I’m back! After disappearing from the blogging world for a solid 10 days, I am ready to sit down and share all of my adventures in Africa. I decided to keep a journal of day-to-day activities, details of the resorts, and memorable moments so I could put each region into a blog post. So, let’s get to it!
Day One – Travel
Getting to Kenya is an investment of time and energy in and of itself. Justin and I headed out the door at 6:30am in preparation for the snowy drive to the Portland airport. The temperature was minus 11 when we were leaving Central Oregon. We arrived at the long-term parking and were shuttled to the terminal to catch our 1:15pm flight to Amsterdam.
The flight went really well – I always forget how spoiled I feel on international flights… free movies and in-flight entertainment, food every couple of hours, and free adult beverages. The 9.5-hour flight landed us in Amsterdam at 9am the next morning, which felt really weird. We had but a few moments to make our way across the terminal to catch our 10:20 flight to Nairobi.
Once we arrived in Nairobi and passed through immigration and customs, Justin and I met with a Kensington Tours driver who took us to the Nairobi Serena hotel, which was much nicer than we expected. It was also an extremely secure hotel, as violence and terrorism are very rare but real threats in Nairobi. From armed guards on the roof, to bomb inspections of the vehicle undercarriage, it was clear the hotel takes the safety and security of its guests seriously.
Eager for rest but excited to meet up with Bob and Ann (Justin’s dad and his wife), we checked in and then headed downstairs to see them for an hour before finally hitting the sack. After 28 hours of traveling and an 11-hour difference in time, our bodies were in need of sleep.
Days Two and Three
Our first full day in Kenya started with a nice buffet breakfast (buffets seem to be the thing at most of the hotels and resorts in Kenya) at the Mandhari Restaurant and a quick tour around the property. It would have been nice to have a little more time here, but we were antsy to head out and start the safari.
After breakfast we were briefed by our tour company and introduced to our safari driver and guide for the week, Godfrey. He escorted us to our vehicle, a beast of a Landcruiser with lots of room. The four of us piled on in and headed off to the Samburu Simba Lodge, which was about five hours away. It’s worth noting that a five hour drive in Kenya doesn’t really get you as far as a five hour drive back home, since all safari vehicles have a throttle governor that maxes out at 80 kilometers per hour (roughly 50 miles per hour).
The drive was a very eye opening experience as we passed by literally thousands of people walking and waiting on the side of the road, donkey carts, camels, road bikes, motorcycles, and one guy even riding a horse along the shoulder. Godfrey informed us that 60 percent of people living in Kenya are unemployed. The people were always very curious about us and the kids would smile and wave as we passed by. At one point when we came to a stop, a little girl curiously approached our vehicle and Justin and I handed her a soccer ball. She jumped for joy and acted as though she had never been given anything before. It was a really touching experience.
We passed by and through several towns, coffee and pineapple plantations, endless rows of greenhouses growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables, up the lower slopes of Mt. Kenya (obscured by clouds this day), and on to Samburu National Park.
When we arrived at the Samburu Simba Lodge, we checked in, had lunch, explored the property, and got settled in our room. An interesting thing about this particular property was that they shut the power off at various times during the day. Because it is literally in the middle of nowhere, they run on a generator, thus there was no power until after our drive.
Our first trip out into the wilderness was filled with anticipation for what we might see, and did not disappoint. The landscape was absolutely incredible and changed sporadically over the course of a couple hours.
All meals at this lodge were buffet style; we were seated at the same table during the entire stay and were serviced by the same waitress. The food was a variety of veggies, rice, curry, pork/beef/chicken, and coffee and teas were popular drinks. Refrigeration is kind of an afterthought in Kenya, so most drinks were served at room temperature including bottled water, soft drinks, and juices.
On day three, we headed out at 6:30am for a morning game drive. The sunrise was absolutely stunning with a variety of colors painted across the sky. We saw lions, giraffes, monkeys, dik diks (a miniature deer), zebras, gazelles, long neck gerenuk (also called giraffe antelope), and a variety of other species. The morning drives typically took place between 6:30 and 9:30am, while the late afternoon drives were from 4:00 to 6:30pm. Because temperatures are cooler during these hours, more animals are out and about roaming around.
That afternoon we relaxed at the pool between game drives and read, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. Before our late afternoon game drive we had a bite to eat and enjoyed an adult beverage in the lounge area – then we were off!
More to come soon –> Kenyan Safari – Part Two