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Finally - My Trip Report - Tanzania & Kenya - May/June '05

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Jul 21st, 2005, 11:55 AM
  #21
 
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Did I miss the link to your pictures somewhere in the narrative? Can you please post the link as I would love to see your pictures.
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Jul 21st, 2005, 12:12 PM
  #22
sandi
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AmyH -

The link is below. It's a big album, so take your time. I hope you enjoy.


http://www.kodakgallery.com/BrowsePh...1&sort_order=0
 
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Jul 30th, 2005, 03:07 PM
  #23
sandi
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Part VII

Day 12 – June 6, 2005

Eileen was up and out for a game walk with JW, Mike and Sheena. Jane and I were apparently the party-poopers which I didn’t learn until I met up with her at breakfast. By the time I got to the dining area, the group was back from their walk… just waiting on the two of us. Sheena was writing in her journal, Mike was snoozing on the hammock; Eileen had come to get me and I returned with her; likewise JW went to retrieve Jane.

Before JW and Jane got back, the four of us took our seats for breakfast, when all of a sudden Mike turned white and looked like he was going to faint. Quickly, Sheena took his head to be sure he didn’t hit the table, or otherwise fall over/down. Eileen and I went for the water and ice applying it to his face and neck… it took a few minutes, but he was okay. I surprise myself often when I seem to know what to do in an emergency, though if thinking on this before the fact, I’m in a panic… but I react and do well. On the other hand, both Eileen and Sheena work for physicians and come across such situations often. More often then either would like, but are more familiar with like situations.

It seems that after returning to our Starbeds the previous night, JW and Mike did return to the fire for their cigars and chatting with our Samburu hosts. JW returned to sleep as soon as he finished his smoke, but Mike stayed on with the guys. All of a sudden he decided to walk a few yards to where the suspension bridge… didn’t walk over it, but he slipped and hit his head. Thankfully, he didn’t do this with no one around… the guys were with him and he seemed fine when they walked him back to his quarters. And he was fine when he went out on the game walk.

Whether being on the hammock had anything to do with his almost fainting… who knows? But all was fine after he came to. And he was fine during breakfast.

We were then able to eat our breakfast. These four would be heading out by road on their way to Lake Nakuru. Eileen and I were staying on at Loisaba/Starbeds for another day. After breakfast, we gathered our gear and headed across the bridge for whatever activities were in store for us for the day while the others got in their vehicle to head out. Here, we said our good-byes; taking pictures of one another taking pictures of the others… it was rather funny… and off we went – our separate ways.

On our way to Loisaba, we stopped at the Cottage (or Captain’s Cottage) a separate and private cottage which had its own support team – chef, waiters, maids, etc. An ideal place for a family or two couples. And, as with most accommodations at Loisaba, and, I believe, most places in the Laikipia area… the client’s decide what they wish to do, for how long, on any day… no set schedules here.

The Cottage actually consists of two buildings. The main building has the shared living room, dining room, bathroom and upstairs a bedroom and bathroom. Adjacent to this building is one that contains a bedroom and bathroom only. The grounds are beautifully manicured with lots of succulents and desert flowers. And so peaceful.

There is also The House – another private space belonging to Loisaba. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit here as one of the directors of the group who owns Loisaba was in residence. In fact these folks were the ones who suggested safari to the large group who were staying at the Lodge. They had all become friends, back in the States… both having yachts in Florida.

From photos – The House is something else. Everything you can possibly want… also with its own staff and the addition of a pool. Apparently, The House is not available for bookings for the month of June to allow any of the directors to use.

Leaving The Cottage we had a brief game drive on our way for lunch at Loisaba. Arriving about 11:30, we relaxed at the pool for about an hour. The rest of the Group of 14 was also hanging out, having been on game drives for some, while others were out on ATVs.

Lunch was served at about 12:30 and unlike the day before when Eileen and I ate with the Rachel and Chris, we were asked to join the larger group.

The food, of course, was just outstanding… eggplant lasagna. And, those tomatoes… and Rachel’s famous dressing which they keep hidden under the buffet so no one runs away with the bottle. I think everyone of us has our own recipe for dressing… but this was the best.

