Trip Report - Kenya Feb '07

Old May 23rd, 2007, 05:02 PM
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Sounds like a great plan. When are you going?
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Old May 24th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Thanks, looking forward to the rest!
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Old May 24th, 2007, 11:27 AM
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I was away when you started this report so am just catching up. It sounds like a fantastic trip am I'm looking forward to more.
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Old May 25th, 2007, 08:12 AM
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September 28
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Old Oct 9th, 2007, 08:23 PM
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Okay, sorry for the ridiculous delay in getting this next part posted..

Elsa’s Kopje

Elsa’s Kopje was my favorite camp. It might even be my favorite place in the entire world. I couldn’t even tell you why. Game was extremely difficult to spot in Meru, it was much hotter than anyplace else we visited, the awful red dust from the roads got everywhere, plus this was the only place in Kenya where my allergies acted up. But I don’t care about any of that. I’m still going back. There’s something truly magical about the place. I took some pretty good video of the camp, which I’ll post it as soon as I get organized. (Yes, I’ve been saying that for seven months now, but I swear I’ll get it done soon.)

The camp is built into the side of the kopje, which is either a small mountain or a large hill. I’m not sure which. All I know is it’s made of rock and the views of the park were spectacular. To reach the cottages from the reception area, you have to walk along this extremely cool path that’s carved into the side of the hill. The cottages are also carved into the side of the hill, with the rock face serving as the rear wall of the individual units. (At least in our two units. I assume the rest are the same.) There was also a huge tree growing through the middle of our cottage. It felt very Tarzan-like.

Contrary to some earlier trip reports, the windows are now screened. I’m not sure why. The location at the top of the hill was surprisingly bug-free. Couldn’t tell you why, but it was like there was some kind of force field at the base of the kopje that kept the mosquitoes and tsetse’s from flying up to where the camp was.

When we were there, Elsa’s was run by the substitute manager Mitch and his girlfriend, whose name escapes me. They set a great tone. The staff was a fun, talkative bunch. The camp was full, but the service was extremely attentive. Drinks were served an hour or so before dinner and guests were encouraged to mingle. We were then sent to our separate tables for the meal itself. The food was wonderful. Two words: Banoffee Pie. The best dessert in the history of the universe. The “ban” is banana. The “offee” is coffee. I’ll leave it at that.

We went on a game drive that first afternoon. We quickly realized that wildlife would be difficult to spot, so we decided to limit ourselves to one drive per day. We still had four days in the Mara coming up, and didn’t want to burn ourselves out. Plus this seemed like the perfect place to chill. (Not that we didn’t see anything that first game drive, just not in the abundance found at our previous two stops. Some giraffe. An elephant. A couple of hippos at the hippo pool.)

We decided to go fishing the next morning. Freshly-packed bush breakfast in hand, we headed to one of the fishing spots listed on the menu. (Each room has a “menu” of the different activities available. Massages, where to go on game drives, the best spots for sundowners... That type of thing.) It was so much fun, we spent the entire morning at the river. We headed back to camp for lunch and then hung out until late afternoon. Then we went on a brief game drive on our way to “Caviar Corner” for sundowners. We had a night game drive on the way back to camp. Didn’t see anything. I still enjoyed it. Something about the bush.

The next morning I did absolutely nothing. We had planned on visiting Elsa’s grave, but Mitch warned us the night before that the last group to pay homage was attacked by a huge swarm of tsetse flies that had taken up residence near there. Having encountered our first tsetses on the way back from the fishing hole, we weren’t in the mood for more. The others went to the local village that morning, while I stayed behind to hang out at the lounge and read my book. That afternoon we went on a game drive to the rhino sanctuary. The only other vehicle we saw the entire time we were at Meru was here at the rhino sanctuary. We saw a dozen or so rhinos, both black and white. To quote my friend’s wife: “Are you sure they’re endangered? We’ve seen an awful lot of them.” Our guide, David, had switched us to a larger vehicle for this drive. I wasn’t sure why until he broke out the drinks and we had sundowners sitting on top of the truck. It was an amazing way to end the day. None of us could believe it was already our last night at Elsa’s. Even though we didn’t do much of anything, the time flew.

I wish my words could better convey just how magical I thought Elsa’s was. It’s partially the design of the camp; it’s partially the remoteness. Maybe it’s the atmosphere. I don’t know. All I know is I loved every non-eventful moment I spent there. If you’re a hardcore safari-goer or desperate to tick off the Big Five, Meru might not be up your alley. But for me, it was just what the doctor ordered. Next time, I might spend more time tracking game. But I don’t know. That lounge at Elsa’s is awfully inviting…

Up next, Saruni…
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Old Oct 9th, 2007, 08:36 PM
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TravlinFool

Love your report Can't say I'd ever want to do absolutely nothing, but this bit was special: Didn’t see anything. I still enjoyed it. Something about the bush Too bloody right

John
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Old Oct 10th, 2007, 05:48 AM
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i felt exactly the same way about Elsa's, thanks continuing your post.
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Old Oct 10th, 2007, 03:11 PM
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So glad you enjoyed your time at Elsa's. Thanks for continuing.
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 08:38 AM
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Thanks for your positive comments on Elsa's.
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