Patty & Mark's 2008 Kenya Seychelles Trip Report

Old Mar 4th, 2008, 07:30 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Patty Pangolin, Frog Killer?
Leely is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2008, 09:02 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,252
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report, Patty.

I'm sure the frog would have been okay ....

It wasn't a chemical toilet, was it? amp;
kimburu is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 05:26 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My initial thought after ROTFL - Frog killer!

I can only imagine how many frogs or other critters I may have flushed during my nightime visits to the loo! They shouldn't be there!
sandi is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 05:39 AM
  #24  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No, it wasn't a chemical toilet. You think it could've survived, really?
Patty is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 10:06 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,309
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
After reading this Ill always check the toilet carefully.
Nyamera is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 10:19 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,145
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Of course the frog lived - happens all the time.

Still enjoying.
cybor is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 11:00 AM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,309
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Unless Satao lets the sewage run straight out into some river, there not a chance the frog survived.
Nyamera is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 02:25 PM
  #28  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lion Rock After watching a large herd of buffalo at the waterhole at breakfast this morning, we left Satao Rock around 9:00am for the drive to Lion Rock. We gave a lift to Benson, one of the Satao Rock staff, to the main road and after about an hour and a half reached Voi where Julius gassed up the van and picked up a Daily Nation for us so we could catch up on the local news. Another 20 minutes later, we were passing Mwatate where the paved road turned into a decent dirt road, reaching camp around noon.

Lion Rock is located on Lumo Sanctuary which is joint community project of 3 neighboring group ranches, Lualenyi, Mramba and Oza. The camp sits on top of a hill at 3,750 ft so it was cooler and breezier here. We were given tent 1 which is the closest tent to the dining area. There are 12 tents here with 12 being the farthest. I noticed no particular difference in views so the choice would depend on how close you wanted to be to the dining area. When the camp has more guests, farther might be preferable if you dont want to hear noise from the dining area but as we were the only guests, it didnt matter. We were told their last guests had left on January 26th.

Meals here are also buffet and the food was fairly basic. They apologized for the limited offerings saying that they were trying to not keep too much in stock since there were so few guests. But it was fine and still more food than we could possibly eat. I would however advise that if youre a wine drinker, to BYO. They only had papaya wine. It wasnt very good on its own and was even worse with food

We took the afternoon off again and just napped, read and enjoyed the view from our deck. Hot water isnt available here until 6:45pm when the generator comes on and I didnt want to wait until then, so I took a cold shower during the warmest part of the afternoon. We had sundowners on the deck by the bar where we caught a glimpse of Kili and after dark they lit a fire for us to sit by (it really is much cooler here). The 3 of us had dinner (Julius dined with us here and sometimes at Satao Rock) and watched as a bushbaby attempted to steal some fruit salad.

The next morning we headed out early at 6:30am for a 3 hour game drive with Elvis, a Lumo ranger, riding with us. We actually got to see a sunrise this morning for the first time. The clouds were hanging just above the hills and gave everything a mystical quality. On the drive, we saw hartebeest, impala, dik dik, giraffe, a pair of secretary birds, several pairs of Hartlaubs bustards and drum roll a pangolin! None of us could believe it. Julius said hed never seen one before and Elvis said hed only seen one twice before. We just caught a glimpse of it was it was crossing the road and then it hunkered down in some grass next to the road. We watched as it slowly moved its head up and down (probably to check if we were still there). It stayed pretty still otherwise and we watched for a while. I wanted to stay there all day but we felt wed disturbed the poor thing enough and should let it resume doing whatever pangolin things pangolins do. On that same drive we also came across an aardwolf. As it was only our third aardwolf sighting ever and first clear photo of one, we were pretty ecstatic with our game drive this morning!

We returned to the camp for breakfast and left again shortly before noon for the drive to Ndolwa House for lunch with Faryl (Local2542) and her mom, Zoie. Faryl had posted their itinerary before they left http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35099839 and wed made plans to meet for lunch. We were glad Elvis went with us again as he knew the exact way to Ndolwa.

