Stakerk Trip Report, Kenya, August 2006

Old Sep 11th, 2006, 10:02 PM
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Stakerk Trip Report, Kenya, August 2006

Thanks to the great advice of you Fodorites, we had a great trip to Kenya. Wife Mari, 26 year old daughter Marisa, and 18 year old son Sean had truly the "trip of a lifetime." We have done a fair amount of adventures, but this was amazing.

I am going to have to do this in installments so please forgive me. I thought I should get started or would never post.

Trip Planning

Mari’s family has a tradition of a family member who graduates from high school or college gets to pick the family trip for the summer. Marisa was graduating from college (at age 26 very successful at the “let’s see how long I can con my parents into putting me through college plan”) and Sean was graduating from high school. I knew my pocketbook was in trouble.

At first they came up with “we want rent an apartment in London for two weeks.” We had taken them there for the beginning of our Christmas vacation a couple of years ago. We told them that was not very creative.

They next did get creative. Marisa loves to go to Disneyland here in California. So they said British Airways has a round the world plane pass and they wanted to go to every Disneyland in the world. I told them that was creative all right. But they can go to Disneyland any time that they want here. (The price of the pass was surprisingly low by the way, about $3,500 for over $6,000 in flights.)

They responded with “how about Antarctica?” I commended them for their creativity but pointed out our summer is their winter.

I thought for a moment then asked what they would think about going to see the animals in Africa. Now Sean has wanted to go to Africa since he was a little boy. Marisa and Mari said great. And so my research began. (Note this was in January of this year.)

At first I looked at Namibia. Watering holes with lots of game congregating. However, I then learned about this wonderful Fodor’s forum. Our trip had a tight time window, Aug. 1 until the 21st. I posted an message on this forum and Jasher and Thit Cho encouraged us to go to the Mara in Kenya to see the Migration. (I have already thanked them, but thank you, thank you, thank you)

With the advent of the internet, I try to book my own trips. I figured out the best dates for the airfare. However, I quickly learned the camps are another matter. They usually force you to use a tour operator. (Serena hotels however would directly book and the price was very reasonable.)

Thanks to Sandi we also decided to go to Samburu to see the different wildlife and Kizingo at Lamu for a change of pace. (Mari was quite rightly afraid of, “if I see another wildebeest I am going to scream.”)

I sent inquiries over the Internet to every tour operator I could find. Some responded quickly, others I have yet to hear from. The prices were all over the place. Comparing apples to apples Southern Cross, Eastern and Southern, and African Serendipity (Sandi’s firm) were very close in price. I went with Southern Cross because they are pretty substantial and were the only firm that could get us confirmed reservations during the high demand time of August. (I actually emailed Wilderness Camps, Governor’s Camps and Kizingo to confirm.) I am paranoid and did not want to risk no one cancelling and our not having a place to stay. I have learned since I should not have been so concerned.

We decided on the itinerary also because we could fly from place to place and avoid the dusty, pot hole filled roads. (Added quite a bit to the price though).

Benjamin at Southern Cross was very helpful. I enjoyed working with him quite a bit. I probably drove him crazy though. (I have to plan every detail.)

We bought our plane tickets through Orbitz. We sent a deposit for half to Southern Cross (“They have been in business quite a while haven’t they?)

We then waited (and planned our packing list) and scoured this forum (in other words bugged you folks) for helpful advice for almost seven, long months.

Finally, the date for departure arrived.

LAX to London

We had a pretty uneventful flight from LAX to Heathrow on Aug. 5. Stayed at the Sheraton Skyline on the road along the airport. Pretty nice and very reasonable price because had booked over the internet and prepaid (just a bit over $100 for a room for the four of us). We took the Underground in to London for the afternoon and early evening to force us to stay awake.

We went to Kensington Palace first and enjoyed all the uniforms. We however did lose Mari for a while. Sean, the at times doofus 18 year old he is, had forgotten Mari and taken a bit of a side trip in the Palace and had asked him to wait for her. Pretty hilarious, we were really perplexed. She eventually exited after we had waited outside for some time.

Next, we fulfilled Mari's wish, a boat ride on the River Thames. We did the circular one from Westminster Pier. A lovely late afternoon, very enjoyable. We ended up being dropped off at Embankment. Went up the walk street and had a delightful Italian dinner (at quite unsurprisingly called Trattoria Italian Biagio). I lived in Italy for two years and was pleased, especially with the reasonable price (with your value added tax, things for you Europeans sure are expensive).

