Friday, May 24, 2013

SEA-AMS-NBO on Sunday

On Sunday afternoon we board our plane to Amsterdam, with a connecting flight to Nairobi. We'll spend a day in the city and then head out to four national parks for our 16-day safari.

Kenya wasn't on my bucket list, and my husband Art didn't want to go to Africa at all. He said it was too dangerous. But we had houseguests last summer - Ed and Jeri - who said their two trips there had been life-changing experiences for them. They were very enthusiastic! At their suggestion, we contacted a friend of theirs - Tom - who has made over a dozen trips to Kenya in the last couple of decades. Then, at Tom's suggestion, we contacted an outfitter in Nairobi - George - who'd provided fabulous experiences for Ed and Jeri and Tom. We've been emailing Tom and George for five months now, and George has crafted an itinerary just for us. We tried to find one to four other people to travel with us - for the company and for the lower cost of more people sharing a driver/guide - but had no takers, so it will be just Art and me. George's company provides airport-to-airport service, so we'll be in good hands during our time there.

We told George we'd like to see the animals, of course, but also that we'd like to meet the people and learn about the history and culture of Kenya. Our goal? To make personal connections and, on our return, to feel like we've really experienced the places we've been. That's always what we look for when we travel - whether in another country (as Ecuador last year) or other parts of our own country (as in Kentucky and Tennessee, also last year). Tom said, "If you make a connection with your driver, he will open up a whole new world for you."

In 15 nights, we'll be staying at seven places:
Two nights at the Nairobi Serena hotel
One night at The Ark, in Aberdare National Park
Three nights at Samburu Intrepids Club, in Samburu National Reserve
Two nights at Sweetwaters Tented Camp in Ol Pejeta Sanctuary in Nanyuki
Two nights at Flamingo Hill Camp in Lake Nakuru National Park
One night at Kembu Cottages in the Njoro area.
Four nights at Kichwa Tembo Camp in The Masai Mara. One of these nights may be spent, instead, in a village nearby. At present the village is being moved to find fresh grazing for the cattle, so the huts may not be built in time to accommodate us, but we are planning on spending an evening in the new location.

We'll be in Kenya from May 27 to June 11, and high season starts June 15, so we should avoid both the crowds and high season costs, but we'll miss the Great Migration. George says that on a game drive, we may be the only vehicle watching, say, a group of elephants or lions, rather than one of 20 vehicles. That's fine with us.

On the two in-country flights, we have a 33-pound weight limit, so we're packing light. I understand we'll be able to have laundry done every few days. 

We're taking along a few items to give as gifts: writing tablets and pencils, colored markers, and balloons. I'd hoped to collect a few used knitting needles and sent out a request on Freecycle, but didn't hear from anyone. I thought about stickers for the kids, but haven't had the chance to buy them yet - so maybe or maybe not. And Tootsie Rolls, if Art has a chance to get to the store. Plus one Obama t-shirt from his 2008 election campaign. Someone in Kenya may love it.

Temperatures should be in the mid-70s during the day and in the 50s at night. We'll be at the equator, but at 7000 feet the temperatures are cooler.

This is the most expensive trip we have taken. We considered it carefully because the cost exceeds our annual travel budget. But we decided if not now, when? We'll never be younger, and we'll never have more money. The Bag Lady is actually okay with this. She wants to see some elephants and giraffes in their natural habitat.

I am taking my laptop and expect to blog a few times. George has lent me his modem so I can access wifi where it's available. Art has a new camera with a fabulous telephoto lens. If all goes well, there will be a few photos included in the blog.

I am a little edgy. It will take 20 hours for us to get to Nairobi, and 23 hours to get back. Nairobi is 10 hours ahead of Seattle time. I'm not keen on jet lag or loss of sleep while traveling. 

Still. This will be a memorable trip. I'm so grateful we can do it.


turquoisemoon said...

This is exciting! Will look forward to your posts!!!

Teresa Evangeline said...

This sounds absolutely wonderful, beyond imagining. I have always wanted to go to Africa, Kenya specifically. I had great aunts who were missionaries there back in the 30's... Those tent camps sound so fun... have a great time, tell us all about it...with pics.:)

Olga said...

I am very excited for you. I would love a trip to Africa. My husband would never, ever agree to it. Someday I will just go by myself.

Out on the prairie said...

Very nice to experience , i will look forward to hearing more.I have had a number of friends go there.

Tom said...

Sounds fantastic. Hope you post lots of pictures!

Meryl Baer said...

What a trip of a lifetime. Enjoy every minute, take lots of pictures and looking forward to your blog posts.

DJan said...

Wow! It's here already, Linda! I look forward to hearing about your wonderful adventures. I would take melatonin to help with jet lag, but it doesn't work for everybody. So exciting!! :-)

Betty said...

Sounds wonderful. I can't wait to see your photos!

Ms Sparrow said...

What a dream trip! It sounds just wonderful.

Linda Reeder said...

You are so adventurous! I know you will have an amazing time and achieve your goals. You know how to make opportunities work for you.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so glad you are letting us tag along. I would love to see Africa. How nice that you have friends who can help you with the planning. That has to be so helpful.

Perpetua said...

That sounds like the trip of a lifetime, Linda. Have a marvellous time and take lots of pictures to share with us unlucky ones left behind. Safe travelling.

Sally Wessely said...

By now you are in the air and on your way to a trip of a lifetime. I hope your time is marvelous. I've always wanted to go to Africa.

Deb Shucka said...

Wishing you the best adventure of your lifetime. I love how carefully you plan everything, and how fully you immerse yourself in whatever you're doing. Since Walt and I are planning our own African adventure for a year from now, I'll be watching for your stories with even stronger interest than before. Have fun!

Chris Loehmer Kincaid said...

Oh, how I wish I had read your blog before this afternoon. I just got back from Kenya last Sunday night and am still getting caught up on things.

I was in Kenya doing volunteer work, so didn't get to go on any safaris this time. I can't wait to hear all about your time there.

I also wish I had known about the knitting needles. My mom has a case of them in all sizes and styles, which she has been trying to get rid of.

I will be keeping track of your posts from now on. Hopefully this week I will start posting about my latest adventures in Africa.

Grandmother Mary said...

Wow! Have a great time, soak it all up and just enjoy the experience!

AiringMyLaundry said...

That sounds amazing. I hope you have a wonderful time!