The four of us got along great and we ended up spending the night at Ndolwa. We showed Faryl and Zoie our pangolin and aardwolf pics and they showed us their wild dogs! We were at first concerned that the staff at Lion Rock would think that we were leaving because of something they did or didnt do, so we assured them that was not the case and that we really enjoyed our time at Lion Rock. They were very understanding and Chris, the manager, even said When you told me this morning you were meeting your friends, I had a feeling youd stay there.

Overall, Lion Rock was a little rough around the edges. The camp opened in August 2004 and youre likely to notice some maintenance issues. The charging points in our tents didnt work and there was no running water in the washrooms near the dining area when we were there because they were fixing the pump. If you can overlook these things, I think youll enjoy your stay and its a worthwhile project to support. Everyone we encountered seemed genuinely enthusiastic. If youre too fussy, you wont like it (I like to think of myself as fussy with the ability to rough it when required ). It was also the least expensive place we stayed. IIRC it cost us $185pppn to add Lion Rock to our itinerary and this included the sanctuary fees and the cost of our vehicle from Eastern & Southern.

One more thing, we asked Elvis if we could do night drives on Lumo and he said yes. But we didnt have a spotlight and they didnt have one either. So just BYO wine and spotlight!
Patty is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 02:25 PM
  #29  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Finch Hattons This morning Faryl and Zoie decided to come and stay at Finch Hattons with us. The 4 of us left Ndolwa around 2:30pm after lunch reaching Maktau gate in 15 minutes and game drove our way through Tsavo West. On the way, we saw eland, zebra, Grants gazelle, fringe eared oryx, giraffe, warthog, impala, dik dik, yellow baboon, vervet monkey, Syke monkey and a cheetah mom with an adorable little cub. At first, the little cub crouched behind the mom and stared at us, then it stood up and crouched next to the mom, then started walking away from mom, the whole time having a stare down contest with us. It was the cutest thing! The mom remained completely nonchalant.

We arrived at camp around 5:30pm informing them that wed brought along extra guests. We had requested and we given tent 7 where we stayed 3 years ago and Faryl and Zoie were given tent 5. There are 35 tents here in 3 groupings with tents 1-7 in one group and 7 an end tent. I like end tents because I think you tend to see more game wandering by. We got settled in and were watching the hippos and vervets from our deck when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a bushbuck grazing a few feet from our tent. It continued to graze as I watched, then went underneath our tent, across the footpath and grazed some more right next to the footpath as I walked by. At first, I thought it must have been a tame bushbuck someone raised but later when we talked to Peter, the owner, he said the bushbuck are just really habituated around camp. Finally, it got spooked by a coughing vervet monkey and bounded away.

The 4 of us had a lovely dinner of avocado/grapefruit salad, cucumber soup, snapper, and strawberry covered ice cream. I remembered how formal the dining here was when they brought out our palate cleanser!

At 5:30am the next morning, the hippo alarm went off right on cue and we heard a loud racket made by the baboons and an impala snorting. Later we found out that a leopard had killed an impala during the night in camp. From our deck, we could see giraffe on the other side of the springs and crocs swimming in the shallow areas. At breakfast, I found our guestbook entry from 2005 and took a photo of it. We headed off at 8:00am to see Faryl and Zoie off at the airstrip for their Safarilink light to Nairobi. The flight arrived right on schedule and 10 passengers boarded. We said our goodbyes and wished them a good time in Nairobi and Paris on their journey home.

We went on a game drive until noon and saw lots of giraffe, zebra, hartebeest, impala, oryx, wildies with young calves, baboon, hippo including the carcass of a baby, warthog, bushbuck, and a pair of ostrich with many, many chicks. We also stopped at Poachers Lookout to enjoy the view. Unlike at Roaring Rocks where you have to walk up, you can drive right up to Poachers Lookout. Both would make good picnic spots but we think we like Roaring Rocks just a bit better if you dont mind the walk.

We returned to camp for lunch, went for a swim (not with the hippos) and hung out on our deck the rest of the afternoon. We saw some dwarf mongoose, a pied kingfisher diving in the water, African golden weaver, black crake, great comorant, green-backed heron, lesser masked weaver, sacred ibis and monitor lizard next to our tent. The setting at Finch Hattons over springs was as beautiful as we remembered and wed forgotten what a great place it was for birding. It was also great to be able to watch the hippo interaction between the moms and the babies and the adolescents play fighting right in front of our tent. When it gets dark, they use a path close to tent 7 to go ashore and apparently to come back in the morning too because it is loud! It is however my favorite African animal sound.