We then returned to our hotel via the Tube and a short bus ride. Took about an hour. I took an Ambien and conked right out. I slept well but awoke at 4 AM (8pm Los Angeles Time). I went to work out in their pretty nice exercise facility and my body was saying to me, "What are you doing to me?"

We got to Heathrow a couple of hours before the flight. Did not have to wait long to check our luggage and get through security. (I bet that has changed since.) They pulled both Mari and Sean out for special screening (a pretty good pat down). We had quite a bit of time to kill. It was amazing to pay almost $3 for a diet coke. Interesting in that they do not tell you the gate assignment until about 50 minutes before the flight. It took about 15 minutes just to get to the gate.

It is a long flight, about 10 hours?, to Nairobi. Flew on British Airways. Sat next to a very nice lady from Kenya. Was returning home for a visit. Working as a public health nurse in England. I guess they must be in short supply. Sad that her husband and children cannot join her yet. We saw that quite often, not much economic opportunity in Kenya. Very nice people but for some reason do not make a lot of money. I suspect they have problems with a lack of education and some corruption or inefficiencies in their government and other institutions.

Nairobi

Got out of customs and got our bags about 9:30 p.m. their time. Met by "Benson" and "Steve" from Southern Cross. Benjamin at Southern Cross had done a good job booking our trip. Steve drove us to the Stanley Hotel. Could see some pretty shady characters hanging out together downtown. Can see why were warned to not leave the hotel.

The Stanley was very nice. A bit dated but quaint. The rooms were certainly clean. You folks and the Air Kenya website had us all freaked out about our luggage and carry on not exceeding 20 kilos together and so we spent about an hour shifting stuff into two bags we were leaving at Wilson airport and loading up the "Rocco" vests of Marisa, Sean, and me.

That night between the stress of the repacking, the fact it was mid-day in California on my body clock, and I guess the excitement of seeing real african animals the next day, I spent one of the few nights of my life when I hardly slept at all. Maybe a hour total. (I had not taken an Ambien because I had slept so well in London, a major mistake. Next time I am going to pop one of those suckers for at least the first three nights. I can always check myself into rehab when I return to California.)

Mari made me promise to let you folks know she has a couple of bones to pick with the advice I had gotten on this forum. (Otherwise the advice was been perfect and really helped make it a marvelous trip for us.) Here is the first. We changed about $100 into kenya schillings at the hotel (got a pretty good exhange rate of 70 to 1, however got over 70 later at Little Gov. though.) We wished we had changed more, like over $1,000. Nearly all people and places took dollars. Some did not. However, many expressed displeasure and made it obvious they preferred schillings, especially smaller amounts, they said they do not get as good an exchange rate on bills less than $20 (about 65 to 1). I felt especially bad on smaller tips and buying souvenirs from the locals.

Note: the breakfast buffet at the Stanley was pretty good.

The next point Mari wanted to have me pass along just happens to come next in time. Steve drove us to Wilson airport. We arrive with Marisa, Sean and I all loaded down with stuff in our Rocco vests. (I had done a trial run in California and mine weighed over 8 lbs.) The kids are complaining about the weight of the vests. We go to the baggage guys. We check into storage there the two bags with beach stuff for Lamu and stuff for the flight back. They then weighed our (four) bags for the flight to Samburu. Now note by this time from all the complaining I given up and told the family to pack whatever they needed in their duffel bags and was prepared to pay extra. I had noted the charge for excess weight was only a little over a dollar a pound. The bags weighed exactly the 60 kilos limit for the four of us. I was all set for them to weigh Mari's carryon and charge me for it. AND THEY DID NOT WEIGH THE CARRYON. THEY DID NOT WEIGH ANYONE'S CARRYON THEN OR AT ANY OTHER FLIGHT ON THE TRIP. Later in Samburu, the Mara, and Lamu they obviously weren't charging anyone for too much weight.

I thought my family was going to kill me. Oh well. I am one for following the rules. Let's just say that from that time forward the vests only had the valuable stuff in them.

However, we really did enjoy the vests for the photography and other stuff on the game drives. So many pockets. Took a while to learn where I had stowed each item but was great.

A fairly large plane arrives (40+ capacity). Mari has me ask if it is ours and am told no, ours is smaller (18 seats). Mari is not thrilled.

Our plane arrives late. But hey you folks prepared us to relax. Someone will be in Samburu waiting to pick us up.

