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Trip Report Out of Africa Trip Report

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"There is something about a Safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel the whole time you you had drunk a half bottle of Champagne.....bubbling with heartfelt gratitude for being alive ... Isak Dinesen( Karen Blixen) author of Out of Africa

Decribing the plains... Isak Dinesen wrote "The views were immensely wide . Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom and un equalled beauty"

Having just returned from a 3 and a half week Safari, I can understand the above comments by Karen Blixen.

I want to Thank Bill Hilton for the great pictures he posted over the past few years and also a thank you to sandi ,for many of her great comments which helped me plan this quick trip.

It is a long flight from North America to Amsterdam and thento Nairobi.

I had a short time to plan for this trip as it was not until the first week in June that my friend Randy and I decide to go.

We quickly contacted Predator Tours in Arusha ,which were terrific people to deal with, and when all the lodges were booked, we then booked the flights and by mid August we were on our way.!

We did the Serena Lodges all the way through except for Lake Nakuru and the Kenya Safari Club ( The William Holden place).

This was a private tour for just the two of us so it was nice to have the flexibility to change some things as we went along.

Arriving in Nairobi at 7PM and being met by our driver/guide was a welcome sight.

We stayed at the PanAfrica hotel on Kenyatta Avenue on the 6th (top) floor with views to Uhuru Park and downtown Nairobi. ( Uhuru means freedom)
It was a bit noisy at night but we enjoyed the room and the hotel (traffic is terrible !)

The Hilton is a bit run down and needs some renovations( so I am gald we changed our minds about staying at the Hilton).
Another nice hotel is the Intercontinental right on the corner of Uhuru highway and City Hall Way. ( Icannot see that it would have been anyquieter !),it did not matter we were never in the hotel except to sleep.

The next day we headed out along highway A2 to Nanyuki , the equator line passes through here.
You take the usual pictures by this sign and then give a fellow a tip and he shows you the water test , that water reverses direction on either side of the equator...... I saw this in Quito Ecuador.

We stayed 2 days at the Kenya Safari Club, I paid extra to stay at the William Holden Cottage !!,what a surprise,we had this whole house to ourselves with those terrific park like views of the grounds and Mount Kenya from our huge patio.

The bedroms ,bathrooms(all in marble) and the living room were just superb !

From here you go to Samburu Park ,as there are some unique animals here like
Bomgo Antelope ( seen), Grevy Zebra (seen), Oryx ( seen) , Kuder (a large Impala ) did not see this one.

We were going to go cross country to get to our next destination Lake Nakuru, and it would have been easier to reach Lake Nakuru from here but I wanted to go back to Nairobi as there were places I wanted to see there .

Here is a list of some places to see in Nairobi ( if you do not want to rush off to start the Safari.)
1. Nairobi National Park... at the southern edge of the city. There is a monument here marking the place where past President Moi burned 12 tons of Ivory as a lesson to ther poachers.

2. Giraffe Centre where you get to feed the giraffes.

3.Karen Blixen Museum...I spent about 45 minutes here enjoying this lovely place ( I was at her gravesite 2 years ago in Copenhagen)

4. Uhuru Gardens ( not the park) built in remembrance of Kenya's struggle for Freedom,this place is near Wilson's Airport and the Carnivore Restaurant ,you should go here once to eat just to see the place.

5.National Railway Museum...some of thr train cars used in the Out of Africa Movie are here on display.

6. Walk about Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi.... cross the streetand walk past the Parliament building and enter Kenyatta Square, which is the main square in Nairobi....from here it is just walking around and seeing these places that are all within a 4 block radius.

(1) Parliament and Kenyatta Convention Centre ( very tall round building)
(2) Jomo Kenyatta statue in the middle of the Square
(3) Law Courts building ..Jomo Kenyatta;s back is to the Law Courts and he is looking straight ahead at his Mausoleum which is right next to the Parliament buildings.

(4. ) August 7th Park ,where on August 7 1998 Al-Aqaida bombed the USA Embassy.
(5) Hilton Hotel ( round building)
(6) In front of the Hilton is a statue and monument fo Dedan Kamthi Wachuri,who was fighting for the freedom of kenya ,when in 1957, the British captured him and hung him.

(7) The tallest building in Kenya is the Times Tower,right across the street from the almost equally tall Convention Centre.

The Kenya President was there when I was walking across the Square , security was all over the place and yet I was able to just walk about and take pictures. I walked about 20 feet past him !

Here is what you can do and I did it twice.
You go into the round Convention Centre building,for $4.00 US you cango to the very top of the Convention Centre and have the most panoramic views of the city.

