Jambo is the Swahili greeting for hello! The Scented Hound is back and I have to say that my trip to Africa was a wonderful and exciting experience. We spent 13 days in Kenya and Tanzania and during that time we visited 9 different lodges so we were always on the move. In other words, this was not a kick back and relax kind of vacation. Every day we were up and going by 6 or 6:30am and after having breakfast we headed out to the reserves to go on the hunt (visually that is) to see the animals. We managed to get up close and personal with lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos and many other beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. Here are a few of my observations from the trip.
Our first trip after landing in Nairobi was at Mt. Kenya. We stayed at the Serena Mountain Lodge which housed a watering hole behind the hotel. There, we could sit in our rooms or on the observation deck and watch the animals come to drink. It was exciting to see elephants and cape buffalo grazing around the pool. What was even more interesting was hearing the cries of hyenas in the middle of the night as they came to the hole after feeding. I even saw a honeybadger at the hole around 3am.
The next day we headed to the Shaba National Reserve which was a few hours away. It was fascinating to see how quickly the terrain and landscape changed from a mountain jungle to an arid, dry and dusty landscape. There we caught a glimpse of our first lion…of course it was in the middle of the day so he was very sleepy and he looked just like a pussycat; albeit with paws as big as my head!
However, it wasn’t until we went to Lake Nakuru that we really had our first real encounter with lions. We were on a drive when we spotted 3 lions up on a hill. It was quickly revealed that there were not just 3, but 7 in total. When we were sitting there they decided that there was something more interesting down the hill toward us. So one by one, they came down the hill right in front of our vehicle to continue down the hill. They are truly majestic, fascinating and beautiful creatures.
It wasn’t until we went to the Masai Mara that we truly experienced the expansive grasslands and the wide open spaces. The land went on for miles and miles. It was breathtaking.
My favorite place to visit was in Tanzania where we went to Serengeti. It was a long journey to Tanzania from Kenya and we traveled over a mountain to get to the Serengeti, but as you drove in from up top of the mountain, you came down through a valley that was unworldly in its beauty and the expanse of the country in front of you made you feel like you were one of only a few people on earth. It was breathtaking in a way that pictures could not capture. This is where one of my favorite memories unfolded. We are out on a drive when was saw some zebras crossing the road through some grass. As we got closer they were crossing the road single file in front of us. We then found that looking to the right and to the left there were hundreds if not thousands walking single filed through the Serengeti. The line was so long down the hill that you couldn’t see the end of the line miles away. We had no idea where they were going, but they were so organized and beautiful. It was especially sweet to see the mothers and their babies navigating their way along with the thousands of others.
As we were leaving the Serengeti, we managed to drive some ways into the largest piece of flat land that went on for miles. There in our midst surrounding us were thousands of grazing zebra and wildebeest. You couldn’t see where the herds ended or began. And every once in a while we came upon groups of hyenas that were lying in mud holes, too stuffed to move from eating the night before.
Finally, our last visit was at the Ngorongoro Crater where we had the fascinating experience of watching a herd of cape buffalo chase 3 lions out of their resting place. The male lion pounced back at the herd a couple of times, but he knew that he was helpless against a large herd of buffalo. The lions decided to take refuge near our vehicle and the male claimed our truck as his as he sprayed the vehicle!
I could go on for days with tales, but I’ll just leave you with some other observations:
- Hippos smell. I had not realized that they fling their poop and then wallow in it.
- If you are afraid of bugs, no fret at least not in the locations that we were at. They weren’t an issue at all. Although they had the biggest bats I had ever seen which was very cool.
- Monkeys can be a nuisance. As cute as they are, they tend to get into a lot of trouble.
- The Kenyan and Tanzanian natives were as nice and sweet as could be. Lovely people.
- The lodges that we stayed at were premium. They were all unique, all beautiful and they had the best food possible. It was surprising since…
- I knew that we would see poverty, but I would say that outside of Nairobi, in Kenya it appeared that 90% of people lived without electricity or running water and town centers were comprised of shacks.
- I never wore perfume but for one dinner on one night. To be honest, it didn’t fit the circumstance. I wanted to experience the land, the animals and the simplicity of it all and perfume would have been out of place. But on that note..
- On the night that I wore some perfume, I put on a little Montale White Aoud and one of my travelling partners went on and on how much he loved it. I am sure a purchase will be in his future!
Overall the trip was magnificent and in the end I just count myself lucky to have been able to visit such a wonderous and beautiful part of this incredible planet!