I think I ought to start with an apology (like people really care ha!) for not writing like….. since forever ago 😊
Getting back to business now as this is gonna be a really exciting one! My husband and I took a little holiday in Africa recently and while 10 days is quite short for a holiday, it is too long to be away from our girls. We are so lucky we had our LaLly to look after them while we explored the safari.
Kenya is a country that is rich and poor at the same time, filled with such happy and pleasant people. We are extremely lucky to have had the chance to do this once in a lifetime trip.
We only had a day in Nairobi before heading out to the safari and not having the kids around means a night out with the husband. Asking people for recommendations, we ended up in Nyama Mama for some local food before heading to Brew Bistro to experience their “party” scene.
After our wonderful safari experience, we had another night in Nairobi before flying back to Manila. This time, we checked out their reggae night at K1 Klub House.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Masai Mara National Reserves:
It is said that the best African Safari is to be experienced in Kenya! This is obviously my first African experience but judging from how amazing our game drives have been, I’d say this claim is not far from the truth! Even on our first game drive that started at 4:30 in the afternoon and only lasted for 2 hours, we saw giraffes, zebras, lions, elephants, buffalos and hippos among others. I’ll never forget the feeling of gladness seeing these magnificent creatures walking around freely in the vast expanse of land that stretches for miles and miles that almost seem endless. Here, tables are turned. Us humans are the ones caged and confined in the small vehicle while the animals roam free. In the few more days to come, we kept being spoilt with such amazing encounters with all sorts of animals, from a family of Giraffes crossing our paths to lounging hippos and crocodiles on opposite sides of the river somehow minding their own business. Admiring a beautiful cheetah meowing like a kitten making you forget it is the most effective hunter in the wild. We are lucky to have had an amazing (possibly the best guide/driver) who ALWAYS made sure we had the best seat in the house to take photos. And luck we needed because we mostly only used my iPhone to take photos. While it’s a massive bonus to have great pictures to speak of your trip, nothing is and will ever be greater than appreciating the chance of seeing the animals literally WILD & FREE.
We spent 3 days in Masai Mara and each game drive was simply magical.
After a quick morning game drive in Masai Mara, we were back on the road again this time to see Lake Nakuru. We were not fortunate enough to see black rhinos in Masai Mara but it’s a guarantee to see white rhinos in Lake Nakuru.
There were flamingos, pelicans and other bird species on the lake. I’m sure bird enthusiasts would appreciate the site more than I did (I don’t really know where I got my fear of birds from).
There were more hyenas here which meant there were far less lions too. For some reason, giraffes here are also bigger/taller than the ones seen in Masai Mara. We saw one of them with a swollen knee and we curiously asked our guide if there’s a vet in the park who looks after sick animals and were told only the endangered ones are looked after (like the Rhinoceros). For others, it’s fair game. Apart from the wild animals in this area, I’d have to say one of my favourite stops was the enchanting Makalia Falls. While I appreciate the breathtaking experience of watching wild animals in the comfort and safety of our vehicle, every opportunity to set foot on land to stretch and of course “picture picture” is a welcoming treat. That, we got to do by the Makalia Falls.
Amboseli National Park:
There’s a lot of differences between Amboseli and Maasai Mara parks. Not only is the size of the park different but also the animals too. Amboseli is home to the biggest elephants with the biggest tusks in the world! Here, you’ll also find more species of birds. I’ve seen more Vultures here and in my own non expert bird opinion, my favourite (I don’t know why I even have one) is the cori bustard which happens to be the heaviest flying bird in the world!
Being completely spoilt with tremendously close encounters with the animals in Maasai Mara, I was honestly feeling quite bored during the first few hours (after all, we’ve mainly seen bird species up close) in Amboseli. The scenery was flatter and cars are NOT allowed off-road therefore you’d have to be very lucky to get a chance to see the animals at close distance. I believe what we were very lucky with was having John Wanjau as our guide/driver because he made everything possible for us! Just when I was about to give up, Wanjau pulled us through and managed to give us what I would describe as a “NATGEO MOMENT” with a herd of Elephants! We were following all 25 of them for a very long time and it was nothing short of amazing. Imagine watching a National Geographic scene except you are in it! Truly one of the most magical experiences of my life.
As if closely following a herd of elephants wasn’t enough, our Amboseli game drive for the day ended with our guide spotting Lion Honeymooners sleeping (apparently they mate for 2 weeks with 15 minutes intervals which only last for about 3-4seconds). So, we waited and true enough, after about 20minutes, the lioness stood up, walked around the lion a few times and then got herself ready and the rest was about 4 seconds of history.
People visit Amboseli not only for the animals but also to see the beauty that is called Mount Kilimanjaro. This mountain has graciously shown its beauty to us and I was in awe.
BEYOND GAME DRIVES:
People come to Kenya mainly for the safari however, I’d strongly recommend visiting a Masai tribe to learn more about the “real” locals of the land. This experience will leave you just as breathless as seeing wild animals. You’ll be humbled and privileged at the same time. Sure, you’ll most likely gonna get some hard core “sales talk” on local merchandise and while you are not obliged to make a purchase, I guarantee you’d somehow sincerely feel the need to help out in whatever little way you can. At least that’s how it was for me and my husband.
Without a doubt, our game drive experiences were an absolute dream come true! However, this magical experience wouldn’t have been as amazing if it wasn’t for John Wanjau, our guide/driver extraordinaire, the wonderful company we have been blessed to tour with, Raul & Zineb, Joaquim & Emie and Shamin.
We certainly hope to see all you guys again!
* Vaccine is not necessary
* Mosquitoes wern’t a problem however be prepared to see all sorts of bugs during night time in Amboseli
* High tech DSLR cameras with big lenses would be great but not necessary. iPhone can be just as good
* Weather can be very cold (early mornings & night time) but very hot in the day so, prepare to bring light clothing and a good coat/jumper when it gets cold.
* Have a very open mind. You are visiting these animals in the wild NOT in the zoo and they will not be on cue ready for your visit. During our trip, we experienced very cold mornings and evenings, really hot days and even a bit of rain. Expect that 90% of the time you will be inside the vehicle. Avoid drinking too much or you’ll have a happy bladder and it won’t be easy nor pretty just to stop for toilet breaks (which basically means finding “a spot” to do your deeds).
* Food was included in our package and it was surprisingly good both for meat eaters and vegetarian/vegans alike. However, if you are like me who eats a lot of seafood, be prepared this will not be easily available for you. Other than that, they are amazingly accommodating to prepare whatever they have available to make guests happy. You may also want to bring some pack of snacking goods (crisps, nuts or a bar of chocolate) with you especially for whole day game drives.
* Joaquim’s fun facts were fun, but not strictly true 🙂