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Narrowing the hit list in Africa- can you help me link it all together?

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Apr 1st, 2003, 11:03 AM
  #1
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Narrowing the hit list in Africa- can you help me link it all together?

Having studied my trusty new map and after reading a couple of books- including Out of Africa - and especially after studying King's posts, I have settled on the beginnings of a trip.

I can spend three weeks +/- in Africa.
This is what I'm thinking - start at Nairobi, then somehow link together the following:
*Mr. Kilimanjaro (guess that's just always there unless there is a perticular thing to do there), Amboseli (see the elephants, Great Rift Valley and lakes, Rekero (Masai mara), wilderness trails in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to see the rhinos,Tsavo(and I guess stay there somewhere), River Club and do a sunset cruise
Tanzania - Serengeti (to see the wildebeest migration - stay at Ndutu lodge if between Jan-MAr. - IF after May- stay at Serena Lodge or Grumet river Camp (cause I love hippos), see the Ngorongoro crater - and stay there or not - one night max), visit Selous (stay at Sand rivers Camp only between august and Sept or in Feb.), Ruaha, and Katavi -don't know much about these yet.

I heard an account from a friend who visited the gorillas in Rwanda - I have to see that. And I'd love to see the chimps too at Kibale Forest. Here I'm not clear on how to incorporate all or any of the following-Ruwenzori Mtns, queen Elizabeth National Park, and Muchison Falls, and I'd love to see where the Nile river starts.

I really want to scuba dive on the Pemba straits/channel, whatever it's called. And maybe work in Lake Tanganyika/Natron/Turkana, the Chyulu Hills in Kenya.

I'd reserve Capetown, Namibia, Luangwa Valley and Botswana/Okavango Delta for another trip.
Although you might think it a crime to miss Capetown, I'm kind of tired of big cities. Honestly, I'd resent missing the wildlife/nature spots for that, although I'd dearly love to see some penguins in the wild one day (don't they have that somewhere near the Cape?)

Sometime I'd like to work in a balloon ride, see the wildebeest migration (I think-gulp) but I can't go during the school year. And I'd love to ride a train, any train through Africa. I really don't want to drive alone with the kids (besides-I get lost really easy) so I'd prefer air transfers where necessary or to get a driver from a trusted source (or take a train).

Thank you very much for your advice. Please tell me if I'm leaving out something critical.
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Apr 1st, 2003, 11:11 AM
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And, I should explain that I'm not real sure when to go. It could be Dec. 16-Jan 6th or any time between June 1 and August 15th (probably not this summer but next, unless I get some phenomenal deal.)

Also, we're all pretty brave and don't mind roughing it a bit as we're experienced campers. Although cost-conscious, I don't mind paying more for must-see adventures.
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Apr 1st, 2003, 11:15 AM
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And, I truly appreciate all of your wonderful feedback and information. Great pearls of wisdom here.
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Apr 1st, 2003, 11:58 AM
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Good start-
However, they do not do sunset cruises in Kenya, and The River Club is in Zambia.
Sounds like you've covered most of the important bases. You would definately want to see both Kenya and Tanzania together, but, February is best at Ndutu, and Aug/Sep. for the Mara. My two cents for now. More later. Liz
 
