Stakerk Trip Report, Kenya, August 2006

Old Sep 27th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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Yes Kevin, if you follow the river north of LG. I think it's called the Kichwa Tembo crossing because Kichwa Tembo is the nearest camp to that point. I think the crossing point falls just outside the boundaries of the Mara.

Gaurang
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 09:42 PM
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Aug. 13, 2006 Second Full Day in the Mara (Marisa’s 27th Birthday)

We had a great balloon flight in the morning. Told to be to the launching grounds just behind the reception at 6:00 am (so folks from other Governor’s Camps had to get up PRETTY early. Took off about 6:30 a.m. Four compartments of four people. Climbed over side of gondola (two cutouts for climbing in). Sat on padded bench and held on to straps. Burner of gas pretty noisy. Went up pretty quickly. (Total of three balloons.) Breeze blew us along pretty quickly. Came back down and skimmed along fairly low. Animals scared by the noise from the burner (except for the typically mean looking cape buffalo, wouldn’t want to take on one in a bar fight, I don’t drink so no risk of that.) At one point we went up to 1,300 feet above ground. Came back down for a perfect landing. (Sat down, grabbed straps, put our heads back against padding. Landed in tall savannah grass (not mowed down yet by wildebeests) The balloon dragged the gondola along. We stopped and the deflating balloon then pulled the gondola onto its side. The passengers either left either laying on their backs like us or crouched on hands and knees for others. Pretty fun.

Got out and waited for large game vehicles to come get us. Hoped no lions in vicinity. Pilot, Steve, English, made the age old quip, “I don’t have to outrun the lion, I only have to outrun you.” Learned one of the other family’s was from San Diego, of all places. After about 15 minutes we were picked up. Took us to a spot next to the Mara River for a big breakfast for all three groups. Food was pretty good. Our second breakfast in a row in the wild.

Was I glad we did the balloon ride, even at about $400 per person? Yes. A new experience, a different perspective. Would I do it again? No, not at that price. (I know this has been a matter of debate on this forum.)

We got in one of the large vehicles with two couples from So. Africa. One of the couples (Dave and Vivian) have a daughter who lucked out on the lottery to emigrate to the U.S. and lives in West Hollywood fairly near us. Daughter and her husband are expecting their first child in November. We hope to get together with them when Dave and Viv come in November.

Moses drove us to the other side of where we had seen our prior crossing of the Mara. Nothing happening.

We then started to drive away. We stopped and looked at some giraffe. We started to go back to camp but then Moses looked back and saw a dust cloud back at the crossing. He whipped the truck around and raced back to the crossing. Sure enough some of the wildebeest had practically raced to the river on the north side and had already started crossing. Stupidly they were again going straight across to a mere bump of dirt on the side of a steep bank. They followed the leaders up but at least this time the leaders had the brains to go down river to a much easier exit point than the day before.

After a couple of hundred crossed, some who had been on the south side then began to cross to the north (they were dry before they went in is how we could tell.) Pretty fun. That was it.

We then proceeded back towards LG Camp. We saw the Mama cheetah again out hunting with her cubs. They all posed on a termite mound for a photo that should be good enough for a cover of National Geographic. Marvelous. Simply Marvelous. (Correctly put by Dave from So. Africa.)

We had a short church service as a family in our tent. (Our LDS (Mormon) bishop had given us permission to have our own sacrament service.) We felt truly blessed by God to be in such a wonderful place enjoying His handiwork.

No great animals at lunch this day. Marisa did not feel well (Jomo Kenyatta’s revenge* had finally grabbed one of us) so she stayed behind for the afternoon game drive. (*My guess as to the name in Kenya for Montezuma’s revenge.)

We again went out the West from camp. Joshua said it had been two weeks since any rhino had been spotted. But the last time had been in this area. He said they typically sort of hide in the bushes and trees. We scoured the area for a couple of hours but saw none.

