Out of Africa, Again – Nightmare Drive to Amboseli

At first, the highway, which bypasses Nairobi, was smooth and flat, and four lanes. Then, without warning, it was a dirt track with cars and trucks jostling for position. Tom explained that they were still building the road. At one point, a flat-bed truck came just a little too close and smashed the mirror on Tom’s side of the vehicle. It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to be startled. It made changing lanes more hazardous but that was just the beginning.

The road we were travelling on is called Mombasa Road and it is the major trucking route between the port of Mombasa and the capital city of Nairobi. It started to rain heavily and we were once again on a paved road but this time, it was only two lanes. It was dark before 7 p.m. because of the rain and the headlights reflecting on the wet pavement made it impossible to see the yellow lines. The windshield was blurry and it was very difficult to tell which lane the on-coming headlights were in, and because of slow moving trucks, everyone, even other trucks, were passing. Tom was trying to make up time because we had a bit of a late start but I would have been happier staying behind one of the trucks. At least then it would be up to the person in front to decide if the headlights coming at them were in their lane. We eventually left Mombasa Road for a less travelled road and it was not raining as hard. We even got to see a Genet cat cross the road.

When we finally arrived at Sentrim Amboseli lodge, they had kept some staff on to give us dinner. It was a really, lovely four-course meal, and the ‘rooms’ were lovely as well. They left the generator on long enough for us to get tucked in for the night.  I definitely recommend this hotel!

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Out of Africa, Again – Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha

4 April 2016 – The highlights of Day 4 were seeing white rhino in Lake Nakuru National Park, which meant that I had my ‘Big Five’ (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhino), and an optional cruise on Lake Naivasha that the guys suggested.  I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have seen all five of the ‘Big Five’ on my first safari.

The afternoon at Lake Naivasha was not part of the itinerary but when Mohammad suggested it, Tom said he could take the vehicle in for servicing while we spent a few hours exploring this huge lake in a small boat.  There were more water birds than I even knew existed, and I was able to see and recognise an old friend, the African Fish Eagle.

In addition to all of the birds and the hippos, which are indigenous to Lake Naivasha, there were also some animals, such as giraffe and gnu, that had been brought there in the early 1980s for the filming of Out of Africa. Why the film crew didn’t just go to where the animals lived puzzles me.  Anyway, these animals have no predators so they die of old age.  I asked our guide (who was also driving the boat) why these animals do not become overpopulated and he answered that their population is managed.  Healthy young are taken to other parks.

After another truly amazing day, the ‘boys’ left to head back to Nairobi, while Tom and I headed to Amboseli.

Out of Africa, Again – Masai Mara to Nakuru

03 April 2016 – Today, day three of my safari, was spent mostly driving from the Mara to the city of Nakuru but before we left, we went to the camp which is the usual accommodation for this itinerary. We also got to see the outside of another Masai village that is located near the camp. We were here to pick up a couple of fellows who were doing a customised itinerary. They were joining me just for Lake Nakuru and the rhino sanctuary.

 

Masai women near the camp
The camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Golden Palace described in the itinerary as a ‘budget’ hotel was a bit of an adventure all on its own.  The electrical outlet in my room didn’t work which meant no TV (not a hardship) but it also meant I couldn’t charge my telephone which I use as my alarm clock. I took my phone down to reception to get them to charge it and to let them know about the fault so they could fix it for the next customer.  The receptionist claimed the problem was due to the intermittent blackouts that had been going on all day in Nakuru.  I told her the lights were on when I tried the outlet.  I suggested she send someone to fix it after I vacated Room NW2 so that the next person could watch TV.

I had dinner in the hotel dining room with ‘the guys’.  M.J. is Saudi and as black as a Kenyan so people kept speaking to him in Kiswahili.  Mohammad sounds like he is from India but looks like something else.  His father’s background is Arab and his mother’s Persian.  It was fun to have company for dinner and interesting to hear about their perspectives as it was also their first time in Kenya.

My adventure at the Golden Palace continued the next morning when I was taking a shower.  I had switched on the wall-mounted switch for the water heater and the red light came on but the water never got even tepid.  As I was showering, a piece flew off the shower head and all of the water was shooting out the side.  When I reached up to try and redirect the water, I got an electric shock!

 

Electricity and water are not a good combination

 

Out of Africa, Again – 13 things I learned about the Masai

Herd of Masai cattleIn the afternoon of April 2nd, 2016, Tom brought me to the Masai village described in the itinerary as “an optional opportunity to visit a village of the Masai people to witness the singing and dancing that are part of their daily lives and sacred rituals.  A glimpse into their homes and social structure is a poignant experience.”  I had informed Tom that for me, the visit to the village was not optional.  The first photo I took early that morning as we headed out of the lodge to begin our day of exploring the Mara, was a herd of Masai cattle.

Hanging out with Masai guys

Here is what I learned, in no particular order, about the Masai.

1.  Hello is “Sopa”.

2.  Women build the houses.

3.  The houses are good for ten years, then the village moves.

4.  The houses are arranged in a circle with a large area in the middle.  At night, the domesticated animals are brought inside the circle.   There is a circle of branches surrounding the circle of houses.  All of this is to protect against wild animals.

5.  The Masai wear bright red because it makes the lions run away.

6.  The Masai cook inside their houses except for special feasts like weddings, when an entire bull is cooked over a big fire in the central area.

7.  Women milk the cows.

8.  The Masai keep dogs as a form of protection from wild animals.

9.  The roofs of the houses are made from cow dung and grass.

10. Masai men are polygamous but since they started sending their children to school, most men cannot afford more than one or two wives.

11. The Masai can make fire by twirling a hardwood stick in a piece of red cedar. They twirl it by rubbing it between their hands.  They do it in pairs.  Once they get a bit of glowing ember, they put it in dry grass and blow on it. making fire

12. The Masai keep the calves inside the house at night so that they can milk the cows first.  Milk is a staple of the Masai diet.

13. The Masai men “follow the grass” with their herds.

Bending it like Beckham
Bending it like Beckham

Bending it like Beckham