Lunch conversation was most interesting. We learned that Laurie and Jim, the Directors had come to Kenya some years back… fell in love with the country and people and now return regularly. Eventually… and we didn’t ask how, but they got involved with the Loisaba Wilderness group. They, and The Group of 14, have supported the local Samburu community, especially the school… over the years improving the buildings, with new concrete replacements for the wooden ones. There is a pre-school group of students/kids and classes for boys and girls from age 6 to age 16, a few who have already gone onto higher learning in Nairobi. They’ve had one college graduate who is now a nurse. In addition, they also support one of the manyatta’s in the area… with emphasis on women’s issues.

Very impressive, indeed. And we were going to be visiting the school and the manyatta this afternoon. Not that I hadn’t visited a manyatta or two, even a school on my many trips to Kenya and Tanzania, but this, I just knew, would be different!

Lunch over and time to relax a bit. Then somewhere about 2pm Eileen and I got into our vehicle with Tom our guide and Kafu our tracker and head out. The rest of the group are pulling up the rear.

The drive was about an hour. At one point we actually cross the Ewaso Nyiro River on a vehicle bridge. Here we notice women doing laundry and collecting water. Many are young woman and we notice eye-contact with our driver Tom. But Tom, we learn is married… we’re sure it’s just a friendly “hello” smile. What a long way to go for drinking water and we see no nearby manyatta or other semblance of life in the area. All brush and wilderness… and the ever-present Dik-dik pairs.

We finally arrive at the pre-school/school complex. Here everyone visiting is introduced to the community elders, shaking hands all-around; then introductions to the school’s headmaster and some of the teachers. Surprisingly, there are only about six (6) teachers for about 600 students of all ages.

We are warmly welcomed by all, especially the students when they see all the digital cameras. These aren’t new to them… but,they know they will be able to see themselves… so smiles all around. Most of the classrooms are barrack style wooden buildings. All the students are in maroon and white uniforms (shorts) and the warm weather doesn’t distract any to wear lighter weight clothing.

In recent years, from contributions, a number of the wooden classrooms have been replaced with concrete buildings with solid roofs. Hopefully, additional contributions will enable the construction of more new buildings. There is also a new kitchen… from which the students are fed daily. The last building we visited, from a contribution to be solely used to build a girls dormitory… with indoor bathrooms (hole-in-the- ground) and shower stalls and double-deck beds.

There is a brief ceremony by the community to thank the family for their contributions which is very poignant… and the elder patriarch addresses many of the students in their individual classrooms to continue their educations.

Leaving here, we head to the manyatta. Eileen and I are the first to arrive and are surprised to find all the women in their colorful clothing waiting to greet us. But greet us was not all they had in mind. As we stepped from our vehicle, some of the elder women came towards us and brought us into the group to participate in the dancing to welcome the others who were right behind us. Admittedly, we would have looked more authentic if we had Masai beaded necklaces around our necks… but that would have to wait till later. At this point I move out of the dancing group to take a photo of this wonderful group of women – local, visitors, black, white, young and older – amazing. This was going to be fun.

The remaining time spent here we could take unlimited numbers of photos without someone having a hand out for a tip. The children posed graciously and follow behind… they were so adorable. We are welcomed into their homes. Many women are working on bead items they make for sale… at the manyatta, for market days and/or in Nairobi. The work is beautifully displayed on the ground… and again, no one is pushing one to make a purchase.

If the dancing by the welcoming women was unexpected and exciting… the men now started their dancing. And it was interesting to watch the eligible and maybe not so eligible women watching them. Whether the women or the men, all were in their traditional clothing and painted markings on their bodies. And don’t think we are there to watch only. Everyone was pulled in to join especially when the men and women were dancing together… and now they gave us necklaces so we were adorned properly.

Since we were free to walk wherever… ask questions… dance or whatever… it was a pleasure to see Kafu, our tracker holding a little baby. It was his son… and such a lovely picture, but I didn’t want to intrude. I’m sure that the staff at the lodges/camps/starbeds look forward to time when they have “days-off” or “breaks” from work and spend time with their families and this was such an afternoon.

