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-   -   Mr. Carry-on and Family Go on Safari: A Porini Migration Adventure (

sandi Aug 20th, 2010 01:48 PM

I'm hooting and hollaring! You're too funny! I sure couldn't do carryon only, especially if staying somewhere (most Porini properties) where laundry isn't done. Why I always have sufficient attire to carry me thru, but still under the 33/lb weight limit.

Keep it coming, as I try to remember that I'm late, very late with my 2008 report and haven't given a thought to that for recent 2010 safari. Me bad!

moremiles Aug 20th, 2010 04:03 PM

CC-only one drawback on the Africa board which is no Dogster!

atravelynn Aug 20th, 2010 05:52 PM

I was so absorbed in your tale I never noticed any spelling errors. Your account of the benefits of giraffe saliva have me thinking they should export the stuff.

You have me worried about the upcoming injury. It certainly did not impair your sense of humor, whatever it was.

crosscheck Aug 20th, 2010 09:16 PM

Africa is a dangerous place. There is malaria. There are deadly snakes. And, there are dark pathways where you can trip and sprain your ankle.

The fateful fall happened on the way back to my room at the Macushla House after our dinner at Carnivore. I wish I could say it was just an accident, but sadly, I must assume full responsibility because I not using a flashlight and was wearing clogs. (Yes, I am aware that clogs -- even mud-colored ones like mine -- are not on the safari packing list, but I they're easy to get on and off in airports).

Mr. C helped me up and we discovered that I could barely walk. We planned to leave early the next morning on a road trip to Amboseli, and we could only hope that with the ice and Ace bandage supplied by the Macushla staff, my ankle would feel better in time for the journey.

No such luck. When day broke, my whole foot appeared bruised and swollen, and I still could not walk. Not a great turn of events right before the all-day hike we had planned at Amboseli Porini, an event I was looking forward to almost as much as the migration. I had only 48 hours to recover, and it was unlikely that I would find an orthopedist in the Selenkay Conservancy.

Fortunately, my 19-year old son had played soccer for 18.5 years of his life, and had sustained every possible kind of ankle injury. He took a look at my foot, determined that there were no broken bones, and assured me that if I followed the RICE regimen - rest, ice, compression and elevation - I would recover in time for the hike.

In Kenya, they believe in Heat instead of Ice. So after taking us on brief detour so we could see downtown Nairobi, our Gamewatchers guide and driver drove straight to the drugstore in the roadside settlement of Sultan Hamud. The pharmacy was not exactly a CVS, in fact it looked as it had been constructed by the Three Little Pigs, but there our guides located the miracle drug they were looking for: Deep Heat Spray.

The entire trip to Amboseli Porini took less than four hours. Not the most stunning landscape of the vacation, but scenic in parts, and a priceless glimpse of rural Kenya. The road was good, only bumpy for the last half hour or so. (The people on TA who say it's bumpy have never been to Central America.) And as we passed herds of camels, acacia trees and villagers with baskets on their heads, I stopped worrying about my ankle – we were really in Africa!

For the rest of that day and the next, I had minimal mobility and a fair amount of pain. I began to imagine myself on crutches for the rest of the trip.

Then, on the morning of the hike, I woke up 98% healed, all ready for our 14K walk. I will never know what prompted this speedy recuperation – the Deep Heat...the Alleve...the multiple Tuskers? Or could it possibly have been Daisy’s saliva?


sallysaab Aug 21st, 2010 12:29 PM

Awesome report! I'll be wondering around with a smile all day thinking about it.
Hope you dont mind, but I'm copying it and printing it.

atravelynn Aug 21st, 2010 04:34 PM

A remarkably swift recovery--probably a combination of the above. Perhaps we should treat ourselves with all of those prophylactically, just in case, especially if we've packed our clogs.

14K is a long way, hope the ankle held up.

I can only imagine what funny stuff awaits on the mountain!

kimburu Aug 22nd, 2010 06:45 AM

Very funny, crosscheck, and slyly informative. You have an audience.

twaffle Aug 22nd, 2010 04:48 PM

Crosscheck, thank you for reading my old report … I'm flattered.