Another nice dinner this evening and with about 16-20 guests both nights, this camp is the fullest weve encountered this trip. The guests were from a variety of places, different European countries, Nairobi, and South Africa. We decided to grab a sheet from the bed and sleep out on deck on our last night in Tsavo.
Patty is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2008, 03:09 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,145
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Nyamera,
You had to go and get technical on us and ruin the frog living it up in some far off tropical luxury resort theory.

cybor is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2008, 07:01 AM
  #31  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sandai Part 1 (with a little bit of Nairobi) We had very mixed emotions at breakfast. Sad that our safari with Julius was ending. Happy that we would see Petra again. A herd of impala formed our farewell committee as we were leaving camp and on the way to the airstrip, we saw banded mongoose and Skye monkeys. As we were the only passengers departing from Finch Hattons airstrip today, it was our job to clear the runway of zebra. Our Safarilink flight arrived 10 minutes early with the same pilot, but different aircraft as yesterday. We said goodbye to Julius and hoped that the situation would improve for his sake and all of Kenya. On board were 2 women from Nairobi headed to Tortilis. 20 minutes later we were touching down on a tarmac airstrip in Amboseli where they deplaned and 6 other passengers boarded. Four were a Canadian embassy family headed to the Mara and two were Porini guests continuing on to Lewa.

We arrived Wilson at 10:00am and Ben from Eastern & Southern was there to meet us for the drive to Sandai. But first, we had to stop at the Aero Club so I could drop off a DVD containing the Kenya episode of Travels to the Edge http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35077685 that Id promised Alexis Id bring. I figure if I keep doing little favors for Alexis, I just might earn myself a flight to Turkana, oh, in another 20 years or so

Then it was off to the Junction so I could stock up on sandals and handbags and Mark could get another belt from Zebu until next time. We also needed to get a replacement charger for Marks phone which had died earlier. I checked 2 mobile phone shops, the office supply place and an electronics store and had given up before we went into Nakumatt to get something else and found the exact charger we needed there. We picked up sandwiches to eat on the road and since we still had plenty of time, decided to stop by the E&S office to say a quick hello.

We drove past Uhuru park and noticed more police presence than usual, but overall it was difficult to tell anything unusual had transpired if we hadnt already known. Their office is right in the central business district on Loita St and it was even problematic to find parking. It was good to see Serah again and we got to meet Bernard, Boaz and Siema and only then did I realize Siema is a man We had exchanged many emails but Id always assumed Siema was a woman. I was sad to learn that we were their only clients at the time though another Fodorite, bfcurson, was arriving shortly.

Around 12:30pm we left Nairobi for the drive to Sandai. The drive took about 3 hours passing through Thika, Nyeri, Mweiga and other towns along the way. Petra wasnt home yet so the three of us had tea on the verandah before Ben continued home to Naivasha. Sandai is Petras new old place. She and her ex-husband built the place and she bought him out and moved back last year when her ex and his family moved to Pakistan. The location is very close to Aberdare Country Club and its more convenient for visiting the Aberdares than her former place, Olea Africana. Day trips are also possible to Solio and even Sweetwaters. Horse riding can be done right from the property although this trip we ran out of time for that. There are two duplex guest cottages each containing two ensuite rooms and another 2 rooms in the main house that share a bath.

Petra returned shortly and we got caught up on things since our last visit. Unfortunately, Ray was still building a dam somewhere in Maasailand so we wont get to see him or Museka this trip (Ray is 82 years old BTW). However, Tessa will be coming home from her school in Nyeri for the weekend. In addition to Tak and Nusu, theres a new dog Oscar, an adorable jack russell and if Im not mistaken a gift from Emma at Desert Rose. Sadly, Mr. Elliott, the cat disappeared shortly after the move, but there are many new cats around plus the horses and the same 3 plump donkeys. Petra had hired a driver/guide who is Luhya and he had returned home to Kakamega as a precaution as this is predominantly Kikuyu country. He most likely wouldve been fine had he stayed but they didnt want to take any risks.

