Safari diary

Schedules may be similar on the great plains but one magical day may not be like any other. Here, a safari diary that documents a glorious few days of travel with some of the world’s most incredible creatures and their environment.

Day One – Safari Diary
Nairobi, Kenya

11:30 A.M.

Boarding a nine-seater plane at Nairobi’s tiny Wilson Airport, we are on our way to the Mara Naboisho Conservancy in the southwest of Kenya. The conservancy is 50,000 acres of land that abuts the more massive MaasaiMara National Reserve (famed for the wildebeest migration—think of the scene fromThe Lion King). We are told by our pilot/tour guide that while the Maasai Mara National Reserve has been a popular safari destination since the 1960s, the land that is now the Naboisho Conservancy belongs to the Maasai Mara tribe who has lived on these plains for hundreds of years and used it for grazing for their cow herds. About ten years ago, in order to“conserve the environment and wildlife and to protect and empower the local Maasai community,” they lent it to the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Mara Naboisho Conservancy was created.

No fences separate the two, meaning animals are free to roam. This is especially noted during the migration from the Serengeti in Tanzania to theMaasai Mara in Kenya when the animals are in search of grasslands and water sources. This migration, with millions of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of other creatures including zebras, gazelles, impalas and more, happens from July through October and is a sight to behold. Still, that’s not the only time to visit. There are many months following, through the spring and before the rainy season (April and May), when grasses are short and viewing is still at its peak.

As we begin our descent, the wildebeest prance over the land, out of the way of our plane as it approaches the airstrip, where the only sense of modernity is a single tented shaded area and the few Land Cruisers that wait to collect us.We deplane as our bags are loaded into the SUVs—the small duffels in compliance with airline rules of size and weight. And we meet Rafael (Raffi) and Isaac who will be our guides for the duration of our stay. They, as members of the Maasai tribe, are dressed in traditional draped robes called shuka.

Naboisho Conservancy, Masaai Mara Kenya

We are whisked off to our camp, Ol Seki Hemingways, for the next five nights. The private conservancy has strict rules concerning the number of tourists and vehicles allowed in its perimeters. All must be affiliated with one of the seven hotel “camps” on the conservancy and no day passes are allowed for purchase, unlike the Maasai Mara. The result: far fewer jeeps and no busy roads filled with them vying for the same view.

As the Land Cruiser bumps along the dirt road barely as wide as the vehicle, each of us has a perfect view as the seating is not like the carpool three-row seaters back home—these made-for-viewing vehicles have movie theatre-like tiered seating—and even though it’s not yet an official drive, we spot wildebeest, impalas, giraffes and warthogs.

We soon pull up to our “tent,” a multi-room “glamping” structure complete with a kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, living and dining rooms, a butler, chef and a verandah overlooking the conservancy. We settle in among vintage shabby-chic decor, and are left to unpack and enjoy lunch and explore the property.

 

4:00 P.M.

We hear our jeep pull up to the tent and rush out for our very first game drive! There will be two per day, one at dawn and one at dusk when the animals are typically most active. It’s hot during the afternoon here, even in December, but we have also been told that it gets chilly as the sun rises and sets, so we take along layers and blankets.

Before long, we spot a zebra herd and pull the vehicle closer than ever imagined: an awe-inspiring experience observing these spectacular animals in their natural habitats. We drive on, seeing wildebeest, warthogs and many species of impala until we stop by a grouping of giraffes. Then we are off again, trying to get in as much as we can before the sun goes down. Lucky us, we see hippos in the water and cheetahs on the hunt. Hats off to our guides who criss-cross across the plains without a street sign or traffic light in sight.

7:30 P.M.

As the sun goes down, we assume we are on our way to camp. Instead we come upon a bonfire next to a beautifully set table. Here we a reserved a bush steak dinner under the stars.

Day Two – Safari Diary
Naboisho Conservancy, Masaai Mara Kenya

5:30 A.M.

We awaken to a subtle “hello, good morning” from the butler and chef who come to set out a light meal before our morning drive. On this day, we pass the now familiar zebras, gazelles and wildebeests, never to be taken for granted however. And then we see Caesar the Lion, with his full mane, lying at one end of a field watching over his mother and siblings acrosst he way. Their loud roars startle then amaze us—as does Caesar’s approach in close proximity to but limited interest of the jeep.

Once on the move again, we are in search of a leopard that our guides were told (the few guides in the Naboisho radio each other with sightings) was in a tree. We move fast, holding on but loving the rush of racing across the bouncy terrain. How they find that singular tree and the leopard holed up on its highest branches we will never know.9:00 A.M.When we get back to our tent for our proper breakfast, it is set out on the verandah just as a herd of slow-moving elephants are making their way across the vast landscape in front of our tent.

11:30 A.M.

After a quick shower and change, Raffi and Isaac take us to visit the nearest Maasai village. There we are greeted by the women dancing and singing. We tour one of the mud and dung houses and listen as Isaac speaks with pride about theMaasai history and culture. The village children are waiting to play with our kids—becoming instant photographers with the borrowed cell phones. The women set up a massive market to shop for handmade souvenirs like woven belts, jewelry and pottery.

2:00 P.M.

Back to the tent for lunch, we plan our afternoon activities for the next few days, including a hot air balloon ride. Then it is time for our afternoon game drive. The excitement and energy is the same as the first time. This drive, we sit with elephants close up, observing the perpetual dance between their trunks and round feet shimmying trees and the leaves from them. We catch water buffalo on the way back and spot a rhinoceros in the distance.

7:30 P.M.

We are invited to dine at the main tent with the rest of the guests and meet families from Australia and Great Britain.

Day Three – Safari Diary
Naboisho Conservancy, Masaai Mara Kenya

5:30 A.M.

We wake to the sound of a lion’s roar. Interestingly, we are not frightened, just itching to get out to find the source.And when we do, all we can think is how happy we are to have three more days to do it all over again. And add more to our safari diary and memories of a lifetime.

LODGING OPTIONS
naboisho.com

FLIGHTS
flysafarilink.com

TOUR COMPANIES
yellowzebrasafaris.com

TRAVEL HEALTH
passporthealthusa.com

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