02 September 2011

Masai Mara

Howdy, Jambo.

This past week we took a little safari. Ok, it was a big safari. It wasn't like I was counting down to this big trip though. I actually was wanting to stay home and just thinking how hard it would be with two little ones. My husband did a little convincing though and after getting over myself and thinking on the bright side, it ended up being one really great trip that we'll always remember. Bud had been planning it for quite awhile. He wanted to take our two Kenyan sons since they've never been before and Ian is on break from school during this month. It would also be our first time to take Elisha and Claire on safari.

We left early, like before the sun came up early, on Sunday morning. Austin and Brittany took one vehicle and we drove another. The boys split up between the two. We were making great time and the kids were doing fairly well. And then the shift happened. Rambo broke down. (the land rover that Austin and Brittany were driving) We ended up being broken down for around 3 hours. It was a Sunday but thankfully there just happened to be some Indian shop owners that stopped by their shop that morning, the same time we pulled up along the road where a strip of car shops were. They were so kind to call their mechanic, who showed up snuckered, but had the vehicle fixed and on our way we went. The kids were pretty restless and not long after we took off, I was letting Claire air out without a diaper on since she had horrible horrible diaper rash (which come to find out is an infection). Oh and so she peed ALL over me. I mean all over. All over the front of my shirt and around my back and down my pants. (sorry for the detail) There were a few other odds against me too but I wont go into that much detail.

So we end up not getting to the gate of the Masai Mara national park until it was dark. The place Bud mapped out for us to camp at was one of the nicest camp sites (meaning it had nice hot showers). Well, apparently after dark, you can't enter the park, even if you're sleeping inside. So Bud picks up a random Masai guy who knows of another campsite. It's now around 6:45pm. We pull up and go through their gate (because even though it is outside the official park, the national park has no fencing around it) to find out their pipes are broken for showers. Ok, moving along, we go further up the hill to another site. It's dark now and we need to set up our tents and start dinner. So we go with the next one. They assure us there is hot showers. So we stay. They also have tents already set up at this site for around $15 a night. Given our day, we deicde to stay in them. Jordan, Ian and Caleb could care less and want the adventure so they set up one of the tents to sleep in. Oh and did I mention we never passed through a gate so we're like really camping in the wild. Turns out it's a Eco camp site too, meaning it's Eco-friendly. So our water is from... well, we never found out... but it sometimes smelt like cow pee and was brown. They would heat it over a fire then dump some in a big container above our tent, then we would take a shower inside with water coming from an actual shower head. The conditions really weren't bad at all. Actually reminded me of living in the bush my first year in Kenya.

Oh, so back to our first night. It was well past 7pm and I had hungry babies. We got the fire started. (i say we, but it was the Masai men that would be standing guard around our tents that night) Our chicken was thawed out at that point so we had to cook it and not let it go to waste. Otherwise it would have been pb&j that we already had for lunch. About half way through cooking chicken, I realized my kids were not making it. Elisha had already fallen into the edge of the fire and scraped his foot (no burns, thank goodness) and Claire was ready to run free and explore EVERYthing after being in a car all day. It was destined for disaster so I handed over the knife for flipping the chicken to Caleb (forgot grilling utensils), grabbed my two cranky monkeys, and off to our tent we went. The tents they had were actually pretty OK. There was two twin beds set up inside with sheets and warm down comforters on them made and ready for tired people to crawl inside and rest. The toilets, well, more like wooden boxes, were interesting. They were wooden boxes with holes on top to sit on and had a lid. In the hole was a sack with chemicals. The chemicals didn't make the tent smell (though not Eco-friendly) and it was a little sectioned off room inside the tent that zipped up. The shower room being next to it and zipped off as well. No sink, just a basin with a bucket of brown water next to it. So the kids and I snugged in bed and rested. They winded down and before falling asleep, their dad brought us some yummy grilled chicken. I'm pretty sure Elisha ate an entire chicken. Good thing, he slept though the whole night with a full belly. Claire slept pretty well through the night too. Me on the other hand, well, not so much. I heard hyena's at 10 and 10:30pm. Then elephants at 12:38am. Then would wake up pretty much every hour thinking a monkey was unzipping our tent. Of course they weren't but still. I had my motherly instincts on high radar that night! Was able to get about 2-3 consistent hours of sleep. Enough to make the next day a good day. I woke up to my sweet husband handing me fresh coffee in bed. What a good man! He got up before I knew it and made coffee over the fire. Everyone was up and ready to go by 6am. Except I was dragging behind, getting two little ones up, dressed and ready. We rolled out of our campsite around 6:30ish, I think. I really don't remember. Mornings are a big blur to me. But we were ready and all in good moods. To make it better, Brittany had made cream cheese pumpkin muffins the week before and brought with her to share. So I had my coffee and muffin... almost as if we went through Starbucks. Almost. We pull up to the gate, get our tickets and onto our safari we go. Camera in hand, kids in lap, Bud driving, we were on an adventure.