However, the following great things did happened. We got a little too close for the comfort of a mama elephant so she mock charged us. She trumpeted loudly but we were laughing so hard as we were taking off you cannot make it out on the videotape.

We went down to past the bend of the river to the East. We pulled up to a marshy area and looked at some storks. We drove off and checked the crossings. No luck. We then came back and saw from a distance three or four vehicles by the storks. Not likely that many there for storks, something better must be there. Just as we pulled back Mari said, “there’s a lion behind that mound of dirt.” Joshua started to pull the vehicle around to look and Sean then exclaimed, “there it goes!” We wheeled around just in time to see a lioness clamp her jaws on the neck of a wildebeest. WOW! WOW WOW WOW! They spun around several times. The wildebeest fought the good fight. Joshua said sometimes they escaped, but not very often and not this time. Within a couple of minutes of struggle the wildebeest was down and a couple of minutes later was dead. Dead apparently from strangulation, not blood loss. In fact, did not see any blood.
The lion started dragging it across the marsh. Could not make it across because of the uneven ground. Quite an effort though!

We left and began our search again for a rhino. Went far to the West towards the hills but saw no sign of any we really scoured the area with our binoculars. I thought interesting we ignored every other animal.

We ran into some rain near the Oloololo gate (amazed I spelled correctly, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast today but somehow pulled that out of the air). Came down pretty good. Put the top and one side of canvas on. Mari got some great pictures of giraffes and a rainbow. She was one happy safari lady.

Before we had arrived I had alerted the office that this was Marisa’s birthday. At dinner I quietly let our waiter know in case he had not gotten the word. (They had sung Happy Birthday to her at the balloon bush breakfast.) The waiter was a bit upset he had not been informed. He said he would see what he would do.

At the end of dinner, a cook came out of the kitchen. He had made a marvelous flourless chocolate torte in about an hour. They put candles on, lit them, and everyone sang Happy Birthday. I will never forget the broad beaming smile of the cook. He was justifiably very proud of his almost miraculous accomplishment. A wonderful moment.

We ate about a third of it. We offered some to the other tables. We noticed the leftovers were part of the typically wonderful dessert part of the lunch buffet the next day.

On the way back to our tents, the guard shined his flashlight on some giraffes in the marsh. Pretty cool stuff.

MORE TO COME [Trying to hide primordial fear]"Joshua, are you sure the lions never jump into the game vehicles?"
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 02:05 AM
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Kevin, I'm enjoying your report. Its like going over our own trip once again.

Its a small world really... I met the daughter, Minal, of the Sarova founder in Nairobi at one of getogethers that our friends took us to before we left for our safari. She had just returned from Mara with her cousin Ruby from Dubai and her Aunts. They did not get any rooms at their own Sarova Mara camp so they stayed at Little Governor.

Small world ain't it?

Whizforty
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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Whizforty:

Ruby was with his aunt there at LG. What is Ruby's last name? I did not catch it. Is it Vohra, which I believe is the name of the hotel chain owners?

Thanks,

Kevin
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 09:37 AM
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What a wonderful report. Brings back MANY happy memories.

My favorite pictures were of the cheetah family and the 15 giraffes.

It's always a pleasure to hear a newbie's thoughts...I have not doubt that now that you have been smitten by the Africa "bug," this will not be your last visit to Africa.

Keep it coming!

Deb

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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 12:01 PM
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My husband and I are loving your report! We will be at Little Governor's for the first time (first trip to Africa) in February so, yes please, more details! Thrilled to hear you and your family enjoyed your stay there so much. (But is there really a danger from the crocs when you cross the river in the little boat? From the photos it looks awfully tiny...!)
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 01:08 PM
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Another wildebeest crossing! I am a little jealous.

The lion kill. Envy is building.

Mother cheetah and cubs--again. Raging jealousy.

Giraffe and rainbow. Just stop it!

