During our World trip we skipped the continent Africa totally. Therefore we decided that our next holiday destination must be somewhere in Africa. Some time or other we decided to go for a safari trip and our choice was Kenya.
Through a working colleague of Mery who is from Kenya and once worked there in the tourist business, we got a connection to a local tour operator and started to plan our safari trip. We decided to go during the Christmas and New Year’s season and planned to stay there for a bit more than two weeks. We also decided not to drive on our own but instead to book a driver with a safari car, it seemed to be more convenient. For the accommodation we choose the mid-range category. The tour included the driver with his safari car including the fuel costs, accommodation including breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as the park entry fees. Our tour operator recommended us to make a stopover in Mombasa for a beach holiday. Most of the people visiting Kenya do combining safari with a beach holiday. But we decided to skip the beach part as we have seen plenty of beautiful beaches around the World and instead went for a full two weeks safari trip in different areas around Kenya. Looking back we did not regret our decision. Our plan was to see as much animal as possible and to visit the different climatic zone and vegetation.
We flew with Swiss air from Zürich directly to Nairobi and arrived in the evening. For only one short night we stayed close to the airport and the next morning we got picked up by our tour guide John.
Our first destination was the Amboseli National Park south of Nairobi. The park itself is located submontaned of the highest mountain in Africa, the Mount Kilimanjaro with an elevation of almost 6000m. The landscape has beautiful acacia trees and wet green grasses, it has water all over the year coming from the snow or ice of the Mount Kilimanjaro. The Amboseli Park is also called the elephant’s park. There are more than 1000 elephants living here, the population is huge. We were also speechless when we saw the huge number of flamingos here in the lakes, we had luck as well that they were here during our stay. It was also impressive to see two Maasai - giraffe bulls fighting against each other to impress a female. The muffled noise when they hit with their head the body of the other was quite loud, really impressive to see this natural behaviour. Our lodge was quite nice, there are plenty of animals living inside our lodge area as well, such as Kirk’s dik-dik, one of the smallest antelope in Africa, long tailed monkeys, Mongoose and plenty of different birds. We stayed in total 2 nights and spent our Christmas Eve here. Our lodge made a small Christmas celebration with entertaining program for the guests and the dinner buffet was fantastic too. Altogether it was a pleasant and nice evening.
From Amboseli we travelled to Lake Naivasha and stayed here for another 2 nights. Our lodge was located directly at the lake with its own boat mooring. Lake Naivasha has plenty of hippos and is home for many different bird species. In the lodge area there were zebras, giraffes and waterbucks during daytime and at night the hippos came out of the lake to graze. From 7 pm we had to be escorted by a hotel guard when we left our room, otherwise it could be dangerous for humans when you get too close to the hippos, they can be pretty aggressive. We made a small boat safari on the lake and had the chance to see a sea eagle catching a fish. Close to our lodge there is a small national park called Hell’s Gate. The feature in this park is that you can make a walking safari or taking a bicycle. We decided to explore the park by bike. We saw plenty of wart hogs, zebras, antelopes and giraffes. We also did a hiking trip at Hell’s Gate Gorge which is South of the park. You walk along the gorge where a small creek is flowing and some hot springs rises. One scene of the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie was shot here. We were pretty exhausted at that day, cycling and hiking almost the whole day under the Equatorial sun was a bit too much for both of us.
From Lake Naivasha we continued our journey to Maasai Mara National Park. We made a short stopover at an orphanage. We were quite shocked about the conditions of the orphanage. We already know the situation from some poor countries in Asia, but here in Africa it’s even worse. The location of our lodge was at the border to the Maasai Mara National park, a river is the natural border of the park. This time we had a big tent, it was already a bit old but everything was working well and the area is lovely green. The park itself is very wide, huge grassland steppe area with single trees. The Maasai Mara National Park is a runner of the Serengeti National Park which is in Tanzania. The border between Kenya and Tanzania in this area is open, there are no fences to allow the wildlife to migrate. We also crossed the border and visited the Serengeti for a short moment when we did our safari trip there. In Maasai Mara you have a good chance to see the so called “Big Five”. Under the “Big Five” are the animals: elephant, rhino, lion, water buffalo and leopard. We had the luck to meet all this animals within one day. We spent here in total three days and visited a traditional Maasai village on the last day when we left the park. It was impressive to see how the Maasai people still live in their traditional way without big influence of our modern lifestyle.
