Our arrival in Nairobi was not without some struggles, we had had a long day, and the security was pretty high due to a terrorist attack in 2019. We and our luggage had to go through security at our hotel as well as the airport. Once we got settled, we headed up to the 10th Floor to get a bite and what a wonderful surprise the rooftop was. We found the Sky Lounge, a swanky rooftop bar. There were plenty of comfy lounge spots, colorful bar stools, a beautiful rooftop pool and cool lighting. The spacious open-air terrace had fantastic views of the adjacent Nairobi National Park as well as the city skyline. Another surprise was when we went for breakfast as the main restaurant had a large deck where we could spot wildlife. This got us excited as our next stop was the Safari.
As well as the National Park, Nairobi has several reserves dedicated to the wellbeing of elephants, giraffes, rhinos and more. We visited the Sheldrick Wildlife Center where they rescue and rehabilitate baby orphaned elephants. We enjoyed one hour watching the baby elephants play and enjoy their bottles. The attendants knew every elephant by name and gave a great talk. There were opportunities to adopt and some of the group did. We also got up front and personal with giraffes at the Rothchild Giraffe Center, it was so much fun feeding them.
We also visited Karen Blixen Museum and followed in the footsteps of Karen Blixen as Cindy narrated “When I was a girl in Africa, I had a farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills”, The old colonial farmhouse is simple, housing a few items that Karen Blixen chose and once enjoyed herself. There are also the colorful gardens to explore, where several old coffee machines have laid untouched for decades.
After our brief sojourn in Nairobi, we took a short flight in a shuttle to the Maasai Mara. When we landed on the airstrip we gathered our bags from the runway and proceeded to our safari vehicles that were waiting for us. Close your eyes and envision a gentle rolling savannah stretching out as far as the eye can see. Imagine countless wildebeest and zebras grazing lazily right there in front of you. The feeling is humbling and inspiring all wrapped into one. The Maasai Mara is known for the highest concentration of wild animals in the world. More than 40% of Africa’s larger mammals can be found here. However, there’s more to the Maasai Mara than endless plains. The Greater Maasai Mara ecosystem is massive. It amounts to almost 1510 square kilometers. The area is bordered by the Serengeti in the south and to the north, east and west lie Maasai ranches. Although the riverbanks of the area’s three rivers are lined with shrubs and trees, most of the reserve is made up of open grassland spotted by an occasional flat-topped acacia tree. On our trip to the Zebra Plains Camp, about a one and one half hour trip, we started our safari and were amazed at what we saw. With almost 500 bird species and a daunting 47 species of birds of prey, the Maasai Mara’s treetops, bushes and skies are a feast for birdwatcher’s eyes. We saw ostrich, jaunty crowned plomers, beautiful crowned cranes and many more. We also saw buzzards and vultures fighting over their prey and hyenas in waiting. The piėce de resistance was the cheetah stalking an impala, what an amazing sight, and the impala escaped. Our arrival at Zebra Plains Camp was a little delayed but the Maasai warriors were there waiting for us with an impressive show. Our “tents were very comfortable and well equipped with all the necessities. The staff could not do enough and Ruth the manageress was very helpful. We enjoyed three meals a day in a very unique setting and our game drives were unbelievable. In addition to the “Big Five” we spotted the giraffe, cheetah, hippo and zebra. The Rhino was around but illusive to us unfortunately. The drama we witnessed was incredible. Every day, twice a day for three or four hours we jumped into our jeeps and headed out looking for the famous big tuskers and herds of elephants among other big game such as the prides of lions in the park and cheetahs. Early morning drives were worth it as this is generally the best time to spot the wildlife, as the temperature is cool and the animals are still very active, including the big cats, which will be returning from a night of hunting. As with early morning, the evening game drive is often the best time to see the wildlife. The predatory animals begin to stir from their heat-of-the-day slumber, and similarly, their prey become ever more active and alert as darkness falls. Vehicles usually return just before dark in time for a shower, pre-dinner drinks and then dinner. The evenings are often rounded off with a few drinks around the campfire, warming toes and swapping safari stories. The Maasai Mara is the crown jewel of Kenya’s natural reserves and the most visited park boasting dramatic bursts of wildlife on a bright palette of rolling hills, golden savannah, and distinctive acacia trees framing its unforgettable sunsets and sunrises. No one who visits the Masai Mara is untouched by its shocking beauty. Our driver, Paul, took us on an amazing journey and was very knowledgeable and fun to be with. His patience rewarded us with the best photos of our trip and a moment that will forever be etched in our memories.We were six in our jeep and even though we were on their “roads” you would never know it. We traversed mud filled gorges, very uneven ground and had lots of laughs.
Eight of us lucky travelers ended our adventure with a short stay on Diani Beach. Our suites were spacious and beautifully appointed, with a large patio and view and direct access to the beach. Half our group opted for the beach cottages which were also very cool. The beach was amazing, fine white sand and clear turquois water for as far as the eye could see. It was great to relax and chill out for a couple of days before heading back home to “work”.