Flourless chocoate torte. The last straw! I hate you.

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Old Sep 30th, 2006, 09:53 AM
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Third Full Day in the Mara

We took off for the morning drive. We headed east past through the Musiara Marsh (really normal plains with a lowlying string of bushes and trees. I did not see any water). We checked out the Musiara pride (probably have some other name technically). Actually getting a bit routine, "oh, here they are, aren't they nice to look at, . . . are there any rhinos around here?"

We went quite a ways to the south and east. Saw lots of wildebeest and zebra. Joshua had again wisely suggested we bring a bush breakfast. Parked near a lone acacia tree on a rise with a pretty good view to the east. From our experience, food just plain tastes better out in the wild.

There was a line of wildebeest marching past us about 300 meters to the north. Sean and I decided to see how close we could get until they went around us. Got within about 40 meters. Interesting. Realized we were walking around in the wild without any armed rangers. Grass grazed down pretty low though, had checked for lions. Joshua thought us fairly amusing.

We came back. I then got down on all fours and tried to sneak up on a tommie. Sean spoiled it though by sneaking up walking to smack me.

We went across a river "Black Water" translated I believe. J. said let's try to find the lions, the Two Crossings pride I believe the name. He drove along the river bank. He then pulled up to a spot, we stood up to look for them lounging in the bushes. J. casually then said, "look there" We looked and just to our left was a lion asleep under the bush. J. is either one very skilled guide or knew they always like to sleep in this one place.

We then drove near Mara Intrepids, checked out the arriving and departing aircraft for a few minutes. Seemed like a good location for a camp.

We then went back southwest to the Mara River. Went to the Serena crossing. Nothing happening. Got out and looked at the hippos.

Drove on and got a good look at the Mara Serena from the other side of the river. Looked nicer than the pictures I had seen before. Very well camoflauged. Love the tree-like mobile phone tower.

Went back to the Paradise Crossing. No action.

Went back to camp for lunch.

Not an exciting game drive, had gotten a bit spoiled but still very nice. Beautiful vistas of the plains.

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Old Sep 30th, 2006, 12:33 PM
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That afternoon the kids decided to stay at Camp. Will discuss below how they did not have the quiet afternoon they had expected.

We wanted to do some more souvenir shopping so Joshua took us to the north to the Musiara gate on the park boundary. There are a few homes and a corrugated metal building that is the shop. Business must be pretty good because there was a child's mountain bike lying outside. The lady there was nice but her prices were a bit high. Got her down to $20 for a masai blanket (paid $18 at the camp gift shop). Way overpaid for some animal figurines but went by the rule I learned from you folks, if you like something, buy it because you may not see it again. (good advice, never saw the comparable items anywhere on the rest of the trip). Oh well, maybe another of her kids needs a bike. not that much money really, just knew she was overcharging us a bit. (I was not in a good negotiating position, Mari gave me the "make sure you buy these" look.

Joshua sure must love the Musiara pride because we took the road down to the marsh. When we got down to tree line, we came upon the lion pride lollygaggin about. Some were even basking in the sun. Pretty wild to pull up next to a lion sleeping on a mound and have him open his eyes and glance at you like your house cat awakened from slumber, a rather intentional nonchalance, "oh, it's those humans again."

We then dutifully drove down to the Paradise crossings. No crossing appeared iminent, not a wildebeest anywhere close on either side.

We then drove back to the north and east. We saw a few vehicles gathered in the distance. True to experience, we found a cheetah surrounded by now five or six vehicles with us. We were all about only 10 meters away, pretty close.

The cat was lying there just minding its own business. I marveled at how with our great experiences of our first cheetah walking across out path and the mama cheetah with her four cubs going after the tommies that we were spoiled and found this almost boring. Just as I was about to indicate I was ready for us to move on, Joshua said, uh oh, and quickly started up the game vehicle, and said, “it’s the wardens.”