From Maasai Mara we travelled to Lake Nakuru and stayed for one night in Nakuru City. We walked a bit around the city and ended up in a shopping mall. Within our two weeks safari trip this was the only place where there was civilisation. Otherwise the places we stayed was always in the middle of nowhere or at some little villages far away from any cities. The Nakuru National Park is a small park which is protected by electrical fences, actually it has even two fences. This park is home of some of the endangered white rhinos. The rhinos are strictly protected by the rangers against poachers. This park also protect the endangered Rothschild giraffes. The Lake Nakuru itself is alkaline, in the past it was home for a huge number of flamingos due to the algae and tiny shellfishes growing here which is the food of the flamingos. But recently the level of ground water rises and the lake become less alkaline. Therefore algae and shellfishes get less and plenty of the flamingos moved to other places. The second night at Nakuru we stayed in a lodge on a hill. The view was fantastic and we spent our New Year’s Eve here. The lodge managed a nice party with lovely food and entertainment.
From Nakuru we travelled to Mount Kenya National Park. The vegetation in this area is totally different. Around the Mt. Kenya it is very humid, there are lots of rains and the vegetation is like in a rain forest. Our lodge was located 2000m above sea level. During the night it was pretty cold, around 10°C and no heating. The construction of the lodge is made of wood, it’s eccentric but somehow comfortable as well. At the lodge area there is a water pond where the animals from the forest come out to drink and eat salt out of the soil. From our room balcony we could watch the different animals coming to the water pond. We saw water buffalos, antelopes, monkeys, different kind of birds as well as a young elephant bull. We spent only one night here.
The next day our journey went to the last stage. We drove from Mt. Kenya to Samburu National Park which is 600m above the sea level and it was the lowest based park that we visited. Because this park is low located, the temperature was quite hot and dry, steppe and bushes define the landscape. Here you can find the endangered Grevy Zebras as well as the gerenuk with its long neck. We saw here our third subspecies of giraffes which is called the Somali giraffes. Their fur markings are really beautiful, in my opinion the most beautiful of all the different giraffe’s subspecies. The population of the leopards in this park is quite high, the probability to meet them here is really good. We had luck and saw a leopard mother with her two kids, really lovely to watch them. In total we spent 3 nights here.
From Samburu we drove back to the capital city Nairobi and spent another two nights here amongst others to visit the national museum. Walking around this city is a bit uncomfortable, people were watching you and some of them were permanently trying to sell stuffs to you. There were also a lot of beggars in the streets, really poor people. Our driver John and also the hotel staff advised us not to walk during the night time, it is just too dangerous in the city at night. Honestly we didn’t feel safe at all walking around this city. Just a couple of days later when we came back home we saw in the news that there was a bombing in Nairobi, it’s really a bad feeling when you hear stuff like this in the news.
During our trip in Kenya we crossed two times the Equator line. Whenever you pass the Equatorial line along a street, there are people trying to earn money by showing you the effect of the water vortex. With a plastic bowl and a whole in the middle, water and a match (showing the rotating direction of the water) the different vortex flowing direction can demonstrated whether you stand some meters in the North, South or right in the Equatorial line. Actually it was funny to see the different effects….Physics in real life ;-)
Altogether our two weeks safari trip was wonderful, we did really enjoy the wildlife in Kenya. Our guide John has plenty of connections, he knows a lot of the local people and get plenty of tips where to spot the different animals. He was always patient and friendly to us. We could always coordinate our daily trips with him and say our wishes to him. In Maasai Mara we had one time a flat tire and got stuck in the mud. We could replace the flat tire and another car pulled us out of the mud. In the parks the safari drivers support one another when you have any problems. The staff of the lodges were always nice and helpful to us. We were always threated good and felt comfortable and safe. The wildlife in Kenya is really amazing, so wide and diverse, also for the landscapes and vegetation. Those of you who would like to see the big mammals of Africa and like to stay in the nature, are here in the right place. For us it was a unique experience.