First thing we see is a big herd of wildebeest. I'd say the theme of this safari was wildebeest and you'll see why from the pictures. Then the next big show we saw was two male lions that had just eaten their breakfast. Usually when you see a bunch of safari vehicles in one area, there's something big. At one point though, we saw a bunch of vehicles and thought "oh probably just more lions". There were a lot. I never got tired of them though.

The lions are so used to safari vehicles that you can drive right up and they don't bother you at all.
I was a little freaked out when they got up and left the circle of safari vehicles. It was time to go spray his scent though.

And then they usually go into the bush to sleep most of the day.

We saw some giraffes. Not as much as a few years ago. Their spots are beautiful.

And off and on through the day we'd see elephants. Mostly far off or going through trees. Before the safari Elisha told us he wanted to see crocodiles, hippopotamus, baby elephant and lions. Lions: check, baby elephant: check.

Right now is the great migration of wildebeest. One of the new seven wonders of the world. They go from Tanzania to Kenya, have babies and eat grass, then migrate back across the Masai river and on to Tanzania again. It was unbelievable how many we saw. Thousands and thousands. It got old. And they are weird looking.
Those are not specs on the hill... just tons and tons of wildebeest... kinda like ants. Yes, they got old like a bunch of ants.

After crossing the river I was shocked how many of these birds were there. Oh no, these birds weren't just hanging by the river, they were eating the hundreds of wildebeest that had not made it across the river. Not even the crocs got to feast on them, they just wasted down the river until collected at this point for vultures to peck on.

And you can only imagine the smell.

And then we saw more wildebeest...

And really really dead wildebeest...

Wildebeest crossing the road. It was like a river of them that never stopped. We eventually pushed our way through.

And then the next morning we came upon a group of lioness with their cubs feasting on a wildebeest. Pretty sweet... other than the fact I DIDN'T bring my camera!

Hippopotamus: check.
Look at the baby! I loved seeing the baby animals. But this would be why hippos kill more people than any other animal. Mama hippo is sure protective of her baby.
We saw a croc at this part of the river in the picture above, but Elisha was sleeping. He really wanted to see one. He also refers to them as dinosoars.
But later we came to another part of the river and there they were.
Crocodiles: check.

Oh and more lions...
See the baby? When coming upon this pack, they had actually gotten caught spying on cape buffalo. I think one of the males was sneaking up on a herd to spot out a good meal. When they cuaght him though, a few of them ran towards him and he ran back to his pack. We then drove out to them.

Is it a tree?
Nope, just a satelite. Found this pretty humorous.

And then we didn't see anthing for awhile so got creative...

She loved having the window down with the wind blowing in her face. She also loved seeing all the animals. She'd point them all out to me. Even the wildabeest, "mama, mama, dis" and point to them all.

