The latest tragedy in Kenya (142 students were killed in April) reminded me once again how ignorant western countries are, when tragedies happen in far away countries. As Islamist terror killed 17 people in France in January this year all my friends were talking about it, for days and weeks, but nobody really mentioned the tragedy in Kenya. Some didn’t even know. I remember the march of the most influential politicians in France… Why don’t they do the same for the victims in Kenya? With these thoughts I felt the urge to finally write a post about my visit to Kenya where I went on a 4 days safari, in the Lands of Infinity.
I was in Kenya back in 2013. My main purpose for visiting this country was a safari tour. After watching the big cats in wildlife documentaries for years, I wanted to see them in real. No, not in a zoo! I wanted to see them in their natural environment. And it was kind of a birthday present for my husband, the shutterbug.
I decided for Kenya as it is a perfect destination to combine a safari tour with a beach holiday easily in East Africa. The drive from Ukunda – Diani Beach, Mombasa, to the first national park we visited, Tsavo West, was about 6 hours. Also, Maasai Mara, the Kenyan part of Serengeti, is about 4 hours drive from Nairobi. From Mombasa you can fly to Nairobi and then drive to the national park or book a fly-in safari, which I’m going to do next time.
PLUS… a very important fact why I chose Kenya is that in Kenya, trophy hunting has been banned since 1977 whereas in Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe hunting is still a big business actively encouraged by the governments.
Well, it very much depends on the type of safari and accommodation you choose. You can book a safari tour with a mini bus with 8-10 people or with a 4×4 jeep with max. 4 people. The length of the safari is also playing a big role.
In terms of hotels, well… do you want to stay in an 5 star all inclusive beach resort or in a cozy family run cottage? You can book everything as a whole package or each element (flight, hotel, safari, etc.) separately.
We booked everything via D.M. Tours online and couldn’t be happier with their service. D.M. Tours is an operator founded in 1997 by Denis Moser. The booking was very easy and they even sent some useful information about the country, national parks, etc. What I especially like about D.M. Tours is that they employ locals. The guides, office workers, mechanics, they are all locals trained by D.M. Tours, which is one of the best ways to support sustainable travel and tourism.
They only operate tours with 4×4 jeeps with 4 guests max. which was an important criteria for us as a) we didn’t want to be packed like sardines in a bus with 10 others and b) we wanted to have the flexibility of staying a bit longer in a spot if needed. Once you made it to a safari, you want to enjoy it, right? Even if it means paying a bit more.
We booked a 4 days tour in 3 national parks with overnight stay in lodges. The entry fees per national park were included. Our guide Joseph was an excellent guide, who had eyes of an eagle and spotted the animals before other guides did so that most of the times we had our short private sessions till the others arrived.
Tsavo West National Park
Early in the morning, Joseph picked us up in our hotel in Diani Beach together with the other couple. After a 6 hours drive we arrived in Tsavo West around noon. For the first time I was in an African national park. It was endless. It was huge (7,065 km2). It was full of life. Right after driving through the gate I knew it would be an unforgettable experience. Indeed, it was far beyond my expectations. Every single creature and scene strengthened my bond even more to mother nature of planet earth.
I learned that Elephants typically give birth to one calf at one time, that twin elephants are a very rare thing, that the female elephants adopt calves, when a mother elephant is hurt or dies. I saw an elephant with two calves. Twins or adopted? Either way super cute and adorable. Don’t you think? Elephants are such socially intelligent animals which make you question your behaviour as human being. As you can see I’m fascinated by these animals.
I realised that giraffes can STARE A LOT. Till you are not in their sight anymore. Look at him. He stared at me for like half an hour…
In Tsavo West, we stayed at Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge. I definitely recommend it. The view is unbeatable. From the room (picture below), from the restaurant, no matter in which part of the lodge you are, you always have this amazing view which reminds you that you are in the lands of infinity.
The water holes near by are a popular meeting point of all sorts of animals. One could spend hours here by observing the herds coming and going. It is amazing in what kind of harmony the animals live together and share resources peacefully. Humans have a lot to learn from these beings.
Such funny animals these ostriches.
Amboseli National Park
After the early morning drive in Tsavo West we head to Amboseli. Amboseli was like one big happy animal kingdom. The elephants were smiling. Not kidding. Just see the picture below and decide for yourself.
On the very early drive we could see the snowy top of Kilimanjaro, before it was hidden by the clouds. It is majestic.
A safari without zebra crossing is no real safari 🙂
Amboseli National Park is a very rich one so that we could see all sorts of animals, except rhino (only a few left) and leopard (masters of camouflage).
Here we saw a lion pack of 8 with a little cub (Simba). So cute 🙂
Kenyan national parks are also very rich for bird watchers.
Ooo.. The hippo… These little ears on this huge body.
This curious jackal and the huge ears on this small body 🙂
This lioness probably was protecting her cubs away from the other lions.
Then there was this one group of tourists who left the allowed trek and drove the jeep towards her to get closer and they put her and her cubs hidden in the bushes in danger. Such IDIOTS. And such horrible safari tour operators whose drivers accept doing it for money. We complained at the gate by the rangers and reported the jeep number so that at least the operator gets warned off. Do the same if you see such irresponsible behavior in the national parks. If you are one of these tourists, then do this planet a favour and stay home for ever. And stop reading this blog.
There was one special crossing spot for elephants in Amboseli. Every morning they walk from east to west all across the national park and in the evenings they go back to spend the night under the trees. Joseph drove us to this spot before sunset to catch the daily migration of the elephants. There were hundreds of elephants going back “home” from “hunting” grass all day. It was spectacular and so peaceful.
One thing which I will definitely not forget about Amboseli is this very special color red meeting the blue sky in the horizon.
We stayed at Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge and it was just as good as Kilaguna in Tsavo West.
Tsavo East National Park
Early in the morning after breakfast we left the lodge and head to Tsavo East. It is rather similar to Tsavo West with its dry and yellowish colours.
Also here the animals kept staring at us 🙂
We had the chance to see a cheetah walking alone looking for food. Such an elegance.
Ooo… this new born baby elephant. Joseph guessed it as 2 weeks old. It was adorable, how curious and anxious at the same time it was and how the mother was trying hard to protect it from getting lost. Elephants are such lovely animals.
We stayed at Ashnil Aruba Lodge, which is the only lodge in Tsavo East. It was okish. I guess we were bit spoiled by the previous two. Next time I would go for another accommodation like one of these tented camps.
One plus point for Ashnil is that the backyard was more or less in the middle of the green fields where the elephants and all other herbivores came to eat. It was only one hence separating us from them. Pretty cool ha…
The sunsets I’ve seen here in the national parks were the best of my life till now.
Do yo see the eagle landing on the tree? Such a timing.
Do you see the giraffe being part of this romantic moment.
Mombasa – Diana Beach
Early in the morning we had our last drive in the national park and drove back to Mombasa, Diani Beach where we spend some more days in a nice hotel to enjoy the Indian Sea and the finest sand.
There was no single moment I was bored thanks to all the monkeys around.
These little fellows, black and white colobus showed up pretty rarely and it was the highlight everytime I could see one.
The baboons and the small ones with tiny heads were almost everywhere in the area. The small ones visited our balcony regularly. Really cute animals, especially when they carry their babies around.
The baboons were good at checking inside the bags by scaring the people off, while the small ones (you probably realised I do not know how they’re really called, sorry) were skilled at stealing your food from your plate in about a second or have a sip from your cocktail.
Please don’t be a silly tourist and don’t leave your food or drinks around. Human food & drinks are no good for them, so stop feeding them with it. Don’t worry, they’ll find enough food in the forests near by.
We were also snorkeling. The spot the operator took us was not the best one I suppose as we didn’t see so many fish (or maybe we’re spoiled by the Caribbean waters). But we have seen a lot of zebra fish (that’s what the guide called them).
Before I finish this blog post I have to write some words about the poverty and the odd feeling I had during my stay. I kept thinking about how unfair it was that the hotels and lodges had big swimming pools and “all you can eat buffets” while in most parts of Kenya the people have no access to clean water or food.
By poverty I don’t mean the lifestyle of the Kenyan tribes like the Maasai. On the contrary, I even admire them for continuing living their semi-nomadic lifestyle despite all the global change. By the way, Oxfam has claimed that the lifestyle of the Maasai should be embraced as a response to climate change because of their ability to farm in deserts and scrublands.
With poverty I mean for example the children living in waste dumps. I felt like I’ve seen the poorest of the poor. It’s hard to find the right words and actually I don’t need to say more. I only know that these children should have the same chances like any others in this world. And therefore I embrace help projects like Furaha Phoenix Children House.
There is a lot more to write about my Kenya visit like the yummy food, the cheerful cook preparing chapati (flatbread) and the couple of words I learned in Swahili language.
- Hello: Habari (also Jambo)
- Good bye: Baadaye
- Thanks: Asante sana
- Your welcome: Karibu
- Slowly: Pole pole
- Good night: Lala salama
- No problem: Hakuna matata (you probably heard it in the movie Lion King)
“Hakuna matata” is not only a couple of words, it is a way of thinking. As long as you’re healthy there are no other problems. So, hakuna matte my friends.
For more insights I recommend Lonely Planet's Travel Guide for Kenya. For price worthy accommodation check Booking.com or Agoda.com. Don't forget to check my Pack List for useful travel items.
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