Jump to content

Dawn and Al's Epic African Safari - Part 1 - Kenya


Dawnvip
 Share

Recommended Posts

After countless months planning, revising, reading trip reports and revising again, dear husband Allan and I left for Nairobi on May 30th. This was to be our first safari; an unusually big trip to hopefully see the big 5 and celebrate my impending birthday (the big five-oh!)

 

Our route would prove to be ambitious:

Africa 2018 route.PNG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Flights were Vancouver to Frankfurt, 2 hour layover, and then Frankfurt to Nairobi, all on Lufthansa. A bit bumpy on the trip across the Atlantic, but we were shown an amazing lightening display in the clouds which was very cool to see. We landed in Nairobi at about 8:30 pm, got our visa on arrival because I was unable to confirm whether we needed single or multiple entry visa (multiple border crossings) from home. The customs agent confirmed we were fine with the single entry visa and so we grabbed our bags and headed for the door. We had a whole suitcase packed full of school supplies for Pack for a Purpose and were quite surprised when the customs agent told us the supplies were taxable! A bit of back and forth over charitable donations, with several agents checking out the supplies, we finally understood they were interested in something for themselves and so handed out some pens. Not sure what the "tax" would have amounted to, but figured we got away well with only the loss of a half dozen pens. We were surprised how small NBO arrivals is for an international airport in a large city. Two baggage belts, a few exchange windows, and that's it.

 

Our driver was standing just outside the arrivals door with our names on a sign. 40 minutes later and we were at the home of our friends in Westlands where we would spend the first 3 nights of our vacation. Excited but tired after some long flights, we were happy to get some sleep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

June 1: First full day in Nairobi. We spent the day visiting some of the typical tourist destinations in Nairobi, and first stop was Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage.Traffic was horrible, but we still made it in time to see most of the feeding/viewing of the baby elephants. The narrative was quite informative to listen to while watching the elephants get their 2 bottles of milk and then rolling around in the mud hole. Warning to those who haven't been to Sheldrick's: you will fall in love with the babies and you will get dirty!! With only a thin rope to keep the tourists back, there wasn't much protection from baby elephant mud-slinging! (note mud spot on my chin, also on my shirt and shorts!)

 

20180531_012053[576].jpg

20180531_013231[577].jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Next stop was the Giraffe Centre as it is only 20 min away from Sheldrick's. On the trip over we saw warthogs and baboons roaming along the side of the road, just like we'd see deer at home. 

We were each given a handful of pellets to feed the giraffes and were surprised by how gentle and soft their mouths were. Greedy, but gentle.

 

33995532_10158588959638647_5673728471772168192_n.jpg

 

After the giraffe centre, we headed over to Karen Blixen museum and spend a nice hour or so being escorted around the grounds by a guide who went into extreme detail of the house, pictures, grounds, history, etc. We finished the day at Karen mall, where we were able to buy sim cards for the phones ($12 US for sim card, 300 min, 500 text, and 5 GB data) and have a delightful meal at Artcaffe.

 

First impressions of Nairobi: very green (probably because it has been raining a lot for the past few months), lots of trees, jumbled chaos. Mostly 2 lane winding roads with hardly any traffic lights so traffic jams happen a lot. There are high walls everywhere so it seems like all the neighborhoods are closed off and separate from one another. We've been to Cairo previously, and have to say Nairobi is much nicer. 

Edited by Dawnvip
adding text
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds great already! I will follow your journey closely as Kenya + Tanzania will be (hopefully) our next African trip. Not sure when, but I want to say in the next 3-5 years. Which agency did you use to help planning the trip? Was June a good time to go?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, xyz99 said:

Sounds great already! I will follow your journey closely as Kenya + Tanzania will be (hopefully) our next African trip. Not sure when, but I want to say in the next 3-5 years. Which agency did you use to help planning the trip? Was June a good time to go?

 

 

We contacted 5 different tour operators through safaribookings.com and KATO. After a lot of emails back and forth, we decided on Aardwolf Adventures. Why? They were really helpful to put together our trip; offering suggestions and options rather than trying to fit us into one of the standard packages available. No problem at all recommending them as the safari was everything we could have hoped for (and more!), exactly as described in the emails, wonderful guides and reasonably priced.

 

June is OK, but not warm. It is the end of the rainy season, beginning of Kenya's winter (July is the coldest month) so average temperature was only 15-18 celsius in the central part of Kenya and warming up as we went south. Mud is everywhere due to the rains, but your other option is dust so its your choice! Be sure to get a land cruiser with four wheel drive if you go in June, minibus would not have made it.

