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Imelda’s African Adventure - Rwanda & Kenya July 20th 2006 to July 30th 2006

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Aug 24th, 2006, 01:08 PM
  #101
 
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YAY! I'm so happy you got your bags...these experiences really make you enjoy relaxing afterwards.
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Aug 24th, 2006, 01:12 PM
  #102
 
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A leopard, your clothing AND fresh pineapple. Pretty much says it all

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Aug 24th, 2006, 01:22 PM
  #103
 
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By the way, dooes anyone else like the irony that both Lucy and Imelda's reports ahve converged at Lake Nakuru?

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Aug 24th, 2006, 01:38 PM
  #104
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Absolutely Lucia & Wayne, we had to be the happiest people in camp that night. It's amazing what losing luggage and then finding it does for ones sense of happiness!!!

And yes Wayne, I've just caught up with Lucia's report again and now we're both content in Lake Nakuru's Sarova Lion Hill!

Imelda
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Aug 24th, 2006, 03:20 PM
  #105
 
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Luggage AND a leopard. It was your lucky day! I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures later.
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Aug 24th, 2006, 03:49 PM
  #106
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Imelda:
So glad that you received your luggage--really enjoying your report.
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Aug 25th, 2006, 12:29 PM
  #107
 
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Yes, Wayne I noticed the Lake Nakuru convergence too.

When I clicked the photo link I got to the main Kodakshare page but not Imelda's photos.

If anyone else found the photos, please tell me how you did it.
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Aug 25th, 2006, 01:08 PM
  #108
 
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Lynn,
Imelda hasn't posted photos yet. The link that Cyn posted is for downloading the Kodak software. BTW I don't think I've said this yet, welcome back and looking forward to your Botswana report!
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Aug 28th, 2006, 01:02 PM
  #109
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Sorry Lynn, Patty is correct - Cyn posted the link to Kodak so that I can download it. It will be a while before they are posted though as it's extremely busy here (weddings, christenings, weekends away to football matches ... we won... YAY!, anniversaries) and we're away every weekend until October so it has slowed down my trip report postings ... sorry!
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Aug 28th, 2006, 01:14 PM
  #110
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JULY 24th – Maasai Mara Here We Come!!

For some reason we didn’t have such a good nights sleep. Deck had nightmares, which meant that it was another bleary-eyed morning for both of us. No lying about though, it’s Africa and there’s no time to waste! Up we get and go to breakfast. I was very impressed that one of the waiters (whom I hadn’t taken too much notice of the evening before) remembered us and told us ‘you can sit here at the table you had last night’. How he remembered two people in a full lodge I don’t know, especially as we only arrived the previous day. The breakfast, no surprise was really really good with a fresh waffle station which I took full advantage of! After breakfast we checked out smoothly. I didn’t see a tip box so I asked if there was one. The lady at the desk gave me an envelope into which I put our tip and handed it in to reception. At about 8am we met with Mule and set off for the pink lake.

Along the way to the lake we saw female Waterbuck, a Vulture, Warthogs, Buffalo, Impala, White Rhino, Thompson Gazelle, a baby Giraffe and a Marabou Stork. Near the lake we saw Blacksmith Plover and Egyptian Geese and of course the flamingos at the lake. What a sight! Mule was right, there weren’t very many vehicles at the lake this morning and we have some uninterrupted viewing of the beautiful flamingos. On leaving the lake we spot our first pair of Dik Dik. This was to be one of only two sightings of these cute little antelope during our time in Kenya. Before leaving the park we see a very handsome Eland, a Rothschild Giraffe, which is very far away, a Pine Crow, Pelicans, more Zebra and our first Monard Lizard. We didn’t see any Colobus Monkeys, which I was a bit disappointed by, but we did see a very large troop of Baboons with many babies.