About a 150 meters away was their vehicle, Joshua said we had to go chat with them. He said we are supposed to stay at least 25 meters away from the animals. A couple of the vehicles took off. J. said that was not good. He said you do not really get in trouble if you go over, say hello, and tell them your name. He said on occasion they will come to the camp that evening and verbally reprimand you, but never a fine if you do not run off.

We drove over. They greeted us. Joshua gave them his name and they waved us off. Seemed like pretty nice guys. Interesting little dance.

We then began back towards camp. Came up a male hyena and a jackal. We went a short way further and Joshua took us to a hyena den. Found three youngsters there. Was quite a riot when one came over and started gnawing on the vehicle. He proceeded to bite off the a rubber cap on the end of the axle. Joshua had to get out and retrieve it off the ground to take back and put back. As we were leaving, the male was approaching. So was the mother who appeared to be heading him off from getting near the cubs. Fun.

On the way back, we had to drive past where we had last seen the lions. Sure enough, in the fading light they were still there. We stopped and watched them. Several were wrassling (how is that for a Western U.S. term?) and tussling. Very entertaining. We getting near curfew so had to leave. The problem there was a lion lying in the dirt track. We then cautiously drove around and stopped. There was one just to our right (next to Mari). There was another ahead on the left edge of the road. Immediately to our right another lion came walking straight towards us through the grass. He paused at the edge of the road and looked squarely at Mari. She got a bit nervous (a bit of an understatement), one lion on her right, another to her left sizing her up for dinner, so she moved a bit into the center. The lion then glanced at me (I’m closer remember, he is at most three most three meters away). I asked Joshua something like are we safe here? (see the video for exact comment) He said they never jump in the vehicle. I thought to myself, “yeah, and there is always a first time for everything”. HE THEN BEGINS TO WALK TOWARDS US. . . he could easily leap in and grab any one of us . . . and then plops down on the ground like a kitten. Phew! WOW!

If I had to pick, this was the highlight of the trip for me. Primordially chilling. I believed I had had a glimpse of how it felt to know you were dead meat, literally, if the lion was so inclined. WOW.

We then drove back to camp. What an experience!

Last Morning in the Mara, Off to Lamu Island

For our last morning, we all took off for the morning game drive. Forgot to say that the Camp had messed up our reservation and had us only staying three nights. We had definitely paid for four and had the confirmation from them. Sounds like they send the folk we displaced over to their even nicer (accommodations) Il Moran Camp. Hey, why didn’t you ask us if we wanted to go? Oh well. I much prefer the marsh location.

We drove south, paralleling the hot air balloons. We came upon the ubiquitious game vehicles gathered around a tree. I guessed, leopard. Was right. Came upon a mother leopard in a tree with a leftover kill and one of her two cubs. She came down, one supposes to find her other cub. Very cute they way her cub in the tree loudly complained (often). Not very discreet.

The cub eventually came down and joined her. Amazing how it hard it was to follow them as they walked around in the high grass.

We drove down to the crossing area. Lots of wildebeest were gathering on the shoreline. They made some feints towards beginning to cross. Joshua said they almost surely would but we had to leave to go back for the tail end of breakfast, get packing, and leave for the airstrip. (One note: for security we brought a steel cable normally used for security of a laptop computer, and used it to lock our duffel bags together. Not totally secure, but we believed enough to discourage a casual thief. (Hard to imagine how a theft could occur, you could just see the goodness in the eyes of the staff. I guess someone from outside could sneak in. Hard to imagine though with all the security folk around.)

This was our first breakfast at LG. Pretty good (other three mornings had done a bush breakfast.)

With some sadness, we left LG. Took the little boat one last time across the Mara. I wondered if we would ever come back. What a magical place. (forgot to tell you about the resident warthogs, weird how they graze on the grass with forelegs tucked under them.)

