Saturday, June 24
We are on our way home from Kenya, and as we sit in the Dulles airport waiting to fly home to Cleveland, I thought I would update you on the safari part of our trip.
On Wednesday afternoon, we took a very small plane (emphasis on the word “very”) to the Maasai Mara for our safari adventure. We all could hardly contain our excitement! It was a slightly bumpy ride, but we safely landed on an airstrip in the middle of the semi-desert. Our three guides, Dennis, Wilson and Nbala were waiting for us with two large jeeps. Within about 30 minutes, our first game drive had begun!
We immediately came upon some wildebeests and 3 curious giraffes. We hadn’t been in the jeep for 20 minutes before the driver of my jeep, Wilson, quickly pulled off the road and headed toward a tree. Laying in the shade of the tree was a cheetah!! He was so beautiful…what a delight to see this animal within minutes of our arrival! A gazillion photos later, we got back on the road to the camp.
Camp Asilia was absolutely wonderful! Each family was assigned to a tent, which was clean and comfortable and had everything we could possibly need. The food was fantastic.
Each day of our stay, we were awakened by one of the staff with a tray of coffee/tea/hot chocolate and some cookies. The person would stand outside of Jillian’s and my tent with our tray, gently saying, “Helloooo! Carolyn? Hellooo!” Now that is a great way to wake up!! (Note to self, highlight this part of the blog for my husband to read…hint, hint!)
We all met at the jeeps at 6:30 am for a morning game drive. We saw two spectacular sunrises as we headed out for our morning adventures. About half way through the morning drive, we stopped and the guides set up tables and chairs and put out a spread of breakfast food. It was quite reminiscent of “Out of Africa,” sans crystal and china!
After the morning game drives, we had a couple of hours after lunch to rest and then gather again at 4pm for tea. Then it was off to the afternoon/evening game drive. At sunset, Dennis, Wilson and Nbala stopped where we had a good view of the sunset. They set up tables of snacks and served beer, wine, soda to all of us as we watched the sky turn one beautiful color after another.
After dark, we rode back to camp, shining a red spotlight around the jeep so we could spot more animals. They use a red spotlight so the light would not hurt the animals’ eyes. Jillian got to be spotter one night in our jeep, and Mayor Paul got the job another evening. We saw many zebra and wildebeests…and the first evening, we saw a lioness and her 3 cubs crossing the road in front of us.** (Remember this lioness and her cubs…she will be mentioned later in this blog!)
On Thursday afternoon, we visited a Maasai village – what a treat that was! On our way to the village, we drove through 2 dust storms! It was exciting, and really gritty!
We covered up with blankets and loved every minute of it! The villagers were waiting for us and welcomed us graciously. The children are not allowed to use their hands while greeting adults. Instead, they bow their heads to us and we touch them on the top of the head and say, “Sopa” in greeting. The women were dressed in beautiful gowns, scarves and bangles. We went inside one home (it was very, very small and dark – there was a fire burning in the middle of the floor and one solar bulb provided the only light. We learned amazing stories about their culture and how they celebrate weddings, circumcisions and baby naming. Absolutely fascinating! We learned that the role of the women is to build the homes, feed/raise the children, collect firewood, fetch water, cook and do laundry. The men tend the sheep and cattle in the fields all day long. In the village that we visited, the husband had 5 wives. These women performed a traditional song and dance for us, and then included Therese Koomar and me in the dance. It was such fun! I learned from our CFA leader, Jessica, that these people receive $25 per person that visits, so these visits are very important and beneficial to the village. The payment enables them to send their children to school and buy necessary supplies for daily living. (By the way, the school is 5-6 miles away, and the children walk that distance each way!)
All in all, we saw just about every animal we could imagine. Elephants and their babies, Giraffes and their babies, cheetahs (TWO of them!), Wildebeests, Gazelles, Impalas, Hyenas, Lions, Zebras, Warthogs, Hippos, Cape Buffalo, Crocodiles, Baboons, Monkeys, Mongeese, Ostriches and colorful birds and lizards. The only one that eluded us was the Leopard. It was just amazing to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. I have shared a number of photos for you to enjoy below.
One quick side story before I sign off. On Wednesday while we were out looking for animals, we came upon a lion and lioness just hanging out. We got a good view of them both, and they walked right by our jeeps – practically close enough to reach out and touch them.
One another gazillion photos were taken, our jeep pulled away to see what we could find next. Unbeknownst to us, the other jeep carrying Mayor Paul and the Koomar family, Morgan Smith and Lanise Shortell got a flat tire right at that site! Dennis and Nbala had to change the tire, and told everyone to get out of the jeep. All were quite unnerved…they knew that two lions were in the immediate vicinity and they were not interested in becoming dinner for the lions!
In my next blog, I will share one set of photos that tell the story of two lionesses, two lions and three cubs…a safari soap opera that unfolded before our eyes!