Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Kenya August 2023

We caught a 6:50 AM flight from Kilimanjaro, Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya, which meant a 4:30 AM hotel departure. 

You know you are at the airport early when you have to bang on the door to get security to unlock the door for you. Or when you don't have to go through security or immigration because you are at your gate before they even make it to the airport.

We arrived in Nairobi a bit past eight. We purchased our visa ahead of time, that is another story. Clearing immigration was a simple process.

Our guide for the day is Rufus. Our first stop was a local breakfast place, two omelets and a coffee for $5.54. I like Kenya a lot right now.
After our breakfast, Rufus took us to Kobe Tough. Kobe Tough is an organization that helps single women earn a living. Some make beads. These beads are used to make jewelry and other items. Some women make leather products, such as Belts or Duffle Bags. They have 45 women working at Kobe Tough and another 450 that work in their home villages. The women get half the profit that Kobe Tough generates.
We watched the women make the beads from the raw clay to string the finished beads into beautiful jewelry.
From Kobe Tough, it was off to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. We had reservations for eleven a.m. We learned a bit about the issues facing Elephants in Kenya, from poaching to dying of thirst or starvation.
Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage currently has 27 Orphan Elephants, the youngest being ten months old and the oldest being three and a half years old.
Somewhere between three and five years, the Orphan Elephants will be released back into the wild. The release is a very long process where the orphan decides when it is ready.
We had a fantastic lunch at Talisman, great food and service. If you are ever in Nairobi, it is a must, though a bit pricier than our breakfast spot. Our lunch was $90 for three people.
Now for the highlight of the day, a company that makes pavers. Why travel halfway around the world to visit a company that makes pavers?
The process this company uses is unique, they are the only ones in the world making pavers this way. At least that is what they told us.
The company is Gjenge Makers. Rather than me explaining what this company does, allow me to have the founder/owner do it through a short video.

As you can see, they make these bricks out of discarded plastics and sand. The process was simple. You crush up the plastic, mix it with sand, heat this mixture to 400 degrees, and then press it into bricks before cooling.
You end up with a low-cost brick made from recycled plastic. The bricks are stronger than traditional bricks.
Like I said in my last post. A place no tourist has ever been. Rufus, who lived his whole life in Nairobi, had never heard of Gjenge Makers.
We are spending the night in Nairobi, at the Hemingway House, a lovely hotel on a beautiful ten-acre property. We are in the Meryl Streep Suite.

Tomorrow, we head out into the brush of Kenya for more safari adventures.
After our full day in Nairobi and a very restful night at the Hemingway House, we flew from Wilson Airport to a bush airport in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
If you are wondering where we are, click on this link and a map will display our location.
For the next three nights, we will be staying at Rekero Camp. During the day we will be doing game drives. We will have a choice of two game drives a day or one long one. A long one could be as long as twelve hours.
The main reason we are in this area, is to see the Wildebeest Migration. In this area, the migration consists of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest crossing the Mara River. Some make it, and some don't.
Rather than me telling you what we saw, I will allow the pictures and videos to do that.
Sex in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. - Video

Today is our first full day at Rekero Camp. We woke to a beautiful sunrise.
The crossing.
Crocodile versus Wildebeest in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. -Video 

Today is our last full day at Rekero. We will be crossing the Mara River and reaching as far south as the Kenya-Tanzania border.
At the end of the game drive, we had the best dessert EVER. Watch the video to see what it was.

Dessert in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. - Video 

 Tomorrow (Saturday), we head to Naboisho Camp, where we will be spending three nights.
After a great breakfast with a beautiful view, we said goodbye to our hosts and departed for Naboisho Conservancy, which borders the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
We will be staying at Naboisho Camp for the next three nights.
We were picked up by Evalyn Sintoyia Mayetu. Evalyn will be our guide for the next three days. We are rather lucky to have Evalyn as our guide. She is rather famous as far as safari guiding goes. Click here to read about what Forbes had to say about Evalyn. Evalyn is not only one of most qualified guides in Africa. Evalyn is one of only a few women safari guides.
She left her family at the age of seven to gain an education. Evalyn has broken many glass ceilings when it comes to women and safari guides.
On our drive to Naboisho Camp, we stopped at The MAA Trust. Their mission – Working towards a harmonious balance between conservation and sustainable human development in the Maasai Mara. It is truly a grassroots organization helping the women in the area.
As in my last update, I will let the pictures do the talking. With at least one pop quiz included. Prizes to be distributed when I return.
Pop Quiz - Watch this 16-second video.

