It seems that whenever I am required to rise early for any reason be it work, a tour, or whatever, I am more reluctant than a hibernating animal to wake from my slumber and this morning I felt as if another few hours would have been lovely!
I took a shower in an attempt to shake off the tiredness, ate a quick breakfast, and after safely storing the extra luggage that I wouldn’t require with the extremely accommodating hotel staff, I was greeted by Esther (from Kenyan budget safaris) in the foyer at around 7:30am, swiftly ushered into her car and taken to the pick up point for the tour. The drive was short as my hotel had been fairly central and we arrived at one of the principal streets of Nairobi’s centre only minutes later. One side of the road was lined with a row of Toyota Hiace, a small van that boasted four wheel drive, and Esther lead me to the one that would be my vessel for the next few days. I had pictured one of the posher vehicles that I had been seeing since I passed Archers Post some days earlier but they supposedly cost at least $300 per day which was the sum total of my three day safari so it looks as though I was slumming it for the duration but that suited me so I hopped in happily and took my seat. I have to say that Esther had been very professional during our correspondence and prompt in replying to my emails and although I had been quoted $30 cheaper by a tout in the centre yesterday I was more than happy to accept her offer. Everything had been so easy, I had arranged the whole thing from the comfort of my hotel room in no time at all which alleviated the need to go and find a tour company somewhere in the city and begin my negotiations. In addition to that it enabled me to have more time roaming the city and to simply enjoy the day without any stress at all happy knowing that everything had been arranged, perfect!
I waved Esther goodbye and waited for the other people in my group to arrive. If anything I think that perhaps she was a little too efficient as I was the sole occupant for the following 45 minutes and for a moment or two my sceptical mind thought that perhaps something was up? Esther had taken my money with a portable card machine when we pulled up to the departure point and now that she was long gone I suppose if the driver told me to sling my hook then I would never find her. From what I gathered she did all of her business online and I’m not even sure if she had a physical office to conduct her business?
To my relief the passengers started to trickle in and I was soon surrounded by more white people than I had seen in weeks.
The group were really nice and apart from the uncharacteristically quiet Kenyan, a young lady called Purity, we all chatted amongst ourselves for the majority of the six hours drive to our camp at the Masai Mara. The drive was a combination of Tarmac and bumpy unpaved roads but we eventually arrived and all fell out of our van glad that the knee jerking ride had come to an end. It was only really the final hour or so that had rocked our brains from our skulls but it was certainly a more than adequate distance for us all to breathe a sigh of relief when the durable Toyota finally arrived at our destination.
For those considering this tour there are convenience and food stops along the way and also a chance to view the Rift Valley but unfortunately for us there was a massive traffic jam so we had to find an alternative route and missed our opportunity to view the famous valley. I’m pretty sure that at some point on my journey south I will encounter it anyway so I’m not too upset that we missed this chance and more importantly for me was to arrive in time for the evening game drive.
On the way to the camp I saw a number of Giraffe, Wilde beast, and Gazelle and my nonchalant approach to this safari swiftly evolved into excitement. I had done the odd safari in the past in other countries that were very unmemorable but I was beginning to realise that an African Safari was going to be very different indeed.
On arrival to our camp in th Maasi Mara Kenya we received a brief introduction from the workers in the communal building/dining hall and informed of how things work in the camp. The generator provided all electricity and would be active twice a day, once in the morning from 6am until 10am, and then again in the evening from 6pm until 10pm which was ample for me. There were also a large number of power outlets (a bunch of extension leads all piled together) and enough for all of the guests to rev hard their devices during breakfast or the evening meal. Tea and coffee was also available at all times. Once we had been acquainted with the order of things we were led to our tents to drop off our luggage.
The tents were more luxurious than I had anticipated but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here to some of my group they were much less than they were expecting, I however was content. There were two compartments, the first of which held two beds complete with mosquito nets (I’m told the couples received double beds), and behind that the tent opened out into a bathroom area with a hot shower, sink, and western toilet, soap and toilet paper included. We were all informed of the importance of fully zipping up our tents at all times as the roaming baboons would happily enter uninvited and wreak havoc if they got the chance.
Once we had settled in we were asked to re-commune in the dining hall where our drivers would be waiting to take us on our first drive through the game reserve of the Masai Mara.
It was incredible, the park is spread over more than 1000 miles and is quite a beautiful landscape, open Savannah with a backdrop of mountains and of course absolutely full of wildlife. That evening we saw so much including Wilde beast, Gazelle of varying types, Buffalo, and of course Lions!!! We saw both male and female of these majestic creatures although the male was sleeping and from the angle that we had I was sure it was a stone, that was until he moved of course, ROARRRR! Very cool!
We returned home as it was entering twilight all of us grinning with delight at our introduction into this incredible land, words aren’t enough to describe this place and I’m feeling very lucky to be here, I’m also amazed at how all these animals are in a sense living in harmony with each other or perhaps not harmony but at least living in close proximity to what is often predator and prey.
On our return to camp I showered, which was cold not hot as promised but later I discovered (from my roommate Max) that I simply needed to let it run for a few minutes before the hot water filtered through. The trauma of dipping in and out of the freezing water it seems was not necessary after all.
I walked over to the dinning hall smelling almost clean and enjoyed the lovely spread put on by our Kenyan hosts. It was a buffet style dinner and the food was in abundance so if you wanted seconds, thirds, or even fourths you were able to eat to your hearts content. They were even happy to make something especially for the vegetarians although with what was on offer there were several types of veggie dishes anyway so it was a feast to suit all. I joined the crowd of tourists and chatted happily as I ate everyone discussing their experience in the amazing Masai Mara game reserve.
After dinner I joined the four Masai watchmen as well as some guests around the campfire. The Masai, Daniel, Augustus, George, and Oli were there to protect the guests from wandering animals that often strayed into camp and during our conversation I was educated of their traditions and daily life. 10pm came quicker than expected and I was surprised I even made it this far as the day had been a long one but I stayed up for a little while longer to watch the beautiful stars before calling it a night and heading back to my tent and sleep! The Hyena started calling pretty soon after lights out and some sounded very close but I was confident in our security and fell into a deep cosy sleep almost immediately.