We waited over an hour and a half. Saw one Air Kenya plane land at Kichwa Tembo airstrip, take off and fly over us to Serena or Intrepids. Saw several Safarlink planes come and go. Had never heard of it until then, since then have learned are viable competitor. (Smaller planes, more destinations, a bit more expensive, but hey, probably beats driving.)

Finally our plane came. However, it was pretty full. Had nervous moment when they told one family that they had seats for the family, except for the father. They assured him another plane was coming in 10 minutes. They were also going to Lamu. He did not look too worried, must have seen this drill before (a Frenchman, married to an American with their daughters born in England, pretty international, said the girls had three passports.) Lots of bags coming off and others going on. Made sure our bags were tagged for Lamu and on the plane.

Hugged Joshua goodbye, surprised I did not start to cry. Loved him very much. Brings tears to my eyes now.

OFF TO LAMU

Uneventful flight to Wilson at Nairobi. A bit nervous on arrival because we arrived late and only 15 minutes to scheduled departure, lots to do. However, figured should not be a problem because of the fellow on the following flight. Got off the plane and grabbed our bags as they came out of the baggage compartment (not exactly high security, I guess). We hauled them over to the baggage handling area. Mari had dashed off to them and gotten our bags out of their storage. Not so worried now about weight (carry ons at least). Put our safari stuff and souvenirs in the bags to be left and got our beach stuff out. Went quickly and smoothly.

We then had to check back in through security. They checked Sean again fairly closely (his Rocco vest laden again with camera stuff.)

We got some sandwiches, free fries and some chocolate/banana shakes at the café there. The fries were pretty good. Sean and I thought the shakes were fantastic. A bit rushed but got in time to take on the plane. (The French gentleman had arrived.) We took off only about 15 minutes late. Interesting to fly over Nairobi, but I was not impressed as a place to stay, much less live in. (I am always asking myself, “would this be a place to move to?”) Flew over the international airport. Weird that Air Kenya does not fly out of there.

Mari was glad we were having a change of pace. She was right, even I was getting a bit done with game driving, day after day.

Looking forward to a place very different from what we have ever experienced. Off to Lamu.

MORE TO COME “Flip flops and donkey crap are not a good combination.”
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Old Sep 30th, 2006, 06:24 PM
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The warden interaction was interesting. I guess I'm glad they have a presence even if they aren't too intimidating. I've never encountered them.

A hyena den with little ones is a real treat.

I know what you mean about that paradigm shift where you feel like meat. It must have been meaningful to be a highlight.

What would you have done had you caught the tommy?
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Old Oct 1st, 2006, 05:15 AM
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stakerk,
That feeling that a lion is sizing you up for dinner happened to us too. A pair of lionesses strolled over to within about 12 feet of our vehicle,and sat down. One of them stared at us one at a time like she was trying to decide which piece of chocolate she wanted out of the box. One of the ladies with us said she "felt like a she was in a can of sardines with the top off!"
Lily
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Old Oct 2nd, 2006, 10:47 AM
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Sounds like Joshua was a terrific guy.

Looking forward to Lamu, flip-flops and all.
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 09:08 PM
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Lamu Island

We added Lamu Island on the Indian Ocean as a change of pace from all the game viewing. We were glad we did, we were beginning to get a bit burnt out from all the game drives.

It certainly was different. You come flying in over what appear to be some pretty big mangrove swamps. You actually land on Manda Island across the bay from Lamu town.

The airport had more to it, but not much more, than the airstrips we had flown in and out of. Very third world, very Africa. Hand drawn baggage cart, luggage tossed onto a concrete bench, plastered buildings in not too great of shape, palm frond thatched roof waiting area, hand painted sign “Manda Duty Free Shop”. However, still a very nice Kenya feeling.

We were greeted by Abdul who was holding a “Kizingo” sign. When we arrived with some other guests, he then hid the sign back up in the rafters of the waiting area roof. Charming.

We liked Abdul quite a bit. Broad smile, very helpful, adequate English skills.

