The first time I went to Kenya I went on safari. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it blew me away. I flew to Nairobi, and from there we were in our safari group for the whole week. We went to Samburu National Park, Masaai Mara National Park, Lake Nakuru and Mount Kenya. I stayed in stunning 4 or 5 star lodges (I don’t do camping) and the entire experience blew me away.
Every morning and evening we would do a game drive, and look out for the big 5 (unless of course we were travelling to the next location). The first animal I ever saw in Kenya was a giraffe, and they have held a very special place in my heart ever since. In the Masaai Mara, I paid to do the optional extra activity of a sunrise hot air balloon ride. It was a super early start, heading out from camp in the pitch black. We went to where the balloon was to launch from and off we went. We were in the air when the sun rose over the horizon, and the pilot then took us lower again so we could see it come over the horizon again. On this trip we saw phenomenal amounts of animals – including a herd of elephants that went further than the eye could see. Even the pilot said it was the most he had ever seen. It really was one of the most wonderful and magical experiences of my life.
With a hot air balloon ride there is no set landing site as it depends on the weather conditions. The pilot keeps in radio control with the ground team, and as part of the experience, on landing, we jumped into a vehicle for a short ride to a full cooked breakfast set up in the middle of the Masaai Mara. It was such a surreal experience, but one that I would recommend anyone who goes to that part of the world experiences.
In Samburu we got to meet local tribesmen and even ride a camel (not for the faint hearted). We also got to tour a local village and see where the tribesmen lived.
Lake Nakuru was at the time covered in flamingoes, but due to climate change this is apparently not the case. I hear there are still some there, but in much reduced numbers due to the changing conditions of the lake. This was highlighted on the recent BBC series “Earth From Space” where they tracked changing conditions on the planet from satellite and ground imagery.
At Mount Kenya we stayed in a lodge in the foothills. We overlooked a watering hole, and at dinner, there was an elephant who came very close to where we were sitting. As you approach Mount Kenya, it is very weird knowing you are on the equator and yet looking up at snow!
My safari was a long time ago, probably about 14 years ago, so I don’t remember it in as much detail as I would like, but I do know that I loved it and hope one day to do something similar again!