We discover there are only seven of us on the flight. The four of us and a couple from northern California of all places and their adult son who works for the UN in Nairobi in construction. (I always wondered where our $3 billion goes each year.) They were even also going to Larsen’s Tented Camp!

We got in the plane and had plenty of seats. There was no door to the cockpit. The pilot (sounded Australian to me) turned around in his seat and gave us a very brief pre-flight briefing (I do not recall him telling me to turn off my cell phone, for which Benjamin at Southern Cross had kindly bought me a Celtel SIM card with 7,000 shillings ($100USD) in time on it.) He then passed back a bowl of mints for our inflight refreshment! Hilarious.

We had quite a long hold at the start of the runway to take off. Pilot said was waiting get clearance from air traffic control. They certainly took their time.

Finally we took off. Sean won our family contest of who would see the first African animal. He saw a giraffe bending down eating in what I assume was Nairobi National Park.

Off we went to Samburu.

MORE TO COME
stakerk is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2006, 10:06 PM
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photos by Marisa, Mari and Sean at:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...w&x=0&y=xznihu

videos by Kevin:


Giraffes in Samburu Checking Out Walking Humans:

http://videoegg.com/video/hvVOp

Giraffe Crossing River:

http://videoegg.com/video/hvbUo

Leopard in the Samburu:

http://videoegg.com/video/hUtQr

15 Reticulated Giraffes Feeding Together in Samburu:

http://videoegg.com/video/hvVIo

Samburu Dancers:

http://videoegg.com/video/hvVUT

Lions Mating in the Samburu:

http://videoegg.com/video/hvOET

Mama Cheetah with Four Cubs:

http://videoegg.com/video/hyxRW

We Get a Bit Too Close for a Mama Elephant:

http://videoegg.com/video/hvOPW

Last of the Wildebeest Crossing:

http://videoegg.com/video/hvORq

Are we dinner?:

http://videoegg.com/video/hyVUr

Lion Kill in Masai Mara:

http://videoegg.com/video/hytRu


Kevin from California



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Old Sep 11th, 2006, 10:43 PM
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Great start to your trip report. I have already watched some videos and looked at the pictures. I especially love the one with all of the jeeps at the crossing.

I read in your report that they have bag storage at Wilson. Can you give me some more information on this? How long will they keep it and how much is it?

Good to know about changing money right away.

Thanks, Heather
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 12:27 AM
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Great start Kevin! I'm laughing out loud. Does Sean know you called him a "doofus" on an international travel forum? Glad you had a great family adventure and can't wait to read more! Already commented on the pics and videos, most excellent!
Thanks, Dennis
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 04:38 AM
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Funny stuff Kevin. I like how the kids got taught how to make "sensible decisions".

But Dennis, what did Sean call his Dad on whatever forums or blogs he contributes to for unnecessarily getting him to wear that weighted (and not particulalrly cool unless I'm missing something)vest?

Glad you got those things off Mari's chest Kevin. Didn't you know that Sandi and Rocco have bets on with the Kenyan/Zambian ground staff about how many people they can persuade to dress in bulging safari vests laden with camera and electronic equipment each year? Don't let the secret out! ;-)

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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 05:52 AM
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Heather:

Bag storage at Wilson Airport was free. Rather quaint. They give you a handwritten note as a receipt. We used a small TSA approved lock to discourage casual theft. The guys looked very honest. I made sure I gave them a good tip for checking in and then also when we checked out.

Aloha Dennis:

Sean does not know about the doofus label ... yet. He is a great kid, very bright but typical 18 year old boy, at times a disconnect between that great brain and common sense.

P.S. Mari and I going to our condo at Waikoloa on the Big Island this weekend, going to oversee some repairs.

Kevin
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 06:58 AM
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I was glad to see this this morning, Kevin and I can't wait to read it! (just about finished Sandi's & then Julian's is next, followed by just a few 'small' ones - so the LONGER this one is the better!!!!)

But I just know it will be a good one with your great sense of humour and style of writing!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 12:24 PM
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Great report so far! Looking forward to more.
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 01:32 PM
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That policy of announcing gates only shortly before flights had me hoofing for my last flight from Heathrow to Joburg. I think they waited until about 30 minutes before and I took a 10 minute pause from viewing the screen. It was too close for me.

After looking at your pictures I was having deju vu. The running zebra taken from the balloon really jogged the memory. But I also noticed a whole lot more pictures than your previous picture post.

Your kids really do look like you!

Can you tell us more about the gerenuk that you photographed? How many did you see, etc?