He loaded on our luggage onto a hand cart and pulled it the 200 meters to the end of the pier. Some other men assisted him in tossing down our luggage to the waiting open (but very fast) boat from Kizingo. I had already given him $10 when an apparently local English fellow suggested we make sure we gave him 150 shillings (a little over $2) for his trouble. I did not confess I had given him much more.

Our boat driver Mohammed (I would assume from the names these guys are all Muslim) took us across the bay for a glimpse at Lamu Town. I assumed it would be a pretty clean, organized place because it is predominantly Muslim. I thought the discipline of Islam would carry over to building maintenance. I imagined lots of clean, white plastered buildings (the photos I had seen had given that impression). Instead I saw a rather ramshackle place that could have used a lot more clean, white plaster.

Nevertheless, we were delighted to be here. Uncommonly overcast and not steamy hot as we were expecting. We were definitely not the Kansas (or California) any more. Very different.

Piloted by Mohammed the boat was very fast, a lot of fun, skimming along past the mangroves shorelines. Kizingo is on the far southwest side of the island. I think about 15 kilometers. You go around the island by way of the channel on the east, then north and then west sides of the island. It took about half of an hour. About five minutes out it started to rain, rained very hard when going that fast. Mohammed paused and hande us a tarp that covered us with me bending forward holding it down. The wind rushing over held it down over us. We got a bit wet but what fun!

We went past what I believe is called Kipungani Explorer Lodge. Looked pretty nice. A bit expensive I believe.

However, I believe Kizingo is a better location. We arrived. It also is on the channel, not on the ocean, but just around the point of the island from the ocean.

We dashed in the rain across the broad beach to the main building of Kizingo. We came rushing in only to realize we should have taken off our shoes. You see, all of the buildings there have a floorcovering of woven mats of some local plant material. Huge mats. The labor involved must be immense.

We were warmly greeted by Mary Jo, the owner (along with husband Louie). We had a good time at Kizingo, but she was actually the highlight. She is very humorous, as I have stated elsewhere a real riot. She also had some hilarious comment on nearly everything from what was for dinner that night to her view of world affairs. Very well informed for someone with sporadic internet access in the middle of nowhere (I learned they religiously listen to the news on BBC radio).

She and Louie have quite the tales to tell of growing up in Kenya (I guess one could call them British Kenyans, as in Mexican Americans), having a coffee farm in Zimbabwe, getting kicked out, and building Kizingo just a few years ago.

Kizingo is a true eco-resort. Solar electric lights in the room, solar hot water (with the overcast skies the first couple of days we were then, a bit of a problem), bandas made entirely of local materials, nary a nail in the place. Flush toilets using little water. Civilized enough, huge bandas, first time with a mosquito net, great Celtel mobile phone reception, great food typical of our trip (lots of seafood, for example how about half of a lobster for lunch?.) Not crowded, I believe only six bandas with guests. Great service from the staff (Note: May Jo said their wives have to walk five kilometers each way to get water.)

For the first time on our trip went to the main building and sat at the bar for sundowners. (We don’t drink alcohol so a learning experience.)

The next day we arranged to go into Lamu and hire Abdul to be our guide. (Note: everybody has a cell phone, easy for Mary Jo to contact Abdul and then for our boat captain to let him know we were about to arrive.) We got off at a pier and began walking along the waterfront. Now Lamu is famous for its donkeys; they are everywhere, just wandering around. “doesn’t anybody own these animals?” I understand there are only two motor vehicles on the island. But where there are lots of donkeys, there is lots of . . . donkey poop. And Mari and I were wearing only flipflops. We quickly realized our predicament and looked at each other with a look of oh well, let’s us go with it, it will wash off. Rather zen like of us I thought. I guess when you have gone to the bathroom in an ammo box on the shores of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon you tend to accept the bad with the good.

