We started out our safari at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which is a private game park that sits at the base of Mt. Kenya. We stayed at a place called Sweetwaters, where all the accommodations were permanent tents, complete with toilets and showers. It was fun! At Sweetwaters, we saw rhinos, chimpanzees, lots of antelope and water buck, buffalo, zebras and lions. Our driver, Francis, who was with us the entire week, was very knowledgeable and was able to find us lots of animals. He would tell us he could “smell a lion” – of course this was right after he had gotten off his CB radio with another driver who had spotted one.
From Ol Pejeta, we traveled about 5 hours over very bumpy roads to Lake Nakuru, famous home to thousands of flamingoes. We stayed at a very nice place there and were able to see the flamingoes up close, as well as 2 leopards (unheard of per our driver) and more rhinos and antelope. Also, there were monkeys that greeted us in the parking lot and tried to get in our van.
From there, we traveled another 4-5 hours (again over bumpy roads – what else do you expect, this is Africa) to Maasai Mara, perhaps the best known game park in Kenya. It extends into Tanzania, where it becomes Serengheti National Park. This was probably my favorite one. We stayed at a camp called Sekenani, which is not fenced in. So, at night, we could hear elephants and see giraffe. We also had several baboons running over and around our tent at night. It felt like we were truly living in the wild. Not to worry, though. There were Maasai guards with spears posted around the camp to fend off any truly dangerous animals. We also went to an authentic Maasai village one day – the village consisted of one family, which consisted of one father, 11 wives, 52 children, and 300 cows. What a culture shift! It was very muddy as it had been raining quite a bit. We were able to go into one of their homes – hardly room even to move around. We were also treated to an exhibition of traditional dance. It amazed me how different it was from the rest of Kenya, or at least the parts I’ve experienced so far.
We were so fortunate to have a great 5 days on safari. We saw all of the Big 5 (Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, and Buffalo) and there wasn’t a single animal we wanted to see that we didn’t. Francis told us that were very lucky as not every safari experience is like that.
We then made our way back to Nairobi, stopping on the way at a school that some of Deb’s relatives (through marriage) have started for very poor children. It was a great way to end our time. Saying goodbye was hard, but I am so thankful for the 2 weeks were able to spend together.
Deb in our tent at Sweetwaters