It was getting on towards 6pm, so we decided to leave to return to the Starbeds. We said our good-byes and thanked our hosts, especially Rachel who included us in this very interesting afternoon. It was a lovely break from a game drive.

In the vehicle with Tom and Kafu, a friend of theirs hitched a ride to “somewhere.” As we left, Tom did point to his wife who had walked over from her manyatta to enjoy the festivities. A nice young women in her early 20s… no children yet.

Eileen and I found it amazing how these guys knew one bush from another, one tree from another and not be lost out there. But it’s probably not much different then back home in our own neighborhoods wherever we live. Every bush isn’t the same as the next… though to us city gals they sure did look so. All of a sudden our passenger asked Tom to stop as this was where he wished to get out to meet up with his friend! Duh! We looked at one another and wondered ‘where?’ There wasn’t a building, hut or tent as far as the eye could see… maybe under a tree? We had to chuckle.

Before we knew it we were pulling up to the Starbeds, but this time… no bridge crossing. We came in from the other side of the river, at the rear of the camp. This certainly was different.

With no other guests expected to be staying here for the night… we would be here by ourselves with these six young men. Interesting! We freshened up then back to the camp fire for sundowners. Once it got dark we sat down for dinner which was again wonderful, though rather quiet compared to the previous night.

This was our 10th night in Africa and the first that we retired rather early. I believe we deserved an early bedtime for a change. We did, however, inquire of the staff whether they patrolled the grounds after dark and were assured that they do… every hour. Why we never thought to ask this for the night before… who knows, but we didn’t. And we had one more question, rather a request… that they please leave lanterns lit through the night along/around our Starbed. Just for our reassurance… we were really out there all alone.

And tonight when I woke for a potty-call… I just got out of bed, grabbed my lantern and walked to the loo… and there on the grounds around our platform were lanterns lighting the area and providing the assurance we needed to be walking in what is otherwise totally black. Back in bed, I look towards the sky… the stars… in total awe… such an amazing experience… finally falling off to sleep.

Tomorrow we leave this peaceful area and fly down to the Masai Mara. Being in Laikipia has been an amazing experience… the warm welcome from the managers, staff, easy schedules… laid-back; beautiful scenery, beautiful people-to-people connections. A place to return to – already contemplating when?

... to be continued
 
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Jul 30th, 2005, 07:26 PM
  #24
 
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So starting off a trip by stepping in baboon poop is not a bad omen.

Your descriptions of Laikipia make it very inviting.

From camel rides to massages--what an adventure. Your narrative makes it come to life.
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Jul 31st, 2005, 01:10 AM
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Still enjoying your report, thanks for so much detail.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 09:29 AM
  #26
 
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Starbeds: wow.

Anxiously awaiting the next installment. Thank you for this wonderfully descriptive report. I feel like I'm transported there (and I say this from my office!).
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:30 PM
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Wonderful, exciting and delicious detail! Glad I finally read this and looking forward to more!
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 06:28 PM
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sandi - this is such a wonderful report! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together and sharing it.
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Aug 4th, 2005, 05:47 AM
  #29
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Part VIII

Day 13 – June 7, 2005

We’re up early, packed and say good-bye to our Starbed platform which has been an unbelievable experience. Everyone should try to spend at least one-night up here… combine it with a stay at Sabuk for a few days.

Our table is set, our breakfast is served. At least no “excitement” as we had yesterday’s morning. No body is fainting this morning. We extend our thank-yous to the guys who were wonderful and attentive to your needs… those lanterns placed around our Starbed last night were much appreciated.

We head across the suspension bridge, for the last time and meet Tom and Kafu at our vehicle which has been loaded with our belongings. We have a 9am flight from Loisaba airstrip to Nanyuki, before connecting to our flight to the Mara.

Arriving at the airstrip, Eston is already waiting. We’re only waiting for Jim (one of the directors at Loisaba) to land his ultra-light. What else would one do at this early hour but lift off to view the area from up high. Besides the ultra-flight, Jim also keeps a midnight blue Hummer and a helicopter here. The latter is available to clients (at an average of $1,200/hr) for trips up north – Lake Turkana, the Chalbi Desert – again whatever the client wishes and just how deep their pockets. This works well, if you’ve good a group, as the heli holds 6-passengers which is an economical way to see this area.

