I always dreamt of seeing wild animals roaming freely, as I used to see on the National Geographic channel, and this dream recently became a reality when we received our yellow fever vaccines and malaria tablets, along with our visa from the Kenyan embassy.
We travelled by Gulf Air, which left at 7pm via Bahrain and landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 3.30am, where the temperature hovered around 22 degrees. We were quickly cleared through customs by the smiling and friendly airport staff, who greeted us with the universal Kenyan greeting 'Jambo', which means 'Hello, how are you?' Kenya is blessed with friendly people and nature's bounty. Very close to the airport is the Nairobi National Park, where only a fence separates the park's wild animals from the main road.
That same morning we toured the famous Shedrick Elephant Orphanage, where baby elephants that have been abandoned by their mothers, or whose mothers were killed by poachers, are taken care of with the same attention that human babies receive. The 'little' jumbos were fed with massive milk bottles, which they finished in a few minutes, and they were playing with each other in small pools of water and enjoying themselves by rolling in the sand and playing with large footballs. Indeed, these baby elephants were very adorable.
From there we went to the Giraffe Centre, near the sanctuary, where we stood on the first floor of a watch tower overlooking the giraffes. The game wardens then beat sticks on tin boxes to coax the giraffes to come towards you so you can feed them food pellets supplied by the centre. The giraffes eat from your palms, though their tongues are quite rough.
The giraffe is the tallest and most handsome and majestic animal on planet Earth, with an adult measuring as high as 18 feet from head to toe.
Near the giraffe sanctuary is the crocodile breeding farm, where you can see many crocodiles of different sizes lazing about.
From there we went to the Kazuri bead factory, where many Kenyan men and women make lovely handmade bracelets and necklaces from beads. These crafts display the intricate and delicate workmanship of the talented Kenyans.
Day 2. Lake Nakuru
While travelling from Nairobi to Lake Nakuru, we drove past the picturesque 'Rift Valley' created by the shifting of platonic plates thousands of years ago.
We had to drive in a 4WD vehicle and were not allowed to step out, bit it was worth it since Lake Nakuru is a must-see destination in Kenya. It is one of the most beautiful lakes on Earth, with thousands of flamingoes and storks. Not only do a large variety of birds live on the lake, but the surroundings also have many antelopes, buffaloes, rhinos and other animals. Our driver was so experienced that he could distinguish the sounds of the animals and knew where to take us to see the animals in their natural habitats.
We also rode to a high hill, where we enjoyed a panoramic view of the lake. We went around the lake till late in the evening and saw a beautiful sunset. We then checked in at Lake Nakuru Lodge, a 5-star lodge with a swimming pool, bar and restaurant serving Kenyan, Italian, and Continental food. We enjoyed the buffet dinner as well as next morning's buffet breakfast and checked out with the fondest memories of this most beautiful place!
We also saw the railway track that continues to Uganda, though it is only used for cargo trains.
From Lake Nakuru, which is located in the third largest city of Kenya, Nakuru city, we went to an amazing farm that exports six truckloads of roses to Holland every day.
The farm is called 'Expressions Flora'. They have several greenhouses, growing different varieties and colours of roses, including red, white, purple, yellow, and in different colour tones. Two thousand Kenyans work on the farm, along with four horticulturists. The roses are grown scientifically, with the precision of an Excel spreadsheet on a computer. For example, if 20,000 pink roses with a two-tone effect are required, the exact amount of sunlight and water is provided to each rose to give it the required two-tones. The roses are flown to Holland and within 36 hours are sold and auctioned in Holland's flower shows and markets. The supervisor gave us three large bouquets of assorted roses of many colours and they were an awesome sight! We even did some fishing on the farm, which had three large ponds breeding small fish called 'tappioca'. We caught a few and they were very tasty. The farm also had sheep and cows, and a golf course with a lovely four-bedroom villa, which was tastefully constructed and furnished.
DAY 4, 5 & 6
Masai Mara wildlife safari park
From Nairobi it is a 280km drive, taking five hours, to Masai Mara Wildlife Safari Park, which is a jungle where we saw all the wild animals seen on the Discovery and National Geographic channels.
The drive to Masai Mara took us through the Rift Valley and various small townships. Finally at Sarokh city, which is 200km from Nairobi, we registered at the entrance to the Masi Mara Park, and then from Sarokh we travelled along 80km of rough road into the Masai Mara Park.
From Sarokh to Masai Mara, you travel through the territory of the Masai people, who are the healthiest people on Earth. They drink antelope blood and cow's milk and walk many miles each day.
At the entrance to the Masai Mara Park, our 4WD was surrounded by very aggressive Masai sales women, who were selling typical Masai handicrafts such as masks, statues, beads, necklaces, and other items.
We bought quite a few, and to our surprise the Masai women were such great sales ladies that they never gave us back our change, but persuaded us to buy a few more pieces from them, till our 1,000 shilling notes were fully spent.
We then checked into the 'Sarova – Masai Mara Safari Park Lodge', situated in the middle of the jungle and surrounded by electric fences to keep the wild animals away, where we stayed for two nights and three days.
This is a 5-star hotel, with 74 luxurious tents, and included a bar, swimming pool, and fine dining restaurant which served a superb buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We ate lunch, took a short break and from 4 to 6.30pm, went for our first safari drive around Masai Mara. We were very lucky to see a pack of lions, lazing around the great plains of Masai Mara.
The next day we went to the River Mara, which is on the border of Tanzania and Kenya.
The Mara River separates Kenya from Tanzania. This is the location where mass migrations of animals take place. Thousands of animals migrate and it is wonderful to see them. We were late, but we managed to see hundreds of wildebeest and zebras crossing at this spot. On the river, we saw many crocodiles and hippos sleeping in the river waters and along the banks of the river.
On the way, we saw thousands of animals and birds, such as ostriches, vultures, elephants, lions, rhinos, wildebeests, zebras, antelopes, topis, gazelles, Thompson gazelles, baboons, crested cranes, great Indian bustards, secretary birds, and more. Also, we were lucky to spot rare black rhinos.
The highlight of the Masai Mara three-day trip was witnessing a kill, which started when we saw two cheetahs (the fastest animal in the world) walk past our jeep at handshaking distance. Within five minutes, one of them was clutching the throat of a baby wildebeest, while the other cheetah happily began eating the poor animal. After a while, the poor wildebeest died!
Later, we saw a lioness chase a family of three giraffes, though the giraffes were very fast. The heavy lioness then became tired and gave up the chase. We were told that one lioness cannot kill a giraffe, as its kicks can kill or grievously injure a lion, so the lions hunt in packs, needing three lionesses to bring down one giraffe. Normally, the lions eat wildebeests, buffalos and antelopes. We also saw quite a few lions asleep under a bush or on rocks with their cubs.
We ended our Kenyan trip with a nice BBQ buffet at 'Hotel Safari Park, and Casino', which offers a daily evening BBQ buffet serving exotic animals such as crocodile, ostrich, turkey, camel, beef, goat and others, along with a stage show of electrifying dances and acrobatics by Kenyan dancers. Amazing indeed!
If you have seen the Big Five – lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant, then your visit is considered a success. Do visit Kenya! It is simply amazing! Jambo!