“Karibuni” (Welcome) the flight attendant said just after our flight landed. It was a cold and beautiful august night. Our Kenyan Airways flight from Mumbai to Nairobi was comfortable and we were excited to start off our much-awaited vacation. Little did we know that what we would experience in the next 8 days would be something out of this world. We witnessed the great wildebeest migration, took a hot air balloon safari over the Masai Mara, visited the equator, spotted the Big 5, stayed in luxury tents inside a jungle, fed giraffes and adopted an orphaned baby elephant. Phew!
Day 1: Nairobi: The Giraffe Center, the elephant orphanage at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and the Kazuri Bead Factory are a must-see in Nairobi. Where else could one adopt a baby elephant, feed giraffes and see beautiful jewelry being made out of plain mud? Btw, our baby elephant’s called Ndotto 🙂
Day 2: A day trip to Lake Naivasha – a freshwater lake in Kenya. It is approximately a 2-3 hour drive from Nairobi. Situated on the banks of the lake Naivasha, is the sprawling green ‘Lake Naivasha Country Club’ where we had gazelles, zebras and giraffes grazing about freely at an arm’s length distance. The guides took us on a two hour boat ride on the lake where we drifted alongside dozens of hippos, several migratory birds and the occasional croc. After a swim in the beautiful pool and a great lunch at the Country Club, we returned to Nairobi.
Day 3: Safari Time! After a 4 hour drive we arrived at the ‘Aberdare Country Club’ just in time for a sumptuous lunch buffet. We tiptoed around a couple of shy peacocks and enjoyed the beautiful view of the lush green plains sipping earl grey. Before evening, we were taken to ‘The Ark‘ which is designed like the famous Noah’s ark. It is a unique tree-top styled stilted lodge set amidst the thick woodland right at the heart of the Aberdare National Park. This property overlooks a floodlit waterhole and salt lick, which attracts a host of awesome wildlife. We spent a night at The Ark and got to see herds of Elephants from the viewing decks. Such a beautiful experience!
Day 4: We started early from the Ark after breakfast ( We had no mood to leave that place) and reached a very special place by noon – “THE EQUATOR”. Being at both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time felt pretty cool! We were shown the Coriolis effect, and even awarded certificates for crossing the equator! How awesome is that! We then continued towards the ‘Mount Kenya Safari Club’, a place right out of a fairy tale. Beautiful green plains, lavenders, horses and an 18 hole golf course. We had an unforgettable meal after which we returned to Nairobi. Please don’t miss the animal orphanage near the Safari Club if time permits.
Day 5 and Day 6: Chilling in Nairobi, Masai market was a queer place. Fun fashionable Masai’s having their beautiful handwork for sale. We walked around the city, hopped malls and tried some Ethiopian cuisine for dinner. We soaked ourselves in the vibrant city life of Nairobi as much as we could.
Day 7: We were up very early and left to the highlight of our trip ‘The Masai Mara National Park’ hoping to see ‘The Great Wildebeest Migration’, one of nature’s greatest journeys. Nowhere in the world is there a movement of animals as immense as the wildebeest migration, over two million animals migrate across an almost treeless Savannah from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October. We were there to witness it from Kenya in 2 different ways. One from the hot air balloon and the other from the ground. After a good 5 hour drive we reached the Mara Sarova for lunch, where we were welcomed by the Masais with a cold glass of cherry tomato juice and fresh towels. After lunch, we set off for our first ‘Game Drive’. Our jaws dropped in awe as we entered the heart of the beautiful Maasai Mara! It was a dry and cold august afternoon and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. We kept our fingers crossed hoping to spot ‘The Big 5’ and witness ‘The most MAGICAL AFRICAN SUNSET!’. After the two hour game drive, we were audience to a Masai dance performance that evening at the resort followed by dinner.
Day 8: Woke up next morning at 4 am for the Hot Air balloon safari over the Masai Mara plains to see The great migration of the Wildebeest from the balloon: The most exciting part of the trip! The balloon set off over the crimson and blue sunrise.
We floated above the great plains. The real vastness of the Masai Mara National Park was overwhelming. After a good hour of cruising, we saw a herd of wildebeest migrating. Whenever the pilot fired the burners there were loud noises. Confused by a particularly loud one, the Wildebeests ran for their lives forming a heart. It was truly magical. Possibly the ‘crowning glory’ moment of our trip.
After we landed, we were ushered to a part of the forest under a nice shady tree, with a huge table set up for our ‘bush breakfast’. Our breakfast of Nutella, eggs, breads, fruits and champagne were served by the Masais dressed in their traditional bright blue and red robes. we can never say, ‘never have we ever had a bush breakfast in Africa.’ A bunch of us. Some great breakfast and a couple of Masais to chill with.
We drove further north to the Mara river that day to see any Migration activity happening on across the river side. Seeing the animals run for their life from the crocodiles and lions waiting to feast on them was spectacular and moving! We were so goddamn lucky to have witnessed this phenomenon.
There could not have been a better way to end a holiday. With a heavy heart we had to say our goodbyes to Kenya. We were smitten and had fallen head over heels in love with Africa. Definitely going back for more!
So will Kenya be your #NextCheckIn?
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~K & N