Have you ever dreamt of going on a safari in Africa? Is it on your bucket list? It is definitely on mine! I am excited to bring you another amazing guest post from one of my close jetsetting friends. Experience a Safari Adventure in Kenya with Sophia!
Few words are more evocative of imagery than “safari”. What is it that you imagine? The Serengeti, scenes from “Out of Africa” or, perhaps National Geographic TV? Back in 1990, Ralph Lauren introduced a fragrance called Safari which is described as “a symbol of the American myth, the call of the wild plain, the spirit of freedom and the joy of discovery.” I have a problem with the Columbusing of safari for American use, seeing that the origin of the word is actually Swahili, derived from Arabic meaning journey, but I digress…
A few weeks ago I had the bucket list opportunity to actually go on safari in Kenya.
The bus arrived before dawn. Our driver, James, picked us up at 5:30am and drove the 3.5 hours from Nairobi to Amboseli National Park, close to the border of Tanzania. On the way, there were many sights to see, whether it be a group of wild donkeys, or a lone Maasai boy walking cloaked in traditional red cloth alongside his cow. The road was long. By the time we came closer, the trip started to feel like an off-road experience, with all the bumps and dips expected when traversing the Kenyan countryside.
At the gate, we had to present our passports and $80 per guest to enter. Beautiful Maasai women selling bracelets, necklaces, carvings and other locally made products greeted us. They were quite persistent. I understood that. I recognize that this group of semi-nomadic people was starting to rely more and more on staples brought in from outside their community and needed the income for survival.
Prior to entering the park the roof of our van was raised creating a canopy of sorts. This allowed us to stand and get great pictures of the wildlife. The air was dry and dusty. The first animals we saw were zebras, not a herd with hundreds, but small pockets with seven to twelve animals. I was struck by the unique striping of each animal. They were beautiful.
As we drove along we saw impalas and gazelles. They really look like their feet barely touch the ground as they run. What’s that, way in the distance, that gray animal? Ohhh, the majestic elephant! Initially I thought that we would only have that one opportunity to spot these huge creatures, but there were numerous sightings along the way. The closest we got to one was about 30 yards. As I was taking in their beauty, I thought of the many times that I had seen elephants perform in circuses, and I was disgusted that that these distinguished animals have even been forced to suffer indignity for human pleasure.
There were times where the juxtaposition of topography was dramatic: dry scrub land on one side and lush, wetlands on the other. Both areas were replete with elephants cooling off, gazelles grazing and warthogs and wildebeest simply hanging out. I was struck by the harmony in which the animals coexisted. As a matter of fact the only animal that I always saw isolated from the rest for good reason was the hippopotami. These rotund, thick-skinned creatures are intensely territorial charging anything that deigns to invade their space.
About midway through the safari, our driver stopped at the base of a hill and told us to climb it. It was arid and hot. About half way up the hill, when I doubted the reason for the climb, when sweat trickled down my back, I read a sign that urged me to continue. It assured me that the view would be well worth it and that it was. When I reached the top, I was met by a panoramic view of the park. In the distance was Kilimanjaro and in the foreground was lush greenery with a group of bathing elephants. It was spectacular. I took a few pictures, but most of all I thanked God for His handiwork as I took in the splendor. I almost broke into “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King, but felt it best to spare my friends the auricular assault.
Soon after, it was time for lunch. We ate at a luxurious lodge with free wifi in the middle of the park. Spider monkeys roamed freely and I even saw a baboon. The primates, accustomed to humans, have no fear of us. A Maasai man was employed to help keep them at bay with the aid of a slingshot.
After lunch we headed out again in hopes of seeing giraffes and perhaps even a lion. About 15 minutes into our post-lunch trek, we got a call from the lodge, stating that we had to return because one of the bills we had used, a $50, was too old. Just a note, when you go to Kenya, get the freshest currency you can find from the bank, as they are more difficult to counterfeit and yield a higher exchange rate. We were a little irked, but in retrospect, I am glad we returned, because on our way back, three spectacular giraffes crossed right in front of us. I was mesmerized by their height and the grace with which they moved, given their awkward bodies.
Although we never saw any lions or hyenas I was fine because everything else was so wonderful. The ride back took a lot longer, since we were caught in Saturday traffic. We didn’t mind though because we were all satisfied to experience a safari adventure in Kenya!
Thank you to Sophia for sharing this experience with us! Have you been on a safari adventure in Kenya or Africa? If so share your thoughts with us below!
photo credit for Maasai woman: Melissa Sneed