In early December, Jeff & I had the chance to take a short vacation in Kenya. This was not on our list of dream travel destinations & I have to admit that I was rather nervous over the whole idea, especially when I found out he was setting up a safari for us to go on. That up-close & personal to some dangerous animals was not on my list of "fun" things to do!
But it turned out to be an amazing trip! We have soooooo many pictures, that I decided it would be best to do them as a slide show, so here they are:
Now, on to the details of the trip:
Days 1 & 2 of the trip were spent in Nairobi. We got to do some shopping and seeing the town a bit. Joining up with friends for dinner and getting a feel for the place. It also involved a trip out to Crescent Island where we could walk around with the animals (non-predators only, of course!).
As we drove out to Crescent Island I was amazed at the conditions of the areas we drove through. Dilapidated buildings and just dirty living conditions. And yet, the people, for the most part, were dressed better than I usually dress. Most of the women were walking around in nice looking dresses or even suit dresses and many men were wearing suits as well.
A little boat took us out to Crescent Island and on the way there I saw a giraffe on the island. I was so excited that we knew the area to walk in to find the giraffes. When we landed at the island, we saw headed in the direction of the giraffes. But before we went far, we saw monkeys, wild horses, wildebeast, zebras, impalas, gazelles, and thompson gazelles. We came up on a huge group of impalas, gazelles & thompson gazelles and just walked toward them until they noticed we were there & ran off. Then . . . we found the giraffes! First we spotted one, then another and another. There were a whole bunch in the area and it was so unreal to be that close to them, just walking around in the same space without any fences between us. We just walked around following them for a while. . . sooo cool! Then we walked down into the middle of the herds of zebras and wildebeast. I had brought along a little 5oz Gold Canyon candle with me, figuring it would be fun to get some pictures that I might be able to use for advertising, so we did a little photo shoot with the candle. And on our way back, when we saw some monkeys, we had even more fun with the candle. Jeff put it out a ways away from where we were watching and then we just watched for a few minutes. Eventually, a monkey came out and walked toward the candle. He came right up to it, played around with it a bit, smelled it, and even tasted it (no, we didn't poison any monkeys, since the wax is edible). It was absolutely an incredible thing & we caught it all in pictures and on video! As we were waiting for the boat to pick us up from the island, we got to watch the hippos that were right there in the water. Scary, but so cool!
Days 3 & 4 of our trip were our safari. It involved a plane ride (on a very small plane that seated only 12 people in very tight quarters!) out to a dirt landing strip where we were picked up and taken on a short "game drive" as we went to our "camp". Our camp consisted of 6 "tents" that were right on the river where a huge number of hippos live. Each tent overlooked the river & was actually a solid structure with a canvas interior that could be let up during the day and closed off during the night and was as luxurious as a VERY nice hotel room. We were told that our camp was not fenced off from the animals, so any of the animals in the area could wander through at any time. For that reason, we weren't allowed to leave our tent without a security guard. The guards carried sticks during the day and guns at night to keep us safe from any animals walking through the camp.
After a short rest in our tent, we were taken on an afternoon game drive. There were 4 of us, along with our driver, in a jeep type vehicle with open sides and an open roof. Within 5 minutes of leaving our camp, we came across 3 female lions! They looked so sweet and were so close that you just wanted to reach out and pet them. After leaving the lions behind, in just a few more minutes time we spotted the water buffalo and elephants . . . 3 of the big 5 within our first 30 minutes of the game drive! Along the way, we also saw lots of zebras, impalas, gazelles, etc. . . . the things that you get bored with after a while since there are so many of them & they are everywhere. That afternoon, we also saw some male lions and after a lot of "work", driving around and around the brush area & looking real hard, we spotted the leopard & she put on quite a show for us as we went driving from one location to another as she'd take off after the prey that she was toying with. That evening, we also spotted some giraffes, warthogs, hyena, and more, but "chasing" the leopard around was the highlight of the day!
We ate our meals at the camp, overlooking the river of hippos and listening to the funny noises they make. After spending the night, we went on a morning game drive where we saw more of the same animals, but a whole group of elephants this time. Then we drove to an area where we got to get out and walk with a family of rhinos. What an experience that was! They are in a protected area and they keep them penned up for 3 months in order to get them used to being around humans and then they are tame enough that you can actually just walk around with them. There was a mom & dad and a 10 month old baby rhino. It was so surreal to be right there with them; it made me a little nervous & I made sure to keep my distance & keep someone between me and them as much as possible! There was also a rhino in the pen that they had just brought in that day and you could tell he wasn't happy about it. He charged at the fence where we were standing and looking at him & startled us pretty good!
What an amazing trip it was & certainly an experience that we will never forget!