As alluded to before, I thought the town disappointing. Yes, I was glad we went. Quite a different experience, had never been to a Muslim area before (we were ignoring the U.S State Department warning against going to the predominately Muslim coast of Kenya). Narrow streets with open sewers for what appeared to be dish/wash water. Shopping was OK. Very good prices on clothing, fabrics, etc. Jewelry, ok prices. A couple of OK (how many different ways will I spell that word, and repeat it?) museums. Abdul was a very good guide, very patient with us, a good look in his eyes, liked him a lot.

Went back to Lamu for lunch. Note: Louie said the biggest issue they face is the cost of gasoline. Hence, they do have to charge $25 for each person to go back and forth to Lamu.

That afternoon the kids lazed about their banda. Mari and I went for a walk down the beautiful beach along the south side of island, it just goes on and on. Very enjoyable, lots of sea shells, hope it is not bad luck to take like lava rock from Hawaii.

No snorkeling this time of year, water too murky from runoff from the rivers (or was it algae?). Any way no snorkeling. A shame because Louie apparently knows right where to go to go snorkeling with the dolphins!

The next day we discovered was the annual dhow (sailing boat) race. The Van Aardts (Louie and Mary Jo) had their three children there and a bunch (6+) of their friends from college in the U.K. (or was it Ireland?). I went into town with them for the race (my family opted to stay behind and rest). We arrived about noon for the 1 pm race only to learn that 1 pm was last year, this year 4 pm (depends on the tides). I then hung out at the Peponi Hotel for a while with their daughter (Emily?) and some of her friends waitng for a ride back to Kizingo. Oh how youth is wasted on the young! Fun for this old 52 year old to be like a fly on the wall watching from a distance in the bar the young ones interact with old friends. Fun to just hang out and people watch. I guess Princess Caroline of Monaco has a place there (Shela Beach, just down from Lamu) just a couple of buildings down from the hotel (a surprisingly small establishment for a place that is so famous). Looked like a few folks there were being served lunch on the veranda. Almost felt like a paparazzo with my camera.

The race was obviously going to be a lot of fun but I had to get back by 4 to go fishing with Sean. (I had once asked Sean if he could go anywhere in the world (and remember this is a kid who had been a few places) where would he go and what he would do, and his response was “go fishing”). There were several dhow crews sailing back and forth along the waterfront apparently already well loosened up (if you know what I mean - - - not the strictest of muslims I guess).

Got back a bit after 2 pm and caught the tail end of lunch. Great as always, great food, great service, great chat with Mary Jo.

At 4 went with Sean to go fishing with Mohammed. The night before we had had red snapper caught by a couple of guests. We went out, surprisingly just about a mile up the channel. We would just throw a fishing line over the side with two hooks, each with a shrimp attached. When we would feel a tug on the line, would pull up the line. Mohammed would ask just “big fish” or “little fish” in Swahili. (Sorry can’t remember the words.) We catch fish after fish. Every time we would say small fish. Finally I had a bit tug at the line, a big fish. Mohammed excitedly helped pull up. Huge (for us) looked like a catfish, M. said it was a wolf fish. We caught over 70 fish! Mostly silver snapper, a couple of red snapper. We had a great time. He actually got tired of fishing after just over a hour.

Back and had some of our fish in the soup for dinner (it was steak night). Heard the dhow race was not very exciting, never heard why. However the Van Aardts kids were having go much fun they stayed with friends in Lamu that night.

ALMOST FINISHED “Who wants to try the crocodille first?”
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Old Oct 6th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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Nice change of space. Nothing huge or spectacular happened, but sometime you just gotta' slow down.

Going to the bathroom in an ammo box... not sure I want to ask.
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 09:01 PM
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Lamu to Nairobi to Zurich to Los Angeles (Phew!)

We spent our last morning at Kizingo just lazing about. (Note: we requested a wake up delivery of hot chocolate at 8 am, a bit later than the safari camps) Delightful walk down the beach to the Indian Ocean side of the island.