We almost had another flight incident today .... While we were driving around Lake Nakuru, I mentioned to Mule about needing to be at the airstrip a little early as I had to pay SafariLink for our flights to the Maasai Mara. Mule didn’t say much but phoned Kennedy who spoke to me on the phone. He was worried about the ‘paying for the flights at the airstrip’ but I told him that was what I had arranged with Debra (my contact in SafariLink). I had a copy of the e-mail stating, “pay on arrival” (quote, unquote!) for the flights. Kennedy was worried, which definitely made me nervous and he said he would contact Debra and then get back to me. Well it turned out that Kennedy’s fears were well founded – he phoned me back with the news that the flights had to be paid for in Nairobi !!! NOT Navisha as I was led to believe. He gave us two choices – we drive back to Nairobi and pay for the flights and fly from there ..... OH NO!!! or Kennedy would drive to Wilson airport and pay for the flights and we send the money with Mule for him and we still get the flight from Navisha.... Hurray for Kennedy!!!! Needless to say we took the latter option!!! Whheeewww!!!

After our little heart stopping moment over the flights we hit the very dusty and bumpy road towards Naivasha and the Lolida airstrip, leaving the park at about 11am. We found Mule to be very quiet again on this journey. In fact Mule was extremely quiet throughout our time with him. We tried to engage him in conversation many times but he just didn’t seem to want to talk much. We were a bit disappointed by this as we like to chat a little and Mule just didn’t really make an effort. Anyways, a very quiet journey towards Naivasha ensued. We saw the same troop of baboons along the roadside as yesterday but not much more. Originally, Kennedy had mentioned about going on a boat ride on Lake Naivasha but we decided we didn’t really want to do this. We said this to Mule and asked for suggestions as to where to go and what to do before our 3pm flight. Mule was intent on having lunch even though we said we weren’t bothered but we gave in. We found him lacking in suggestions and eventually, in order to spend time doing something, we settled on going to Mpata for lunch. At about 1pm we pulled in to a Golf Club near Lake Naivasha (I can’t remember the name) for lunch. I don’t know why we didn’t go to Mpata – Mule never said! Anyways, we went in and lunch was a buffet. We picked at a little food while we watched the many starlings feeding at the birdfeeder below AND at the next table – they especially enjoyed the butter!!!! The food was fine, nothing spectacular but OK – not a patch on the Lion Hill though. Having finished our lunch we asked for the bill ... WOW!!!, almost $50 just for lunch and 2 cokes!!! We were definitely shocked and were actually a little annoyed over this. We thought that Mule could have at least warned us about the cost or taken us somewhere else just to have a light snack. Now don’t get me wrong, we are not penny pinchers when it comes to eating out, it’s just that Mule knew we weren’t particularly interested in eating lunch and then he takes us to a different lodge than he says without even telling us first and it cost an exorbitant amount (comparatively speaking). There was also nothing much to do / see here so we were effectively trying to waste time before our flight - NOT something I wanted to do in Kenya! We walked around the small garden of the lodge and then we set off for the airstrip – we were there before 2.30pm!!

Anyways, we waited for our flight with my nerves building by the minute. I have a serious claustrophobia issue and as I had never been in a small plane before, I was extremely apprehensive. I had brought us this issue with Debra prior to booking these flights and she had reassured me that I would be fine as their planes are 14 seater and 16 seater but I was still very anxious. Deck was amazed with the ‘airport’, especially when a guy pulled up on a bike to unlock the gate … no security here! Shortly after, we heard the whir of a plane approaching and it wasn’t long before it landed - but Oh Boy – it was a VERY little one. My heart was in my mouth – would I be OK in such a small plane? Then the pilot got out we found out that it wasn’t our plane – what a relief! The pilot had just gotten out when the guy on the bike made him get back in to pull the plane over to the side beside the bushes – Deck thought this was absolutely hilarious! Again we waited for our plane and at around 3.30 another plane landed. This time it was a SafariLink 14 or 16 seater and we got ready to board (ie I was sweating it!). But again, no, this wasn’t our plane – this one WAS going to the Mara but not the Mara Serena and we were told to wait again. Now it was getting late and I was beginning to worry that there had been some mix up and we had been forgotten about but at 3.50 a third plane landed. It was a 16 seater and was pretty full. Thankfully the two last seats were vacant meaning that we weren’t stuck in the middle of everyone which would have been a bit of a challenge for my claustrophobia. The seats we had were near the door and had a vacant area behind them for baggage, which suited me well. I was OK with the space issue and distracted myself by looking out the window. The flight was a little bumpy but we had travel sickness bands on which I was very glad of.

