Fast Tracked Kenya!!
I haven’t written for ages. The last month plus has been filled with people, a lot of ground covered and has been a bit of a whirlwind (a pace team 4ina4x4 has become unaccustomed too!)
But what a marvellous past month it has been and the incredible places we have seen. From new friends opening their homes to us in Nanyuki and welcoming us like old friends, to seeing a school friend and meeting her family for dinner, to a friend offering his gorgeous cottage for us to stay in for a week, to Devs old varsity mates providing us a welcome shelter from the chaos of Nairobi, to Devs folks flying in from RSA to be part of our journey for 3 weeks and getting a jam packed sightseeing tour.
It was so incredible to see family again after 6 months of being away. The kids were thrilled to see their grandparents again and we all loved having a bit of home right here with us. There really is something special about being around people with a shared history and people who just “know you”.
Maybe our planned schedule was a little too jam packed but we and they wanted to see as much as possible in their 3 weeks here in kenya.
Our first stop was the world renowned Masai Mara. Wow the wide open spaces are as real and huge as you imagine. The yellow grasslands, the predators en-mass (pride of 10 lion, 4 cheetah together and 2 leopards- this is NOT the norm!!) - it really is a spectacular game viewing place! We had hoped to see “our” awesome migrating Gnu’s/wildebeest again and were hoping to see their famous crossing of the Mara river but sadly our timing was 2 weeks out and with us now having a little more of a schedule we couldn’t wait this out.
After the Mara we went via Nairobi to Amboseli. We were quickly learning that convoy road travel has its frustrations and much time was spent waiting to join forces again. But also seeing things through Dev’s parents eyes, and thus new eyes, was very rewarding - the Masai on the side of the road, the crazy driving ways of Kenya, the great Rift Valley, busy road side towns, boda-bodas (motorbike taxis) zig zagging through busy roads. We felt like “new travellers” again seeing it through their eyes!
Amboseli was absolutely mind blowingly beautiful. Having spent a few days literally across the border at Enduimet in Tanzania (see blog post) we knew this area would appeal to us with its wide vast skies and dry white sand plains. But we did not expect the vivid green, life filled swamps, teeming with birds and wildlife. People rave about the Mara but for us this area surpassed Mara in heaps. It is more real, more wild, more vast, more breathtaking, the space feels so much bigger and awe-inspiring….. it touched our soul in a magical way. The whole time the massive Kilimanjaro stands huge and proud and somehow presides over you. It’s mere presence showing how minuscule we are in this vast open wilderness. Kilimanjaro was is a bit like a child playing hide and seek and was very good at hiding!!!!! As much as we tried to get THE shot of Kili and an Ellie or our car with the vast space and the massive snow topped mountain we sadly could not get “the shot” we so wanted. But I guess it means we just have to go back to this magical spot and maybe spend a bit longer waiting for the perfect shot and also letting this place touch our soul again!
Tsavo game reserve is split up into West and East Tsavo. The west known for its landscape and the east for its teeming game. The West landscape is like nothing people can describe. From black lava fields (like literally you are snaking your way on a red dirt road through ancient lava encrusted plains) It is awesome and kids loved playing on these echoey rocks. To areas of enormous mountain ranges and gorgeous vallies with a leopard gracing us by walking along the road to fleeting views of the kesser kudu. The East of Tsavo was dry and barren and the areas surrounding the Guana river (??????) were uncharacteristically barren and void of any life. Yiu expect green river frontage but rather get nothing. So for us this park was not appealing but having seen friends recent pics I think in our pressure to get to the coast perhaps we dis not give this area enough time to grasp its real beauty.
The coast of Kenya. After not seeing the sea since Inhassoro in the middle of an January, the team was very excited to get the first glance of the ocean! Suddenly Acadia trees were replaced with mango trees and coconut palms and the Islamic Swahili influence became that much more apparent. Malindi was a great little town bursting with feeling and felt very authentic.
Lamu island lying to the north of kenya right up near the Somalia border was a dream of mine to visit. Driving is apparently very dangerous so we hoped onto a little 20 seater 25 minute flight to their ancient town and island. Travel day entailed a tuk tuk to the airport, a plane ride in the tiny aeroplane, a boat trip to a Lamu and a walk to our amazing house in Shela. (Maybe should have for a donkey ride to up the modes of travel for one day!!!) lamu did not disappoint. From its winding narrow white washed streets, to the donkeys to the real Islamic feel to the loud calls to prayer to the white beaches of Shela. Lamu reminded me a lot of Greece with a bit of Stone Town (Zanzibar) thrown in. A very special place.
From there we went to Watamu a little south of Malindi and had a great few days in the azure blue waters.
Then it was a quick day or 2 in Mombasa before Devs folks headed back to a ravaged looted but spirit filled restoring KZN.
It was so wonderful spending this time with them and for them to be a little part of our journey. Maybe we crammed in too much but what a special 3 weeks it was. There were definitely moments of frustration with the convoy driving and sharing our “space” (our fridge being loaded with beers so that you can’t get milk out or even close the fridge!) to just having more people to consult for every decision being made as opposed to just Dev or I making a decision. I also never ever thought I would say this but there are only so many lodges and guest houses and restaurants you can do before we started to YEARN for our camp chair, our simple tent and a “home cooked” meal and for it not to feel like a sightseeing - holiday and rather to feel a like a journey or trip.
But having said all the above the memories that we have made and these shared experiences and laughter and fun will be held close for this part of our trip. And for the kids to get a touch of home again was so so special x there is nothing like a love and cuddle from granny and grandpa!
But we now sit with our feet in the sand and the sea a mere 50m from our tent and we enjoy being on our own program and budget again- well actually no program beyond having to leave our camp chair for the next cold Tusker Beer! And the daunting task of getting back into homeschooling after a good 3 week vakansie (holiday!)
And here we shall just stay for a week or more and gather our thoughts and catch up on blogs and photos and videos and enjoying being back to 4 of us in our 4x4 x