An Unforgettable Trip to Kenya that Combines Culture with Wildlife

by Sandy Salle on January 14, 2015

Guest Article Written by Hills of Africa Client Diane Harff, who just returned home from an incredible trip to Kenya

My husband gave me this trip for my birthday and the best part was that I got to go with three of my girlfriends!

When we arrived in Kenya it just felt different,  I don’t know why, it just did….Maybe it was the long flight or the busy Nairobi airport or the fact that we were exhausted but I knew it was the start of a fabulous adventure!

The first night was spent at Giraffe Manor and when we arrived they had a lavish dinner table set for us. The food was amazing and I must admit that we indulged a little too much on the Amarula.

The next morning we awoke to find giraffes right outside our windows! What a sight!!! We all ran downstairs and fed the giraffes and Lisa and Nicole let them take the food right out of their mouths, literally!!!!!

Daniel, our driver, picked us up and we were off to Joys Camp. The drive was long but the sights were amazing and Daniel was the perfect guide, host, ambassador, and teacher. When we arrived at Joys Camp I had lots of questions about Joy Adamson and Elsa and her leopard, Penny. They had lots of photos and the typewriter she wrote Born Free on and even a small museum of sorts.

Museum at Joys Camp

A glimpse at the museum at Joys Camp

The land was rugged, fierce, and beautiful and there was a faint smell, almost like a citrus thyme that I can still remember. Daniel said it was the smell of Africa. Joys Camp was luxurious and the food delightful, they catered to our every need and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves; we even took some time and got massages and relaxed with some poolside yoga.

The game drives were fun and exciting!  This being my first (I hope of many) safaris I didn’t know what to expect, but believe me, I was oh so very pleasantly surprised!!! It was just the four of us in the truck and we saw zebras, ostriches, gazelles, warthogs, elephants, and baboons. After our sundowners we headed back to camp for dinner and sleep.

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The next morning I woke at 4:45 to the most amazing sounds! I call it the Morning Animal Symphony! The animals were just waking up and it was in stereo all around the tent. The noises were so loud and spectacular that I taped them and have listened to them quite often since I have gotten back and they always make me smile! This was a very special day because we had arranged to go to the Kachuru Primary School and Gotu Village. My kids school classes at home did a service project and collected items for the Kachuru Primary School and I brought an extra suitcase with pencils, pens, markers, crayons, maps, soccer balls, and other items.

When we got to the school the headmaster, Mr. Wario, met us and gave us a tour of the school, which is a one room building with a chalk board and the hut where they make food for lunch. The cafeteria, as I called it, was a corrugated metal hut with a big fire pit in it where they make maize and beans everyday for lunch. Some of the students walk as far as 10 miles to get to school, so they can’t go home for lunch. The kids were on holiday so they were not in school but we did go to the village and got to meet them and their families. We brought stickers and they let us put them on their hands and some faces too. The kids and villagers were thrilled to see us but at the same time I felt such sadness to see how they live and what they have to face on a daily basis. All in all it was an eye opening experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

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Gotu Village child with stickers on his hands and face.

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What I called the cafeteria for the school.

Kachuru Primary School

Kachuru Primary School

On to our next camp, Sweetwaters Tented Camp…The sunrise that morning was amazing, it looked like fire rising over Mt. Kenya! During the game drives here we saw lions and more lions! Prides of them…it’s just amazing that you can be driving along and just come upon lions laying around! They just look up and don’t even notice you! Unbelievable! We also saw black and white rhinos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and cape buffalos. By this point in the trip we had seen 4 out of the Big 5.

On the way to our next camp we stopped at the equator and had the Corialis Effect demonstrated for us by some locals…It was really neat to see how water flows in different ways on either side of the equator and straight down when standing directly on the equator. We were now at the Sarova Game Lodge and this is where we completed the Big 5…We were just out on our game drive and Kim spotted a leopard and we stayed and watched it for quite a while….I still can’t believe our luck, some people go on many safaris and never get to see the Big 5!

The next morning we geared up for our longest drive yet, to the Ashnil Tented Camp on the Masai Mara. Along the way we saw some pretty wonderful sights.  I know most travelers fly between camps but we drove…It really gives you a different perspective of this beautiful country. Upon arrival to the Mara, while our driver/guide was checking us in, the Maasai women came right up to the windows of our vehicle with the most beautiful beaded jewelry. I am enthralled by beaded jewelry and bought quite a bit of it…It became one of the running jokes of our trip, the number of Kenya bracelets that I bought.

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Ashnil Camp was lovely and during our first game drive we came across a female lion and her three cubs! We sat there for awhile and just watched them sleep, yawn and eventually play a bit. It was an amazing sight and we were very fortunate to have seen them. We then stopped for lunch on the Savannah…It was lovely and the view was phenomenal!

On our last morning we packed up and headed to Nairobi but not before one last game drive on the way out of the Mara.We saw a huge pride of lions and two brother lions; Daniel said one of them is named Scar for the scar above his eye. The drive was long but we saw some beautiful scenery…Especially the Great Rift Valley. Once in Nairobi we stopped at an orphanage so we could visit with the children there and give them some clothing that we had brought with us.

Sadly our adventure was over and it was time to get ready for our long flight back to the states.

Africa is often referred to as the Dark Continent but I found it, yes, mysterious, but also beautiful and bright.

-Diane Harff, Manlius, NY

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jeana Pena January 21, 2015 at 1:46 am

Great report. Really makes one wish for the same adventure! You’re one lucky lady.

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