Sunday, October 22, 2006

Kenya Travelogue - June 24, 2006

Sunrise at Amboseli

We got another day's entry from our Africa travelogue posted on our site over the course of the weekend. This was our first full day at Amboseli National Park, famous for its elephant population. Patrick and James took us on an early morning game drive. We saw a large elephant lumbering by with a gorgeous sunrise in the background. It was amazing how light the elephant's footfalls were. It walked very close to our vehicle, yet barely made a sound. I don't know whether I expected the earth to shake or what, but if you had your eyes closed you probably wouldn't have even noticed that it was passing by.

After the game drive, we went on a bush walk with the lodge naturalist, Julius, and a Maasai warrior named Saitoti for protection. We learned a lot about the plants and wildlife of Amboseli, including the fact that the water which sustains life there actually comes from the runoff of Kilimanjaro's glaciers, 50 km away. We saw birds, bats, and a pearl spotted owlet. After the walk, we shared drinks with our guides and went back to the lodge for lunch.

Steph and Saitoti

After lunch we had a nice chat with Saitoti. I gave him a digital watch, and he gave me a nice beaded bracelet right off of his arm. We showed him some pictures of home and chatted with him and some other employees until it was time for our afternoon game drive.

On this game drive, we saw some buffalo (arguably the most dangerous animals you can run into), some elephants sparring with one another, a young zebra, and a herd of 52 elephants all together! It was amazing. We saw a wonderful sunset. Just like the sunrise, there was an elephant silhouetted in front of the gorgeous light.

Elephant dusting itself

I had some stomach troubles during the game drive, so I opted out of dinner and rested instead. Craig went with Patrick and James to the dining room for an East African buffet.

Read all of the details of this day here.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Kenya Travelogue - June 23, 2006

Lunch at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi

We posted another day of our Africa journals on our website today. It wasn't the most exciting day, as it was mainly a get-from-here-to-there day, but there were still some interesting moments.

One June 23, we left Maasai Mara. We took off from a small airstrip and flew on a 10-passenger plane to Nairobi. The views from the air were very interesting, as we could see the various Maasai villages encircled by acacia branches on the ground below.

We arrived in Nairobi and reconnected with our guides Patrick and
James, who had driven up to Nairobi from Maasai Mara the previous day. They took us to the Nairobi tourist institution Carnivore Restaurant. We had heard of this place, and it is definitely not for vegetarians! When you enter the restaurant, you pass by an area where there are countless skewers of meat roasting over a fire. We were seated at the table and presented with a white flag bearing the Carnivore logo. When we were ready, we stod up our fkag, and that was the signal for the servers to start coming to our table. The servers were wearing straw hats and aprons with zebra stripes on them. They wandered around carrying one meat skewer each, and they would stop at all of the tables and carve some off onto each person's plate. The place is all-you-can-eat, until you "surrender" by lowering your white flag. We ate barbequed spare ribs, beef, pork, ostrich, alligator, camel, lamb, chicken...everything was delicious and had a smokey roasted flavor. I had been worried that I might not enjoy the place as much as I could have due to the delicate condition of my stomach over the past couple of days, but my stomach decided to play nicely. I had somewhat of an appetite and was able to at least sample most of the different kinds of meats.


After eating, we drove to Namanga, a town at the border of Kenya and Tanzania. Bill, the other traveler in our group, was moving on to the next part of his trip. On the way, we got our first view of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was breathtaking. There were a few clouds surrounding it, but the summit was visible. We dropped Bill at the border where he was met by his new guide, and then we continued on to Amboseli National Park, renowned for its relatively large elephant population.

This new road was a short cut across the dry bed of Lake Amboseli. It was amazing to see how flat the bottom of the lakebed was. This portion of the ride was quite smooth and the landscape all around us was stunning. Kilimanjaro was clear in front of us, and the setting sun was reflecting off of its capping glacier. Absolutely surreal for us and stunning! We saw wildebeest running and kicking up dust, some zebras, gazelles, and a hyena right on the side of the "road." Lake Amboseli fills with water during the rainy season, but we were now at the start of the dry season. We arrived at the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge at around 6:40.

Mt. Kilimanjaro from the dry bed of Lake Amboseli

We were greeted with warm towels to wash our hands and face, as well as cold glasses of orange juice. We checked into our room (#42!) and then went to the dining room. After my big meal at the Carnivore, I didn't have much appetite for dinner, but I ate a little bit. Patrick and James joined us for dinner, and it was great to chat with them. We showed them some photos we had brought from home, and they were quite interested, especially the ones that showed snow. We had a nice evening of cameraderie before heading back to the room for some sleep.

Read the full details at our website.