Ok I am going to take you back 2 nights ago – that is where I left off with my last blog post.
We had the honor of being invited to the owners home of the Kenyan safari tour company that I am using on this journey. This was a very special tour highlight which was so appreciated by all of us. It’s the first time that I have dealt with this company so they were anxious to meet me and I was anxious to meet them.
Their home is located in a gated area close to downtown Nairobi. The homes in this community are large and on big lots.
We first met the Grandparents who are celebrating 64 years of marriage. They were all dressed up and were lovely to chat with. The Grandfather recently had open heart surgery in London, England. Although it could have been done locally the doctor had only performed a few of these procedures so the family wanted a surgeon with more experience.
Our hosts greeted us by saying, “welcome home”. We became part of their family for a few hours. Cocktails were served by their son in the bar area of their beautiful home and we then moved into the tropical backyard garden to enjoy the beverages. Outdoor tall cocktail tables had been set up and candles were lit.
This family has been in the safari tour business for 38 years. When the son left his short career in accounting because he really did not like it, he was afraid to tell his Dad. After the news was public, his Dad encouraged him to start a safari tour company but this mean’t he had to convince the local bank manager for a loan. He was successfully and many years later they own over 30 Safari vehicles and all 3 generations of the family work in the business.
After finishing our drinks we were invited into their elegant dining room for dinner. Potato-leek soup, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, rice, vegetables and fresh fruit. Everything was delicious. It was one of the family helpers that served the meal. The family’s full-time chef did the cooking.
Their business motto is in honor of the giraffe their favourite Kenya animal – stand tall, be graceful, peaceful and quiet.
We chatted for a few hours during dinner and before our drive back to the Stanley hotel we took “family” photos with our new friends.
A wonderful evening.
Yesterday morning we were in the breakfast room at the Stanley Hotel (est. 1903) at 6:30am as we needed to be on the road by 7am.
We traveled for a number of hours and the journey was fascinating. We saw one contrast after another. For many miles we traveled through the urban sprawl. Traffic congestion is a major problem. The public bus system is unique. The vehicles are all privately owned, look as though they are going to break down any minute and are painted a rainbow of colours. I have no idea how the public knows what bus to get on but the system obviously works.
We passed through many small communities – all with what we could call a Main Street which is filled with tiny shops, stalls and often there is an outdoor market. These businesses cater to the locals – its not tourist shopping so don’t get too excited ladies. In fact I don’t recall every being on a tour when I haven’t bought something by now….
From what we could see these communities are kept up well and are generally clean. As we traveled we noticed a number of women with machetes who were cutting the grass and weeds on the side of the the roads. This is a government make-work project that pays $5.00 a day.
Some towns looked more prosperous than others – there are huge contrasts.
We continually climbed in elevation until we came to an area where the locals were wearing sweaters and winter wool caps.
As we started to decent we came across beautiful sprawling farms – in contrast we saw other small agricultural areas where 4 hitch oxen were use to plough the fields. We also saw many greenhouses where they grow roses which are shipped daily by plane to the Amsterdam Flower markets. We could smell the scent of roses in the air.
We stopped at a tourist store to use their clean washrooms – their souvenir prices were so exaggerated. None of us bought anything. The lion mask that I really liked, was $1250.00 (we had just offered $50.) but that included shipping – mind you they didn’t know where it need to be shipped!
The final town we drove through was a Muslim community – another major contrast. Its mosques are pretty simple – we saw many camels – felt as though we were in an Arab country.
We then came across one of the local tribe communities where they use cow dung to build their small huts. These are polygamist communities where the men often father 30 or more children.
When we finally entered the gates to the Buffalo Springs National Park we were so excited and within a short period of time we were surrounded by wild animals in their natural habitat.
The biggest thrill was seeing 14 Giraffes drinking water along the river bank. We were told that its very unusual to see that many giraffes together. Beside the Giraffes there were elephants, zebras – the list goes on and on.
We arrived at the Ashnil Camp, were welcomed with a beverage and were assigned our deluxe tent accommodations – this is luxury camping – large structures, comfortable white linen beds, large washroom area with separate shower and commode. Screens become your windows – the sweeping views of the park are beautiful – its not unusual for the animals to get into the resort area – the monkeys are real the pest as they are everywhere. They know by digging under wire fences they can get into the camp.
We were warned not to keep any food in our tent. Even when you lock the screens and tent entrance door the monkeys can still find a way to get in if they know there is a treasure waiting for them. I watched a monkey sneak into the hotel bar area – where it emptied a juice box – it opened the cap and enjoyed the little bit of juice that it shook on the bar and then it licked the inside of cap – good to the last drop.
Our 4pm Safari drive was beyond incredible. One of my passengers, David Booth exclaimed that we saw more wild animals in that afternoon than most will see in a lifetime – his quote is so true. The icing on the cake was when we came across four lions who we were told are brothers. They played together and completely ignored us. When a group of zebras were close by that got their attention and even though we didn’t see the kill our guides said that the lions would wait until it got a little darker. Lions are not fast movers but they see better than most other animals at night so that is their advantage.
We traveled in two safari vehicles but luckily all my passengers saw the lions.
This Safari drive was a thrill of a lifetime and the nice thing about it is there are so few tourists in the park, we are feeling like we have it to ourselves. Our camp is pretty empty too.
The scenery is just so spectacular (there are so many “real” Disney, “tree of life’s” here). There could be nothing more amazing than seeing these animals in their natural surroundings. As much as we were thrilled to visit the elephant and giraffe orphanages a few days ago, that now fails in comparison to our exciting safari drives.
After enjoying the resorts buffet dinner we were exhausted from the heat/excitement so headed to bed. Hydro electricity is usually turned off after midnight (in order to conserve) but ours luckily was kept on all night.
We just returned back to the Ashnil Resort after our 6:30am Safari drive. Since we saw so many of the major animals (that everyone wants to see) yesterday, it was our drivers goal was to try to find us a leopard. We were not that lucky but we saw families of elephants (including a new born) giraffes, ostriches, Giselle’s, onyx, zebras, warthogs, eagles – the list goes on and on and on and on.
We are just about ready for breakfast.
This afternoon we are off on another safari.
Hydro Electricity is off again so I need to wait to send this blog.
You should be with us – I just wish I was able to get more space on this journey so I could have accommodated more of you. You just can’t imagine what you are missing!