That afternoon we got back to the campsite with plenty of time to prep for dinner and relax in the daylight. I was able to get my barrings for where we were staying. The kids ran around the site exploring and playing in the dirt. We only brought one little bag of toys including a little set of "safari" animals I found at the grocery store here. Well, it said safari animals on it but had a polar bear, elk and camel combined with actual safari animals. Who knows, it could have been the t.v. show Lost edition. There were a herd of goats passing by our campsite and Claire insisted on going down to see them so we did. There was a masai man and little boy herding them. We hung out with them awhile. Elisha came down with an iphone watching a movie. So the little boy came over to watch it for awhile. Who knows the stories he will go back and tell his family! Bud talked with the man a bit. He was asking him about lions. The government now replaces cows that are eaten by lions because otherwise the masai will go after the lion and kill it if it kills their cow. They love their cows and aren't afraid of lions. So rather than kill off lions, the government will replace them. But not goats according to the man Bud talked to.

We went back to the site and while I cooked, the kids started their dinner with some corn.

Bud created and built this trailer. Mostly to carry luggage for teams from Nairobi to Kitale. But then it converts to a camping trailer, which we also will use for teams that choose to camp. The top flips out to be a platform for a tent. Then the side here in the picture flips down to cook on. This is a little cooker with a propane tank inside the trailer. I made mexican beans and rice. It was supposed to be soup until I realized we didn't have bowls or spoons but only big cups and forks. So I let it thicken into more of beans and rice.

Caleb, Jordan, Ian, Brittany, Austin and Bud around the camp fire. In the background you can see one of the tents set up by the site we stayed at. There were about 6 of them. The two nights we were there, no one else stayed there. (which we kinda wondered why) But apparently people were coming in the day we left.

The next day, we took a morning drive then left for Nairobi. Brittany was feeling pretty sore from the bumps and being pregnant so her and Austin stayed back at the camp site and rested. Pray for her! She is still having morning sickness. What a strong mama though, she's now about 6 months preggers and roughed it camping really well.

So our morning drive was a success. The boys really just wanted to see a cheetah and leopard. Oh but did I mention, I did NOT bring my camera?! Of course I'd also see a whole pride of lions, 6 cubs and all! Oh well, it'll stick in my memory for awhile.

Those are lions Bud is looking at. Squint and tilt your head and you'll see them.

I assure you there is a gorgeous leopard up there! Ugh. Where's a great camera when you need it? Oh yeah, sitting in the other vehicle at the camp site doing nothing.

We were about to head back to our campsite when at the last minute we saw another safari vehicle flash it's lights. A few other vehicles caught it too and we all headed over to see he had found a cheetah. The cherry on top of our safari!

I'm so glad Bud convinced us to go. We would have surely missed out! We made it into Nairobi around 3. Got nice clean hot showers and went and ate at a very westernized mall. The contrast in going from camping and going on safari to spending a few nights in the big city was pretty extreme. While in Nairobi, we took Elisha to see Cars 2. He loved it of course and sat through the entire thing with his pop corn and drink. Claire slept through most of it. For lunch we ate at the new Kentucky fried chicken. The boys really enjoyed getting a taste of America. I never would have thought I would enjoyed it so much. I don't ever choose to eat there in the states. It was by far the nicest one I've ever been to though. I was mostly excited for the fries. We then headed out early the next morning. It was too quick in Nairobi, wished I could of seen our friends there! Next time ;-). Going out to Mattaw later. Hope to grab a few snaps of the kiddos to update you on how they're doing. They'll start back to school on Tuesday. And so will we! Oh boy, preschool here we come.


NeNe said...

Oh Kimberly, what a vivid storyteller you have become and I do so love it. And I didn't even freak out seeing Elisha just a few feet away from a croc! Thank you for making my day with this post. I'm so glad you all had such a great safari.

Lynn said...

I LOVE reading about your adventures and also have some more personal pictures to show my second graders of animals in the grasslands biome!! Glad you were able to get away and enjoy Father's creatures up close and personal!

Teri said...


Teri said...

So awesome!!

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