Our stop was the first in the Mara and we landed at around 5pm. There, Samuel from Serena picked us up. We drove to The Serena where we were greeted with cool facecloths and some cool pineapple juice. We checked in quickly and were shown to our room – number 76, which was at the end of the row and quite a long way downhill from the Lodge. We entered and the room was lovely BUT, it was a twin room and I had booked a double. The guy who escorted us to the room phoned reception but there was no double room available. They offered to move us tomorrow and in the meantime, make the two single beds into a double. Ordinarily I would have just stuck with the two single beds being pushed together but I didn’t really want to do this for four nights so we agreed to change in the morning. We left our luggage and went back up to reception where we spoke to Kevin. He told us there would be a double room available tomorrow and Deck asked if there was any possibility of getting a room nearer the lodge (Deck isn’t too keen on walking too far, especially when it’s uphill!!... it actually WAS quite a long way though!). Kevin asked if number 5 would be OK – only 5 doors from the lodge on the opposite side to number 76 – Perfect!!

With that, we went back out to Samuel for our short evening gamedrive. We headed straight for the Mara River to check out the Wildebeest crossing situation. Sure enough, a number of wildebeest had gathered and we observed them for about 10 minutes but decided they weren’t going to make their move this evening – maybe tomorrow. I got my first sighting of the beautiful Topi, which I had never seen in reality before. I had seen pictures here in Fodors and thought they were beautiful animals – I love their colouring and think they are really handsome. We also saw Zebra, Thompson Gazelle and White Backed Vultures. We headed upriver where we saw Hippo and Crocodile. Samuel was a mine of information and it was very obvious that he loves his job. He has worked for Serena for 7 years at the Mara and also at Amboseli and Samburu. He told us lots of things we never knew – for example, crocodiles only need to eat every 3-4 months and sometimes if there is a drought, they hibernate under a dried up river bed!! On our way back to the lodge we saw our first beautiful Masai Giraffe. She was alone and heavily pregnant. We were really hoping that Samuel would be our driver for the duration of our stay but alas, it was not to be. He told us that he had another group coming in in the morning and we would have a different driver – oh well.

We arrived back at the lodge at around 6.50 and headed for our room to finally have a shower and change into some clean clothes. We were well impressed with the room. I had seen some photographs of the rooms and to me they had looked gaudy but they weren’t at all. They were bright, clean and large with lots of lights and a bright bathroom. There were complimentary bathrobes and also insect repellent wipes (which contain DEET and were replenished daily) and the shower was amazingly powerful. We attempted to open the patio doors but we discovered we had a little resident outside … a lizard. Now, I’m not too keen on lizards but Deck feels a little more strongly about them!!! He hopped up on the coffee table when the little critter crept into the room through a small gap between the doors …. What a sight, a grown man on top of a coffee table instructing me to remove an equally scared lizard . Thankfully the lizard, obviously deciding that we were very scary humans, vacated through the same gap after a couple of minutes.

Having made sure our visitor couldn’t re-enter we headed to the lodge for dinner. It was supposed to be A la carte but in fact the soup and main course were the only items that were al la carte, the rest was from a buffet. I had a salad from the small salad bar to start and I think the soup was mushroom was OK. I can’t remember what Deck had to start but he had the Beef Consommé which he also thought was OK. I had a curry dish from the buffet with rice, which was VERY hot. I like things quite spicy (I normally order my dishes medium to hot) but this was a bit much. Deck, I think, had the beef, which again was OK. I tried the rhubarb crumble from the buffet – one of my favourite dishes. The rhubarb in the middle was lovely but the crumble wasn’t exactly crumble – it was gooey and very unappetizing and instead I ended up with some fresh delicious pineapple. The food throughout our stay in the Serena was a BIG let down for us. It was sameo, sameo - always a curry as the vegetarian option and many times there were very few vegetables in it, consisting mainly of sauce. There was a ‘stir fry station’ every night also but on half the nights the meat option was at the same stir fry station and they used the same pans and utensils for both the meat and vegetarian dishes without cleaning them in between so that ruled out this option for me. Lunch and dinner were basically the same with curry vegetarian option and the same small salad bar selection each day. By the last day we were relieved we would be eating elsewhere for our final two days. I lived on fruit and salad for the duration of our stay and as someone who is a desert lover, was very disappointed never to find one, which was anyways appetizing. Deck was also unimpressed with the meat options and the portions were tiny. By the end we were dieing for some ‘real’ potatoes instead of those fried, cubed potatoes they had for EVERY meal (breakfast, lunch AND dinner)!

Anyways, back to the 24th! We ordered a bottle of wine which was lovely but quite expensive at $33 (all wines on the menu were over $27 I think) and we finished it near the fire pit where we listened to two guys on guitars – very enjoyable. We didn’t stay too long and headed for bed early where we slept soundly in THE most comfortable beds.

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Aug 28th, 2006, 01:14 PM
  #111
 
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No worries, just post when you can.

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Aug 28th, 2006, 01:53 PM
  #112
 
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Sounds like you had a few budget busters with the $33 bottle of wine and the $50 lunch.

looking forward to more on the Mara. I love having these trip reports converge!
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Aug 28th, 2006, 04:17 PM
  #113
 
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Oh goody, more (mis)adventures. Love the report! I think topis are beautiful as well. The sheen/coloring of their coats.

The Mara Serena sounds like another great place for me to experiement with my safari-as-spa-diet theory.

Kennedy's just the best, isn't he?
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Aug 28th, 2006, 05:09 PM
  #114
 
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I'm glad Kennedy saved the day and you didn't have to drive back to Nairobi before flying to the Mara!

Was it the Great Rift Valley Lodge perhaps where you had lunch? I think they have a golf course.
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Aug 28th, 2006, 10:01 PM
  #115
 
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The Mara Serena seems to switch to buffets in the evening when full - and the desserts definitely look better than they taste. Dessert lovers will be slightly disappointed. However, I do have reservations about the concept of serving rhubarb crumble in the middle of the Masaai Mara anyway. Didn't they do the vegetables in tomato sauce while you were there? And didn't they do the pasta station? Poor you - overfed and then underfed!

Considering where you come from I refuse to take your complaint about potatoes seriously. Admit it, Deck's never satisfied with the potatoes, is he? ;-)

Personally I think Mule was a naughty boy.
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Aug 29th, 2006, 12:34 PM
  #116
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Yes Wayne, I should have named today 'budget buster day' To be honest, we had no major qualms about paying for either so long as that was what we wanted but as far as the meal was concerned, like Kimburu, I think there must have been something in it for Mule. Maybe I'm completely wrong but that's my cynical mind. The wine was lovely was it goes!

Leely & Patty, Kennedy was just FANTASTIC. He took complete control of the situation which was brilliant as normally I end up sorting things out myself so it was good to have someone to do it for me for a change.

Leely, The colouring of the Topi really had me ! They are so handsome. And yes, the Mara Serena is the perfect spa-safari diet location. I didn't put on an ounce!!!! (definately not the usual case)

Patty, Yes, I think it was the Great Rift Valley Lodge. I knew it was an 'easy' name to remember - that's why I didn't write it down!

Kimburu - NO vegetables in tomatoe sauce while we were there I'm afraid. They DID have pasta at the 'stirfry' station but on one of the pasta nights the meat option was at the same station . The second night that they had pasta it was purely vegetarian and it was actually quite good.
Re your 'potato comment', yes, we do like our potatoes but are really not too fussy EXCEPT when it's the same thing every day AND meal. We would have given ANYTHING for some creamed potato or even just plain boiled or baked .. ANYTHING other than the cubes with onions! After 4 days we were sooo sick of them.

Imelda
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Aug 29th, 2006, 12:50 PM
  #117
 
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In Mule's defense, he was probably trying to stop some place "on the way" to Loldia, if that's where the airstrip is located. I don't know what Mpata is. The only Mpata I've heard of is a lodge outside of the Mara. Perhaps he was just confused It does sound like he could work on his people skills though.
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Aug 29th, 2006, 01:08 PM
  #118
 
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I have no doubt that Mule got a little tip for bring you to this place.

Doesn't make him a bad guy or erase any of the good things he did for you.

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Aug 29th, 2006, 01:08 PM
  #119
 
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I'm glad you did not have another flying incident.

Your mixup on rooms at the Mara Serena reminded me of my visit when the staff actually asked if I would mind rooming with a complete stranger because they had accidentally booked my room a day before my departure. My guide came to the rescue and maintained my single room. Other than that the Serena was fine.

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Aug 29th, 2006, 01:10 PM
  #120
 
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Lynn,
I can't believe they actually asked you that
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