What is the Buffalo doing in the video? - Video -

A - It just dropped a Duce, and ran out of toilet paper, and is wiping it's butt? 
B - Trying to remove ticks and flies from its undercarriage. 
C - Self-pleasuring itself. 
D - None of the above - write in what you think the Buffalo is doing in the video.

A new day - African Sunrise.
Game Drive in Naboisho Conservancy - Video - 

Lions on a Walk About in Naboisho Conservancy - Video 

Happy Labor Day to our US friends. That is, it from Naboisho Conservancy and Naboisho Camp. Tomorrow (Tuesday), we will be taking two different bush planes to an area of Kenya known as Lewa. Once there, we will be doing a three-day walking safari. Living out in the bush, no internet, so an update will come after we return to civilization if we make it.

After a beautiful sunrise and breakfast by the pool, we headed to the airstrip for our two bush plane flights to our next adventure.
The first flight was uneventful, the second not so much. All was good until we approached Lewa Airstrip. We were about ten feet off the ground when the engine roared. As fast as we had been descending, we were now climbing at a much more rapid speed.

We circled, on the second attempt, the landing was less hectic. After we landed, the pilot let us know that an ostrich had run onto the airstrip as he was attempting to land.

When arrived at the Lewa Airstrip, we started the Lewa Wilderness Walking Wild. We were met by our three guides, Rakita, Noor, and Boris. All three are from Kenya, both Rakita and Noor are Maasai Warriors and have lived their entire lives in this area. Boris is from the coast of Kenya.
After a short jeep ride, we started hiking. The next three days will be a hiking safari. We hike for four to five hours in the morning, viewing the beautiful scenery and the wild animals. This area is known for its abundance of rhinoceros, both black and white rhinos.
Once at camp, we relax and then at five o'clock we take another hike for about two hours.
Each day we do a point-to-point hike. There is no set hiking route, as an animal may block the trail we had planned to take, this causes us to bushwhack a new route.
There are eleven camels and ten Maasai Warriors who set up and then tear down the camp each day. They then transport it to the next location and put the camp back together. While this is considered camping, yes we sleep in a tent, but we have a full bathroom, shower, and fantastic meals. If you did the math, we have 13 people supporting Margarite and me.
The experience has been one that is impossible to describe. We walked among the animals with trained guides, one carrying an elephant gun. We saw many animals and birds, but the sounds and smells were as fascinating as seeing the animals up close.
There was no real danger, as long as we followed the guide's instructions. Usually, we were a distance from the animals. However, the animals sometimes take us as a threat and charge, or we round a corner, and a lion is staring us down. In 23 years, Rakita only had to use the gun once and that was when an elephant charged and did not back off.
One might think lions are the biggest threat, but they fear humans and sense us coming and move away. The biggest threat to our safety was the elephants and rhinoceroses, and only if they charge.
This video will give you an idea of what the last three days were like. Lewa Wilderness Walking Wild -  Video

For the next two nights, we will be staying at Lewa Lodge before heading to the Seychelles.

This being the last Safari update, here is a Lodge Summary/Rating for those who don't read the details.

On a scale of 1 - 10

Greystoke Mahale - 10 plus 
Rekero Camp - 10 plus 
Naboisho Camp - 10 plus 
Lewa Wilderness Walking Wild - 15 or higher 
*Lewa Wilderness Lodge - 7.5

*Disclaimer - I do not know the prices of these Lodges. My ratings are assuming they are all the same price. I do believe you get what you pay for. If Lewa Wilderness Lodge is less expensive than the other lodges, their rating would be higher.

We arrived at Lewa Wilderness Lodge at about 10:30 AM.
We were shown around the property. This Lodge is independently owned by a family. The other lodges we have stayed at, have been owned by companies that own many lodges.

The family that owns this lodge is the same family that provided our hiking safari Lewa Wilderness Walking Wild.

The lodge has 12 cottages plus the main house where the family lives when they are here. The other lodges we have stayed in, not just this trip, but all our other safari trips, usually have seven or eight tents/cottages. This means there might be more guests, which might lead to a less intimate experience.