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Apr 1st, 2003, 01:28 PM
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I have to agree with Liz about August or September for the Mara. Also, just so you know, there is little information about Selous, Ruaha or Kitavi parks in books. When we decided to go to Selous, I found this site: www.intotanzania.com helpful. If you love hippos, there are plenty of them in Selous. Sand Rivers is great. The manager Alex is a gem and a wonderul staff. If you do go there, request Jackson Mbise as your guide. He's been there eight or nine years and knows Selous like the back of his hand. He also has a genuine love for wildlife. Good luck with your planning.
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Apr 4th, 2003, 11:47 AM
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thank you for your comments. I'm working on this. Not having been there, it's a little difficult to decide how to sequence the trip.
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Apr 4th, 2003, 01:57 PM
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Sounds like a lot to do in three weeks, but let me comment on the gorillas in Rwanda. You can fly from Nairobi to Kigali on Kenya Airways. Get your gorilla permit in Kigali, then take a 90 min minibus ride to Ruhengeri, stay overnight, and be at the ORTPN office by 0730 the next morning. You will have your choice of four gorilla groups in the Volcanoes National Park, and sightings are virtually guaranteed. For more info go to http://www.visitrwanda.gov.rw/. I was there last November, and will be happy to answer any questions about Rwanda.
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Apr 4th, 2003, 03:15 PM
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Heimdall, please tell me about seeing the gorillas. Did you see chimps too? Thanks for the information. I appreciate it.
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Apr 6th, 2003, 04:43 AM
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Visiting gorillas in Rwanda is very easy to arrange. Most tourists arrive in Kigali by air (there are daily flights on Kenya Airways from Nairobi), but a few come overland from Uganda and Tanzania. When in Kigali go to the ORTPN office to get your gorilla permit and make your reservation. It costs US$250 in cash, and entitles you to one hour with the gorillas. This seems like a lot of money for such a short time, but believe me, it is worth every penny.

The best way to get to Ruhengeri where Volcanoes National Park is located is to go by Okapi Cars minibus. The trip takes 90 min from Kigali, and cost only 900 Rwandan francs, which is about $2. It is best to arrive in Ruhengeri the day before your gorilla visit, as you have to be at the ORTPN office in the town by 0730 that morning. If you are late, you could get left behind and lose your $250. No one is allowed to visit the gorillas if they are ill with any communicable disease, even a cold, and this is to protect the gorillas. If you declare yourself ill, you will get your deposit back.

When you arrive in Ruhengeri you must arrange your own transport for the next morning, and you can do this at the bus station. If you are traveling alone you can sometimes ride with other visitors or with the guides.

You can stay at the Hotel Muhabura, which has a good restaurant, and is across the road from the bus station and the ORTPN office. A cheaper option is the Shiyra EER Guest House, run by the Anglican Church, very clean and comfortable.

I visited the Susa Group last November. It is the largest of the four gorilla groups, but also the hardest to reach, as it involves a one hour climb on steep paths before you even get to the park boundary. When you get to the park, you continue to climb, now through thick undergrowth, until you reach the gorillas. We were lucky - the group was near the park boundary, and it only took another half hour to reach them. If you aren't in good physical condition, opt for another group. The easiest to reach involves only a 30 min walk over gentle terrain.

Visiting the gorillas was one of the most profound experiences of my life. We were right in the middle of the group, often only a few feet away. The dominant silverback walked right past, so close that he nearly brushed against me. The guides are supposed to keep visitors 25 ft away, but no one has told the gorillas.

Now for the practicalities of visiting Rwanda. Prices are generally cheap, and the food is good, with a French-Belgian influence. If you are a beer drinker you are going to like Rwanda. The best brand is Mutzig, which is very cheap and every bit as good as most European brands.

Credit cards are almost useless in Rwanda. Only a few of the more expensive hotels in Kiglai take them. Travelers checks can only be cashed in the main banks, and are not accepted in shops or hotels. There are no ATMs in Rwanda that take foreign credit or debit cards. This means that you need to carry most of your funds in cash, preferably US dollars.

While in Rwanda, take the opportunity to visit other places around the country. Gisenyi is on Lake Kivu, near the Vocanoes National Park. On the opposite end of Lake Kivu is Cyangugu, a good base if you want to see the primates in Nyungwe Forest. There are 13 primate species in Nyungwe, including chimpanzees. Recommend you stay at the Peace Guest House in Cyangugu. They are a friendly church-run establishment, and can arrange visits to Nyungwe Forest and other nearby attractions.

