Karibuni Kenya! February 2010
Day 1 - Arrival in Nairobi
Arrive in Nairobi at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where we were met by our guide and a Buy & Fly representative who took us to our hotel. After we were assisted with check in and had a short briefing we spent the rest of our evening at our leisure. The hotel was fabulous! It is considered by many to be Nairobi's finest hotel, the Serena stands amidst lush tropical gardens with panoramic views over Nairobi's Central Park and the glittering downtown skyline. despite its central location, the Serena also remains true to its title and offers an oasis of serenity amidst the bustle of one of Africa's most vibrant capital cities. established in the mid - 1970s, The Serena Group was launched with a simple but challenging goal; to become the leading hotel group in East Africa. Today this goal has become a reality. It is set amongst the lush-green abundance of extensive tropical gardens, looking over the gentle green avenues of Central Park and commanding a panoramic view over glittering towers of downtown Nairobi, the Serena Hotel enjoys one of the finest locations in the city. We were not disappointed! Meals and overnight at Nairobi Serena Hotel (BB)
Day 2 - Day in Nairobi
We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the hotel before departing at 10.00 for our day within Nairobi. To start we headed off to the Giraffe center, a wildlife conservancy, and the home of Daisy the Rothschild giraffe who starred in the film 'The Last Giraffe'. we were able to view the giraffes with ease and here learnt about the different species of giraffe and how to identify them. From wildlife we proceeded onto the Karen Blixen Museum, which is the restored home of a pioneer coffee farmer. We stepped back in time and gained an insight into this remarkable woman's life as we enjoyed the view of the Ngong Hills from the beautifully landscaped gardens of the museum. Afterward we were treated to a superb welcome lunch at the office of Buy & Fly Travel and Tours. We asked many questions about the history of Kenya, learnt a great deal and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon. We then went back to our hotel where we rested from our long trip to Kenya getting ready for our exciting Adventure Safari ahead of us. Meals and overnight at Nairobi Serena Hotel (BB)
Day 3 - Transfer to Muthaiga Country Club
After a leisurely breakfast we transferred to the Muthaiga Country Club where I had some business to conduct. We have raised funds for Rhino Ark Charitable Foundation over the years for the Aberdare Fencing Project. The fencing part of the project was now complete; the dedication for this was while I was in Kenya so I was able to attend. It was with great excitement that many of us from all over the world who had been involved in this project were able to attend he ceremonies. From here we were taken by Rhino Ark staff to the Aberdares for three days. We stayed in a mobile tented camp in the Aberdare National Park hosted by Rhino Ark and The Kenya Wildlife Service. We traveled around the outskirts of the fence to meet with the villages who were thrilled to finally have the fence keeping them and their crops safe from the wildlife. We toured their nurseries which Rhino Ark helped them set up, we heard from the villagers first hand how this project has helped them and how thankful they are. We toured inside the fence observing much of the wildlife within. We met with The Kenya Wildlife Service who gave us a report on the project as a whole, but also learnt from them that poaching both elephant and rhino is still on the rise in many of the other parks, primarily Tsavo East National Park. We ended our stay in the Aberdare Mountains with a wonderful barbecue and entertainment,hosted by The Kenya Wildlife Service. The tented camp was a great experience! Very comfortable, excellent food served, hot showers all within the Aberdare Forest. An experience of a lifetime!
