As I mentioned in my previous post, our two-week Kenya safari was truly wonderful. We went to three national parks, each with a different ecosystems, and “glamped”, staying in comfy furnished tents or huts at four different upscale camps.
We booked through Go2Africa and chose the 15-hour direct flight from NYC to Nairobi on Kenya Air rather than risk the problems that connections can cause. Our package included all the air or ground transportation between camps. This was our full itinerary.
We booked many months in advance giving us lots of time to get our immunizations (this is not a trip for anti-vaxxers), do our research, fret, and over-prepare. There were several points of confusion.
The excitement of landing in Africa wiped out all the stress and pain of the 15-hour flight. Well, most of it. Nairobi Tented Camp was our first stay. It is part of Nairobi National Park, in the world’s only wildlife capital city, and just minutes from the airport.
We were picked up right outside the terminal and driven through Nariobi, a large city with high-rise buildings, lots of traffic in cars, trucks, buses, on bikes and on foot. We drove through a section called “Karen” with the Karen Blixen Museum (the “Out of Africa” Karen Bixen) and past Kibera, Africa’s largest slum. There are tours available of both; neither was in our plans.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is the ancestral pastoral home of the Maasai tribe, with open grasslands favored by large cats — lions, cheetahs, leopards — and dotted with trees. As we drove into the park from the Wilson airport, the very first thing we saw was a leopard in a tree with its impala dinner hanging in the limbs below. And, we weren’t even on a game drive yet!
Because of its proximity to the Jomo Kenyatta airport, we returned to the Nairobi Tented Camp before flying back to the States. It felt full circle, returning to our starting point. By now, after more than 20 game drives, we felt like “old hands” and the camp was familiar…yet, this last day had a sad quality to it. Luckily, a few things happened to lift our spirits.
My feelings about returning home from South America were quite complicated, a strange mix of sadness and anticipation, of struggle and apprehension. I expected to stay with the group for four months but came back home after three. I was clear about this decision and yet apprehensive about re-adjusting to my previous life. My trip so completely consumed me, I was so immersed in day-to-day challenges that home now seemed distant and even strange. This is how it all fell out.
On our second day in Cusco, now in possession of all our luggage, getting acclimated to the altitude and with one 1/2 day tour under our belt, we were ready for our 2-day overnight excursion to the Sacred Valley and the iconic Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu sign in Aguas Calientes
I first visited Lima, Peru in 2008 for an AMCIS conference and afterward took a short, 2-day trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu. I might not have gone again in March but my son Eric was interested and it was a way for us to celebrate his upcoming birthday together. I must say, it was all “lovelier the second time around”!
Pachamama smiling down on the Earth