For more information on Rwanda, go to http://www.visitrwanda.gov.rw/. The Bradt Travel Guide to Rwanda is filled with useful information.
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Apr 6th, 2003, 06:50 AM
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Heimdall - thank you so much for this wonderful information. I appreciate it.
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Apr 8th, 2003, 05:47 AM
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So, the trip is slowly taking shape. This is what I have so far-

arrive in Nairobi

Stay at the Lewa Wildlife conservancy - two nights I guess - and see the rhinos

At some time go to Uganda - Kibale forest - Stay in Ndal Lodge three nights - make one track to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the gorillas, make a second day treck to see the chimpanzees,
Sometime while here go to visit Ruwenzoori and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Some time in Kenya - see the flamingos - not sure how to plan this - but try to visit - Lakes Elmentaita, Nakuru, Bogoria, Magadi or possibly hold out to see them in:
Tanzania - at the Lakes Natron, Manyara, Ndutu, Lake Magadi inside Ngorongoro crater.
In Tanzania, I want to definitely see the Ngorongoro crater - so maybe see the flamingos there. Stay there for two nights I guess. Or should it be three?

Stay at the River Club - what country is this in? Do a sunset cruise.

Go to Amboseli to see the elephants - where do I stay and for how long?

Oh and can't forget the ballon ride somewhere.

Regarding the Rift Valley- how does one experience it best - stay where? view it from what vantage point? any ideas?

Stay at Rekero - Masai Mara - I guess for three nights (or four?).

Now about this wildebeest migration- I'm not certain I want to see that. Is it just terribly loud and violent (dead animals everywhere etc) I might want to do that without the kids.

I want to see the Serengeti. where should I stay and what to do there?

Also, at Tsavo - where should one stay and for how long - and do what?

I love the sound of Grumeti river camp to see the hippos.

then the last area of uncertainlty is Selous - I'll just assume I'd be there in early august - so stay at Sand Rivers camp. I looked up Ruaha and Katavi - still trying to figure out where to go there and where to stay.

Still want to work a train ride into this somehow. Probably not the super expensive one.

Politically, it looks like it might not be a good time to try to go to the coast for now, so I'm leaving that out of the planning.

The one thing I'm regretting with this itenerary is not getting to see Victoria Falls as that was way up on my list. Maybe I'd just fly over it but.... sniffle sniffle.

So gang. Any ideas how to connect the dots?
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Apr 8th, 2003, 06:58 AM
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PLS SEE MY NOTES IN CAPS

Message: So, the trip is slowly taking shape. This is what I have so far-

arrive in Nairobi

Stay at the Lewa Wildlife conservancy - two nights I guess - and see the rhinos U NEED TO OVERNIGHT IN NAIROBI BEFORE FLYING TO LEWA

At some time go to Uganda - Kibale forest - Stay in Ndal Lodge three nights - make one track to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the gorillas, make a second day treck to see the chimpanzees,
Sometime while here go to visit Ruwenzoori and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
U NEED TO OVERNIGHT IN ENTEBEE BEFORE DRIVING TO KIBALI. BWINDI IS IN A DIFFERENT ARE AND TO GET THERE FROM KIBALE WOULD TAKE ALMOST 7 TO 8 HRS VIA QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK. YOU WILL THEN HAVE TO OVERNIGHT IN BWINDI TO DO THE GORILLA TREK THE FOLLOWING DAY. SO THE UGANDA PLAN WOULD HAVE TO BE:

DAY 1 - ENTEBEE
DAY 2,3,4 - KIBALE, STAYING AT NDALI LODGE
DAY 5 - BWINDI VIA QUEEN ELIZABETH NP (COULD SPEND A NT IN QE PARK)
DAY 6 - BWINDI GORILLA TREK
DAY 7 - SPEND 2 MORE DAYS AT BWINDI AND DO ANOTHER TREK OR RETURN TO ENTEBEE AND FLY OUT

Some time in Kenya - see the flamingos - not sure how to plan this - but try to visit - Lakes Elmentaita, Nakuru, Bogoria, Magadi or possibly hold out to see them in:
COMBINE WITH LEWA

