Africa had never really been on my list of places to go. When people would ask me if it was on my “list”, I’d say something like, “sure, someday, maybe”. Then, a few months after my husband, Chip, died, an opportunity arose; a last minute cancellation resulted in a seat on a photo tour being available at cost. I was feeling the need to do something completely different, so I jumped. I’ve never been to that part of the world, never been anywhere that required vaccinations, in fact. So I went. And, yes, it was completely different. For the first time ever, I missed a flight (didn’t set an alarm as I “never” need to. I woke up an hour before I needed to, closed my eyes for a bit......and woke up 4 hours later, at wheels up time. Fortunately, I had set things up to arrive several days early to get over jet lag, so aside from causing myself some panic for about 7 hours, it didn’t matter). Oh, yes, I got to see animals that I’d only seen in movies or pictures, on tv or in a zoo. From the 1st place I stayed, they were in a national park on the edge of Nairobi, sandwiched between an elevated railway & the high rises of the Nairobi skyline. At the next (main) palce, we had breakfast 15’ or less from a pride of lions. Twice. We stayed in a camp where guests were escorted by Masai warriors with spears any time we were outside so we wouldn’t get eaten.
Masai Warrior Escort
We stayed in a camp where hippos fought and mated for most nights in the river maybe 40’ below our tents. Where 7 lions occupied the car park for 2 1/2 hours while we were out looking for such animals (and saw maybe 4 or 5 of them that day). Their roars formed the bass notes of the nocturnal soundtrack while the hyenas and hippos punctuated the night with their howls and grunts. Where Cape buffalo and the resident bushbuck wandered through our camp, and baboons gathered at the river below. We spent our days on game drives, the first starting at 6:15am and lasting 6-9 hours, the second starting at 4:30pm and ending after dark, 2-3 hours later. On the long mornings, the camp staff drove out & brought us lunch. Our guide, Ping, could relate the lineage of the carnivores for 3 or 4 generations forward or back. We watched an adult male lion stalking a safari vehicle that carried a crying infant. Apparently, the parents thought that bringing an infant on a safari was a good idea. It certainly got the attention of the otherwise sleeping lions. We saw rangers & vets attending to a cheetah who had been mauled by one of his littermates, probably in rough play. A few days before, we saw them chase down & catch a warthog. We saw Masai on their communal lands within the Masai Mara herding their cattle, riding motorbikes, going about their lives. All this happening around us, but, confined to our seats in the LandCruiser, we were but tourists, observing from a distance.