In July of 2012, my family boarded a plane bound for Kenya, full of excitement and a little apprehension. Our safari had been booked through Tim Melesi Safaris, and thanks to him and his amazing staff we have many memories to share.
After traveling 24 hours, we arrived in Nairobi, exhausted. Adventure called; however, 8 PM was no time to start, so we spent the night at the House of Waine, a little hotel about 30 minutes from Nairobi. Upon awakening, we went to a commuter airport for our transfer to the Chyulu Hills. We stayed at the ol Donyo Lodge, a gorgeous place complete with pools and star beds. We saw more animals than I knew existed, anything from animals commonly seen in zoos to birds such as a lilac breasted roller.
After a few days, we flew to the Maasai Mara hoping to see some of the big cats that had been elusive so far. If you have ever seen a movie about a savannah, chances are it was filmed in the Mara. It was here that the African beauty can best be explained. We saw everything we saw at ol Donyo and then some. The big cats that slowly prowl the earth, the hilariously clumsy wildebeest on the Great Migration that do not seem to realize humans are watching are all amazing. It is an indescribable feeling to sit and watch them, in nature, behaving the way they were created to. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and after five days, we had to pack up and begin the long trek home.
This trip changed my life. This is what I learned:
Safety is different in this part of the world.
Safety is something we take for granted on a daily basis. Horrible things happen in America; however, our day to day lives are very different. When looking at the hotels where we were going to stay, we were surprised to find in-depth information as to just what kind of security measures they would have in place. Never had any of us ever heard that mentioned before. When we got off the plane and through airport customs, we walked outside to find soldiers standing around with machine guns. As we drove, we saw little regard for traffic laws because people were driving everywhere. Houses with barbed wire fences and gates with guards are the standard. That is not even close to our normal, and it should make us really appreciate our lack of worry for safety.
Conservation is important.
Before this trip, I never gave a thought to protecting wild animals. I did not care about what might happen to them if we continue to expand so recklessly. This trip changed all that. These animals and the land they live on are so unique, and earth only has a limited amount of that environment. The Maasai people depend on the land and the animals to survive. They have farms that need protection from animals and provide a living for themselves. Working for safari companies provides income to increase educational opportunities for their children. Who are we to take away their land and their livelihoods like that?
Words and pictures cannot capture the experience I was blessed with, but I hope it will help you take a moment to think about the world from a different perspective. Maybe someday, you will get the chance to go and see the Kenya that changed my views. It is well worth it and hopefully will change your life like it changed mine.
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