Tarsands Oil refinery, Canada
Tarsands Oil refinery, Canada
  • Masai Mara Massacre
    • 09/09/2017
After a marginally stressful border crossing (for our tour leader and driver, who are questioned about not having some spurious special permit), we return to Kenya, and have to rethink currency values by a factor of ten.

In the afternoon, a brief stop for a tour of a soapstone carving workshop, seeing the craftsmen in action and how many hours go into producing each piece. Many beautiful things in the shop, I got a leopard to add to my growing animal figures collection.


Masai Mara

mountain rock mara springs camp

The landscape more and more resembles the wild west, an eroded landscape with weak grass poling through the dusty soil, herds of goats, sheeps and cows being driven to find pasture.

After two hours on a bumpy dirt road we reach camp just outside the park, and set out on the first of two game drives.

A rainy evening drive brought first views of sweeping plains covered in hundreds of dots - wilderbeast.
Two lion families brought safari vehicles flocking together out of nowhere in their dozens, before the lions got tired of attention and sauntered deeper into the bushes.
Finally with dusk approaching, first sight of elephants, a small family of four.
Darkness has fallen by the time we get back and I'm glad it's not my turn to cook tonight!

Dawn drive next morning yields corpses a plenty, first up a whole pride of lions lazily ripping apart and digesting a recently ex wilder beast, then a pair of chubby looking hyenas, and then over a crest to see open plains covered in thousands of live wilder beast. Apparently after the rains they can die from greedily overeating, much to the delight of many vultures and maribu stork who bicker over the carcasses
Gory stuff!
Oh and another small group of elephants, a jackal, and the usual zebra, impala, giraffe etc

The game drives are conducted in 4x4 rascal vans with pop up roofs so everyone gets a good view.
Now just a bumpy 5 hour drive back to Nairobi!
Our driver has an Ace of Base medly mix on repeat...
  • Day one for real - to Lake Naivasha
    • 23/08/2017
Official day 1 starts with orientation and then a shopping trip for cash and food supplies, to a glittering air conditioned mall with security guards and metal detectors to gain entry, western fast food chains, a tiny amusement park and a carrefour supermarket selling everything you can think of - at a slight premium. The place is NOT busy, and is a huge contrast to the dusty roadside stalls and taxi buses congregating along the roadsides outside.
Leaving the city the truck stereo is pumping Toto as we pass lines of colourfully painted shops and market stalls interspersed with fields, cows, schools with slogans like "best young minds", they are proud of education here.
Then suddenly the landscape opens up - in a big way - the rift valley stretches into the distance below us until the red earth of the landscape disappears into a white haze....
A first zebra sighting, an artic lorry toppled on its side, several miles of dutch flower farms
After a couple of hours we arrive at lake Naivasha, set up camp and take a boat ride to see some hippos sitting around and a variety or bird life. Then it starts to rain in a big way, just like that Toto song....
  • It began in Africa....
    • 21/08/2017
Connecting flight in Schipol is seamless, no hassle of passport control and security like when I transferred at Heathrow last week!
7 hour overnight flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi, I can't get comfortable to sleep at all, and any time I do nod off get woken up by the cabin crew serving another meal!
The visa is quickly processed.
Baggage is quickly retrieved.
Currency quickly changed
Out into the melee of taxi drivers, i brace myself for an assault of offers and cajolong but with relief to find Peter waiting amongst a herd of transfer drivers with a conspicuous orange sign. He greats me by name with a firm and lingering handshake.
Now I can relax as we wait for another arrivee, and I feel a little harsh, the locals are friendly and not pushy at all. A Czech guy, Ladi arrives on the Dubai flight and we set off.

The road out of the airport is lined with fibreglass statues of wildebeest, hippos, etc etc, and before we reach the main highway we see a pair of giraffe for real, as Nairobi national park borders the road!
The Mombasa highway brings reality, six lanes of traffic jostling and using any means to manoeuvre forward, nosing in front with no indication, motorbikes perilously weaving between larger vehicles, mini buses of all shapes and sizes, often with praise to god adorning the sides, or a mural or some kind.
Traffic slows, as it turns out that using the verge to overtake has backfired for one pick up truck and it has toppled over into the ditch. People walking to work along the sides of the road, kids selling snacks running alongside the moving cars to make a deal,

Passing various concrete buildings, warehouses, offices, this is the gateway road, the city centre skyscrapers in the distant morning haze.
Then suddenly to the right is shanty town -
Corrugated iron higgeldy piggeldy smothering the hillside
We turn off the road and are soon passing large houses with high walls around them.
The radio plays cheerful but relaxing local music, interspersed with updates about the progress of the election results challenge in the supreme court. Peter says there is no grounds for a case, just the last option of a desperate man who has lost four times and is too old to stand again (for election).
Peter speaks perfect English and tried to teach us some useful Swahili, but I am only being kept awake by the constant newness of everything outside the window, and as I write can only recall the inescapable "Jambo!"
Arrive at Heron camp, the hostel rallying point for the tour. I sit down on the bed and almost immediately asleep....

.... Now awake + beer. All very civilized!


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