 

The nice part about June is the fact that it is the beginning of the safari season, so we were really happy to find ourselves the only guests at several of the camps we stayed at. Even in the middle of the Masai Mara, we had cheetah, lions, and hippos all to ourselves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

June 2: Our first stop today is Karura forest. Weather was cool but no rain so it was perfect timing for a hike. We did the 4 km loop to see the waterfall and caves. Very easy path for the most part, with some locals jogging the main trails. We saw lots of birds, insects and some monkeys during our 2 hours there. 

34140871_10155524691265222_269358302737989632_n.jpg

DSC_0915[578].JPG

DSC_0905.JPG

DSC_0948.JPG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So glad to hear that your trip turned out so well. It's a long way from from home, takes a lot of time, effort and money to get there and it would be a shame to encounter problems. Thanks for the Aardwolf Adventures recommendation. 

Karura forest looks beautiful and the trail well marked and maintained. Did you have a guide or was this on your own?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, xyz99 said:

So glad to hear that your trip turned out so well. It's a long way from from home, takes a lot of time, effort and money to get there and it would be a shame to encounter problems. Thanks for the Aardwolf Adventures recommendation. 

Karura forest looks beautiful and the trail well marked and maintained. Did you have a guide or was this on your own?

 

This was before we met our guide, but we were with friends who were locals of Nairobi. Trails were well maintained and marked, so no guide would be needed.

Apparently Karura used to be quite sketchy in the past but has been cleaned up to become a bit of an oasis in the city. No garbage at all. Which reminds me, there are guards at the gate checking bags. No plastic allowed, period. Our friends knew the rules and we had proper metal water bottles with us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After lunch we headed over to the National Museum. It was much larger than I expected and we ended up spending the whole afternoon there. It had a great display of all the birds of Kenya (should have taken more pictures so that I could identify the birds on safari!!), a good archaeology exhibit (my undergrad was archaeology so I was totally geeking out and being the "guide" for our friends) and a Joy Adamson exhibit (Elsa and Born Free) as well as some common stuffed mammals of Kenya and a cultural section. 

 

Attached to the museum is a snake and reptile exhibit, so after the main museum we stopped in there to see lots of snakes, lizards, crocodile, fish and tortoise. The best part was a 12' x 12' walled area in the middle with some bushes and a tree. We saw a few tortoise and birds, but stop for more than a minute and you suddenly see snakes and small lizards all over the bushes. Perfect spot for some pictures!

 

DSC_0991.JPG

DSC_0997.JPG

DSC_0999.JPG

DSC_1015.JPG

DSC_1027.JPG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Glad it was such a great trip.  Karura looks like an interesting outing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

June 3 - It was a cool morning that warmed up by noon. We took a drive out to Kitengala to visit Anselm Glass Factory. The roads were rough but what a wonderful spot! We had a nice coffee and biscuit while waiting for the glass-blowing demo, watching weaver and sunbirds in the trees. It was a really nice setting with stained glass tables and chairs made in the shop. There were 8 fellows working in the glassworks, making drinking cups. After the demo we did a bit of shopping in the studio and wandered the grounds before heading back into Nairobi.

 

DSC_1067.JPG

 

DSC_1077[584].JPG

DSC_1099.JPG

DSC_1110.JPG

DSC_1118.JPG

DSC_1124[583].JPG

 

 

After the glass factory  we went downtown to the Masai Market. Quite large but not easy to browse. A t-shirt, pendant and set of salad spoons later and we headed home to rest and clean up before heading out to a lovely vegetarian Indian dinner at Chowpaty. It was a great end to our visit in Nairobi. 

flipped DSC_1071[582].JPG

Edited by Dawnvip
image rotated
Link to comment
Share on other sites

June 4 - Wake up at 6 AM, last breakfast and goodbyes with our friends as our driver Thomas picked us up right on time at 7:30. Luckily we were heading out of town because the traffic jams heading into Nairobi was crazy! Cars lined up for miles (and we're used to bad traffic in Vancouver).

Our Aardwolf safari vehicle was a 7 seater Toyota Land Cruiser and therefore huge for just the two of us. We felt bad passing mini-busses stuffed full of people, but sure enjoyed all the space and ability to stretch out. The road was decent tarmac for the most part, and we were beginning to wonder why everyone warned us of the terrible roads in Kenya. 

