|Tuesday, May 1st, day 301 of Lisa and Joel’s Excellent Adventure, we landed in Nairobi around 4:00 PM local time. We changed some US dollars into Kenyan shillings (Ksh). (The current exchange rate is about 75 Ksh to $1.00 US.) As soon as we cleared Kenyan customs and immigration, touts attacked us. They were as thick as flies and we were definitely back into hard-core traveling. Maybe we got a little soft in South Africa.
After wading our way through the touts we ended up jumping into a car with two locals. We wanted to go to The Sirona Hotel and they told us they would drive us to there. It probably was not the best idea to trust these guys, but there is no such thing as licensed taxis in Nairobi. It is strictly a freelance operation, where you grab a ride from a local, after bargaining hard to get a decent price. They turned out to be all right guys and we arrived at The Sirona without any problems. As we were driving, they of course were trying to sell us a safari, which they ran.
Nairobi, nicknamed "Nairobbery" by travellers and locals alike, is a lawless place where you definitely have to be on your toes. One of the biggest problems is that the police are more corrupt than the offenders. Lisa’s father Paul’s advice to “Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid large, angry crowds” will definitely come in handy in this Wild West atmosphere.
With that said, the extra effort required to travel here is definitely worth it, as Nairobi provides the perfect launching point to visit some of the best game parks in the world.
Wednesday, May 2nd, day 302 of our travels, we booked a game safari with an outfit called Let’s Go Travel. Three days, two nights in beautiful Samburu National Reserve at the Samburu Intrepids Lodge, round trip flight from Nairobi, six gourmet meals, and four game drives included. We are pumped! And since it’s the low season, the $340 per person price tag for the whole package is much less than what is charged during the high season.
Thursday, May 3rd, day 303, we jumped on a small 16-seater airplane and flew to Samburu. We were the only ones on the plane, besides the two pilots of course, and the view out the windows was amazing. We got a great view of the lush green landscape and we flew right by snow-capped Mt. Kenya.
After landing on a little dirt land strip, in the middle of the bush, we were greeted by our driver, Joshua. He took us in his Land Rover to Samburu Intrepids Lodge. The first night, due to it being the low season, we were two of only four total people who stayed at the lodge, which has facilities to accommodate 54 people
We literally had 61 servants at our beck and call. Our "tent" had a king sized, four-poster, mosquito netted bed, hot shower and a deck overlooking the river. It was awesome!
After hanging out at the pool for a while and eating our first delicious three-course meal, we went on our first game drive in the afternoon. Each day during both breakfast and lunch, one of the local Samburu tribesmen would stand guard next to us with a sling shot to ward off any monkeys trying to steal our food.
Right off the bat on game drive #1 we saw a leopard and her female cub. Amazing! All told, in our four game drives, we would see leopard, monkey, baboon, lion, cheetah, jackal, elephant, zebra, warthog, hippopotamus, giraffe, dik-dik, impala, waterbuck, oryx, gazelle, African buffalo, lizard, turtle, crocodile and tons of exotic birds. It was one of the best experiences we have had on our trip so far.
Thursday night we met a Samburu Warrior, who gave us a talk on the culture of his people. Then it was a meal of zebra steak (delicious!) and off to sleep, surrounded by the sounds of the jungle – strange dreams.
Friday, May 4th, day 304 of our adventure, we were awoken with coffee and cookies at 6:00 AM before our 6:30 game drive. Today, we had the entire lodge to ourselves, as the other couple left. Besides two amazing game drives, complete with amazing scenery, three delicious meals and another lecture from a different Samburu Warrior -- this time on the wildlife of Samburu -- we basked in the intense sun by the pool. Samburu National Reserve literally straddles the equator, being less than one degree north of the earth’s true circumference. It can get hot in that sun!
Saturday, May 5th, day 305 of our travels, we had to say goodbye to Joshua and the rest of the friendly staff at Intrepids. The flight back to Nairobi, although a little bumpy, provided some more amazing views. All in all, our three-day safari was a truly amazing experience.
After returning to The Sirona, we called it a day.
Sunday, May 6th, day 306, we basically hung out all day. Sometimes it’s just nice to chill and read a good book.
Monday, May 7th, day 307, we went to a cyber cafe to work on the web site, as three days in the bush left us a little behind. On the way to the cyber cafe we asked our taxi driver why all the drivers here, after picking you up, all immediately go to the petrol station and put only a few liters of petrol into their car. We thought it might be due to the drivers always being on the edge money wise. We figured they only had enough money to put in a small amount of gas and then make a slight profit off our fare. This is not the case. Our driver informed us that the reason for the frequent, small amounts of petrol is due to the rampant amount of car-jackings in Nairobi. If the driver gets car-jacked, he of course loses the excess petrol he put in the tank and leaving the tank close to “E” has the added advantage of preventing the car-jacker from getting very far. Maybe the jacker will dump the car if he only makes it a few blocks and runs out of gas. Then the taxi driver has a chance of retrieving the car. This news didn’t give us a warm fuzzy feeling and as the driver was telling this interesting news, we looked at each other and at the same time locked our doors.
Tuesday, May 8th, day 308 of our adventure, we woke up, went to breakfast and were disappointed to hear from our waiter that "the French ate all the sausage" so there would be none for us. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. At first we didn't understand what he was talking about and then all we could picture was a large group of French people eating plate after plate of breakfast sausages. After our sausageless breakfast we did a little shopping and Lisa spotted a cool looking, hand carved, wooden bowl that will make a nice addition to the Around The World Art Gallery.
At 5:15 PM we said goodbye to Kenya and jumped on Kenya Airways flight KQ320 for Cairo, Egypt.
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