My Great Kenya Adventure - Part 1

April 11, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

A Photo Safari on the African Continent has been on my bucket list for many years. A fellow photographer from Maine, Lauren DelVecchio, made it possible by arranging and coordinating this fantastic trip to Kenya. Lauren set this trip up through contacts she made on her trip in 2021. The Guide service was planned through Pereet Shaw - Cheka. The group consisted of 12 of us, photographers and spouse/significant other, except for a few of us singles and Lauren's son. We made hotel and airline reservations on our own.

I booked the trip on Delta Airlines and left Portland, Maine at 0600 on 13 March 2022. The trip to Nairobi took 20 hours, with layovers in Atlanta and Amsterdam. But land I did, at 2300 on Sunday, 14 March 2022. Pareet had arranged for a car service to meet us at the airport with a couple of cars. Eight of us arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on the same plane from Amsterdam. Most of us had planned for a down day before heading to the safari camp on Tuesday the 16th. The TradeMark Hotel in Nairobi was a great place to begin our adventure. The staff was very friendly and efficient. I know it sounds odd, but the hotel had the best shower of any hotel I have stayed at. What a pleasure after a long day of traveling.

Kenya Adventure - Day 1Kenya Adventure - Day 1Kenya Adventure - Day 1 To begin the adventure on the first full day in Kenya, we decided to visit the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi. David, and his drivers picked us up at the Trademark at 1300 and took us to the Giraffe Centre, about a 1 1/2 hour drive through Nairobi. They stayed with their vehicles while we explored the Centre, and were there for the ride home. What great service. The center is dedicated to preserving and protecting Giraffes. The admission fee includes one cup of feed for the Giraffes. The Giraffe Centre is the creation of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (A.F.E.W. Kenya), a Kenyan non-profit organization. Their main purpose is to educate Kenyan school children and youth on their country’s wildlife and environment, as well as give local and international visitors an opportunity to come into close contact with the world’s tallest species, the giraffe. 

We finished the day with a great meal at the Ankole Kitisuru in Nairobi. The food and service was top notch. Pareet met us for after dinner drinks to go over what would be happening the next day.
After a very pleasant first day in Nairobi, we were to get an early start the next morning. We met David and his drivers, with Pareet, at 0700 in the lobby to begin our journey to the Masai Mara. After an hour drive through Nairobi we arrived at Wilson Airport where we were to catch a small plane to an airstrip in the bush. Kenya Airways fly planes to many destinations within the country. This flight would only take us about 45 minutes. When we landed on the dirt airstrip, Musiara Airstripin the Mara, our Safari vehicles were waiting to take us to the Mara Olapa Camp. What a fantastic beginning! Not 10 minutes after leaving the airstrip we encountered a Bull Elephant, 10 more minutes and we saw the rump of a Hippopotamus in a small pool of water. Almost immediately after that we came across a small pride of Lions sleeping in the shade of some bushes, and some Thomson's and Grand Gazelles grazing. Before reaching Camp there was a flock of Ostriches. What a welcoming committee.

The manager of the camp, Eric, and his staff were there to introduce us to the camp and take us to our respective tents. This is Glamping at its finest. The tents are outfitted in very comfortable beds, and full bath rooms. The showers are very welcome after a hot, dusty day driving around the Masai Mara. The all inclusive Mara Olapa Camp served incredible meals, and packed a breakfast to be eaten in the field. The cooking staff turned out incredible food tailored to the guests taste.

The dining room staff, Clara and Mary, were excellent, friendly, efficient and catered to the guests. What a first class experience, even for a seasoned traveler. 

After a great lunch, and a short siesta, we left camp at 1600 for our first game drive. We headed for the Lions, passing a small herd of African Buffalo. When we reached the Lions, three males, they were sleeping in the shade of some bushes. We waited, hoping they would soon wake up. We did get some good photos as one after the other would raise their heads to look around, yawn, and lay back down. While we waited, we experienced our first storm on the savannah with high winds and torrential rains. As it was getting dark we called it a day and headed back to camp. On the way back we spotted a flock of Helmeted Guineafowl with several fighting. I had to boost the ISO to 12,500 to get enough light to photograph them, which really introduced too much noise for a good photo.

Back to camp and another wonderful meal. A fast shower and a few notes in my journal and I am ready for sleep. For me, it was very soothing to listen to the sounds of the night while falling asleep. We start the new day at 0545, starting out before first light.

We went on two game drives a day. The first early in the morning, before sunrise, and the next late in the afternoon until dark. Depending on what we were looking for on a particular drive, game could be seen within minutes of leaving the camp. 

I will be writing a continuation of this blog in the coming days. For those interested, I photographed 22 species of animals and 38 species of birds. The photos of my Great Kenyan Adventure can be seen at my SmugMug website by following this link: jimwalkerphotography.smugmug.com/Travel.../Kenya-/

 

Stay tuned for Part II of the Great Kenya Adventure....

 

Jim Walker PhotographyJim Walker Photography


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