Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hello and Goodbye Kenya

Hello! It's been difficult to find internet, but here I am on Day 7 of my overland safari, blogging away in East Africa. Take out your maps or google a map of kenya and see where I am and have been! I have a sticky keyboard, so ignore the errors ;)

There are three crew (Eugene, Moses, and Paul) and six of us: Helen, James, Ed, Linda, Rachel, and myself. Two Aussies, one Yank, Three Brits. We have a huge truck all to ourselves (it seats 18), and her name is Daffy. She has taken us on some pretty crazy roads on this trip, but she is reliable. paul, our driver, has to stand up to push the clutch--it's that heavy. lucky, he's a strong guy and fabulous driver.

here is where we have been:

Day 1: drive from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha
Day 2: Lake Naivasha and Crater Lake
Day 3: drive from Lake Naivasha to Lake Nakuru National Park
Day 4: Lake Nakuru game drives and drive to Njobo
Day 5: drive from Njobo to Masia mara Game Reserve
Day 6: game drives all day in Masia mara, stay in Narok
Day 7: drive from Narok to Kisii

here is the animal count:

1 cheetah (in the mara. wow! what a rare sighta, and a postcard, too!)
16 lions (2 full maned males, the rest female; oye were we close!)
white rhino (at least 20)
black rhino (just the one)
wildebeast (thousands in the mara)
wildebeast (thousands in the mara due to the Great migration from the Serengeti)
vultures eating a wildebeast carcass
birds, birds, birds

now for some fun details:

In Lake Naivasha we went to Elsamere, the home of Joy and George Adamson of Born Free fame. They rehabilitated lions and released them into the wild. I haven't seen the famous movie based on her book of the same name, but I plan to rent and read when I come home. A remarkable story. They were both killed by poachers.

We also went to Crater lake on a boat ride then a game walk. What an amazing experience to walk in the wild and see giraffes, zebras, and elands. No predators, so we were safe. We also saw a large group of flamingos as well.

Then, we went for our first game drives in lake Nakuru National Park, where we saw so many white rhinos. I've seen many black rhino in South Africa, but i've never seen a white rhino. We also saw 11 elephants in one day, one fully maned male, one young male, and 9 females. Gorgeous. There they were lounging in a tree and some basking in the sun. Paul manoevered our beast to get close. Because we are so high up in the truck, we were looking eye to eye with them. An amazing experience as I've never seen lions.

Lake Nakuru is a beautiful park, and if it wasn't for the ants in our tents at 2am, we would have probably slept well in the wild, surrounded by the possibility of animals in our campsite. Four of the six of us slept in the truck!

We stayed in a lovely "posh" campsite called Kembu, just outside Njolo. Posh=bar, hot showers, no ants, and a longdrop toilet with fancy woodwork! We all soaked up this campsite. i also took a walk through the farm where they have horses, cows, and a women's knitting coop.

Then, the big day. The drive into the Masai Mara. Such a pivotal experience to be in a park that i have always wanted to visit. You see it on the Discovery Channel, travel magazines, and photography books. To be here in person was glorious. After a long 12 hour drive, we drove into the mara as the sun set, and if we weren't running late, we would have been able to see a lion kill; they were already stalking when we saw them. Four masai were waiting at our campsite and helped us set up. They then sang us a welcome song and sat around the campsite with us. Wrapped in their red blankets, they are regal. Then you hear them sing, and it's music. Then you see their wristwatches and one pulls out a cellphone! Modern civilization is hard to abate! They were sitting at our campfire at night and were there again when I woke up in the morning.

Yesterday, we did a game drive from sunrise to sunset. The wildebeast are abundant, having just crossed the river to get to the grass in the mara. Thousands of them walking in lines and standing in herds. We saw zebras, giraffes, hippos, impalas, hartebeasts, elephants, and a few lazing lions. Then, we saw the cheetah. Sitting on a rock, perched. Paul saw her from at least 400m away and charged Daffy over to her. it was a rare gift to see this pregnant cheetah in the wild. At the end of the day, we visited a masai village and were able to ask questions and see their huts. A bit touristy but worthwhile just the same.

Even though our visit to the mara was short, 24 hours, it was fabulous. The rolling hills of grass, the blue sky, the herds of animals, the acacia trees. I've been to the mara. This time next week, i can see i've been to the Serengeti. Does it get better than this?

Today, on Day 7, we ar in kisii, a town in the western part of kenya. On our way we stopped and had some local food in a small restaurant, where I had yummy vegan beans and spices. Tomorrow we cross into Tanzania, where we will go to lake Victoria and then the Serengeti.

I am thoroughly enjoying myself, and my safari mates are fantastic. The crew are doing so much to make our visit extraordinary. moses, the guide, tells us what's happening and when, giving us history and info. Eugene, our cook, slaves over the fire in the mornings and evenings to feed us well. i'm eating well and educating everyone on what this vegan thing is. Soymilk greets me every morning! We eat lunch on the truck most days, and i have my reliable jar of peanut butter on hand. Today i was even able to buy individual soymilks to drink on the truck. yeah! Huzzah!

So, I shall love you and leave you once again. A warm dinner is awaiting me at the campsite.

Talk to you soon.
Moe/Maureen/Msungu (white woman; what the children shout at us when we pass!)

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