Day 4 - Aberdares to Sweetwaters Sanctuary
We were picked up after breakfast and proceeded onto Sweetwaters Sanctuary. We traveled through many interesting villages and small towns arriving in time for lunch. After a delicious lunch we set off on our first game drive within the sanctuary. Sweetwaters is 20,000 acres of privately owned wilderness in the heart of Laikipia area of Kenya. The landscape is mainly open grassy plains, thorny thickets and acacia woodland. So different from where we just were! The Uaso Nyiro River runs through the reserve and there are a number of waterholes and dams. The park has a network of tracks for the game drives allowing visitors to explore the reserve and to see the wide variety of wildlife species. The park boasts abundant wildlife- lion, elephant, rhino, cheetah to name a few and over 400 species of birds. Sweetwaters is noted for its black rhino eland, warthog, oryx, impala, gazelles, zebra etc. Night game drives offer opportunity to see nocturnal animals like aardvark and leopard. As this park is private there are fewer visitors than the main national parks, offering a more exclusive wildlife experience. Within Sweetwaters there is a chimpanzee sanctuary where rescued chimpanzees are being looked after by a dedicated team. This is a rewarding experience not to be missed! Meals and overnight at Sweetwaters Tented Camp (FB)
Day 5 - Sweetwaters Sanctuary - Lake Nakuru National Park
After a wonderful restful night we were picked up and taken on our last early morning game drive at Sweetwaters. The morning was slightly misty with wonderful photo opportunities. We saw families of Olive Baboon playing and interacting with each other, lion, rhino, elephant, gazelle, Guereza Black and White Colobus to name a few. We also saw many wonderful birds - Kori Bustard, Grey Crowned Crane, Hadeda Ibis, Speckled Weaver, to many to name. We then departed for Lake Nakuru National Park arriving in time for lunch. However on our way we passed through the equator and yes water does spin in the opposite direction! We also viewed a spectacular waterfall. This park covers 180sq km and is one of the most visited in Kenya after the Maasai Mara. Like many of the rift valley lakes it is a shallow soda lake. It is home to a large number of flamingoes plus there are 400 species of birds found here. However there is much more to the park than the lake, areas of grassland and bush, euphorbia and acacia forests and rocky cliffs that support hundreds species of birds and animals. Closer to the lakes you will come across water buck, buffalo, then more into the bush reed bucks and Thomson's gazelles. Around the rocky cliffs are hyrax, birds of prey and countless baboons. You may even catch site of the occasional leopard. After our delicious lunch on the verandah we rested for an hour and then went on another game drive seeing flamingoes, storks, black rhino, buffalo, reed buck, water buck, too many to mention. The lodge was beautiful, with a spectacular view of the lake in the distance. The accommodation, secluded chalets each with verandah looking out to the lake in the distance. The food was amazing menu for all tastes. After our game drive we returned to freshen up relax and were treated to a wonderful dance show from the local people. Meals and overnight at Sarova Lion Lodge (FB)
Day 6 - Lake Nakuru National Park - Maasai Mara Game Reserve
Our chalet was so comfortable, we had a wonderful restful night and awoke to tea and biscuits delivered to our door - wake up time determined by us. We had an early breakfast at the lodge while viewing the beautiful Great Rift Valley before heading out to Maasai Mara Game Reserve- named as the seventh wonder of the world. We arrived at our camp in time for a late lunch having viewed a great number of wildlife along the way. The Mara is more than just the most popular wildlife park in the country; in many cases it is the reason why people come to visit Kenya. The Mara is classic African savannah and the sheer density of wildlife is amazing. Unfenced the Mara is bounded in the east by the Ngama Hills and in the west by the Oloololo or Siria Escarpment. Gazelle, wildebeest and zebra graze in large numbers, and where prey is found so are predators. This is not just a wonderful place to find game, but also because of its green-gold savannahs spotted with thorn and Acacia trees make it ideal for photography. The mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti plains. The Mara comprises 1,510 sq kilometers of open grassland tucked in the south west corner of the country watered by the Mara river and its tributary the Talek. In the Mara you will see an astonishing amount of wildlife and it is not uncommon to see the big cats hunting. We arrived in time for a late and delicious lunch then right away went out for a game drive. Our camp was wonderful seemed like all the comforts of home yet we were certainly deep in the bush. Our afternoon game drive was beautiful. The scenery was fantastic, wide open plains with the odd Acacia tree popping up, zebra, wildebeest, Thomson gazelle, cheetah with young, elephants, giraffe and I am only naming a