Kenya was the first stop in my 54 day adventure around Africa. This was a great way to start the trip as we saw so many animal. Kenya was unreal in terms of wildlife such as warthogs and zebra casually grazing on the side of the road. The landscape was covered in acacia trees and savannah grass. This is exactly what I imagined parts of Eastern Africa to look like. My time in Kenya was split into two, in between my two visits to Kenya we explored Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
After a long day of flights I arrived in Nairobi. I was taken to Camp Karen in Nairobi where I met the rest of my overland group, the tour leader (Lisa) and driver (Luke). After packing our gear into our big yellow truck we made our way to our first destination, Lake Naivasha. This is a fresh water lake that lies in the Rift Valley and is home to over 400 bird species.We set up camp in a campsite that was right on the lake. As Lisa was explaining how and where to set up our tents a giraffe strolled over to us. This was a bizarre but fantastic moment. I had never been so close to a giraffe before! After taking some photos with the giraffe and setting up camp we went on a boat tour to explore the lake. We were able to spot some pelicans, king fish eagles and hippos. This was a very relaxing experience and a great way to start the trip.
Walking Safari in Crater Lake Game Sanctuary
On our second day we did a walking safari in Crater Lake Game Sanctuaty. This was an incredible experience as I have never done a walking safari before. We saw a lot of impala, zebra, warthogs, giraffe, eland and baboons. I was also able to spot a dik dik, which is the second smallest buck. After about two hours of walking we walked up the crater to a view point. Here we had a 360 degree view of the lake and the surrounding national park. The view was beautiful! After getting to the bottom of the crater we were treated to a delicious buffet lunch.
Lake Naivasha National Park
We were collected from our campsite in the early morning and taken to Lake Naivasha National Park. This was the first game drive of the trip. It was nice to watch all the other group members getting excited over spotting common animals such as baboons and vervet monkeys. We were fortunate enough to see some black and white rhinos, a lot of water buffalo and two male lions. Over lunch we had a break at the national parks resort were some of the group members decided to swim and some decided to enjoy some gin and tonics. I was part of the latter group. After this we did another game drive before we headed back to our campsite.
Maasai Mara National Park
After two weeks in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania we reentered Kenya. Our first stop was the Maasai Mara National Park. The Maasai Mara lies adjacent to the Serengeti and is separated by a river which lies on the border of Tanzania and Kenya. Animals are free to roam between the two national parks. Wow! This was an experience that I could only have dreamed of. My car was really lucky with what we saw. We stayed at a campsite just outside of the national park which allowed us to do two game drives. Our first game drive was on the afternoon we arrived. We saw a lot of zebra, giraffe, warthogs, thomson gazelles and then we got lucky. We had two lion sitings. The first siting was of two females and their cubs. We were able to get very close to the lions which allowed us to capture some great shots. The second siting was by pure chance and allowed us to see a female and male lion mate. This was a once in a life time experience. We also saw a group of five cheetahs. They were in the distance but through the binoculars we all got a good view of them. On the way to the cheetahs we saw a view that I think is the highlight of my trip so far. As we drove up a hill I saw some wildebeest and then before we knew it we were in the middle of thousands and thousands of these animals. All I could see for as far as the eye could see was wildebeest. This was incredible! These animals were in preparation for migrating to the Serengeti. Our second game drive started early the next morning. We arrived at the national park in the dark which allowed us to see the sunrise. The first big animal we saw was another pride of lions consisting of two females and a male. Following this we had another great siting of elephants before our driver, Johnson, got a radio call. Before I knew it he was rushing off to the other side of the park. When we arrived none of us knew what we were looking for. There were about twenty other cars there. Then we saw them. About fifteen lions had surrounded two buffalo and their calf. The majority of the lions were cubs but still this was amazing to see. The buffalo were able to casually get away while the lions moved to a carcass close by. What a way to end our experience at the Maasai Mara National Park!
We returned to Camp Karen. This is where we would say goodbye to five of our group members and say hello to eight new members. We had one full day in Nairobi and we took advantage of this. In the morning we went to visit the giraffe center. This was a fun experience as we were able to feed the giraffe and if you were lucky you could steal a kiss. After this we went to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Orphanage. Here we got to see the young orphan elephants who usually stay at the orphanage until they are three years old. They are then reintroduced into the wild. What a fun day!
Kenya was a great country to start our trip. We had a lot of wonderful wildlife sitings and a lot of engagement with the animals. What a privilege! This country was filled with kind people and delicious beer. Now, onto Tanzania to try and spot a leopard to complete the big five.