Jim lands and comes over to say his goodbye and mentions that he and Laurie would be flying down to Cottar’s the next day… staying for one-nite as there wasn’t sufficient tent space with the Group of 14; they’d see us again. Interesting to know, and interesting to see where the heli lands at/near Cottars. Our bags are loaded into the plane. Tom Silverster, the Manager/Owner of Loisaba has also come to see us off… very thoughtful of him… everyone we met up in this area was wonderful and genuinely glad to have us as guests. Before leaving we remind him about Belinda at Lewa as a possible connection for Eston. Tom knows Belinda as they are both taking flying lessons in Nairobi. He gave me a thumbs-up, saying he’d definitely follow-thru on this.

In the plane, I take the rear seat behind Eston, Eileen is in the co-pilot seat. The flight is uneventful… the air is clear and the sights below are beautiful. Landing at Nanyuki, we have time to wait for our connecting flight.

The Nanyuki airport is being totally upgraded with new buildings, restaurant, shops… they actually have clean flush toilets. There are lots of “bush pilots” hanging around here… each better looking then the next – no wonder “the girls are crazy for bush pilots.”

There is one plane, much larger then the rest, on the ground with the Loisaba insignia. This plane will be flying up to Loisaba to pick-up the Group of 14 for their flight to the Mara, where they will be continuing their safari with mobile camping in an area not far from where we’ll be at Cottar’s.

While waiting, we notice that Eston keeps a cycle and a dog here (the brother dog of the sister dog we saw at Loisaba). What more does a bush pilot need, other then these two essentials? Maybe a lady-friend, girlfriend, wife… we’ve got someone working on this for him if he doesn’t take the initiative himself. But, then, maybe not!

Right on time, our plane arrives… bags are loaded, good-byes said and we’re on our way to the Mara. The flight is just about an hour, but there are a number of stops which the pilot clearly mentioned when we boarded. First stop is at the Mara River Camp airstrip where two passengers deplane. We take off again and next stop is the Governor’s airstrip where we pick up passengers. Another take off and a short hop to the Keekorok airstrip where we deplane as do a few other passengers, but more board to take our places.

At the airstrip there were at least 15 vehicles waiting for guests and our transport wasn’t one of them. OK, there is a Duty Free Shop here (photo in our album) which we couldn’t help but chuckle over when we saw the sign. Why not shop till………! Don’t think so.

Eileen desperately needed the loo, but before I could say anything to her… she was too far away for me to yell to her “I don’t think you want that loo.” It didn’t take too long for me to see her enter the tin shack and immediately exit. This wasn’t the loo for her.

There was a small waiting area with benches under makuti palm, so we made ourselves comfy for our driver. About 10-minutes later, we see the large plane that had been sitting at Nanyuki land and right behind it a smaller plan. The Group of 14 had arrived… and their vehicles were ready to take them on their way. Even their big plane, which probably had lux seats didn’t have enough room for the entire group, so the smaller plane for two of the younger guys.

There is a reason “the gals like the bush pilots.” There I am, minding my own business and who walks right over to me… the pilot from the Loisaba plane. Sure I saw him up at Nanyuki, but one wonders what impression you make on another. Maybe none, maybe just being courteous. And that was all. He had a few minutes before taking off again… saw a familiar face, and came over to say hello. We talked a few minutes until our driver pulled up. Besides, this guy was married!!!

Well, well, here’s Daryl our guide. He apologized for the delay, but it is at least 1.5 hours drive from Cottar’s to Keekorok airstrip. Such information doesn’t sit well with Eileen who would like to get to a loo sooner, but says she’ll manage. So we pack up the vehicle and off we go. However, Daryl was expecting three people… not realizing until we told him that Susan would be arriving on the afternoon flight.

As we leave we notice the former Keekorok Lodge, which just a few weeks earlier had a major fire. Mainly in the kitchen, but learn that the entire camp was being refurbished and should be open later in June. Keekorok is the oldest lodge in the Mara and was still maintained well. I’m sure the new camp will be lovely.

Also leaving with us is the Group of 14 in about six vehicles and they’re all set with their ice chests and plenty of wine and Heinekin…. and their party had already begun. We’re all going in the same direction, so it’s like a convoy heading out.

The grasses are high, some areas are actually closed off for land regeneration. Not many animals, but for ostrich and some elephants in the distance. As we pass thru the Sand River gate which is right on the Tanzania border, we notice the other vehicles heading off into Tanzania… word out that there were lions sighted earlier. So I guess you can kind of sneak across the border… but not too far. There are actually mountains on the Tanzania side not far from the border. We followed for awhile, but it didn’t seem anyone was fortunate enough to spot the lions. At this point we backtrack and continue on our way. The road to Cottars runs adjacent to the Tanzania board, so we drove on and on and on. At one point we actually passed the sign that says “Welcome to Tanzania” on our right… meaning we were supposed to stay on the left.

There were areas of road that were pretty wet, so new tracks were made as we went along. There weren’t many animals to be seen, though occasionally there were hares and a topi or two; all we wanted to do was get to camp. During our ride we learned that there is a private airstrip only 15-minutes from Cottar’s camp, but not for scheduled flights. If I had known, we may have splurged for another private charter. As often as Daryl pointed to the hill where Cottar’s was located… instead of getting closer, it seemed to be farther away.

We came to a small forest area which Daryl indicated the Group of 14 would be setting up camp. I believe it was, either, right inside the Mara border or immediately outside the border. Whatever, we were getting closer to Cottar’s. Once outside the Mara border, on private conservation land we came across many Masai herding their cattle… little groups here, little groups there… but we were getting closer to camp and it was now over 2-hrs since we left Keekorok.

Finally, at just about 3-hrs we arrived at Cottar’s Camp and were welcomed by Nick and Betsy, who manage Bush Tops House not too far away… but helping out here in the absence of the Cottar’s manager who was in Nairobi for a few days. Here we thank Daryl and remind him that he has to turn around for the drive back to Keekorok to pick-up Susan. She’s due in on the 3pm flight from Nairobi, so arriving about 4pm. Daryl is apparently the transfer person this day and he’s got at minimum a 1.5-hrs drive (no stops this time).

Our bags were unloaded from the vehicle – Daryl is on his way… and we’re taken to our tent which is entered thru a private wall and gate of palms, with steps leading up to the tent situated on an itty-bitty hill.

All white canvas, only the rear containing the loo and shower are permanent. The tents are large and in our case with twin beds. The furnishings are very “safari-like” with animal designed carpets, antique pieces mixed with modern comforts. There is ample closet and shelf space, separate large shower and a separate pull-chain loo. Two wash basins and plenty of towels and bottled water. There are electric lanterns for lighting in the tent itself, but currently gas lanterns over the mirrors in the bathroom (soon to be electrified). For me personally, give me electric or why bother having mirrors.

After freshening up, we walk to the public area for lunch. Here we find Nick, Betsy and their 13-yr old daughter… all Kenyan borne. A pretty young lady, but a tad shy. There is also an older brother, but he is in school in Nairobi; sister will be leaving in a few days, also for boarding school in Nairobi. We learn there are four other guests here – a family from NYC… mother, father and two grown children… presently out on a game drive, whom we’ll meet at dinner. Lunch was light, as it was late… but certainly enough to nourish us.

Now, here I go again – I’ve got to wash my hair and somehow get a hairdryer to work. Well, no problem… Cottar’s doesn’t provide hair dryers, nor have sufficient power in the tents to run one… but they will provide a generator for me so I can plug in my own device. How accommodating. Eileen, on the other hand can simply wash her hair and how it dries it dries and she looks just fine. My hair is short, though growing like weeds these past 12-days and I’m getting ratty looking. A shampoo and air dry, just doesn’t work. And even though short, I wish it were longer so I could just pull it back and that would be that. But I also like clean hair.

Put it this way – I’d make a terrible hostage. I’d be constantly fussing… the terrorists would just want to get rid of me. Let me go or shoot the bitch! You do realize that the hostage takers most often let the women and children go as “we’re a pain in the ass.”

So while Eileen decides to go out on a game drive… Nick will be her guide (Daryl is on his way to pick-up Susan), I opt for intimate time with a generator. Abdul, or tent butler is there in a few minutes with the generator (a small thing) that he sets up about 30-ft outside my tent, with a long extension cord and multi-plug strip that reaches thru the tent to the counter where the washbasins are located… perfect!

After all my beauty things are done with, I wrap myself in the comfy terry lined velour robe and take a seat outside the tent to admire the scene in front of me. You have a view right into Tanzania where I understand during the Migration you can see the herds as they move into Kenya. It must be an amazing site. I catch up on my journal and Abdul brings me a cold drink – I asked for a Heinekin and it hits the spot

Sitting here, I notice that a distance from the tent some antelope in the bushes, only to later learn there is a “salt-lick” back there… so I’m sure there must be predators nearby… interesting. There are no fences here at Cottar’s. With the sun setting I get some beautiful photos as the sun cycles below the horizon.

As soon as it’s dark, I go inside to dress for dinner and Eileen to return. I actually take a little nap. Eileen in back at about 7pm, showers, dresses and with the Masai askari leading us, walk up for dinner. Susan was already at the camp fire, having arrived a few minutes earlier (her plane arrived about 4:30 and they were back at camp by 7:30 – so much for a 1.5 hr trip, though their drive was mainly in the dark)… checked into her tent (next to ours) and already had a glass wine in her hand. We got our sundowners and were introduced to the other guests – the family from NYC. A husband and wife and grown children who actually live nearby where we too live in NYC. Calvin Cottar is also here and introductions made all around.

Susan fills me in on the balance of her time in Tanzania after leaving us and when we headed to Zanzibar. She and Michael had planned to visit Tarangire, staying at Tree Tops, but Michael wasn’t feeling well – maybe something he ate, so they returned to Arusha and spent the time there getting his tummy back to travel condition as he was departing the next day. Once Michael was on his way, Susan headed to Tarangire with a guide/driver for a one-night stay… she loves Tarangire and this time was no different. Yes, the grasses were high, but the ellees were there, as the Baobab trees… she enjoyed her stay. In turn, I filled her in on what Eileen and I did on Zanzibar and our wonderful days up in Laikipia.

Finally, we all adjourned into the dining tent which was like a scene from “Out of Africa” – with fine china, sterling utensils and candle lit candelabras. The meal was outstanding as was the conversation. The New York family would be departing the next morning, but the father arranged for a last game drive for 4:30am and, I believe, he was accommodated. Saying our goodbyes and wishing them a good journey… it’s was just us last “hanger-ons” left in the dining tent.

All of a sudden the Masai come running into the tent, yelling, “the lions, the lions are here.” Not hesitating a minute, five supposedly intelligent adults push back their chairs and all run outside to see “the lions.” Well, they weren’t immediately outside on the lawn around the campfire, but back in the bushes somewhere near where our tent was located. With a powerful spot Calvin is focused on the bushes and we manage to count about seven lions. Whatever they’re doing in the bushes, the light doesn’t bother them and they have no interest in us humans. We spend a few minutes watching to see what they may do next… but apparently, “it’s just lion stuff.”

The three of us return to the dining tent, grab our things and the askari walk us back to our respective tents. Once inside, it took Eileen and I a minute to realize that the lions were right outside our tent… probably near the salt-lick having their own dinner of sorts.

On this pleasant note… our first day at Cottar’s ends.

.... to be continued (only four more days... the end is coming!)

 
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Aug 4th, 2005, 12:05 PM
  #30
 
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That's so funny that they brought a generator to your tent so you could plug in your hair dryer!

How far into Tanzania did you go? I read somewhere that there's 12 km between the two border posts, so maybe they just drive around in this area?

Thanks for continuing. It'll be a race to see if you or JazzDrew finishes first
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Aug 4th, 2005, 01:41 PM
  #31
sandi
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Patty -

You make me laugh. Well, you know how noisy a generator is... so they left it out on the lawn; besides there was no one in camp but moi. But it was considerate of them not to place the thing right next to me. They probably do this often for whomever asks, as they had the whole thing set up in a flash. When I was finished I just walked out onto the lawn and turned it off. Otherwise, the power at the camp comes from solar panels.

Into Tanzania... not too far. Nor do I know how far one can drive into/across the border. You have to remember we had a passenger who was in need of the loo - more important then a lion! And we had a long way to get till reaching our destination.

Me or JazzDrew? Contest? Nah! But we'll see.
 
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Aug 4th, 2005, 01:58 PM
  #32
 
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Sandi, I'm enjoying this so much - thank you thank you thank you.

Our very first trip and the one that got us hooked was to Kenya on a typical minibus package tour. I've not really thought about going back because I didn't think we could get the remoteness we want - but after reading this it's definitely on the list.

Oh Lord, when will I win the lottery [-o< (maybe I should start buying tickets!)
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Aug 4th, 2005, 02:21 PM
  #33
sandi
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Ruthie -

Buying the tickets help... as I keep reminding myself!
 
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Aug 4th, 2005, 02:25 PM
  #34
 
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What? You mean this winning the lottery thing has something to do with buying tickets? ((&))
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Aug 4th, 2005, 02:25 PM
  #35
 
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Wrong smiley!
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Aug 4th, 2005, 02:36 PM
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Oh ya... I keep reminding myself that if I want to be able to dream about all the places I'd go if I won I've gotta actually have a ticket!

Gotta be in it to win it, as they say!

Marvellous report, keep going, Sandi!
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Aug 4th, 2005, 04:19 PM
  #37
 
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Great report! Now I must get back to work to catch up...

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Aug 5th, 2005, 10:21 AM
  #38
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Part 9 (sorry folks, I just went dumb on Roman numerals... is it IX?)

Day 14 – June 8, 2005

For those who have forgotten… I don’t do morning game drives… nothing wrong with morning drives, or that I’m not up early or want to be woken early while on vacation… I just prefer not to… so I stayed under the covers while Eileen dressed and was out to meet up with Susan and Daryl. But first she left a pile of items that she wanted laundered… and I added a few items to give to Abdul when he returned to make up our tent.

With our coffee and tea having been delivered, I was quite comfortable where I was.

Before going on… something I forgot – when we arrived yesterday, the beds in our tent were covered with flower blossoms – a nice touch and reminded me of the frangipani blossoms that had been placed on our beds when we visited the Seychelles a few years back. But I don’t recall what kind of blossoms these at Cottar’s were.

Eventually I crawled out from under the covers, showered and then sat outside the tent with my pot of java. It’s just so beautiful and peaceful, who needs a game drive; that is until I heard a “growl” – yup, a growl… that kind of growl! No sissy girly am I, instead of panic, I listen to be certain that is what I heard, while at the same time scanning the area for a cat! I remember the salt-lick directly in front of our tent a few hundred feet… so maybe the sound was coming from there. Sure enough, I hear another growl and then another. Even though seeing nothing, I figure it’s time to get back inside the tent.

I finish dressing and walk – by myself – up to the dining tent. Either, I’m crazy (probably) or just hungry, but I don’t even look back as I continued on my way. There’s not a soul around, though I can hear noises up near the kitchen. As I reach the area, the only person around is a Masai woman who is creating beaded jewelry. At the dining table I find Betsy and her daughter and join them.

It’s a grey and overcast day and looks like rain… but who knows what will be. Breakfast eaten, on my way back to the tent, I see a number of the staff and Calvin removing a tree from the great lawn and with a machetti cutting parts of the high grass. This is when I recall that Jim and Laurie are scheduled to be flying in on their heli… guess there had better be sufficient room, with no objects in the way, for a smooth landing.

When Eileen and Susan return, they told me that because game viewing was rather sparse, Daryl drove them to a nearby waterfall which they enjoyed tremendously. From the photos (in the album) this is a strange looking area, especially the rock formations. Probably over years and years of water falling and collecting here, the rocks look like what one might expect to find on the moon (if that is what the moon looks like). They walked and hiked around the area and truly enjoyed this break… different.