The wildebeest crossing shots are excellent. Are all the vehicles you photo'd watching the crossing?

I loved the "giraffe tree." The baby cheetahs are precious.

Don't dis that safari vest. I had a security guard compliment me on mine and ask where I got it!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 01:46 PM
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I haven't been on safari in Kenya, but I'm with your family on the vest thing. I've been consistently underweight by almost 10 lbs. on both safaris. I guess it's 'cuz I don't have any pricey equipment?

Great report!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 01:53 PM
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Heather,

...if you have any extra baggage for storage, have your ground outfitter in Nairobi hold it for you. They do this all the time. When you return from the Mara to Wilson, your guide will either have it with him in the vehicle or it will be delivered to your hotel if staying in a day-room before your departure home. Arrange where/when with your ground outfitter.
 
Old Sep 12th, 2006, 02:13 PM
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Good to hear the trip went so well!

He he, I can just see those murderous looks from the kids when they thought the vests were for nothing but do remember the airline simply reserves the right to weight and charge you for excess. It's not committing itself to do so! So you happened to be lucky and not get weighed/ charged but you could hardly have been expected to predict that!

Oh and hey, hope you do make it the Antarctic one November/ December - we went in 2004 and it remains one of the best trips we've ever done! Would do it again in a second if I had the money!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 02:14 PM
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Kevin, great introduction -- I also stayed at the Stanley on my last stopover in Nairobi (very reasonable, and nice sidewalk cafe). Looking forward to reading about the game viewing (I'm currently thinking about a return to East Africa for August, but I'm in the very early stages).

Michael
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 02:29 PM
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Kevin-the weather on the big island has been nice this week, but it's always nicer in Waikoloa than Hilo. Wish I would have bought a condo there years ago when I had the chance! Have a good trip!
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 03:31 PM
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I could wach your leopard footage over & over.

But your elephant run in is pretty scary. You would have been crushed.
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 04:04 PM
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Love the videos. But I thought Samburu wasn't supposed to be crowded -- it looks like rush hour in the beginning of the leopard video. I guess leopards can draw a crowd anywhere.
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Old Sep 12th, 2006, 10:35 PM
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Samburu

As we took off over Nairobi I was struck by the disparity of wealth. Some areas appeared to be acres and acres of teeming corrugated metal building slums. Almost right next door would appear to be a small enclave of mansions with swimming pools with beautiful designs on the bottom.

The flight was uneventful. I have a lapsed pilot’s license and so it was interesting to sit in the front row and look at the plane’s instruments. I can tell you the plane must not have been pressurized because we cruised at about 11,000 feet.

We passed by a cloud shrouded mountain range on our right. The American from Nairobi thought it was the slopes of Mt. Kenya. However, I did not see any mountains on the left that would have been the Aberdares. When we later flew down to the Mara we flew over the Aberdares and so I remain confused. (I don’t know why I am boring you folks with this so back to hopefully more interesting stuff.)

I had not yet seen an african animal. I am pretty excited. I say (probably repeated actually several times to the family that day) we are going to see some African wild animals today. WOW!

And so I peered down at the green slopes short of the cloud trying to see something I could definitively say was African. Surely there must be some elephant I can see. NOTHING.

We then began our descent to Samburu. I continued to peer down and at times saw a herd or two of grazing animals but could not tell if they were just cattle.

We then came in for a straight in landing. I thought I might see something as we got closer to the ground. Still NOTHING.

We touched down landed on the gravel airstrip (haven’t done that in a while). As the plane braked to a stop, WHAMO there it was: some sort of gazelle about 50 meters away. I was so excited.

WE ARE IN AFRICA! It was almost unreal. We are really here.

The plane taxied back to the humble, gravel ramp. We got off the plane (more like waddled off with our Rocco vests) and grabbed our duffel bags after they were taken off the plane by the lone baggage handler there. (We noticed on later flights they usually flew on the flight. Where he came from I did not learn.) However, we had a problem. Where was Sean’s? Oh no. I had tried to watch them load all our bags on the plane. They had at least all been on the baggage cart together. I had actually seen at least Marisa’s in the baggage area. My heart sank. Uh oh, what will we do for Sean? How will we find it?

However, the next moment to my relief someone remembered the plane had a baggage compartment in the nose and there it was. Phew!

Both a driver and a guide from Wilderness Camps greeted us. They loaded our bags. The other folks were going in another vehicle. And so we took off.

We were so excited to see the animals. We were going to see lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Oops wrong story.

