THE KENYA DIARY
by Lucy Williams
I was last in Kenya 10 years ago, travelling around before working as volunteer teacher in Uganda for 4 months. East Africa is one of those places that really gets under your skin and as soon as I left all those years ago, I vowed to come straight back… So after a decade of absence, I was beyond excited to be touching down in Nairobi once again.
Our first stop was the dry, arid area of Samburu, an hour’s flight from Nairobi. We stayed at the incredible Sasaab lodge that has beautiful tented rooms with pools overlooking the endless horizon and valley below. It feels almost Moroccan in its decor and instantly makes you relax as soon as you walk through the door.
We’d get up at sunrise each morning before piling into our 4X4 and going off on our first safari of the day. Fiercely hot and dry, it’s amazing how much life there is in Samburu. Within our first few hours there, we’d seen lions and cheetahs and no end of giraffes, antelope and wart hogs.
Half way through the morning, our guides with find a quiet spot and cook up pancakes, bacon and eggs on a portable stove in the land cruiser as the sun started to warm us up. The camp itself also has two semi-tame resident Dikdiks (a tiny breed of antelope) who occasionally pop round for cabbage-feeding sessions.
By night, we’d ride camels (or quad bikes) to a spot for sundowners with the view of all views, or one evening we spontaneously heard there was a leopard hunting nearby and raced off to try and spot it in the dark. One evening, Sasaab set up dinner in the middle of bush, lighting up the dry riverbed with candles, hurricane lamps and a campfire for an evening that looked like it had stepped straight out of Out of Africa. Definitely a dinner to remember for ever.
After an incredible few days in Samburu, it was time to head down to the Masai Mara. As we touched down onto the runway, herds of zebra and the odd elephant scattered below us and the whole landscape felt so much greener and wider than Samburu. The Mara is the ultimate destination in terms of safari so we were really excited to spend a few days out there in the midst of the savannah.
And if there’s anything more soothing for the soul than a game drive at dawn or dusk, I’ve yet to find it… Our next stop was Sala’s Camp, a tented lodge with views over the Sand River and the Serengeti and its very own pride of lions named after it to boot.
On our way from the airport to Sala’s, our 4×4 broke down right opposite a family of sunbathing hippos. Our guides were the embodiment of calm and smiles whereas we were all slightly freaking out and high on adrenalin in the back. A great baptism of fire into safari life!
We were so spoilt over our next few days in the Mara as our brilliant guides managed to show us lion cubs eating a zebra and playing together, a leopard in a tree, cheetahs dosing in the shade and even got a glimpse of a rhino and her baby at one point which was so special. The days were boiling hot so we’d lounge around in the pool until our afternoon game drive before gin & tonics by the fire before dinner.
We ended our time in Kenya at a real bucket list spot just outside Nairobi. Giraffe Manor plays home to a group of rare-breed rescue giraffes who poke their heads through the windows at breakfast and wolf down treats from your hand over afternoon tea.
We stopped off on our way to the airport and what better way to round-off our Kenyan trip than an up close and personal meet and greet with one of my favourite animals…