The next morning we headed out around 9:00am for a day trip to the Aberdares. We remembered how much wed enjoyed this park in 2005 and wanted to see some of the falls wed missed. Upon entering the park I realized I left my camera back on the breakfast verandah I was sure this meant that today was the day wed see a bongo and a melanistic leopard! Although that never happened, we did see two black rhino in the salient shortly after entering the park. Luckily, we still had the video camera with us.

We made our way toward Karuru Falls and saw colobus and Syke monkey, Defassa waterbuck, bushbuck, buffalo, warthog, reedbuck and many scaly francolin along the way. We walked down to the viewing platform at Karuru and there in front of the falls we saw a small bird of prey fighting with a fish eagle. Unfortunately, it was difficult to video as they were quite far away and fast moving. Karuru was used in one of the fly over scenes in Out of Africa and we both agreed it was the most beautiful falls in the park.

Just as we were setting up for a nice picnic it started to rain. We quickly moved everything back into the car and had our lunch inside. After lunch we stopped and visited KWS Fishing Lodge and Tusk Camp. Aside from the tree hotels, such as the Ark and Treetops, these are the only accommodations inside the park (OK, theres also Sapper Hut but from what I understand, that one is extremely rustic). Fishing Lodge is located high in the moorlands at close to 10,000 ft elevation. It consists of 2 houses each having a living/dining room area with fireplace, kitchen, 2 ensuite bedrooms and a third small bedroom with a single bed. The accommodations looked quite comfortable and nicer than Id expected. Tusk Camp is located in the salient at nearly 8,000 ft elevation and is more basic than Fishing Lodge. At Tusk Camp there are 4 small buildings, one housing the kitchen and bathroom, another a living/dining room with fireplace, plus two more buildings with two bedrooms each. The KWS accommodations operate on a self catering basis. Theres a caretaker onsite but you need to do your own cooking or bring a cook. Overall, Fishing Lodge gets the nod for accommodations and Tusk Camp gets the nod for greater possibility of having wildlife right in camp (we saw the evidence they left!).

Toward the latter part of the afternoon Petra asked if we wanted to take a different route out of the park, warning that the roads would be steep. We analyzed the situation it had been raining on and off + steep roads + we hadnt seen a single other car in the park all day = yeah, lets do it!

To be continued
Patty is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2008, 01:16 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,309
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cybor, Im not that fond of reality, but I think it has to be told

Patty, pangolin, pangolin, pangolin! Will Faryl and Zoie show their wild dogs here on Fodors or is it already done and Ive missed it? Im so jealous that you were stared at by a cheetah cub! It sounds like the tents at Finch Hattons are almost in the water with the hippos. Im looking forward to reading about what happened to you in Aberdare NP.
Nyamera is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2008, 02:46 PM
  #33  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Nyamera,
You didn't miss Faryl and Zoie's wild dogs photos. They haven't posted them yet. Maybe they'll read this hint
Patty is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2008, 06:03 PM
  #34  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sandai Part 2 So of course it started raining again, but we were still doing OK on the roads. Plus it was too late to turn back now. We came across a nice family of eles and watched them for a while. It started raining a little heavier. We went down a steep road and had started to climb up the other steep side (the last steep road we needed to make up before we were home free) when Petras Landrover started slipping and sliding. We made a few more unsuccessful attempts to get up that road before deciding to go back the way we came. We werent sure we were going to make it back up that way either but it was worth a try. At the lowest part of the road, there was actually a washed out area and as we were backing up the left rear tire went right in, oops! Petra and Mark got out and made several attempts in the rain to get the car unstuck. I, on the other hand, saw them slipping around in the mud and decided the best job for me was to document everything on video The rain wasnt letting up, it was getting late and after a while we decided it was time to call for help.