 

We drove for about 2 hours, stopped for coffee and bathroom break before carrying on our way north. Mount Kenya was socked in with clouds so we were unable to see more than the foothills. In fact, it was low overcast and a bit of rain for most of the drive up to Ol Pejeta. We stopped again at the equator for a "demonstration" of the coriolis effect and a bit of souvenir shopping before the last bit to Ol Pej. 

DSC_1228 (2).JPG

DSC_1233 (2).JPG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As soon as we entered the reserve, we knew we were in for a treat: cape buffalo, zebra, antelope and elephants right away! Five minutes into Ol Pej and we saw 2 large bull elephants and a troop of baboons in the marsh, herds of gazelle, hyena, more zebra, more buffalo, more, more , more. I wondered if maybe all the animals were ushered to the park entrance specifically for us! I also wondered if I brought enough camera storage cards because I could not stop taking pictures of each and every animal we saw. 

DSC_1161 2.JPG

DSC_1263 2.JPG

DSC_1293 2.JPG

DSC_1326 2.JPG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We arrived at Porini Rhino camp just in time for lunch, then had a few hours to relax and get settled in our tent before the evening game drive. Got to love a place where a herd of elephants walk by as you're enjoying lunch. No picture though as I (stupidly) left my camera in the tent! First lesson: always keep your camera at hand!


We were looking forward to some exercise but the nature walk was cancelled due to rain and muddy conditions. Our driver Thomas left us for the remainder of our stay at Porini, so we headed out on the evening game drive with our guide Michael and spotter Henry from Porini. We were joined by a couple from New Zealand. Right out of camp and we come across the Porini Pride. Awesome! We were amazed to see such beautiful cats so close.

 

DSC_1384 2.JPG

DSC_1385 2.JPG

DSC_1522 2.JPG

 

We spent some time with the lions before moving on to find giraffe, jackals, warthogs, impala, elephants and black rhino. Allan was quick to point out that on our first day of safari we had seen 4 of the big 5!

 

DSC_1395 2.JPG

DSC_1475 2.JPG

Edited by Dawnvip
adding text
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Further along we came across a hyena's den with babies. All babies are cute but these guys totally convinced me that hyenas get a bad rap. 

DSC_1492 2.JPG

DSC_1574 2.JPG

DSC_1583 2.JPG

 

Back to camp for a shower and dinner, which was excellent. No sundowner or campfire due to rain, but we were so happy and content that nothing could dampen our spirits. After one day we were sure impressed and excited to see what else would come our way.

Edited by Dawnvip
adding text
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a fantastic strart ti our trip. You fitted so much in before getting to Ol Pejeta.  

 

Looking forward to the next instalment ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great start!  Yes it looks like you had quite a welcome committee greeting you at Ol Pejeta!  Anxious to see more!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A great start. I'm glad you liked the hyenas- fascinating animals and the babies are very cute.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The night was quite cool but made much more comfortable as we found hot water bottles in our bed when we returned after dinner. We were woken to the sounds of a downpour of rain around 3 AM.  Coffee brought to our tent at 6 AM was a good start first thing in the morning as it was cold and damp. Quite low cloud/ mist/ drizzle for part of the morning so the game viewing was slow to begin with.

 

We were on our way by 6:30 with just the two of us in the vehicle with Michael and Henry. Found a brown parrot, black rhino, buffalo, and giraffe before coming across a lion and lioness with a zebra kill. Half the zebra was already gone, with several hyena, jackals and vultures waiting for the left-overs. 

 

DSC_1543.JPG

DSC_1556.JPG

DSC_1598.JPGDSC_1623 2.jpg

DSC_1634.JPG

Edited by Dawnvip
image rotated
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We stopped for picnic breakfast around 9:30 at the river. The sky was clearing, air warming, and birds everywhere. Very picturesque.

DSC_1648.JPG

DSC_1656 2.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After breakfast we carried on with the game drive, finding zebra, gazelle, bushbuck, antelope, white rhino, and elephants. We stopped to see Baracka, the blind rhino, but he was sleeping. We also stopped at the chimp sanctuary but I kind of found the place sad. Even though they had a huge area to live in, several chimps sat right by the fence, waiting. It seemed as thought they needed the human contact.

DSC_1679 2.jpg

DSC_1683.JPG

DSC_1718 2.jpg

DSC_1690.JPG

 

On our way back to camp for lunch we found two cheetah! It was awesome to stop and watch these cats for awhile.

 

DSC_1699 2.jpg

Edited by Dawnvip
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m enjoying your report.  I found the chimp sanctuary sad as well, but felt it was better for them than where they came from.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy