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For those who had the patience to wait! Trip Report - Tanzania & Kenya, May/June '07 (Sandi)

For those who had the patience to wait! Trip Report - Tanzania & Kenya, May/June '07 (Sandi)

Old Oct 11th, 2007, 10:26 AM
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For those who had the patience to wait! Trip Report - Tanzania & Kenya, May/June '07 (Sandi)

“Another bloody day in Paradise” – White Mischief

Seems I’ve been this way before. Sure I have, as I love these countries - people, culture and, of course, the game. This time, I’m traveling alone... no boyfriend, gal friend, business associate... just moi! It’ll be different, but there are so many friends to see once I’m in-country and this time, I’ve actually made appointments; hope to be able to keep all and everyone shows up.

I actually started planning in late-Nov/early-Dec ’06, but as usual things (work) get in the way. Final itinerary wasn’t confirmed until about one-month before leaving at which time I bought my airline ticket... rather late for me.

Having previously flown KLM from JFK (via AMS) to JRO or NBO, this time, I decided to go with Emirates as they were offering the best fare. When I first checked KLM fares into JRO (Tanzania was to be my first stop), the price was just ridiculously high, lots high. Even the KLM/NBO price was high and I wasn’t even traveling in peak-season. In years earlier I noticed that Emirates fare was about $100 higher than KLM to NBO... no more, it seems. When I first checked in March, Emirates was $1,387 to NBO; when I later checked, as itinerary was pretty much confirmed, the fare was down to $1,187 including taxes. I was surprised, shocked actually, but it didn’t take but a second for me to purchase the ticket. The $200 difference would cover for my flight to JRO. This would also be the first time that I'd be departing early in the day, arriving NBO mid-afternoon. Wondered how the body would handle this, especially with the first leg being 12-hours. Not since trips to Thailand or South Africa had I had that long a single flight segment.

With itinerary confirmed (kind of), air tickets purchased, it was now time to pack. This is usually a non-event as the same things go with me year-in/year-out... not much to change when it comes to tan, khaki or brown, whether pants, shirts or shoes. But, I had requests for goodies from the States, all of which would only add to my limited allowance. There was clothing for lots of children, magazines, cinnamon raisin bread, NY bagels/bialys, body gel/lotion, and other stuff, adding about 4-5/kgs, bringing me over. Oh, no big deal departing the States, and once in-country and having distributed everything, I’d be good to fly below the 15Kg limit! Or so I thought. Didn’t expect, that I’d have as much, if not more with which I returned home... between gifts and stuff! Can’t win! So my tales begin.......



Thursday, May 24, 2007

With an 11:30am departure from JFK on Emirates, I left for the airport at 8:30am, having been told that Emirates recommended 3/hrs prior departure for international check-in. I don’t think so, 2/hrs will be more than enough. There was no NYC rush hour traffic (even in reverse of traffic into the City) so I was at the airport in just short of half-hour. Check-in was quick, but almost fainted when I saw exactly how much my bag weighed - 20Kgs exactly! Oh well, I wouldn’t be carrying it. Boarding pass in hand, I headed to the gate, but was early so wasted time in one of the shops. Eventually headed to Security, which was a joke. It’s more make-busy work for the TSA agents, rather than serious evaluation of passengers - who they are, where they’re going, where they came from, if they have packages to take from others - as El Al does. Oh, guess we’ll never get it right, considering how many sharp objects – knives, saws, ice pics, even weapons still manage to get thru.

While the line wasn’t long, in wound around in so many directions, one got dizzy. It was all too funny watching everyone removing their little ziplock bags we all had to have to show those 100/ml (3.2/oz.) bottles of liquid... me included, though I never opened my zippy on either of the two flights. This took barely 40-minutes and onto the gate. Here, of course, the wait till your row is called for boarding, only to realize I was almost in Business Class; a row in the forward section of “last class.” How exciting!

I have to admit that this was the slowest boarding procedure I’ve experienced in all my years of flying. Emirates has a 15/lb limit for carryon... another joke. Travelers had bags as large as 26” all of which I can assure you were over the limit. When I finally reached my aisle seat, the flight attendant looked at me and asked, “are you ok?” Well, “of course, just wondering why this boarding was taking so long?” to which she replied (rather her eyes spoke) - looking at the overheads!!! I got it! And, there’s me with my small carryon that was underweight!

We pushed back 5-minutes late and airborne at exactly 12N, which is pretty darn good for JFK. In front of me was 12-hrs of flying. It had been years since I’ve flown East straight out that long – wondering what I’ll look and feel like on the other end. I’m fortunate though to be able to sleep and probably got 6-hrs of sleep on/off during the flight, between beverage service, lunch, snack and breakfast, I did good.



Friday, May 25, 2007

Landing in Dubai on time, deplaned and sure enough, a long, long walk (not a moving sidewalk to be found) to either Immigration for those heading into Dubai or for transiting passengers. The Dubai airport was rather disappointing, reminding me of Denver International, one long terminal. Hey, they didn’t ask me regarding the design; maybe I’m just spoiled often flying thru Schipol/Amsterdam, which is just so civilized.

There was no posting for the ongoing NBO flight, so had a cup of coffee, a sip of coffee actually. Starbucks was all that I could find, and I hate their coffee, tasting bitter and burnt. So tossed that cup and decided to see what the excitement was about these airport shops. Nothing to write home about; all pretty much the same as other airports and I certainly didn’t have to be adding more weight to my already bursting bags.

Still no posting of my flight, so while standing facing the direction of Gates #1-12, I asked at the Transit Desk agent from where the NBO flight would be departing. He checked and announced “Gate #42.” I stared at him and slowly did an about face and looked and looked and looked... finally turning back to the agent and asked, “is that gate still in Dubai?” He laughed and replied, “yes, madam it is.” Oh well, might as well start walking. And I walked and walked between three moving sidewalks to the farthest end of the terminal, where an arrow pointed left towards additional gates. I turned and thankfully, there were only three or four more gates before reaching #42. Handing the agent my boarding pass, I took a seat to wait for the boarding announcement.

Didn’t have to wait long, to head down a sloping walkway, much like at many new airports, however, at the end, instead of into a jetway, we boarded air-conditioned buses. Now, this isn’t new, but surprising for a new modern airport. It was obvious as I boarded the bus that it was really hot outside... kind of Las Vegas in the summer hot... over 110-degrees. A short ride and we arrive at our Airbus where the agent allowed a few people out at a time to climb the stairs, as no one in their right mind would want to be out in the hot air any longer than necessary.

Once on board, it’s a full plane with few empty seats. Take-off was on schedule and again I managed to sleep between beverage and meal services. We actually landed at NBO 20-minutes early and our gate (with jetway) was right at the ramp down to Immigration. I was the first at the “need to buy Visa” desk, which took less than a minute. Luggage though, did take 20-30/minutes before I exited to find my friend David with a big smile. Out i the parking lot Lawrence waited for my short drive to the Panari Hotel.

I selected the Panari, as I originally thought to make the connection to JRO that evening (maybe) more likely early the next morning and being only 10-minutes from the airport, would allow me to sleep a bit longer. Plans changed when I arranged to have dinner with a friend and catch up with a few people the next morning... wouldn’t be flying to JRO till 1pm. So I didn’t bother to change to a hotel in downtown NBO; all I needed was a decent sized room with clean linens, hot water, a tub and hair dryer. The Panari rates itself a 5-star hotel... believe me, it’s not! But, it is new, with decent sized rooms, a mini-bar, a more than ample bathroom, with commode, bidet, large tub and shower, plenty of towels; a queen sized bed with down comforter and air conditioning/heating unit that worked perfectly. I’m easy. It’s a 10-story hotel, with reception on the 3rd floor which is big and sparse, lots of marble, little furniture, but a bar, a few restaurants and that’s about it. The lower floors contain shops, the ice-skating rink, restaurants – the Pampas Restaurant, much like the Carnivore is on the first floor and where I later had dinner.

I did ask at Reception whether they had a nail salon and to my disappointment, the answer was no. Oh, I forgot to mention about the crisis… my right-hand thumb nail just kept popping off; I’d fix it, it would pop “what’s a gal to do, what price beauty?” Only to later learn that one of the private shops on the lower levels probably could have repaired my nail... next time, I’ll know.

There was a message waiting for me from Joyce saying she’d meet me for dinner at 7pm. Goodie, goodie, I can take a bath and a nap. Yup, I knew I needed a nap. Better than having my head fall into my plate during dinner. And so I did.

Met Joyce in the lobby at 7pm and almost didn’t recognize her... to my surprise she had a preggy bump. How wonderful. She looked great and is due in September. Note: It’s a girl, both doing well. We found our way to Pampas where we had so much to catch up with, we had to be reminded to eat. First on the menu was soup, which I usually forego, till the waiter said “pumpkin” (the magic word) and I said “yes, yes, yes” What is Africa without pumpkins and as soup, no less… it was delicious. Between jibber-jabber, we managed to eat. I then asked Joyce whether she drove herself or took a taxi, only to have her mention that Lawrence drove her and was waiting in the lot. Oh my goodness, it was after 9pm and they both she had work the next day. I paid the bill and with kiss-kiss, we bid each other “lala salama.”

... to be continued


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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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Sandi, this is great.

I'm sure you're the first person to work "bialy" into an East Africa trip report!
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 10:59 AM
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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lawrence was due to pick me up at 9:30am, so was down for breakfast by 8:15am. Here to be greeted by one of the waiters who offered to arrange for me to have my nail fixed. Was it that obvious? Must have been. How thoughtful, but we both realized it was too early for any of the shops to be open. I’ll just have to live without “a thumb.” My thumbless manicure had not become a claw... a new fashion statement.

Breakfast eaten, I checked out to meet Lawrence for the drive into Nairobi. Here, I again see David and Joyce and the boss man. He and I catch up with a cup of coffee downstairs at the Pavement Café. Then I excused myself to do a bit of shopping at the Kazuri store which had a branch right here. Knew this would be my only opportunity, and though these days I don’t do much souvenir shopping, there were a few gifts I needed. I’m still always stymied at Kazuri with so many choices, but purchases were made and paid for. I say my good-byes and back in the van with Lawrence for the drive to Wilson.

Arriving at Wilson, my bags are weighed, and though I had removed those items I had for Joyce, I was still overweight. Well, a smile did it again and the guy waved me through. After a short wait, I board my flight to JRO and land 1/hr later. Here, too, I purchased my Visa... no line, as there were few passengers on the incoming flight; grabbed my bags and med Joshua outside. Joshua has such a lovely smile and it was so nice to see him again. Being a Saturday afternoon, with bright sunshine and kind of warm there was little traffic on the drive into Arusha for my overnight at the Kibo Palace Hotel.

Have stayed at the Kibo Palace last year, which is right in town, only 2/yrs old with nicely decorated rooms, bathroom with shower, hair dryer; a pool, nice grounds, restaurant, so I’m set. Only thing Kibo doesn’t have is air conditioning, which isn’t all that unusual in Arusha. But, they do have free-standing cool-air units that do a pretty good job cooling the late afternoon sun shining into my room. What they do have though is screens on the windows, which I leave open for all that fresh African air which is perfect for a good nights sleep. There’s a message waiting that friends would pick me up for dinner at 7pm. Perfect! I can relax, which I did with a book out at the pool, where I remained till I realized I was sitting in the midst of a wedding reception. I graciously left after wishing everyone well. It was close to 5pm... time for a shower and change of clothing and maybe some CNN.

Right on time, Susan and Sanjay ring from downstairs, where I meet them and their little one who was having a difficult time keeping her eyes open. They did open just long enough to say “hello, aunt Sandi” then she was out again. We took a short drive out to the Serena Mountain Village for dinner, where we sat at a quiet table away from a half-full dining room.

Dinner was a beautiful buffet, which again started with soup and again “pumpkin” – how lucky for me. Of course, as soon as the soup was served little eyes popped open to see what the fuss was about and managed to swallow a spoonful or two, then eyes closed again. It was fun to catch up, and surprised by a large piece of birthday cake compliments of one of the hotel guests celebrating.

Back at the hotel, we say our good-byes, as I wouldn’t see them until I returned from Tarangire on Tuesday. Next morning Joshua would be meeting me and we’d be on our way.



Sunday, May 27, 2007

After breakfast, I met Joshua and off we went. Week-ends are nice in Arusha. No traffic and we’re through town in no time, heading south to Tarangire... no traffic on this road either. Barely 2-hours and we’re at the gate, but before entering the park, we drive a bit farther down the road to Maramboi Camp, a right turn off the main road.

Arriving, the staff comes to greet us, wondering, who as they weren’t expecting guests, nor were there guests in residence. Not open for the season, but all the tents were ready. Introductions made, the manager was actually pleased to have us do a walk-thru. The tents are large with two double or one king-size bed. More than ample even for triples or quads, which is nice. The bathroom is ensuite with flush loo, single washbasin and shower. Outside is a large deck, with view of Lake Manyara in the distance to the west. The kitchen is large with fully stocked refrigerators and veggie bins. The camp is about a 15-minute drive from the Tarangire entrance.

We thank the manager and head back towards the park, but again before entering a short drive past the entrance and a right turn down a non-descript road with no sign to Whistling Thorn Camp. Again, we’re not expected and few staff on-hand. This camp is very small with six (6) small tents. The camp is about 10-years old and basically does mobile camping, where you can spend time at this site or they pack up your tent, beds, linens, etc. onto a safari vehicle and head to the next area… Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro or the Serengeti. Only one tent was up, which was the smaller traditional safari tents, with twin or double beds, small ensuite bathroom with loo and bucket shower. The staff was most welcoming and the chef was anxious to have me taste the bread he had just pulled from the oven. It was delicious grained brown bread - only thing missing, butter! Here too, the kitchen was ready for guests.

On our way again, we finally enter Tarangire, but before heading through the park, stopped to dig into my lunch box. For the first time, sitting under tree with the starlings enjoying a bath in a puddle of water, I realized I was back in Afree-kah. Lunch finished, we’re on our way... we still had a few stops to make.

Coming out of the “long” rains, the grass was high and but for elephants and giraffes, it can be difficult to spot game, but there were plenty of birds and the beautiful baobab tree landscape.

First stop is Tarangire River Camp which is outside the park, so I’m not sure how Joshua got us here, but we did cross the river where young boys were bathing and surprised to actually see visitors this early in the season. Traversing the river rocks/boulders and up a hill, we pull into the camp where we are greeted by the manager. As with the other camps, no guests and here they are still in the process of major repairs. During the period between November and April, with lots of rain that never seemed to end, they had major damage. Located on the cliffs overlooking a bend in the Tarangire River, when the high waters swooshed around, much of the cliff was lost including an ancient baobab and the manager’s cottage/tent, both of which went right into the drink. The tree could be seen from the edge. Nearby, they were rebuilding the public space - lounge, bar and dining room - scheduled to be completed within the week.

The tents here are lovely, with twin or double/queen beds, ensuite bathroom with flush loo and shower. A really lovely site with great views and so peaceful.

On our way again, next stop is the Tarangire Safari Lodge, which is a bit of a misnomer, as most accommodations are tents, all rather close to one another... real close. Size-wise, they are small, as those at Whistling Thorn... the traditional safari tents. There are a few stone cottages, at the far end past the tents, which are larger and best for families or triples. Kind of reminded me of living in row houses, garden homes, even an apartment house where your neighbors are right on the other side of the wall (canvas). The best thing here is the view from their terrace that wraps around the dining area. High over the river and as far as the eye can see; nocs are needed to see what’s doing out there and there’s plenty afoot... elephant herds, baboon troops, giraffe and other.

By now, I have no idea what time it is, but know we have to get through the park and be on our way towards Treetops... my home for the night and following day. During our drive, it’s obvious the park took a beating during the wet. So many of the bridges have been washed away, the roads have been eaten up, yet Joshua was amazing navigating some treacherous spots. All of a sudden, we see a large troop of baboons around a fruit bearing tree - they’re up and down or just sitting beneath waiting for something to drop into their palms. They were different ages and sexes. We stop and must have watched their antics a good 30-minutes. For some reason, they were enthralled by our vehicle which half of them jumped on the bonnet with the little ones actually trying to eat the metal. As I was sitting in the front seat, with the exception of a few pics I could take out of the left window, all others were thru the windscreen which was very clean - thank you Joshua. For anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution, they haven’t taken the time to watch our relatives!

Fun and laughs, it’s time to get moving as we head out of the park and drive to Treetops. It’s only 30/km, with expected drive time about 40-minutes. With the chopped up road though, it took 50-minutes through some beautiful scenery, but little game.

Arriving at Treetops at 5pm, we’re welcomed with cool cloths and drink. Joshua sees to it that introductions are made and I’m checked in, before retiring to his quarters. We arrange to meet next morning at 9:30am for a game drive and visit to a few other camps.

I’m being assigned to chalet #8, which the manager asked if I was okay with lots of stairs? Sure, why not, hakuna matata! But, as we walk in that direction, I notice we’re starting to head downhill! Mind working, means I then have to walk uphill. I don’t think so. I’m fussy this way. There’s a reason I don’t climb... I like things flat, whether souvenirs which are easy to pack, or ground so my feet are always firmly planted. And, as I realize this, notice the first chalet we pass #7 has a ramp at which point, I call “wait, wait” at which point everyone stops in their tracks and asks “what’s wrong?” “Nothing wrong!” But, “hey, is anyone staying in this chalet?” “No, would you like to stay here?” “Well, of course!” That was easy as someone runs for a different key. All the chalets are the same, some with ramps, some with a few stairs and others with higher winding stairs and trap door thru the deck.

These chalets are large and true tree-houses. Those to the north #1-6, are built around the baobab trees, while those to the south #7-17, built around baobab and marulla trees, wrap around decks with rocking chairs. A small sitting area right inside the door with a carafe of brandy and glasses – “your aperitif, madam”; large twin or king beds, some rooms with a third bed for triples. En-suite bathroom at the far end, with flush loo, twin washbasins, twin head shower, hair dryer, desk and power outlets for charging electronic equipment. Even with 17 chalets, all are private from one another... you can’t see your neighbors. Well, not now after the wet, though I’m sure that during the dry season, this won’t be the case, but the chalets are at some distance from one another. Wow! I could get used to this. The public space is large with a sunken lounge area around a fire pit, bar, adjacent dining room with nice sized tables and views over their small pool. At the far side of the pool in the trees a waterhole where game retularly come to drink.

At 8pm, an askari escorts me to dinner, down my ramp for the short rather flat walk to the dining room. Needless to say, the food was outstanding, with soup starter, salad, main and desert/coffee. I ate so much soup this visit, I surprised myself, but each and everyone, at every camp was delicious.

Besides, Tarangire Safari Lodge which appeared to have the most guests, the other camps with none, here at Treetops were two honeymoon couples. That was it. After dinner we all enjoyed a drink and chit-chat. One couple from France who spoke English quite well, the other from South Africa.

Back at my chalet and off to sleep by 11pm. What a great start.



Monday, May 28, 2007

I was up early, real early... 4am, awakened by light flickering and smelling smoke. Popped out of bed and looking around outside which was easy as I always have the staff leave the flaps open. I could see a flashlight, which I realized was the askaris doing a security check and the smell of smoke was the furnice being lighted for my morning shower. Ok, nothing major, back to sleep for a few hours.

Needless to say, with a hairdryer calling me “wash your hair, you don’t know when you’ll see me again” I did just that after a wonderful shower. Then to breakfast, which was buffet, but hot food individually ordered and excellent coffee - no Starbuck's here, thankfully.

Set to go, I met Joshua at 9:30am, where our first stop was to be Boundary Hill, located only a short drive from Treetops. Arriving here, we’re met by a guard and advised that no one was around - no manager, no staff, nayda. And, he was left with instructions not to allow anyone on the premises. Oh well, guess we miss this one. I couldn’t even get an idea of what the place looked like, a shame. However, as we drove out and headed off to Kikoti, I was able to see that the camp is located on a hill (thus their name) and obviously has great views.

Kikoti Camp is also located outside the park boundary, not far from Treetops. Arriving here, we’re greeted by the camp ostrich, a young fellow about 1/yr old and quite frisky. Getting out of the vehicle and met by the manager, I simply exclaim “we were in the neighborhood and thought to stop in for tea.” She was hysterical laughing and welcomed us gladly. As with the other camps, they too were getting ready for the season and no guests were in residence.

The camp was recently (believe 2/yrs ago) enlarged, by adding about five or six tents and moving them closer to one another. Still private, but personally prefer space between tents. Guess the demand is there, and if you’ve got the land, you build out. As with the other camps, twin or double/king bed, ensuite bathroom with flush loo and shower. The grounds are lovely with lighted pathways and nice public space for campfire and sundowners.

Saying our good-byes, Joshua and I enjoy a game drive – little game, but lots of birds - we head back to Treetops. It’s almost time for lunch and I wanted to do a site inspection in the afternoon so decided to pass on late game drive. Game at this time of year is still dispersed and I would rather chill at the pool with a book. I told Joshua about my afternoon plans and gave him a reprive. I think he was a bit surprised, but hey, if I didn’t want a game drive, so be it. He had his accommodations to himself which he loved, though another guide, a buddy would be arriving later in the afternoon.

Lunch was another fabulous meal. After which I met with the manager to walk the property. We headed to chalets #1-6, the ones built around the baobab trees and a bit uphill all the way. It was hot, very hot. Both of us were dropping sweat beads. We did this very leisurely. Even though I knew all the chalets were the same, it was nice to check out the view from each.

Returning to the main area, I was asked if I wanted to check out the other section of rooms to which I replied “I don’t think so, way too hot”

Leaving the manager, I walk past the dining area to be greeted by a few ellees at the waterhole, where I stopped and watched. I then return to my chalet, into my bikini and back to the pool with my book to simply relax and watch the ellees who didn’t give me a second glance! I only wondered whether having a whiff of me in the air they wouldn’t think the pool water might be more appealing? Nope. Believe me, the askaris were nearby should these big guys have had other ideas. They departed shortly after on their way to wherever ellees go. As the sun sets, the air chills, so I returned to the chalet where I changed into warmer attire... sundowners were delivered and I enjoyed the quiet of the wrap around deck until the askari arrived to walk me to dinner.

Dinner was another delight, the presentation and the amazing tastes. Besides the two couples, there was another agent in-house at her own table, even though we both knew we’d be meeting up here. When I concluded my meal we shared desert and coffee and talked “business” and “gossip.” Gossip is so much fun, especially since we’re both thousands of miles away from where all the action is taking place. Believe me, the world gets smaller and smaller each day.

With camp management, a few more rounds of drinks, we closed the place that night. Next day she was heading out through Tanzania, while I was heading back to Arusha and JRO for flight to Kenya. I slept like a baby... no sleeping pill needed.

... to be continued


sandi is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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Worth the wait! Looking forward to more. So nice to have all of these belated trip reports from earlier this year.
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 04:35 PM
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Definitely worth waiting for Sandi! I'd like to travel with you someday...so relaxing!
Keep it comin'!
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 05:15 PM
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You really got the Tarangire accommodations tour! I'm glad it included some time with the eles and a little relaxing with a book at the pool.
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 05:47 PM
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You must have one heckuva smile, Sandi. Is it like this ? Or like this ? Or like this ? Or like this > ? Or like...I can't think of another.

Very much enjoying the slightly belated report. And will see you at a bistro on the UES in November.
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Old Oct 12th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bags packed, I went for breakfast. At 9am, Joshua and I head out using a back road instead of driving through the park. This road takes you to the main north/south road, where we head north to Arusha. Arriving at 11am, I met up with Susan and Sanjay for lunch. Surprise, surprise… we had Chinese food which was pretty good, though I didn’t eat much.

Back at the office I say my good-byes all around. It’s already late as we drive to JRO for my 1:45pm flight. Normally, this flight departs from Arusha, but the airport was under repair and not due for completion till mid-June... it’s a 1/hr drive. Believe me, we were hauling up that road, arriving only 15/min before scheduled departure. The desk was actually closed, but the agent returned when I came running in like a harried wild woman. Bags weighed (yup, overweight even dropping off stuff, I was bringing back almost as much), boarding pass in hand, I go through Security and waited for flight to be called.

Sure enough, departure is late, but we arrived at Wilson on time. Here I’m met by Solomon for the short drive to House of Waine. I was expecting some friends at 4pm, and with just a glance at the room... a beauty with an Indian motif; the same very large room as last year, though this one on the direct opposite end of the floor.

With barely time to wash my hands, reception rang telling me that one of my guests was waiting in the lobby. Out the door without locking it (I've never locked the door here), though I did hear other guests in residence, a few of which were children, guessing between 10-13/yrs; down the stairs, only to realize the person waiting (talking on her mobile) wasn’t who I was expecting. I was supposed to be meeting Emma from Desert Rose and Terri from Shompole and sitting there was Ava from Shompole. Was Terri not coming, I wondered? Yes she was, but Ava had just returned from her own vacation and before returning to Shompole, Terri mentioned I’d be in town... hey, join us. Funny, as while Ava and I had hugs all around, she hadn’t connected "Sandi" with the face till we saw one another. More people, more fun.

We headed out to the pool cabana and barely had the waiter left with our drink order than Terri arrived. We hadn’t met before, but had been in correspondence for months planning a wedding for clients at Shompole in September. A few minutes later, Emma arrived... it was so good to see her. Needless to say, get a few women together and it’s jibber-jabber as we had much in common and things about which to catch-up.

Getting towards dark, Terri and Ava took their leave; Emma’s boy friend arrived and we retired indoors for another round of drinks. Having his own plane and licensed to fly in Kenya, they’ve put together some interesting and quite reasonable flying packages to Desert Rose, which I was glad to hear. Though off the beaten track with little game, Desert Rose is a paradise offering lovely private cottages, great food, beautiful landscapes, a pool – an ideal place for walks and an option for relaxing pre- or post-safari for those who aren’t into sand-‘n-sun.

By 7pm, we said our good-byes. I was now able to chat with Eric, owner of House of Waine, spending the next hour or so having good laughs. Before I knew it was almost 9, when I could have had dinner, but with an early start next morning, decided to enjoy my beautiful suite. This would be the last night for about a week, that a tub and especially a hair dryer, would be as my disposal, so I had things to do before retiring.

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Old Oct 13th, 2007, 11:00 AM
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Great report, Sandi. It makes me question how my nails really look. Air Kenya once made me pay for overweight. I should learn from you. Looking forward to more.
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Old Oct 13th, 2007, 02:44 PM
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I took breakfast in the garden room and then met Solomon for transfer to Wilson airport. Before weighing my bags, which contents (about 5kg worth) I left in Tanzania, I also returned with about 5kg that I didn’t need to take, so left a small bag with Solomon to hold till I returned in about 10/days.

Waiting for my flight, I noticed the children and adults who had been at House of Waine the day before and sure enough they board the same flight to the Masai Mara. The flight is uneventful - takes off and lands. The scenery below is beautifully green, when we land at the airstrip. Deplaning, I’m welcomed by, what seemed, to be all the guides from Saruni. All for me? No, the others on the plane were also deplaning for their stay at Saruni, so the other guides/vehicles were for them, two families from the UK.

I have my own vehicle and Philip to head into the hills. First thing I notice is how badly the roads are torn up, I can only imagine what the place looked like when the rains were falling between November thru April. I heard about it, now see the remnants.

Arriving at camp, I meet Gio, the camp manager, who’s covering while Riccardo and Maryanne are in Europe (expected to return tomorrow after I leave)… boo-hoo-hoo! Not a surprise, though Ric knew I was specifically making this stop... my annual visit, but the trip to Europe was last minute, before the season began. Gio and are in conversation as I realize we’re walking up the hill towards chalets #4-6, when I stop and ask why I’m not in #1-3, which I had requested. To which Gio replies… “but the view is so much nicer up that way; “yes I know, I’ve been there before, wanted the lower ones.” Oh well, seems he decided to put the families who would be occupying four of the six, closer together. So up the hill we climb and admittedly, the view is outstanding as we come to chalet #5.

I’m in heaven, though do comment as I remember that #4 is a king, #5 is a twin, #6 is a king, etc. etc. Did I prefer a king than a twin (these are the large ¾ twins)... oh, no matter; only to find when I returned later that night, that I had a king. It’s so easy to just swap out the twins for a thick king mattress. So accommodating... it’s wonderful.

Lunch was family style and delicious, especially the fresh salad and yummy tomatoes. Conversation was fun and interesting to listen to the youngsters go on about what they wanted to see and knew they’d get all they hoped for.

After lunch I retired to the library, which is such a peaceful spot, with probably every issue of National Geographic; also noticed the laptop which is where they’ve set up for WiFi, though when I heard Ric was planning this, he got a thumbs down from me. Hey, for those who absolutely, positively have to be connected, it’s a lovely spot to do so and away from others. Next time I visit, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sign-in sheet on the door, in 15-minute increments. Ha! Ha!

At 3:30, I met Philip for our afternoon game drive. Philip is wonderful (though has since left; he’s got so many things going for him, even had a stint in the States working for Disney in setting up their Africa environment in Florida). We were heading to the Rhino Sanctuary on this beautiful afternoon, with perfect temperature, plenty of sunshine... though dark clouds in the distance. Just as we arrived at the sanctuary, were there are three (3) rhinos - two male, one female who happens to be preggy - protected by guards, the skies open. Philip got a rain slicker for me, which was made for a very very tall person, so dragged behind reminding me of Mickey the Sorcerer from "Fantasia." I was a fright and trying to take photos at the same time which came out blurry.

But, as soon as it started, the rain ended and presented us with a lovely rainbow. Game was scattered, but there were plenty of topi, giraffe, jackals, Tommies, even an elephant or two. Sadly, on the way back to camp we came upon two “kills” of Tommies taken down by jackals; one was still alive and yelping as the jackals dove into the innards. This upset me, even though I’ve seen and heard lions chomping on bones of their take downs. I just love those Tommies and find it sad to see them injured. Guess even though “they’re born to run” for this little one, it wasn’t fast enough, but it was two-against-one when dealing with the jackals on a hunt.

Back at camp by 7pm, we have more guests, a couple from Spain who came in on the afternoon flight. Unfortunately, their luggage didn’t arrive at JKIA and they had to do some quick shopping in Nairobi before boarding flight to the Mara. They were only flying from Madrid, via London... and no bag! And to learn they planned to be in Africa only six-days for a quick getaway. Everyone was enjoying sundowners (soft drinks for the youngsters) at the fireplace, when we were escorted to the outside fire, where the Masai dancers performed and which the kids really enjoyed.

Dinner was again an outstanding meal, then after dinner drinks and off to bed. Tomorrow, I’m outta here and heading farther into the Mara.

... to be continued
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Old Oct 13th, 2007, 03:52 PM
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sandi - I'm loving your report. Thanks!
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Sandi, was out of town and just catching up but loved your report and cannot wait for more! You've been so very helpful to me on my upcoming travel plans and I now see how you know so much - lots of great places you've chosen to "visit". Look forward to pictures too. Where are you off to next? (by the way, I kept Saruni in my itinerary!) Cc
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 10:27 AM
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Dear Sandi, greta to read about your trip after all. I satued in Chalet 6 in Saruni and teh view was amazing, thanks for all your feedback and trips. I have just post some pictures including Chalet nr 6. bye bye
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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sorry for the terrible spelling, in a big hurry, still unpacking from Africa, and repacking for China, leaving tomorrow, pfff
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Old Nov 18th, 2007, 01:10 PM
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I'm back !

Thursday, May 31, 2007

This morning over breakfast, I had time to talk with the couple from Spain who weren’t very happy campers not having heard if or when their luggage would arrive. Though they did look cute in the few safari tan items purchased. So much for transiting thru London and flying British Air. The other families were out on game drives and bush breakfasts.

All packed and ready to set off, Philip collected me and we’re on our way to Serian Camp. Another beautiful morning with game scattered about. But the strangest unfamiliar sounds were coming from motor bikes that many of the Masai are using to get around... putt, putt, putt... too funny to hear and see these things coming up on you! With not a sign or arrow anywhere, I’m still amazed how these guides know where they’re going... up this road, down that road! It took us about 1.5/hrs before we pulled into Serian Camp. Here, I said my good-bye to Philip... it was so good to see him again and spend time together.

I was greeted by Mike and Josie, friends of Alex Walker, owner, who had left that morning for a Rhino charge film shoot, camera equipment and all... something he told me about a few months back. Mike, in fact, had just returned from a photo shoot for the History Channel, documenting the route of John Thompson, probably the only white man who came to Africa and brought nothing but his mapping tools (between Mombasa and Lake Victoria) - no disease and killed no one. Mike and Josie have filled in for Alex previously and had some interesting friends occupying the other tents, including relatives of John Thompson. Also here, were the guys who were building the new tents across the river and pulling the suspension bridge. With the exception of one other guest, a gal from Palm Beach who was concluding her visit after lunch, it was a small intimate group of friends. Most relaxing and such fun.

The sun was shining, the air was warm to hot at such a lovely site on the Mara River. The camp is rustic and unfenced, with traditional safari tents, all with river views, each very private, many with wrap around decks - the loos, though are a few steps outside the main sleeping area, but are so cute. No light to speak of, but twin wash basins in most, flush loos, interesting bathtubs and separate showers. Having just come from Saruni with probably the largest canvas chalets, I had forgotten what the traditional tent size was. But mine and most other tents had at minimum a double bed (if not twin) and some even queen size beds, so more than ample.

Returning to the deck for lunch I pass a small pen surrounded by chicken wire and a tiny doggy-type house. Well, who can this be for? … oh, a baby antelope - a Bambi. The gate is ajar with the mom not too far away, to come and go as they both wish during daylight, but locked up at night along with a baby Tommy. The little ones are bottle fed by staff.

Lunch was light... green salad and tomato (my favorite), pasta with a great red sauce. While enjoying my meal, Josie notices my missing right-hand thumb nail and offers to replace it for me. Wow! Here I had resigned myself to forego repair, when out in the middle of the bush, another gal with her own lovely manicured hands has her kit in case of emergency. And, here I was – Ms. Emergency. I thanked her, but declined. I was going to do without from here on out.

As we finish lunch, the sky turns grey and the rain begins with light showers. Everyone heads back to their tents to return at 3:30pm for tea and afternoon activity. Though raining, there was sufficient canvas overhang at my tent to protect me while sitting on the deck and watching the Mara River rollin’ on by! Rain didn’t last too long and soon the sun was shining. Then, when I returned to the lounge, I learned that plans were to walk to the river to watch the hippos and other game that might show.

Walk “down” - not a long way, mind you, but that means having to return “up” – they’ve got the wrong person. If it ain’t flat, I’m not climbing one way or another. Ok, yes I did at Tarangire… otherwise, “c’est la princess.” I thank Mike and bid the rest of the group an enjoyable time, and retire to the lounge with my book. There was a fire, the sofa was real comfy, so I’m plenty content. Then, out of nowhere, the sun was gone, and the skies opened again; so glad I was indoors and dry though the air was raw and nasty. When the group returned, 1-1/2 hrs later, they had to admit I made the right choice as they had no protection and huddled beneath a tree. However, beverages had been brought down to the river, so they were fine; happier though to be back inside and somewhat drier. The rain now was more shower, so I returned to my tent to change into warmer clothing for dinner and then back to the lounge for the official “sundowners.”

By this time, two more guests had joined us - a couple from Nairobi, he a resident, she a South African who was working in Nairobi as a wine specialist for South African wines. This should make for interesting dinner conversation. As at Saruni, dinner was served family style at one long table with appetizer, salad, main and desert and lots of wine flowing. Only problem was that the main course was a tilapia casserole, and I don’t eat fish. Though Serian had this information, I can only assume with Alex leaving and Mike taking over, this was overlooked. Hakuna matata! I'm easy and simply asked for pasta, much as we had at lunch which had been excellent.

As I said, conversation would be interesting and it was. Everything one could imagine, from the filming of the John Thomson story, wine, safari, game, camps, and on and on till almost 11pm, when it was time for most to retire as they planned on heading out early the next morning, except for me, of course. I was escorted back to my tent, where lanterns had been left on the deck outside the tent, on the short walkway to the loo and one inside. I normally don’t like a lantern inside with closed flaps (I have mine left open), but for some reason, I kept this lit and was off with the sandman in no time. Unlike many lux camps that have down comforters, Serian was, probably for cool/cold nights, using woolen blankets and wool is not only heavy, but when damp my sensitive nose rejects this, so I threw them off and I slept with a sheet only; pretty hardy for me, but it wasn’t cold or even cool, actually quite comfy nighttime temps. I did, however, need the loo sometime near 4am, so I slipped into my moccasins, unzipped the tent and between the raindrops made it to the facility and back... laughing all the way. Those lanterns were positioned in just the right places; I didn’t slip on my butt.


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Old Nov 18th, 2007, 01:22 PM
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Friday, June 1, 2007

I was already up listening to the river (no birds, as it was drizzling) when coffee was delivered at 7am. Just what I needed, but as I tried opening the thermos, I couldn’t... it was too tightly closed, I just had no strength in either of my hands. I’d have to wait for my morning jolt when I got to breakfast.

A quick shower, though couldn’t wait for the real hot water; dressed and finished repacking those few items I had taken out of my duffle, I walked to breakfast. Surprise, surprise - either everyone had gone out, already eaten or I was early… and it was already 9am. Well, I was early, as those who had planned to go out early didn’t (raining too hard); they must have stayed long after I had retired the night before, soon to learn the others would be enjoying breakfast in, and then going out on a game drive.

After breakfast, I checked out a few of the other tents, the photo-center tent, as Alex does put emphasis on photography. I was now set to depart with a guide/driver to Olonana Camp. Farewells, business cards exchanged, on my way at about 10:30am.

The roads were wet - some slippin’ and sliddin’ – a good driver; still some light showers and little game on our way, but I could see the skies clearing and knew the day would eventually be lovely. The drive-time was a bit over 1/hr over some nasty roads, one being the road that comes in from Nairobi on the west side of the Mara and badly chopped up. The sun was shining by the time I arrived at Olonana, where I was greeted by the camp manager, Tom.

I had been looking forward to meeting Tom, specifically to thank him for the wonderful wedding vow renewal ceremony he coordinated for clients last August. All these formalities over, I received the same welcome overview as other guests which took place in the library/game room off the main lounge/dining room. Then a walk to my tent (#6) along a tree shaded stone path, past a lovely small pool with lounges. All 12-tents are Mara River facing with hippos frolicking all hours of the day; when not, they’re feeding on the banks, so the camp is fenced. Personally, a fence doesn’t bother me and aren’t noticeable from some of the tents, besides the flowers hanging like ivy were such a nice welcome when arriving at or sitting on the deck.

Lovely wide wooden decks welcome you to the tents which are double size – rectangular, that accommodate two queen-sized beds, desk/chair, full length mirror, storage for clothing, plenty of moving around space (no bumping into another) - hair dryer, ensuite bathroom with twin wash basins, flush loos and shower and lots of fluffy towels, robes and slippers.

Settled in, I returned for lunch which I took inside, though the deck was most tempting, maybe next time. Again, not many guests at this time of year, most were local Kenyans, white and black, taking advantage of space at this low season with resident rates. Besides myself this first day, an American, there was a couple from Italy who were working in Nairobi.

Lunch finished and reading a few chapters, I went to find my guide/driver and fellow guests for the afternoon game drive. Here I was introduced to Julius who is Samburu and has been with Olonana for quite a number of years. The other passengers where the young (30s/40s) Italian and Kenyan (guess in their early-60s) couples with whom I enjoyed my dinners at their invitation. The husband grew up down the road from the actual little girl in “Nowhere in Africa.” Like the story/movie, his father arrived from Europe to Kenya during WWII, a most interesting couple.

Taking my favorite seat next to the guide/driver, we were in a 3-seat row vehicle, but with only 4/passengers, an empty row. Driving on the very bumpy ridge past Kichwa Tembo/Bateleur Camps (Bateleur, now with both North and South Camps, 9/tents each, ain’t all that small and intimate anymore, I’d say) thru the Oloololo Gate. Amazing, not a wildebeest in sight - oh, that’s in 6/weeks or so; best though, only a few vehicles at first. We did come upon a pair of lions, but with high grass in this area, difficult to see. There were the big guys, easy to see: ellees (lots of them heading for their daily drink), giraffe, buffalo, impala, Tommies, topi and lots of birds (I don’t know names, but beautiful colors, big and small). It was so delightful to be able to enjoy the quiet, until we came over a ridge and there saw vehicles coming from all directions heading to one spot (oh, those radios... ugh), at which we all laughed and figured “not for us.” But we were curious as to what they might be watching - it would have to wait.

Instead we headed in the opposite direction going toward the Serena (but not really, as from here that lodge is a good 20/miles) and sure enough – cheetah! Three cheetah, just taking their afternoon siesta and it was just us, where we sat a watched for about 20/minutes. Then in the side mirror I see another vehicle closing in on us, but he’s a friend, a vehicle from Bateleur with 4/paxs. Noticed this was a new vehicle, right out of the factory; also that one of the guys seems uncomfortable... not much room between rows as his legs are touching the back of the row in front of him, but they were individual bucket-type seats(3) in each row. I had seen one of the older Bateleur vehicles which seemed to have more space between seat rows, so the new config was suprising. We certainly didn’t have this problem in our vehicle with two tall guys (well over 6’ tall). Ok, time to go see what all the hoopla is where all those vehicles were congregating.

Thankfully, by the time we arrive, most vehicles have left. And while we were expecting lion, instead it was this massive Marshal Eagle (the largest bird in Kenya) on the ground. It didn’t seem hurt, rather was clutching a kill of some kind. Boy, was he big and rather ugly, yet looks so beautiful when in flight. Not too far away, a few more vehicles who again seem to be departing is where we found Simba! At first we thought there were only one or two, but they were in the bush so it was difficult to actually figure out how many. With less vehicles around, we start counting and find there are 7, both female and young males. Probably a mother/s, but no dominate male. All of a sudden two lions come running out of the bush playing with something, which appeared to be a small animals, but it wasn’t. It was a piece of hard rubber, which I’d guess might have fallen off a vehicle. This item kept them busy for sometime.

We stayed out for another hour or so spotting a leopard kill up a tree... an antelope, but no leopard about. Driving into the sunset, we came onto beautiful skies and a lovely date tree on the landscape. It was so beautiful, all that was missing was a Masai with spear standing next to it, which I asked Julius to go pose. No way... as he too was so impressed with the view, out came his mobile so he could capture the beauty of the scene along with the rest of us.

Arriving back at camp, as we drive to the entrance we notice the chef standing at one of the fence-posts talking on his mobile, which Julius mentions is the camp’s “phone booth.” Why? Because this spot happens to offer the best reception and from where the chef (and many others) contact the outside world!

Unlike Saruni or Serian who serve meals family style, at Olonana there are individual tables. Seemed to me that about half of the 12/tents were occupied, offering guests the option to eat outside on the terrace or indoors and that’s what they chose. Needless to say, another excellent meal (didn’t have a bad meal anywhere) with choice of fish or meat (I passed on the fish) for main course, veggies were fresh and perfectly prepared. Soup served as starter, of course, and beautifully presented deserts. I enjoyed this meal with the Kenyan couple, with great conversation and lots of laughs. As elsewhere, we were the last to finish, after enjoying drinks with Tom and one of the other managers. Then off to sleep with images of that sunset to loll me to dreamland.

... to be continued
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Old Nov 18th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Coffee arrives at 7am and this time it’s easy to open the thermos and enjoy their sugar cookies. There’s plenty of hot water, so the hair gets washed because I have a hair dryer... whoopee! But you know, I first checked that it worked before I wet the head.

Arriving for breakfast, I left a set of batteries to be recharged. In their office is an entire set-up to charge as many electrical devices as needed and told I could pick up by lunch for the afternoon.

Then, after breakfast, where it appeared everyone else was out on game drives, I spent time with Tom walking the camp which is really lovely. The only negative (not really major) is that all of tents are in one direction from the public space… so Tent #12, is the farthest and quite a walk. I would have thought they could have built 6-tents each either side of the public area and they’d still be private.

I left a few dollars in their gift shop for small items and then settled on the terrace to read and watch the hippos. When I next looked around, lunch was being served and there were new faces, in fact, the guy who had been in that Bateleur vehicle the afternoon before. From Bateleur to Olonana, both in the same area, about 1/mile apart. Strange choices, but hey, I didn’t suggest this! Also, a couple from San Francisco who had before arriving here had been at Campi ya Kanzi, where I’d be heading in a few days.

For the afternoon game drive, I had another guide, but also joined by the Kenyan couple (not the Italians), and this couple who had earlier been at Bateleur, who were visiting from South Africa. Our guide this afternoon was Joseph who like Julius was excellent.

Game viewing was good - same cast of characters, but more topi wherever we drove. Lots of birds, another small pride of lions, elephant and buffalo herds, giraffe and zebra, baboons and vervet monkeys. The weather was lovely, though for about half-hour the skies did look threatening, but no water from above.

When returning to the camp, we again found the chef at the phone booth, and another guy nearby who appeared to be waiting for the fence post to become available. Too funny!

Had sundowners with the Kenyan couple, then adjourned to the dining room. Here, I noticed new faces... they come and they go. And, my guess was that nine of the 12/tents were occupied.

We again closed up the dining room. We were both departing the next day, they on the 10am flight, and I’d be heading off by road to Explorer Camp.

... to be continued

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Old Nov 18th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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Thanks for continuing sandi...i thought maybe you had joined the writer's strike
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Old Nov 19th, 2007, 11:53 AM
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Sunday, June 3, 2007

There’s simply nothing as wonderful as waking up in Africa. The smell is clean, the sounds are fascinating. Guess, you can take the city out of the gal. Certainly, this one.

Showered, dressed and packed, my pick-up was scheduled for 10am with a guide/driver from Explorer Camp. With sufficient time after breakfast, Tom advises me that the driver would be late. Apparently, there was flooding at one of the bridge crossings and he'd have to wait till the water receded. Well, I’m glad I have my book... can’t recall when I’ve been able to get in as much time to do so on previous trips. But this is good, as when I’m home, time just gets away from me.

It’s somewhere between 11am-12N, the driver from Explorer appears. I say my good-byes, thank everyone for a wonderful stay and we’re out of there. The drive to Explorer Camp takes a little over 1/hr. On arrival, I’m met by Marianna, the manager. For those who might remember, when Explorer Camp initially opened they were the first camp to have a Masai woman as manager. Sadly, I learned about a year ago that she passed due to AIDS. What a shame. Marianna, not Masai, is from the coast and has been at the camp since.

I’m assigned Tent #9, which is on a separate path from other tents, but then all the tents are pretty much private... just a matter of how you get to each. All of the tents are river facing, at a bend in the Talek River. A traditional tent, but quite large with a king-sized bed, antique/safari chair, desk. Lamps set on tree stumps; a lovely large bath to the rear with en-suite loo, shower (with lots of fluffy towels), twin washbasins. On the outside deck to the side, there is a Victorian-style tub, hidden for privacy. Each tent equipped with two-way radios at night.

As is customary with Heritage property camps – Intrepid’s and Explorers – there are three (3) game drives scheduled daily… two in the morning, 6:30 & 10:30am and afternoon at 3:30pm. Well, you know, I’m not going out at 6:30am and at 10:30am, I’m just finishing breakfast. So, I’m back to my afternoon game drive schedule.

Having arrived when I did, I had lunch immediately in the dining area that has a great view of the river and hippos sunning on the banks. Still enjoying their lunch was a family group – parents, three children, believe 10/yrs (a boy) and two girls, about 13 & 15/yrs – they were traveling with their safari planner. How nice, something I should consider... if I ever had the time!

Ready for afternoon game drive, I’m paired with a Spanish couple on their honeymoon. She had a better handle on English, but when it comes to animals language didn’t seem to matter much. We had lots of fun coming on cheetah (3), lions (6) in the woodlands, hyena w/collar, elephants, topi, Tommies, giraffe and one lone wildie! Poor fellow, just waiting for his buddies to arrive in a few weeks.

With the sun setting we return to camp via Intrepid’s. It was strange to see we were on the opposite side of the river where our guide parked and walked us to a suspension bridge. Oh no! Not one of those bridges. But, I’ve become a champ on these and crossed without any hesitation to find the Intrepid’s open air dining area. Here we all headed for the loo, and then outside the camp’s main entrance got into another vehicle for the short 10/min drive to Explorer Camp in time for sundowners at the open fire pit.

The pit is actually hidden during daylight hours on the public space deck/lounge area that hangs over the Talek, then opened at night. Here, we were introduced to a new group of guests, two from the UK (a gal and guy), friends of another guy who happened to be the manager from Ulasaba at Sabi Sands/Kruger in South Africa. His first visit to East Africa which he was enjoying tremendously.

After a few rounds of drinks, with camp manager, and lots of stories, we adjoined to dinner. All meals here are served. No buffets, not even breakfast. Tell them what you want off the menu and it’s prepared to perfection.

After another long day, with my askari escort to my tent, I’m off to dreamland the minute my head hits the pillow.

... to be continued


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Old Nov 19th, 2007, 02:36 PM
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The 3 outing game drive option is appealing to some of us, thanks for mentioning it.

I can imagine your nervousness leading up to becoming the harried wild woman when you thought you might miss your flight.

Interesting aside on Philip. I've seen his work. Disney's Animal Kingdom is the closest I'll get to going on safari with most of my family members.

How fascinating, if a bit sad, you saw jackals on the attack of Thomson's Gazelles. You mentioned two jackals against one gazelle. I would think it would take even more jackals than that for an aggressive move.

Very brave of you to forego the nail assistance and then sleep with just a sleep. Maybe wild woman is indeed appropriate.
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