DAY 1 - NAIROBI
DAY 2,3,4 - FLY TO LEWA. SPEND 3 NTS AT LEWA AS IT IS LOVELY. SPEND 2 NTS AS LEWA TENTED CAMP AS CHEAPER AND ONE NIGHT AT WILDERNESS (ONLY 30 TO 40 MINS FROM LEWA TENTED CAMP)
DAY 5 - RETURN TO NAIROBI AND THEN DRIVE TO LAKE NAKURU TO SEE FLAMINGO AND RHINO. STAY IN LAKE NAKURU.
DAY 6,7,8 - DRIVE OR FLY TO MASAI MARA
DAY 9 - RETURN TO NAIROBI
DAY 10,11 - DRIVE TO SHOMPOLE LODGE AND STAY THERE FOR 2 NTS AND SEE IF YOU CAN VISIT LAKE MAGADI - SPECTACULAR. SPEND AN EXTRA NIGHT THERE IF YOU ALSO WISH TO VISIT LAKE NATRON. NOT MANY PEOPLE DO THIS SO YOU WOULD BE ONE OF THE PRIVILEGED FEW.
DAY 12 - RETURN TO NAIROBI AND DRIVE TO AMBOSELI (LONG DRIVE OF APPROX 7 TO 8 HRS. STAY AT OL TUKAI LODGE OR AMBOSELI SERENA OR TORTILIS CAMP
DAY 13 - AMBOSELI
DAY 14 - GO TO TANZANIA OR RETURN TO NAIROBI


Tanzania - at the Lakes Natron, Manyara, Ndutu, Lake Magadi inside Ngorongoro crater.
In Tanzania, I want to definitely see the Ngorongoro crater - so maybe see the flamingos there. Stay there for two nights I guess. Or should it be three?
DAY 1 - ARRIVE IN ARUSHA
DAY 2 - DRIVE TO NGORONGORO CRATER VIA LAKE MANYARA. DO A GAME DRIVE IN LAKE MANYARA IN THE MORNING (L. MANYARA IS ONLY 90 MINS FROM ARUSHA).
DAY 3 - NGORONGORO CRATER GAME DRIVE
DAY 4,5,6,7 - NDUTU LODGE (FROM JAN TO MARCH, SERENA LODGE (FROM APRIL TO JUNE), GRUMETI CAMP OR SERONERA LODGE(JUNE TO JULY), MIGRATION CAMP(OCTOBER TO DEC).
DAY 8 - FLY BACK TO ARUSHA AND EXTEND TO SELOUS TO KATAVI OR MAHALE MTS OR DRIVE TO LAKE MANYARA AND SPEND A NIGHT AT LAKE MANYARA.

LAKE NATRON CAN BE DONE BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO CAMP. SEE IF YOU CAN COVER IT WHILE AT SHOMPOLE IN KENYA - http://www.shompole.com/details.htm.
IF YOU DON'T MIND CAMPING THEN LOOK AT www.africanlatitude.com WHICH OFFERS NON-PARTICIPATION CAMPING TRIPS TO LAKE NATRON.
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Apr 8th, 2003, 07:00 AM
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Stay at the River Club - what country is this in? Do a sunset cruise.
MY FAVOURITE PLACE IN AFRICA. IT IS IN ZAMBIA 18KM UPSTREAM OF VIC FALLS. I COULD SPEND DAYS HERE INSTEAD OF ON THE BEACH. YOU CAN COMBINE THIS WITH VIC FALLS, BOTSWANA OR ZAMBIA WILDLIFE PARKS.

Go to Amboseli to see the elephants - where do I stay and for how long?
DO IT ON YOUR KENYA TRIP

Oh and can't forget the ballon ride somewhere.
DO IT IN MARA (AVAILABLE ALMOST ANYWHERE BUT THE BEST ONE I HAVE DONE SO FAR IS THE GOVERNOR'S ONE).
YOU CAN ALSO DO THIS IN THE SERENGETI BUT WILL HAVE TO STAY AT SOPA OR SERENA LODGES.

Regarding the Rift Valley- how does one experience it best - stay where? view it from what vantage point? any ideas?
SHOMPOLE AND MUKUTAN RETREAT

Stay at Rekero - Masai Mara - I guess for three nights (or four?).
STAY AT THE REKERO TENTED CAMP FOR 2NTS AND 2NTS AT REKERO FARM. DURING MIGRATION TIME BETWEEN JULY AND SEPTEMBER STAY ALL NIGHTS (4 TO 6 MINIMUM) AT REKERO TENTED CAMP, THAT IS IF YOU CAN GET ANY SPACE!

Now about this wildebeest migration- I'm not certain I want to see that. Is it just terribly loud and violent (dead animals everywhere etc) I might want to do that without the kids.
I TOOK MY KIDS ON SAFARI AND THEY LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT BUT AFTER 7 DAYS THEY DO GET BORED OF WILDLIFE. IF YOU ARE TAKING KIDS THEN STAY AT MARA INTREPIDS AS THEY HAVE A KIDS WILDLIFE PROGRAM WHICH IS FASCINATING.

I want to see the Serengeti. where should I stay and what to do there?
ALREADY INDICATED ABOVE AND U CAN ALWAYS SPLIT ACCOMMODATION.

Also, at Tsavo - where should one stay and for how long - and do what?
TSAVO CAN BE INCLUDED IN YOUR KENYA TRIP. STAY AT FINCH HATTON'S (KILAGUNI LODGE IF YOU PREFER A CHEAPER OPTION).

I love the sound of Grumeti river camp to see the hippos.
FANTASTIC PLACE AND PARTICULALRY SO AROUND JUNE/JULY WHEN THE MIGRATION PASSES BY! THE GRUMETI RIVER HAS SOME OF THE LARGEST CROCS IN AFRICA!

then the last area of uncertainlty is Selous - I'll just assume I'd be there in early august - so stay at Sand Rivers camp. I looked up Ruaha and Katavi - still trying to figure out where to go there and where to stay.
SELOUS - FLY FROM ARUSHA. STAY AT EITHER SELOUS RIVER CAMP OR SAND RIVERS (MORE EXPENSIVE). RUAHA - YOU CAN FLY FROM SELOUS TO RUAHA AND STAY AT MWAGUSI CAMP. THE SCHEDULED FLIGHTS CONNECTING RUAHA AND SELOUS DO NOT OPERATE DAILY SO YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU PLAN THE ITINERARY. SAME WITH KATAVI AND MAHALE (www.mahale.co.tz). I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE CHIMPS ON RUBONDO ISLAND ON LAKE VICTORIA. YOU CAN FLY TO RUBONDO ISLAND FROM SERENGETI. THERE ARE 2 FLIGHTS A WEEK FROM SERENGETI.

Still want to work a train ride into this somehow. Probably not the super expensive one.
YOU CAN ACTUALLY TRAVEL FROM DAR-ES-SALAAM TO SELOUS ON A TRAIN! SO U WOULD FLY FROM ARUSHA TO DAR, SPEND A NT THERE AND THEN TAKE THE TRAIN TO SELOUS THE FOLLOWING DAY. NEED TO CHECK SCHEDULE.

Politically, it looks like it might not be a good time to try to go to the coast for now, so I'm leaving that out of the planning.

The one thing I'm regretting with this itenerary is not getting to see Victoria Falls as that was way up on my list. Maybe I'd just fly over it but.... sniffle sniffle.

So gang. Any ideas how to connect the dots?

ALL DEPENDS ON THE NO. OF DAYS U HAVE AVAILABLE AND BUDGET. IT IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA TO DO EVERYTHING THE FIRST TIME. LIMIT YOUR SAFARI TO MAX 12 TO 14 NTS. YOU WILL WANT TO RETURN AGAIN. U CAN COMBINE UGANDA AND KENYA OR KENYA AND TZ BUT NOT ALL AND CERTAINLY NOT WITH SOUTHERN AFRICA. IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE IN MY OPINION.
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Apr 8th, 2003, 08:44 AM
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Dear King. Thank you for your comprehensive look at this. I'm ecstatic. Now to get out the big map and start plotting (and saving) gulp. Clearly you love Africa and certainly know it well. I'm just a little bit envious of your history there and hope to make one of my own.

I intend to stay a total of three weeks because who knows when I might return. It is very difficult to get away for that long and so this might just be a lifetime trip. Want to do it while my kids will still be seen with me (you guys know how it is right!)

On a deeper level- Recently lost a friend to cancer. Her only regret in life was never getting to Africa. As middle aged friends drop around me - too young and unprepared - a bit of fear hurls me toward this lifetime goal.

Budget wise, I want to cut where possible without missing important experiences. I don't luxuriate in silver and lace at home, so why would I want to do it in Africa? I love to camp in hot, chiggery Texas, why not camp in Africa. (just give me a shower now and then, kay - oh yeah and a nearby guard alert on coffee, ready with a watchful rifle

I'm going to take some time to cogitate all this. Will look up all the websites and decide how to instruct a tour operator.

Thank you King, Liz, Heimdall,Kavey, and Susan for your thoughtful responses. I appreciate your insight. I'd be honored to shake your hand one day (and knock back a whisky maybe!)

MC
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Apr 8th, 2003, 08:47 AM
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I've not been able to contribute much, I'm just an enthusiast, not an expert but I am just so enjoying watching you work through this process and truly sharing the excitement with you - I can feel the lift in my heart when I think of your trip - it's almost as much as when I think of my own in 2004! Isn't that crazy!
I am also avidly noting replies that others are making as I do want to return to East Africa one day.
I have been put off for so long by the extreme racism I encountered (personally) last time I was there but that was long ago and things change...
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Apr 8th, 2003, 09:02 AM
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Just curious. You have mentioned this bad experience several times. Was it by natives towards you for having light skin? If so, it might be good for kids living in a rather xenophobic (in my view) area to get a bit of that tonic. Learning isn't always easy.

Colorblinded by diligent self-directed retraining it would be rather a bitter pill for me, too.
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Apr 8th, 2003, 01:13 PM
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It was from several black African Kenyans including those in positions of authority such as at airport immigration etc.

I am of Indian descent (parents born in Indian, me born in London) ie brown, not fair. I believe that there were some severe conflicts between kenyans of indian descent and black african kenyans in the decades preceding my visit.

Some of the experiences were not at all pleasant but if you'd like to know I could perhaps email you. Drop me a line.

[email protected]
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Apr 8th, 2003, 01:14 PM
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PS Having grown up in Luton, near London in UK, I have experienced light racism many times during my life.

This was something completely different.
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Apr 8th, 2003, 01:26 PM
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btw I am not someone who sees racism everywhere or who gets insulted easily. It's incredibly incredibly hard to offend me - and I approach every encounter assuming that it will be positive, friendly/ professional etc.
When I experienced light racism in school, which I did often, I was secure enough in who I was to laugh it off and carry on with life, happy as larry.
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Apr 8th, 2003, 03:02 PM
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Kavey-
Don't want to tread on gound not too familiar, but after my first visit in 1987, I got to know and become friends with the guide we all had. On my next visit when I tried to get a visa to move there, he helped me. I met his beautiful wife and they are delightful people. The discrimination you felt and mentioned I understood after that time with them. It unfortunately is very much or was very much just under the surface in Kenya. I read a book about the history of Kenya and there were recent uprisings (then), within that area. I saw it when I was there on safari too.
I knew what you meant when you mentioned it but I didn't want to say anything about it. I never felt it towards me, but I would never go there alone and would spend as little time in town as necessary to get out into the bush. People are very poor there. That causes hard feelings toward others that appear to have so much. Not to get upset about, but I think every third world country has that to some degree. Liz
 
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