I'm amazed by your quick recovery but not really surprised. It is the magic safari dust which could have come from Daisy or just from the African breeze whirling it all around you. Which ever way it happened, I'm glad you got to walk and I'm really looking forward to the next installment. :)

Leely2 Aug 22nd, 2010 05:12 PM

Hope you brought some Deep Heat Spray home with you.

crosscheck Aug 23rd, 2010 12:11 PM

You are all so kind. But Mr. C said to tell you to be careful with the positive feedback: It was only a nine-day vacation and he's concerned I will spend months writing this trip report, resorting to details about every spectacular sundowner, every dik dik we saw and how he hogged the water during our bucket showers.

sandi, YOU are two years late with a trip report? That's shocking news considering your star status on this board. Is that why you're so helpful...afraid of a penalty for tardiness?

moremiles, The Africa board needs a wilddogster

atravelynn, Phenomenal idea about the exportation of giraffe saliva - Could fundamentally change the Africa's economic climate. But it would take a formidable P.R. campaign to get people to want to use sunscreen with the consistency of mucus.

sallysaab, My agent will be contacting you about copyright issues.

kimburu, Back at cha! I'm a secret fan of your writing.

twaffle, Magic safari dust: Another great Kenyan export - let's look into included a bonus packet with each tube of giraffe saliva.

leely2, Sadly, because of carry-on restrictions, I had to leave the Deep Heat Spray in the Mara. But apparently, it's a big deal in the UK...The ice industry must have banned it here.

sandi Aug 23rd, 2010 01:13 PM

Yeh, a tardiness penalty! Bad as bad can be, shame, shame! :)

crosscheck Aug 23rd, 2010 10:05 PM

This segment is not about climbing a mountain, because our all-day hike was on flat terrain. It is instead about living for three memorable days in the shadow of the iconic Kilimanjaro, or as the Masai call it, “the mountain.” We saw it on and off all day, every day of our visit. And, every night, we saw a million stars.

Amboseli National Park, once one of the most fashionable tourist destinations in Kenya, has become less hip in recent years. Some attribute its decline in popularity to mini-buses or drought. But I have uncovered the real reason: The name “Amboseli,” doesn’t sound exotic enough. Unlike Samburu or Lakipia, it could almost be a kind of pasta. (“My husband will have the tortellini, and I’ll have the amboseli porini.”) So stylish safari-goers have taken Amboseli off their itineraries and headed to points north.

Now, as my new position as the Ambassador of Amboseli, it is my mission to spread the truth: Amboseli rocks.

We chose Amboseli Porini as our “other” safari destination besides the Mara, for the following reasons:
- Iconic Kili views
- Reasonably priced eco-friendly and community-minded camp in the remote Selenkay reserve (10K from the park)
- Opportunities for cultural interaction with the Masai: a non-touristy village visit and an all-day walking safari
- Road trip from Nairobi saved money, gave us a chance to see the countryside

We couldn't have made a better choice. Maybe everyone falls in love with their first safari camp, but we were blown away by Amboseli Porini. We felt as if we were on a classic, "real deal" safari from the moment we checked into our huge, comfortable tents in the monkey-filled woods – not fancy or trendy, but what you'd imagine Teddy Roosevelt staying in...timeless. We had an excellent lunch under an acacia tree with a fascinating, international crowd (who became our BFFs as we sat around the fire every night). After the meal, there was complete flexibility in activity choice: One group visited a clinic. One couple went into the park with the goal of seeing 100 elephants – and they ended up seeing 200. And our family headed into the village to meet the tribe that leases its land to the Porini camps.

The guys walked alongside a dry red-rock riverbed with a dozen chanting, dancing, spear-throwing Masai escorts. Still unable to move my ankle, I drove with the chief of the village. In our jet-lagged state, this place was almost too much for the senses. We had been on “village visits” before as a family in Fiji and Burma. (And I won’t go into my premarital Oaxacan and Peruvian experiences.) But somehow this place was more Nat Geo-esque. There was nothing for sale. (If you want cool beadwork, you can buy it in a hut back at camp.) So there was no hustling…just a lot of hand-shaking, jumping, singing and general merriment. The most surreal part of our visit was the house tour. We entered a dung-roofed adobe hut with three round 2” peepholes, then listened as the chief pointed out the man’s bed, the woman’s bed, the indoor firepit and the eating area. But for all we knew, he could have been pointing to a Wolf Range or a Tempurpedic bed, because we were standing in the pitch dark.