few! We even saw a Acacia tree with a carcass of a warthog hidden in it. Below a hyaena skulking to see if he could steal it. Our guide told us that most likely a cat (leopard or cheetah had hidden it there). It was dusk when we were heading back to camp. We arrived in time to freshen up and join the other campers for a drink by the river and campfire where we all talked about our adventures of the day. Our meal was fantastic, a beautiful dinning tent eating partly outside with the glow of lanterns and the noises of the African night. Truly a fabulous experience. Our tents were so comfortable, the beds were turned down ready for us to jump in a fall asleep. My most fond memory was waking up to hear the noises of the night, lions, hippos, leopards etc. I did not want to leave the Mara when it came time. We stayed three nights, I could have stayed longer, the staff were so attentive, the camp was so comfortable, the food was amazing. Meals and overnight at Mara Bush Camp (FB)
Day 7 & 8 - Maasai Mara Game Reserve
One of the days we took a picnic breakfast on our first early morning game drive of the day. What a breakfast it was. Our guide found a safe open area with one lonely acacia tree to set up our picnic. We were just finishing when our guide received a radio call that the "Three Brothers" (cheetahs named by the guides, as they have traveled, hunted and lived together for many years) were seeking out their prey. We packed up and headed in that direction just in time to see them at work doing what they do best, hunt a kudu. Sad for the cheetah but great for the kudu as it got away. However this is Africa at its finest! We continued with our game drive seeing elephants,hippos at the river, many birds and finally coming across a hippo that had been taken down by a pride of lions. There they were having a wonderful meal, about 3 to 4 lioness many cubs 2 to 3 males. On the outskirts were hyaena, silver backed fox and vultures waiting for their turn at the carcass. We headed back to camp had lunch rested and then went back out for an afternoon game run. Dinner was again wonderful and afterwards went back to the lounge tent for an after dinner drink to chat with other guests about each of our adventures. The next morning was our last full day. We went for an early morning game run and had the experience of a lifetime coming across a leopard with her prey. Seemed she had just caught it, hiding in some shrubs she was not interested in us, however we were able to get a god view of her. When she had finished she came out into the open to clean herself and there we were able to get some wonderful photos and sat quietly watching her for a good 1/2 hour. Truly a lucky find. We moved on to cross the river. During the night it had rained, the river had risen a little and it was quite muddy on the banks each side. Our guide did not hesitate took our 4 x 4 wheel truck down one side of the bank through the river and up the other side, very exciting! As we were crossing the river we looked to the left and saw a couple of hippos one in the river and one on a rock not concerned with us at all. We went back to the hippo carcass to see only the vultures, hyaenas and silver backed fox eating what little was left from the lions who had now moved on. After lunch and a short rest we headed out for our final afternoon game run. We watched a herd of elephants with a couple very small baby elephants for quite awhile. Our guide then took us to the top of a hill, again by a Acacia tree, looked around the area making sure there was not any wildlife too close. He then took a blanket out put it on the hood of the truck brought out a picnic basket with wine, wine glasses, and some snacks. He said we should not leave the Mara without a sun downer underneath an Acacia tree!! It was probably the most beautiful evening of my life. We watched the sun go down from one side of the tree and the moon rise from the other side of the tree. Just amazing, all the time looking out over the Mara landscape. We could see herds of elephant, zebra, wildebeest gazelle in the distance while savoring a glass of Mara wine. A wonderful end to a truly amazing experience. I stood there and vowed that I would be back one day soon! You most certainly leave a piece of your heart in Africa once you have visited. We returned to camp in good time for dinner and savored our last evening at the campfire by the river listening to the sounds of the bush.
Day 9 - Maasai Mara Game Reserve - Nairobi departure
In the morning were able to go on a small game drive before our departure. It was sad to leave, the camp was probably my most favorite part of the trip if I had to choose one. We headed back to Nairobi mid morning having said our good-bys and thank you to all the staff. We made our way back to Nairobi driving through the scenic Great Rift Valley. So lush and beautiful. We had a day room in a Nairobi hotel so we could rest and shower before our departure that evening. It was most certainly a trip of a life time, an amazing experience one that I have now done three times and each time is different.
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