They have a beautiful pool and a nicely furnished gym. This is the first lodge we have stayed at with a gym, a nice plus. The cottage we are in is number nine, it is large with three queen-sized beds. Two on the main floor and one in the loft. I assume this would be used as the family cottage if a family was staying.
Boris will be picking us up at 12:15 for lunch. The family also owns an organic farm a short distance from the lodge. The lodge is 80% sustainable from products from the farm and is working on becoming 100%.
They offer a farm-to-fork lunch experience, which we are having compliments of Piper & Heath!
Before lunch, Boris gave us a tour of the farm, not only do they grow all their fruits and vegetables, but they also raise fish and chickens. They have both chickens for meat and eggs. They even have a meat processing area. We enjoyed chicken sausage for dinner one night while on our hike that came from the farm. The sausage was delicious.
It was now time for lunch. The farm has a well-equipped outside kitchen. Our chef is Harry, assisting is Adam, the son of a friend of the owners and a woman who, I think, is Harry's girlfriend.
They let us know that none of them are trained chefs. All are self-taught and enjoy cooking food for guests. This was great news some of the best meals we have had, have been prepared by self-taught chefs.
They prepared a chef's tasting menu consisting of six courses.
Almost everything we ate came from the farm, even the ceviche, the fish was raised on the farm. The one exception was the tomahawk steaks.

Everything was delicious. There were a few things that showed that Harry and his assistants were not trained chefs and lacked a basic understanding of hygiene when it came to cooking in a professional environment.

Some examples.

As they prepared the food, they would taste it with their fingers and lick their fingers while continuing to prepare the food. There was no washing of their hands.

Harry served us delicious watermelon juice, but there was a little left in the pitcher, rather than pour himself a glass, he removed the lid off the pitcher and drank directly from it.

I have eaten beetle larvae, grasshoppers, crickets, and guinea pig. In Senegal, I shared a large bowl of rice with some children, all of us eating with our hands, the children wiping the snot off their runny noses between handfuls. The licking of the fingers and the drinking from the pitcher did not bother me, but it might not sit well with other guests.
Later in the afternoon, we met our guide for the next few days. His name is Spooky. Spooky has been a guide a Lewa for many years. After doing a hiking safari, being back in a jeep was not that exciting. Spooky did an excellent job. We saw several animals and spent a lot of time at a watering hole watching a herd of elephants drinking.
It was interesting to see the hierarchy and the family dynamics of the elephants. It was fascinating seeing the different elephants jockeying for the best positions at the watering hole depending on their status in the herd.
The sky was getting dark, not from the sun setting, but from the rain clouds forming. We got a little wet, but Spooky did an impressive job getting us back to the lodge as quickly as possible.

Dinner was at 8:00, as I suspect much less intimate, my guess was about 30 plus people sitting at one long table. All the lodges we have stayed at on this trip serve dinner at a single table. It is not buffet or family style. We are served a plated meal. At the other lodges, we ordered off a menu that changed each day. The menus had a choice of two appetizers, three main courses, and a couple of desserts. At Lewa, it is a fixed menu.
This morning we met Spooky at 6:30 AM for a game drive. What a beautiful morning, the sky has cleared from last night's rain.

Peggy noticed a cave on the hillside. Spooky mentioned a leopard lives there. So off we went, but unfortunately, the leopard was not home.
We spent a few hours looking and watching the animals.
While on our way back to the lodge, Spooky surprised us with a bush breakfast. What a treat, but Spooky was not done, he booked us a camel ride back to the camp.
Camel riding in Lewa Wilderness -Video 

This afternoon we met Spooky at 4:00 PM for our last game drive on this trip.
When we were doing Walking Wild, I had asked Boris if any lodges had gone electric with their Jeeps. He mentioned that Lewa Wilderness Lodge had a couple of their diesel Land Cruisers converted to Electric by a company in Nairobi.
After the morning game drive, we asked Spooky if we could use the Electric Jeep for the afternoon and he agreed. He even said I could drive.

Lewa Wilderness Lodge Electric Safari Jeep Driven by DUG - Video 

We enjoyed our last game drive of the trip. What a difference using the electric jeep vs. the diesel jeep. Without the noise of the diesel engine, you can enjoy the sounds of the birds and animals, plus you can get closer to the animals without alerting them you are there.
We requested dinner early, at 7:15 instead of 8:00. This way we avoided the crowded table. George served us, and everything was perfect.
Lewa Wilderness Lodge Bonus Video - Video 

We are now off to the Seychelles, flying back to Nairobi, overnight there, then another flight to the Seychelles before a boat to our final destination.

We got this message today.

"We would like to inform you that the sea conditions have taken a turn. Monday looks very rough and will be a bumpy ride to Praslin."

Should be fun!



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