Petra had to walk up the road to get a signal and called several friends to let them know approximately where we were. Some friends also called KWS to let them know we were stuck in the park. Then we waited. It got dark and continued to rain. We werent sure if anyone was going to be able to make it to the spot where we were even if they tried. But we had warm clothes, picnic blankets, leftover food and lots of leftover drinks so were fully prepared to spend the night in the park. As we were stuck near 7,000 ft, we figured it would only get down to the 40s at night. Close to 7:00pm, we started hearing the sound of another vehicle nearby. Someones looking for us! There are a lot of roads in the salient so its a bit tricky explaining where you are. Plus nearly all of them have a stream running by so telling someone that doesnt really help. I had my GPS but no one else did so giving them coordinates wouldnt work either, so we just waited some more.

Not long after, we see headlights! Then we see a car coming down the same steep hill we made down. Petras friend, Karl, and a KWS ranger, Vincent, got out and came over to check out our predicament. It was decided it wasnt worth messing with tonight in the dark and wed ride back with Karl, leave Petras Landrover and come back tomorrow. Now Karl just had to make it back up the road he came down. We decided his best chance was to drive up empty while the four of us ran alongside with Vincent carrying a big rock just in case Karl started to slip. Of course, Vincent ran faster than all of us carrying that big rock.

We reached the top of the road, success! We all hopped in and proceeded on our unofficial night game drive. We did encounter a KWS truck along the way that was also looking for us. The 4 rangers in this truck seemed really deflated when we told them we werent going to try anything tonight. On our night drive, we saw more eles, 2 spotted hyena and some hares. Petra and I had each carried a large bottle of water with us because we still werent totally convinced we were getting out of the park tonight, but after an hour we slipped and slid our way to the gate making it back to Sandai by 8:30pm just in time for dinner.

Karl stayed the night so he could drop us back off at the park early tomorrow morning. We were given a choice of going riding tomorrow or going back to the park to get the car unstuck. We couldnt resist the latter option plus I wanted to go back with my camera this time.

The next morning, we left at 7:00am to go back to the park. Karl dropped us off at the Treetops gate where we waited a little while for Stanley, the mechanic from Solio, to arrive. Vincent was manning the gate and let us all in. We rode with Stanley and were briefly delayed by an ele blocking the road before reaching the stuck spot. It had stopped raining during the night and the actual process of getting the car out only took about half an hour and we were all having tea by 10:00am. We thanked Stanley and his helper and continued on a short drive before exiting the park (didnt want to push our luck too much ). We saw more buffalo, warthog and bushbuck but unfortunately the rhino didnt make an appearance.

To recap our last 24 hours, we learned how to a) have a night game drive in a national park b) go on a walking, or is that a running, safari in a national park and c) how to get into a national park for free the next day

On the way back, we stopped at Sangare Ranch to visit the newly rebuilt camp. We saw impala, eland, and Defassa waterbuck on the ranch. The camp re-opened last July with 12 new tents situated along Sangare Lake. Theyre a little close together for my liking but otherwise very nice and its a beautiful setting for birding. We saw Egyptian geese, a hamerkop, and a blacksmith plover among other birds. Boats are available so you can paddle on the lake.

Got back to Sandai for lunch and decided to hang out while Petra went to pick up Tessa from her school in Nyeri. Around 4:00pm, two new guests arrived. There had been a mix up with their tour operator and Petra wasnt actually expecting them until the following day, but no problem, there were plenty of rooms available and we let them know Petra would return shortly. We also introduced them to Tak, Nusu, Oscar and the cats.

The new guests were two women from Germany who were on their first trip to Kenya. They were spending one week here, another week in Nakuru, Naivasha and Amboseli and a third week on the coast. We told them we heard things had quieted down in the Rift Valley.

Tessa came home and we gave her the present wed brought, a Ratatouille DVD, but first we had to fix their DVD player. We were able to get it half way working but never got anything to play in color, only black and white. Nevertheless, Tessa was glued to the TV.
We had a very nice dinner together and requested that the Out of Africa soundtrack be played much to Tessas dismay. Not again! she protested but she was out voted 5 to 1.
Patty is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2008, 07:05 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 262
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Galdessa sounds amazing! I could tell from the pictures, but now reading about it, I think everyone wants to stay in that honeymoon tent.

So its called a hartebeest? Our guide in Kenya called it a HATbeest and told us it was called that because of the shape of his horns. Looks like he wears a hat. I have just googled this and found out that harte is from the dutch word, hert, for deer. Nothing to do with a hat!!! I guess I should have known not to trust him when he called wildebeest WILDbeest. That was much more forgivable than HATbeest though.