After completing their breakfasts, I walked back with Susan to see her tent which was the next one over, containing a king-sized bed, set right in the center. What was really beautiful coming upon the tent – all three sides were rolled up – great curb appeal, as the photos show.

After our lunch we had all planned on going out on an afternoon game drive. But by 3:30pm the skies finally opened – not unusual for this time of year – so figured we'd wait till it ended. However, it was past 4pm and Daryl wanted to get going. Eileen and Susan were game for game, but I didn’t feel like being out in the rain, slipping and sliding on the roads; and it was rather raw! In this type of weather, instead of the open vehicle of the private camps, the closed 4WD with pop-tops are a much better choice. Ok, call me a party-pooper… but I was just so content to sit with a good book outside my tent and simply take in the quiet and beauty that surrounded me.

Naturally, Abdul showed up asking if there was anything he could do for me, so I asked for some wine which he was only to glad to bring. When he returned he also had our laundry which was properly placed at the foot of each bed.

Surprisingly, the rain (more a constant light shower and quite misty) kept up for some time, probably ending near 5:30pm… so I was content to be where I am versus being in an open vehicle. From where I was seated, I didn’t hear any more growls, but could see impala and waterbuck moving back and forth from the salt-lick (and without nocs… good eyesight, I must say); and the Tanzanian plains were just waiting out there for the herds that would be arriving in less than two months. To me, this was pure heaven!

Once it got dark, I went inside to change for dinner… nothing special, just different. We would be a small group tonight and it was apparent that Jim and Laurie hadn’t arrived… maybe they would tomorrow, but we’d be gone by then.

Eileen was back by 7pm and rushed in to shower and change. When she checked her laundry she noticed that the “wears” weren’t hers! Well, they weren’t mine, so to whom did they belong? Since there were only four women here, and two had been eliminated – we figured they were Betsy’s. When we left the tent, we wrapped these in tissue to return to the righful owner. When arriving at the campfire, we discretely inquired of Betsy if our little package was hers? At this moment Susan arrived with a small package wrapped in tissues containing, what else “wears.” What was funny to watch was the men watching us and wondering what “us gals” were discussing… “girl things” naturally. Betsy finally called Abdul over to take both packages and get them back to their owners. That’s what happens when your belongings don’t have, either, “camp labels” or a “chop” on them. Another reason not to bring tattered undies when traveling!

Then enjoying our sundowners around the campfire, Calvin had some interesting stories to tell, especially when you consider his family has been in Kenya since the early 1900s. Stories about his dad and his friends and the original safari goers, bringing with them all the comforts of home from the States or the Continent… with hundreds of porters or large mule trains to do so… all in order to set up camps for the “Great White Hunters”. Besides personal items, would be the tents, the cooking pots and utensils, china, silverware, candelabras, food, bathtubs, and whatever else one could imagine. Not anywhere as convenient as safari in the late 20th or now 21st Centuries. If dinner weren’t ready to be served, we could sat around the fire listening to Calvin for hours; we did once seated at the table - a wonderful host in every way.

Looking around the dining tent surroundings - the china, silverware, glassware, candleabra and candles... would have been perfect for black tie rather then safari khaki. The kind of photos that appear in brochures though rarely in real life!

After another wonderful evening, Betsy and her daughter excused themselves and the three of us along with Calvin, Nick and Daryl kept at the wine and telling of tales, all around... some fascinating safari stories.

Realization his that we were leaving tomorrow after breakfast, so we finished our drinks… returned to our tents, finish packing and off to dreamland. All I know is that this was the first of many safaris that I didn’t go out on even one game drive to which I have to say… “it’s perfectly fine to just enjoy being” - afterall, we were in Afree-kah!

... to be continued
 
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Aug 5th, 2005, 10:28 AM
  #39
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Thanks, Sandi, for my daily fix.

I think I'll print this out for my mom; I have a feeling that if she ever decides to haul herself over to East Africa, she's going to want to go in high style. And to skip morning game drives!
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Aug 5th, 2005, 03:01 PM
  #40
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,821
It's wonderful to just sit around camp and do nothing except take in the scenery and sounds, isn't it? Those were some of my favorite moments...ahhhh!
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