Magic was in the air and we breathed it for two unforgettable weeks. “Jambo” and a smile as you meet each person brings a warm smiling “jambo” in return to welcome you to Kenya.
A safari in Kenya was our grandson Warren’s choice of destination for his eleven-year-old trip with Nani. A visit to Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage in the Nairobi Game Park started the safari off with giggles and awe. Many more elephants are orphaned these days because of increased poaching. The giggles exploded as we watched the youngest orphans slip and slide in their water/mud hole.
The nearby Giraffe Centre, a research center designed to protect the endangered Rothschild Giraffe, furnished some up-close-and-personal time with the giraffes. Watching Warren hold a giraffe pellet in his teeth while the giraffe took it from him gave Nani her first big surprise of the trip.
We drove to Amboseli National Park, northwest of Mt. Kilimanjaro on the border with Tanzania and our eyes were opened to Kenya’s wildlife. Famous for the longest study of wild elephants in the world, our cameras were clicking like fury.
Every moment held wonders, but the visit to a Masai village let us truly step into another world. Greeted by beautiful-brightly clad men and women singing and dancing before we entered the village gave others in the village time to get organized for our unexpected visit. Then our gracious hosts invited us to enter the thorn bush fence circling their homes. The medicine man’s son shared the medicinal uses of a variety of tree barks, demonstrated how to start a fire without matches and invited us into one of their cow dung plaster homes. The visit concluded with the traditional circle of women offering their handicraft wares for sale. We willingly helped the village economy.
The world’s greatest animal migration was underway in the Masai Mara. Wildebeests and zebra were following the scent of rain from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Kenya’s Mara. We watched animals crossing the Mara River in both directions and were reminded that “the grass is always greener on the other side” for may of us. It is true that the crocodiles are watching for food during most of the crossings, but some of the crocs had eaten so much they were engaged in our favorite pastime after stuffing ourselves at Thanksgiving dinner…sleeping.
Breakfast on a bluff above the Mara River became almost anticlimactic the first morning in the Mara. During the two and a half hour game drive before breakfast we encountered twelve lions and five cheetahs. The first lion couple was engaged in their favorite occupation, sleeping. Most days they spend 98% of the time sleeping with the other 2% split between hunting and eating.
So many wonders popped up unexpectedly. We discovered a hyena den hidden in the tall red oak grass one morning. That scene remained one of Warren’s favorites. Mama hyena was suckling a tiny baby and rebuffing an older juvenile who wanted to get in on the act. Papa hyena peered out of the central hole of the den while two other juveniles romped and played like a couple of children on the playground.
Reliving the magical moments over and over again is the motivating reason for coming home with more digital shots in your camera than you have time to process.