giraffes for the rally driver.

Stage two, three and four of the Safari Rally also passed through the scenic Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy which is home to lions, leopards, giraffes, antelopes and buffalos.

The international drivers also encountered more scenic views on roads further north around Lake Elmenteita that hosted the  132.08km action.

They also saw Zebras, baboons, antelope at the expansive Lord Delamere farm.

A Giraffe at the Soysambu Conservancy, Safari Rally Fans that graced the Guru Nanak Rally [ FILE PHOTO STANDARD]

Other captivating fauna and flora sceneries were at the Soysambu and Sleeping Warrior; set in the shadow of a hill that resembles a Masai warrior lying down.

Sunday’s finale cruised both the north and south sides of Lake Naivasha, passing through the forested Loldia to the north and the rough, steep, tough Hell’s Gate to the south and the rocky Malewa.

At Hell’s Gate, the rally ended at the scenic Fishers Tower where the drivers had a glimpse of some of the aquarium life.

Ahead of the Safari Rally, Magical Kenya branded vehicles belonging to Kabras Sugar Racing ace Onkar Rai and Eric Bengi passed the great message that Kenya is an irresistible tourist destination.

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