A friend who works with a Kenyan NGO told us to prepare a “family song” with hand motions, so that when people perform for us, we could sing something in return. (NB: We do work in the arts, but we are NOT singers…or photographers, as you will find out when I figure out how to post our photos.) So, after the jumping contest, to our boys’ mortal embarrassment, Mr. C and I sang “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.” As we finished the first verse, something cool happened: the entire village joined in, and soon we were all clapping and stomping together.

As night fell, we drank our G&Ts (beware of the addictive potato chips) and saw not only a killer sunset, but two cheetah in the distance. I was starting to “get” why people love Africa. The world as it was: Epic.

I now must admit that although I adore animals, I am not the wildlife fanatic that all of you are. If I were, I surely would have gone on safari earlier in life. I was actually concerned that I would not enjoy long game drives because I like to be active on vacations.

But our first game drive was magical: the weather was perfect, with highs in the mid ‘70’s and lows in the mid '60s. Our vehicle was private, open and super-comfortable. Wilson, our guide, was not only a genius spotter, but could also analyze every play in the World Cup and the NBA finals with our boys. We saw hundreds of enormous elephants, thousands of beautiful birds, plus lionesses, baby baboons, hyena families, gossiping ostriches, all sorts of bucks(s)...sorry, I don’t quite have the plural/no plural thing down yet.

It may be dry, but the Amboseli savanna is the Africa of everyone's dreams: At one point we had views of the cloud-shrouded Mountain to the left and a mirage-like swamp view full of pelicans and flamingos to the right, backed up by a panorama that looked like the finale of lion king (minus the lions) – warthogs, zebra(s), gazelle(s), birds on elephants' backs - all the animals hanging out together, celebrating a fine day in Amboseli.


moremiles Aug 24th, 2010 06:41 AM

You really are Amboseli Ambassador as I am ready to hop on a plane to Amboseli Porini right now! The pasta sounds good too.

What a wonderful start to your safari.

patiricia Aug 24th, 2010 01:46 PM

Oh you have captured the essence of safari for me. "As night fell, we drank our G&Ts (beware of the addictive potato chips) and saw not only a killer sunset, but two cheetah in the distance. I was starting to “get” why people love Africa. The world as it was: Epic." I loved Amboseli as well. We were there on my first safari in 1996. Leaving tomorrow for Botswana and I can't wait!!! I look forward to reading the rest of your report when I return.

annah58 Aug 25th, 2010 05:52 PM

Thank you crosscheck for your wonderful review. We are headed to Amboseli Sept. 17th along with Ol Pejeta and the Mara. Our journey is booked with Gamewatchers also. So glad to hear all of the wonderful info about Amboseli. We also read some negative things about the area and are glad you dispelled the the hype.
My husband also believes in carry-on only, "what if they lose our luggage..."
Once again thank you for your wonderful and entertaining info.

Leely2 Aug 26th, 2010 04:31 PM

I've only seen Amboseli by air (this last trip) and it looked marvelous, I have to say. Your latest chapter makes me want to visit.

However, I'm with the boys on this one:

<i>So, after the jumping contest, to our boys’ mortal embarrassment, Mr. C and I sang “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.” </I>

annah58 Aug 26th, 2010 05:13 PM

Can't wait for "The Hike" installment of your story.

crosscheck Aug 26th, 2010 08:45 PM

I, too, cannot wait to relive that day, but I must take a brief hiatus from this trip report so I can take my son back to college (not with carry-on only). As soon as we get there, he will surely ignore me and I promise to write a detailed account of all the dung we learned to identify.

long2travel Aug 27th, 2010 02:32 AM

Great trip report Crosscheck! I'll get to mine one of these days. After hearing Sandi's timetable I feel a little less pressured.

atravelynn Aug 27th, 2010 05:24 PM

"Sunscreen with the consistency of mucus"--that's the slogan alright!

If the boys were embarrassed with your song on the village visit, imagine their shame if you break into song and clapping at, say, the local Applebees.

Amboseli Porini should take a hint and develop a signature pasta dish by that name.

Funny stuff!

Long2Travel, Twaffle's timeline was even longer. She reached back to her childhood for a delightful safari down memory lane.

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