Travels

Kickass Kenya

Kenya was not on our list of countries to visit originally. But we are sure glad that life (and COVID) took us there. So how did we end up in Kenya, you ask?

After finishing in China and deciding to take a year and half off to travel, things got a bit difficult as the world started shutting down because of a global pandemic. We were able to head to the USA, because Dana is American and we are married. (Unfortunately, South Africa did not offer the same courtesy to non South African spouses). We did, however, have a deep need to head to South Africa at the time as Anlia needed to be home after her dad passed away in March.

As South Africa did not allow anyone to travel straight from the USA at the time, but did allow Americans who have been in a low risk country for 10 days or more to enter.  On top of that, Anlia only had 1 page left in her passport, which meant we had our work cut out for us.

We had to find a country that would allow Americans to enter; a country where South Africans wouldn’t need a visa and a country that is low risk enough that things wouldn’t change in the time we were there. I got to say, a lot of research was done and a lot of lists were made. That is how Kenya made it onto our radar – and so we went.

As soon as we decided to go, we got our flights, planned with an amazing tour company, Msanii Africa Safaris, got our COVID tests. packed our bags and left – all in a span of 4 days!

We had an incredible time in Kenya, everything from the game drive in the Massai Mara to kissing the giraffes at the Giraffe Centre to relaxing at the all-inclusive Diani Sea resort in Mombasa Beach.

We also felt lucky to have found Msanii Africa Safaris. Titus, our main contact, was extremely patient with all our questions and concerns and took the time make sure everything was organized and ready for our arrival in such a short time. I would recommend him and his team to anyone who wants to take some of the stress and struggle out of an African trip. He even organized private hotel COVID tests for us by having two nurses come to our hotel rather than us sitting in a line at a hospital. We also ended up making a friend in him!

As we departed the capital heading to Masa Mara for our safari, we had a stopover if the magical “Great Rift Valley.” The view was absolutely spectacular, with some locals pointing out what we were looking at and where we were headed. We were also lucky to see some monkeys and dassies (rock hyrax) roaming around and playing in the trees.

We explored the famous Massai Mara Reserve and saw some incredible animals, including millions of Zebras, buffalos, warthogs, giraffes and hyenas. We also saw a lot of lions and elephants, where we had an interesting encounter with both.

We got stuck between two packs of lions as they were resting and we had to have our van pulled out of the ditch. This was especially nerve wrecking as our driver had to get out of the van to hook the rope on the 4×4 who had to help pull us out. We had to be on the lookout and notify him every time a lion moved. He had to get out twice as the rope broke on the first try.

During the elephant spotting, our driver drove to help another van that got stuck (without much success), and there we were surrounded by a ton of elephants, one who wanted us to know we were in his territory, so he started charging in our direction. Luckily he stopped well before he got to us – but we eventually left when 4 big 4×4 trucks came to help out.

Additionally, we visited the Massai Village and experienced their way of life. We were taken around by the chief and Dana got to wear the lion head that he killed to become the chief. (Yes, the head of a dead lion on Dana’s head). We were also welcomed with some traditional dancing and as it’s usually done by men, Dana got to join in their dance and also learned how to make a fire with sticks. Anlia was pretty much just the photographer at this village.

We were also welcomed into the chief’s hut to see how they live. One thing that we did notice about this village is they have become quite commercialized and they will try to sell things at crazy high prices. Afterwards, we heard about stories where the driver of your van would take you to very specific villages where he would get a cut out of whatever they sell – something to be aware of when going. At least they are not pushy when you tell them no – so we ended up not buying anything there.

Getting to and from the Massai Mara Reserve calls for a long gravel road which makes you work extra hard to stay on your seat – in Kenya they call it the “African massage”. Although, you might not be as relaxed after this trip as you would be after spending some time at a spa.

Back in the capital we got to experience some Kenyan city life while being stuck in traffic for a while with lots of honking. This kept us occupied on our trip to the Nairobi National Museum. Even though neither of us are big museum people, we actually enjoyed this guided tour of the rich and fascinating history of Kenya. The centerpiece in the Hall of Kenya consists of hundreds of calabashes, celebrating the rich heritage of all communities in Kenya. It also showcases a lot of old traditional instruments and weapons.

The Museum also has the Joy Adamson gallery. She was an illustrator, conservationist and author. She is known for her contribution to the conservation of Kenya’s natural and cultural heritage. Much of her work is immortalized in the museum, which has been pivotal in preserving the diversity and richness of Kenya’s people and nature. This was an amazing part of the museum and give you a rich understanding of the different tribes in Kenya.

And then, probably our favorite part, we had a fantastic time feeding the giraffes at the Giraffe Centre. This was such a great experience where you can see the gentle souls of giraffes. We even got to kiss these gentle giants.

The final leg of our trip took us to Diani beach and the Kenyan beaches are amazing. We decided to take a train down to experience some local life. The train took about 5 hours and we got to see some amazing scenery and more animals. It was like being on another game drive. We saw some cute kids, got to listen to some locals belt out there favorite songs and we played a lot of card games. Luckily we decided to take the train one way and fly back, I don’t think either one of us would have made 10 hours total on that train.

When in Diani we stayed at the Diani Sea Resort, which is a post for another day. (wink wink)

The flight back was a whole new and fun experience. The hotel took us to the airport which was about 10 minutes away, and the airport consisted of a building small enough to be a two bedroom apartment and a tiny runway. What made things even more interesting is the fact that there was a soccer or rugby game going on right next to the runway with a lot of spectators. We wonder if there has been situations where the ball got kicked into the plane.

Who knew that a spur of the moment trip could be one of the best and most exciting trips you can make and establish some great friends on the way.

One Reply to “Kickass Kenya”

  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back. Sharia Irvine Harbot

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