We then somewhat sadly began getting ready to leave. Got packed. I finished reading Flame Trees of Thika (thank Fodorites for the suggestion!) I called Benjamin with Southern Cross to thank him for planning such a marvelous trip for us.

Time for us to go. I had to stifle tears as we were leaving our banda for the main building and a final lunch. I was reflecting on what a wonderful time we had had. Wonderful people, wonderful animals, wonderful places.

We bade a tearful (for us) goodbye to Mary Jo and Louis. Left what we hoped was a generous tip for the staff. Snuck separate tips to server and bandaguy. Went out to beach and hopped in one of their boats and sped back to Manda Island and airport. There was reliable, wonderful Abdul waiting to off load the bags and take them to the check-in (pretty rustic, dirt floor, palm frond roof).

Flew back to Wilson. Uneventfully retrieved our bags stored there. We did a major repacking job of our bags in the parking lot. Pretty paranoid about what we could take on the plane so took very little in carry ons.

Benson from Southern Cross took us over to Carnivore Restaurant (surprisingly close by). Had to wait for it to open. We ate as quickly as we could because we had to pick up a couple of gentlemen at a hotel on the way to take the airport. The exotic meats were camel (tasty but tough), crocodile (OK but bony), and ostrich (very tasty and good), also had lamb (actually gamier than the exotic meats, beef, and chicken (I believe). Huge tourist trap type of place but surprisingly clean and nice. Actually enjoyed.

Got to airport about three hours early for 11 pm flight. Easy time through security but got held up in check-in getting our seats. Afraid we were going to get bumped because did not have seat assignments. We ended up being seated in good exit row seats.

Thus began our long trek home. Have never done so many hours of flying in 24 hours. About 10 hours to Zurich. Slept pretty well. (Love that Ambien!) Had reserved a dayroom at the airport. A bit hard to find (towards the end of one of the concourses, I thought would be in central area.) I slept for a couple of hours. Family rested a bit and then went shopping in the airport. (Not exactly cheap shopping found in Switzerland they discovered.) It was nice to take a shower. In sum, would recommend the dayrooms there.

We then began the trek to our departure gate. We had to take a tram to another terminal. Went through security (they seized Sean’s toothpaste because we were going to the U.S., our first experience with the new security rules.) Finally got on the plane to Los Angeles. We then chased the sun across the globe. Overall we enjoyed Swiss Airlines.

Arrived in Los Angeles. Had just a brief wait at passport control (after what I assume was a drug sniffing dog checked us out). We were waived through customs. (I guess we had that “no way these people bought a lot of stuff overseas” look to us.)

Our niece picked us up and back to our home in Thousand Oaks at about 6:30 pm (about 4:30 am Nairobi time). Phew!

Overall a great trip. Would not have changed a thing (that I can remember.) Thanks for listening! Especially thanks to all you Fodorites for all your advice, trip reports, etc. Our trip was fantastic mainly because of you. Thank you so much.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 03:57 PM
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Thanks for the final installment. Enjoyed all of your report!
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 05:06 PM
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Me too -- thanks, Kevin! This was a very interesting, entertaining report. How wonderful to be able to travel with your whole family like that. What lucky kids you have!
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 11:49 PM
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Thanks Kevin for a very entertaining and educational report. You had some truly wonderful "WOW-moments". Little Governors seem to be a lovely camp. Have you started to think about next trip?

regards,
Tom
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 05:06 AM
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Great report Kevin. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you have a wonderful family and you, Mari, Marisa and Sean have lots to be thankful for.
Sherry
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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Thanks all for comments. sorry it took so long to complete, appreciate your patience.

Tom:

Thinking about Peru (hike to Macchu Picchu), then Eqypt and Israel, and then somewhere in Southern Africa, probably Botswana, mobile camping. Anyone have any other ideas?
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