I love the detail you give us about the different rooms at each camp. It will really come in handy when I plan a future (way far into the future!!) trip to Kenya, since I decided to steal your itinerary after seeing those amazing pictures!
jenbertoni is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2008, 10:33 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,309
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Patty, I think Ive said this before, but getting stuck in Kenya is always a good idea.

Jen, I too have been told its called a hartebeest because of the horns, but I was told it was because they are heart shaped.
Nyamera is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2008, 02:13 PM
  #37  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've heard the "heart shaped" explanation too. I'm finding a variety of explanations online though it seems to be agreed that the word is Afrikaans in origin.

I want to see a hirola (also known as Hunter's hartebeest but later discovered to be a separate genus). There's a translocated population in Tsavo East, but we didn't see them. They're supposed to be most often seen in the Satao area. This is a good project for kimburu, to locate and document the 100 or so hirola in Tsavo East
Patty is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2008, 06:27 PM
  #38  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Nairobi The last 12 nights had flown by and it was once again time to return to Nairobi. Petra and Tessa accompanied us to Nyeri where another driver, Peter, met us for the rest of the trip to Nairobi. A little boy in Nyeri came up to us and asked if we were the ones stuck in the Aberdares. News travels fast around here!

Joyces SIL, Pam, who we met last year heard that we were returning to Kenya and graciously offered to have us stay at their house in Runda so thats where we were headed. For the next couple of hours, we listened to 70s country and western as we drove through the Central Highlands of Kenya.

On arrival, Pam and Reggie were there to greet us and get us settled in before Pam had to drop Reggie off at school for the matinee performance of his school play. Hank came home shortly after along with their neighbor Kevin and the 4 of us had a very nice lunch of samosas, salad and quiche on their patio.

In the evening, we went to Reggies school, got a tour of the campus and attended the evening performance of his play, The Wizard of You Know Where. It was a cute adaptation of the Wizard of Oz where the script went something like Toto, Ive a feeling were not in Mombasa anymore and Reggie played the Mayor of the Munchies. Afterwards, we went to Village Market and had dinner at the food court. Mark and I split a philly cheesesteak from Prime Cuts that was pretty good. As we were leaving at 6:00am the next morning, we said goodbye to Hank and Reggie that evening. We told Pam to stay in bed too but she insisted on getting up and making us coffee and breakfast.
Patty is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2008, 07:29 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I can't believe we're leaving Kenya already. I'm sad. Can't we all stay just a little bit longer?
Leely is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2008, 09:59 AM
  #40  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Seychelles Part 1 Our Jimcab taxi arrived right on time at 6:00am and this being early Sunday morning, we got to NBO half an hour later. It took about 45 minutes to get through the security queue, get checked in and through passport control. We picked up some wine and gin at duty free which they put in a sealed plastic bag and proceeded to the Simba lounge to wait for our flight departure. It wasnt until we got to the lounge that I realized theyd seated us apart at check-in so I had our boarding passes re-issued in the lounge with our originally pre-assigned seats next to each other. No big deal but why the check-in agent didnt do that in the first place, I dont know. Mark swiped a few cans of tonic water from the lounge and placed them in a shopping bag with our duty free stuff. At gate security, they told him no unsealed liquids were allowed, then added remember that next time and proceeded to let him board with all of the cans of tonic water anyway. Africa, love it!

Our flight boarded by stairs with two boarding pass checks and a final announcement before closing doors that this was the flight to Mahe and anyone not traveling to Mahe should disembark now. An on time departure and 3 hours later we were in the Seychelles! Coming in to land, the scenery was beautiful. We disembarked by stairs and walked into the airport terminal where the first thing they checked were our yellow cards. The first person in line didnt have a yellow card but said shed only been in transit at NBO from Cairo and they just waived her through. Bags came off very quickly and 10 minutes after we deplaned, we were meeting Philippe, the Hilton driver, outside customs for the 25 minute drive to the Northolme. There were exchange bureaus and ATMs at SEZ but we didnt bother using them (will explain later). On the way, we passed through Victoria and as it was Sunday, all of the shops and businesses were closed.