I think the first animal we came across was an impala or Grant’s gazelle. Can’t tell you because I was so excited (and also sleep deprived and jet lagged, I was definitely running on adrenaline.) The guide and driver were most unfortunate to get us because WE MADE THEM STOP FOR EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL WE SAW. Wow, there’s an impala! Wow, what is that? (A Grant’s gazelle). What are those two small antelope? “Dik Dik” (Dik Dik became our family’s favorite animal, Marisa snuck up on me just the other day, jabbed me with two fingers and said, “Dik dik attack!”) Also, most likely made the guide impart every bit of knowledge he had about every animal. It was probably like a cross examination the way I was asking questions. (I am an attorney).

We crossed by bridge over the Ewaso Ngiro River. Wow, look at the baboons! More impala! More gazelle! More dik dik!

We then came to the best part. Mari’s favorite animal as long as I have known her is the giraffe. She even did her animal pysch class project in college on the giraffe up at the Santa Barbara zoo. We rounded a corner and off to the side was a beautiful reticulated giraffe. Mari was just beaming. I was so happy to see the look on her face. Heaven on earth.

Now after about nearly an hour of what should have been a 20-25 minute drive. The guide nicely observed we would be seeing lots of animals during our stay and we may want to get to camp to get settled in before lunch. We somewhat complied and only made them stop when we were seeing something for the first time.

Our last stop was by the waterhole just outside of Larsen’s Tented Camp. We saw our first elephants. Even a couple of mud covered warthogs came trotting towards us. Just marvelous.

I am sure to the relief of our two companions we finally entered the manned gate of the Camp. (The camp is surrounded by a electric fence.)

I had read many times in the trip reports but had forgotten. We were greeted with cold towels to cool and clean us and also refreshing watermelon juice. Delightful.

We were warmly greeted and assisted by Florence, the manager on duty during our stay. May I say we came to see the animals in Kenya, and they were even more wonderful than I had even dreamed of. However, I was even more impressed by the people. I know. The folks we come in contact with are paid to be nice to us. But this was different. What warm, loving people. The eyes are the windows to the soul and their inner beauty was radiated from their souls through their eyes. These are wonderful people.

In addition, this was a nice place. Until just before we arrived, I had only heard that Larsens’s was not all that great of a place. Someone said something about the 1980's. However, just before we arrived I had heard it was under new management and had been refurbished. (I believe Mohammed from Sri Lanka had shared that in his report.)

Bottom line: nice, really nice. I had prepared Mari for pretty low expectations. “You might have to use a pitcher of water and a wash basin. You have to order your hot water for a shower. They heat it up on a fire and use a ladder to pour it into a cistern above your tent. Smelly kerosene lamps at night” WRONG, very wrong, thankfully.

Nice colored concrete tent floors, nice canvas, all tiled bathroom with flush toilet, granite sink countertop, and HOT AND COLD RUNNING WATER. To cap it off, 24 hour electricity, and they provide a blow dryer! (Convenient since in Nairobi I in my sleep deprived funk and excitement (we’re going to see African animals today!) had plugged Mari’s 110V dryer into a UK adapter for her but without a converter to 220V and so immediately fried it and had to throw it away .)

Huge king sized bed. The head board is a bunch of shelves facing back towards to bathroom. One of which is a room safe. (I did not use. Did not trust it. Instead we used a small TSA lock to lock our valuables and camera in the footlocker at the foot of our beds. However, anytime we left the room we always carried around the neck holders for passport and cash. I carried most of the cash so a bit of a burden at first. I did not feel comfortable leaving stuff in the camp safe. What is to prevent an employee from stealing? Now, because I learned the people are so wonderful I would trust them. In the future, I think I would bring a banker’s bag with lock to prevent casual theft (I know, I repeat myself here.) for passports and cash and leave in camp safe.)

Even more impressive (and we are pretty impressed) is the service. It is like they secretly took photos of us on arrival. Posted them on a board in the employee briefing room, and would have a staff meeting at 5 am each morning and chant over and over, “Kevin, Mari Marisa, and Sean Staker, Americans, staying three nights, Curlew and Rollers tents, don’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol.” One morning at breakfast, I am eyeing the fruit laid out and one of the cooks comes out of the kitchen and says, “Good morning Mr. Staker. How was your visit to the village yesterday? I understand you are leaving us tomorrow.” This guy is only a cook! It was almost spooky.

We had the same waiter, Henry, for every meal. Very nice. Spoke English but with the typical accent. It took us a few days to get used to the accent of Kenyans. He and another server would place our metal covered plates of the main course (even at breakfast) in front of us and pull the covers off with a flourish. I am easy to impress.

The presentation of the food on the plate was also top notch. The food was pretty much high end almost gourmet stuff. Very, very good. Best of very good food on our trip.

(Sorry I am so long winded. This is sort of stream of consciousness. I will try to be more brief.)

Ahem. . . . We saw animals. Went to the Mara. Went to Lamu. Came home.

Oops, probably too brief.

Lunch at Larsen’s is outside under the trees, except when it is too windy. I assume it was their Summer because we were (just barely) above the equator. A perfect temperature.

Food was very good. At every meal, even breakfast, had a nice young man in Samburu warrior dress. He looked fantastic. Other than looking great, his role seemed to be to hold a rock and make like he was about to throw it to scare off the vervet monkeys. (Yes, the ones with the males with fluorescent blue testicles. Sean thought that part of their anatomy was hilarious.)

The monkeys were at first fun to watch trying to sneak up. They later took a liking to Marisa and Sean’s tent. We eventually viewed them as little rats. You must keep your tent zipped shut or they will run in and grab something. We had one even run up and had learned how to peel up the velcro on the tent flap. I had to shoo him off.

Lunch was at 1 pm. I am a creature of habit. Usually have lunch at noon, but I got used to it.

We then went to tents and got settled in. 3:30 pm came very quickly for our game drive. We had asked to have a guide assigned to us before arriving so we could bring gifts for his family. Francis was our guide (he is the guide pictured on the Larsen’s website, facilities page: http://www.wildernesslodges.co.ke/ )

He was great. Accent took some getting used to. But very knowledgeable, very patient with us.

Only a couple minutes from the gate we saw grevy’s zebra, and oryx (along with the reticulated giraffe, we had already seen three of the “Samburu Five.”).

Samburu is rather arid. Quite small, maybe only 15 kilometers across. But lots of game concentrated, I would assume because of the river. Vehicles have to stay on dirt tracks but they are literally everywhere (except high on the hillsides). You are at most maybe 200 meters from another road at any time. There were quite a few vehicles but so much game it was rarely a problem. We did not have a hang up about exclusivity. We just wanted to see the animals. Other vehicles were a problem only on the rare occasion they were blocking our view.

We saw lots and lots of animals. We saw a herd of cape buffalo (now two of the big five). One looked at us quite intently and meanly really.

However, I did drop the hint we wanted to see some big cats.

The sun started to go down. We were supposed to be back in camp by 6:30. It was probably 6:40 or later. We were in sight of the camp. Mari looked to our left and in the fading light saw something and said, “what is that over there walking along?” This was a bit in the distance. Francis casually responded, “it’s a cheetah.” A a a a a cheetah! Whoa! We nearly shot out of our seats into outer space. Here was a cheetah nonchalantly walking along. I learned later they like to hunt in low light. He was on an intersecting course with us.

We started taking lots of pictures, including video. I glanced at Mari. She was so happy. You could tell she was using all of her strength to not burst out into tears of joy. A very nice moment.

Sure enough, Francis timed it so the cheetah had to almost go around our vehicle to cross the dirt road to camp. Marvelous. What pure joy! What rapture!

We returned to camp. We thanked Francis profusely (and gave him a pretty good ($20) tip).

We cleaned up and dinner was at eight in the dining tent. (Took a bit of getting used to for us early eating Americans.) The food and service was just plain excellent (although a bit annoying to have to pay upon departure for our soft drinks and even water.)

We then fell into bed, exhausted but utterly happy. Mari had been afraid I would have been disappointed from experiencing so much from your photos and trip reports.

Not so. Africa was better than we had even imagined.

MORE TO COME.
stakerk is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2006, 02:28 AM
  #18  
 
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Don't you dare go brief on us! I am enjoying this soooo much.
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 09:05 AM
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Oh, I'm loving yor report...don't leave out a SINGLE detail!
Cindy
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Well, I couldn't stop to look at your pics. because I was enjoying your heartfelt report so much. You made me reminisce when speaking of your delight at seeing Mari's joy - your a good husband. I also got such a kick out of seeing my husband's absolute contentment when we were in Africa. It was indeed narcissistic pleasure to know that I had a hand in arranging such a wonderful trip.
Your enthuisism is truly contagious - please continue with as many details as you can - we love them. thanks for sharing, Kevin.
Now I shall go back to the pictures!
Sherry
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