WhenI say to the top...I mean you get off on the 27th floor and then climb the stairs for two more you are totally outside...then you climb another set os stairs ( about 10 steps) and you are on a landing pad with the most 360 degree views you can imagine !!!

let me just add some points:
1. The Kenya Visa is $25.00 cash US$
2.The Tanzania Visa is $50.00 cash US$
3. I down loaded and filled out the Visa forms online before I left , even had pictures, but they did not want my online Visa form and had me fill out one of "theirs" !

4.Bring lots of $1.00 bills as you willbe tipping a lot. I had my bank order me $200.00 in one dollar bills.......nothing like having 2 bundles of crisp new one dollar bills , it was like two deck os playing cards !!

5. Bring a warm sweater and/or jacket... thje mornings are very do not fool yourself that because you are in Kenya you will be hot al the time.

6. I packed allmy clothes in 2-gallon zip lock bags and then got 6 of those large orange colored plastic bags ( at Wal-Mart) that people use to rake their leaves in the Fall.
I used the orange bags as a pull over on the luggage even though our luggage was also covered with blankets.

7. You will not believe the amount of dust you will have to endure.
This is not the convention dust we see back home is powder dust ,so when is rises ,those fine particles get inoto every place you can think of.

8. I brought sandals and white sneakers . I was in sandals 90 % of the time.
9. Bring a hat, any kind will do, Iwore mine less than half the time.

10. I wore shorts almost all the time ,bought a pair of zip offs but never wore them
11. I never converted to the Kenya or Tanzania shilling, I used US$ all the way through.

12. bring saline eye drops,a vial is cheap and you can instil a few drops into your eyes after a dusty game drive.
13.There is no TV in the rooms in the lodges, but there is TV in some of the bars and Internet is available in all the places.

14.Oh yes, if you are going to Zanzibar atthe endof your Safari ( we did) then there is a $30.00 US$ cash ,tax for the departure from Zanzibar .
Okay off to Lake Nakuru

Stops were made along the way at various point along the Rift Valley
We were on a paved road but that luxury would end as the days progressed !

This place is just as you have read about...with Waterbucks,buffaloes, zebras,white rhinos , lions and we saw a black rhino cross the road right in front of us.

But of course the main feature was the myraids of fuchsia pink flamingoes.
Wait a minute !!!!
What is this fuchsia pink stuff !!

Well, fuchsia is the pink color named after a flower on the fuchsia plant that was discovered in1892.
Now aren't you glad you know that now !!

Masai Mara

It is a 5 1/2 hour drivew from Lake Nakuru to the Masai Mara Serena Lodge.
Passing by many villagesand Masai herding cattle . The cattle are very important to the Masai people.

They really do not like to sell their cattle but rather buy more. Cattle act as a dowry for the farmer when his daughter gets married ( hmmm I remember the John Wayne movie Quiet Man.....there was a dowry there too !!)

While driving you pass many people walking along the road carrying large loads of firewood and charcoal, taking them to market to sell for a few shillings.

When the Masai was created in 1974, the Masai people were evicted and still cannot use the reserve to graze their cattle.
They earn cash by allowing tourist to enter their village for a small fee,as I will explain later.

Along the way we saw the classic gathering of Wildebeestsover the plains getting ready for their migration (actually the migration is already in progress) and to cross the Mara River.
You have to be lucky to see the river crossing.

The word Mara means spotted and I learned that is is due to the spotted little tree covered hills and that is how the name was derived.

We crossed the Mara River bridge , the only bridge within the National Park that crosses the river and it was lined with lazy hippos.

We entered the Masai Mara park via the Oloololo Gate.
This is how you pronunce this gate name:
Oh- Low-Oh--Low-Low. But just say Low-Low, good enough !!

Finally arrived at the Serena Lodge nice place, lovely room with view to the Mara River and animals grazing all over.
Two game drives the nest day, there were several hundred thousand Wildebeest all over the area.

On our second day at the masai mara National Park game drive we got LUCKY!!!

We drove to a location on the Mara River.
Our tour guide Robert said:

"The front wildebeest look skittish ,they might be ready to go" ( cross)

Within 2-3 minutes the wildebessts started running down the embankment of the river and plunging into the water....... Oh my Goodness !!!!!
What I have seen so many times on TV ,is now happening right before my eyes!
What a sight !!

As far as the eye could see ,there was an endless stream of Wildebeest on the gallop coming in to cross the river.

We filmed for a while and then just watched in amazement! , this event which has been labelled as the 7th wonder of the world.!

I came hoping to see the river crossing and how lucky I was

Next segment will deal with the Serengeti

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