The Northolme was one of the older hotels on Mahe and was taken over Hilton and completely renovated, re-opening sometime in late 2006. There are 14 single story oceanfront villas including the Fleming Suite and 26 mostly two story hillside villas set behind the oceanfront villas. We were assigned villa 214 which is an upper story hillside (recommend upper for better views and more privacy). Our villa contained a raised bedroom area, a living room area, a huge bathroom and a good sized balcony with a day bed, a table and two chairs, and 2 chaise loungers.

We didnt do much this afternoon except have lunch and watch the sunset. There are many gregarious mynahs around the resort and at dusk we watched fruit bats flying overhead. It was very breezy which made the temps comfortable. We were told theyd received some rain just before our arrival and the weather was a bit unsettled, but it never actually rained during our stay. We had dinner at Les Cocotiers, the a la carte restaurant at the resort (theres another buffet restaurant at the resort), which was excellent. 2 course each plus a glass of wine came to about 100 EUR.

The next morning, we spent half an hour trying to figure out how to use our expresso machine before giving up and calling for help. They sent a technician to our villa (they really called him that) and he simply moved the lever from the steam setting to the coffee setting. Dont we feel stupid! 6 different types of coffees and teas were provided and we loved this little gadget after we figured out how to use it.

Breakfast is included here and is an extensive champagne buffet with cooked to order hot items served in the Hilltop restaurant. Most mornings we never even made it to the hot items. We spent the morning between the pool and beach (the water was a bit rough) and took the Hiltons complimentary transportation (day time only) to Beau Vallon for lunch. Its only about a mile away but wouldve been a hot walk back and forth. We asked Philippe to pick us up in 2 hours and settled on Baobab pizza for lunch. Mark and I split a ham and mushroom pizza (we wanted the prawns but they were out) and 2 glasses of wine for 100 rupees, a cheap lunch but nothing too exciting to write home about.

Then we walked around the village and saw everything there is to see and still had half an hour to kill so we had a couple of drinks at the Coral Strand hotel which looked rather run down. There were some other small hotels, a grocery store, a trinket shop and of all things, a plastic bag store. There was an interesting looking shop across from Baobab but it was closed for lunch the entire time we were there.

A few guys on the street asked if we wanted to change money so we changed $100 and got 1000 rupees in return (the official rate at the time was $1 = 8 rupees). Its technically illegal, but I hadnt read about anyone having problems and even the Hilton driver offered to take us to change money. The Seychelles has strict foreign currency controls as they have a foreign currency shortage. Local residents are only able to get $400 from the bank if theyre traveling outside of the country, so they must get the remainder of what they need on the black market. The money changers get foreign currency from the tourists, then re-sell to the locals. Everything tourism related is priced (usually in EUR) and must be paid for in foreign currency including hotels, tour operators, rental cars, etc. Even some restaurants outside the hotels want to be paid in foreign currency, so you only need a small amount of rupees for small expenses and you dont want to change too much as you cant change it back without an official receipt.

Several people we talked to also seemed unhappy with the current administration which took power in a coup in 1977 and has remained in power ever since. The foreign currency shortage has led to a shortage of basic goods for sale. Philippe commented that it wasnt uncommon to have to visit 4-5 stores before you could get what you needed. Its a paradise but it sounded like a paradise with a lot of problems.

In the afternoon, we took the sunset cruise which normally departs from the resort beach every Monday but because of the rough water today, they had to shuttle us to Victoria where the catamaran was docked to board. We sailed to the islands in the marine park and stopped at one spot for snorkeling. It was a cloudy afternoon and snorkeling didnt sound inviting so we passed. Those that went in reported not much seen. But it was nice to be out on the ocean anyway and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.

We thought about going to dinner at the Boathouse in Beau Vallon which serves a creole buffet but it was closed today. As they were also serving a creole buffet at the Hilltop restaurant at the resort this evening, we decided to try it. We have to give a thumbs down to dinner at the buffet restaurant and thought it was a poor value at 40 EUR per person (you can eat at the other restaurant for almost the same price and the food is so much better). We should have gone into Beau Vallon and looked for something else.
Patty is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -