View Full Version : Kenya pt 2

25-08-2010, 02:08 PM
August 11th

Woke at 8 am with an alarm as today we were meeting Shadrack , the man who I had been emailing about our Safari, he was due to meet us outside the hotel grounds at 10 am sharp ,as he wasn't allowed in the hotel grounds. Just to go over our itinerary and answer any questions. After a lovely buffet breakfast we headed over to the gate and saw the flag of Hawaii hanging in the lobby, so clearly we had 'docked' there overnight , Thomas was very impressed that I could recognise the flag at all. Something he didn't know , which is becoming a rarity.

At the gate there was another couple meeting another company and the lady was very anxious about the whole experience , she was relieved that I had heard of them and I tried to reassure her that this was perfectly normal.

Shadrack turned up on the dot and drove us 2 minutes up the road to another hotel , it became very obvious why this was the case as the hotel was obviously part of the chain of lodges we were staying in, whereas our hotel had different ones, so clearly this chap hadn't been declined admission as he was unsavoury, it was purely about business' not letting in the competition.

He was a lovely chap who took time to talk to the kids and explained everything, it sounds just magical at this point and I am almost faint with anticipation. 'you should see pretty much everything' he said. 'except perhaps Rhino and Hippo' they are rare now and the drought has driven them away or killed them. But we will try.

he turns to the kids,

'my friend Patrick your driver will try very hard to find your special animals for you..Matthew what is your favourite animal.

He waits pen poised......

Matthews face contorts into a deeply furrowed raisin of concentration.

Time passes .....Frodo waits

'Gerbils' Matthew concludes.

Shadrack can't oblige on that front so he plumps for a Leopard and Thomas goes for Lions

'Easy' the man says.... A thought that blows my mind
He stops outside the hotel to point out a young Baobab tree and is happy to wait whilst Thomas runs up and gives it a hug , he has put this down as one of his things he most wants to see in Africa.
Back at the hotel a couple of minutes later and we pass a small garden at the front of the hotel, it is absolutely covered in little straw nests, they almost looked placed by human hand, but once your eyes become adjusted you can easily see 20-30 Golden weavers dancing about, many of them weaving fresh nests from the palm leaves, all this about 6 ft away. Just as we start to move off a blue flash catches my eye as a kingfisher leaps from the tree and grabs a fish from the pond. He then sits perfectly on a branch and repeats the act 3-4times, aaargh, the things you see when you haven't got your camera.

Even though it's only 9 am the sun is high in the sky ( dawn on the equator really is as quick as that Lion King opening, really, it is) and is blisteringly hot and strong, so we decide to go and get ready for a swim to cool off. I don't really feel like swimming so it's left to Lisa to 'suit up ' , we are both pretty self conscious about things like this, so Lisa uses her sarong a lot, I dub it her 'cloak of invisibility'

The rest if the day is spent swimming and eating , interspersed with dashes to the pond to try and take pictures of the weavers and the now absent kingfisher. Managed about 3-4 other species though.

As I was sat by the side of the pond, patiently awaiting the little blue bird, 2 besuited Kenyan businessmen came out of the lobby behind me, they were talking to each other in rapid Swahili, one of them glances in my direction and starts laughing and pointing, well to be honest I do look like a sad geek and I do have a ridiculously long lens for taking pictures around a hotel.

They both proceed to put up their thumbs and say, again amongst a tirade of Swahili, Angry Birds!!! , for I was indeed wearing that particular t shirt today.

Bizarre yet strangely unifying.

I returned the thumbs up and a nod of understanding.

Time to pop and get donuts again, so Lisa goes off to get the pastries whilst I get the drinks and man the table

She comes back frowning

'well that's just daft' , she says these were miles away from the maple syrup

We all take one of the deep fried brown balls soaked in maple syrup and pop them into our mouths

They were cheese balls

Mystery of the proximity to the syrup solved.

Not much else to report today, swimming reading and for once relaxing. Cloudy tonight and very windy but warm. Monkey came and took a banana off the balcony, can't see that getting dull.

Will write more if anything else happens.

August 12 th

Down came the rain.... A proper tropical rainstorm with the wind blowing a hooley. Dull grey skies all day and only a brief let up later on in the day.

Unpeturbed after a lazy breakfast and some reading in the room Matthew has decided to go to Haller park today, this is a small animal reserve about 15 minutes drive away from the hotel, the hotel provided one of their taxis to take us for a nominal fee, again the drive showed us what lay beyond the walls of the hotel, half a mile away a veritable shanty town of stalls selling gifts and produce for the tourists , interspersed with bizarre western signs for coke and cadburys chocolate. I have never been to a colonial country before, all the road signs and adverts are in English and they drive in the correct side of the road ( largely) although in practical terms this means any part of the road that isn't occupied by another vehicle, a bike, someone carrying something astonishing on their head or goats.
safe passage is however achieved by liberal use of the small parp of a horn which apparently temporarily renders your vehicle immune to collision.

We arrive at Haller park, which is a disused cement quarry converted into a forest 40 years ago by a Dutch worker at the plant, he planted acacias and every other tree arrived in the poop of flying foxes and birds to create an amazing oasis in such a short time. Most impressive as we arrive are the dozen or so giant tortoises which are free roaming around the grounds, as the grass is wet they make a squeaky noise as they move along, astonishing creatures the oldest of which is 170 years old and they can apparently make it to 300

A school load of kids is just leaving the giraffe enclosure as we arrive , so we go along and look at these stunning animals at eye level and walk back a little disappointed as we have missed the feeding by a good hour. The taxi driver, who is still wandering about with us sees Matthew is disappointed and wanders off to chat with one of the keepers and they both come back smiling with a large bucket of giraffe food, and we go back, just the 6 of us to feed the animals all alone, this wasn't a publicity stunt or a rouse to get a tip, it was typical of everything about the country and the people, there was no hint of the western obsession with timekeeping , they were spectacularly helpful and happy always to oblige any reasonable request, the taxi chap was quite happy just to wait for us as long as we wanted to look around.

We then went to have a tour around the the park proper and we were taken by our guide Edward, who told us about the parks history and the animals therein, not a huge amount, mainly crocs and reptiles, a few gazelle and a fish farm, the croc eggs were sent when laid to a company that used them as meat and leather, whilst that may offend western sensibilities, people have to eat and clothe themselves and I got the distinct impression none of this was aimed at 'high end goods'. We did learn that crocs don't have tongues and can go 3 months without eating.

There were a few baobab trees around as well, they can live 1000 years and become hollow as they grow to their huge size, this saves them from being cut down for their wood, they also, unlike many other African trees lose their leaves once a year , but they do this in the summer to avoid the drying effects of the sun.

Whilst failing to see the hippo in the lake my eye was drawn to a black and white flash hovering over the water, I sat for about 5 minutes watching this amazing little kingfisher hovering like a kestrel and then diving and coming up for fish. Aaargh if only it wasn't dark and raining I would have got some truly awesome shots that day , the guide was clearly bemused as to why I was more interested in something as mundane to him as a kingfisher, he finished the tour and left us after about an hour by the bar, we sat at the bar, which like most buildings was wooden and roofed in palm leaves and had some pop , after a few minutes the barman said, 'have you seen my bats?' The roof was totally covered in brown bodies all trying to get some Kip before dusk, all wild , all astonishing

We made our first small purchases in the shop , got to love genuine african made stuff, all beautiful and amazing colours and the taxi took us ' home' on the way saw a massive crane type thing flying around, no idea what it was but is was ginormous.

Unpeturbed by the continuing rain the boys wanted to swim so we went out to the pool and the rain was starting to ease, they pretty much had the pool to themselves so Lisa and I had a cup of tea and watched a wedding taking place in the nearby pavillion, a weird fusion of western weddings with the bride in a long white dress and tribally dressed locals playing music and dancing wildly to a thick African beat, after 20 minutes of ululation's the ceremony was apparently complete and the happy couple got a cheer and a round of applause , even from those in the nearby swimming pool.

I nearly dissolve into raptures when a sunbird comes and perches about 4 ft from my head, these tiny delicate little gems are the old world equivalent of hummingbirds, long delicate beaks for drinking nectar, aaaaaargh I have no camera, but.... I now where he is now and I will plan to find him again, as well as that blue kingfisher out the front who seems to have cleared off again. ( I don't though despite many attempts)

I am in twitcher heaven here.

Tonight the good ship voyager is 'at sea' so the food is..... Barbecue chicken steaks and hamburgers, and not fish as Thomas rather sensibly suggested.

Off to bed to see what tomorrow brings

August 13 th

Genuinely very little happened today, this is a rest day ahead of our safari so we are all getting excited. Got up late and ate, rain came down in the morning so we just lounged about in the room, ate again and the afternoon brought the sun so we went and swam in the pool ,

Went to go back to the room and Matthew spies a volleyball by the side of the pool, desperate to copy the boys he has seen earlier he stands on the edge of the pool throws it high, swings, misses and falls in the pool in his shoes and tshirt. Much hilarity and applause from all those around.

Early tea and early to bed as we have to be up and about at 6.30 for the safari, boys gutted as this will mean missing the fortnightly Lion King show which will finish at about midnight, we listen from the room, boys again sad and drift off into a fitful and restless night having packed and got ready.......

25-08-2010, 02:50 PM
Oooh, lovely. :yes:

The taxi driver, who is still wandering about with us sees Matthew is disappointed and wanders off to chat with one of the keepers and they both come back smiling with a large bucket of giraffe food, and we go back, just the 6 of us to feed the animals all alone,

How marvellous. :thumbsup:

25-08-2010, 03:33 PM
Fab. Loving the bats at the bar!

25-08-2010, 04:13 PM
Am I correct in assuming that pictures will be posted later or can I just not see them on this computer (work)?

25-08-2010, 04:24 PM
safe passage is however achieved by liberal use of the small parp of a horn which apparently temporarily renders your vehicle immune to collision.

:lol: You really need to publish this report... Memoirs of an African Holiday...

WHAT on earth are Lisa or you worried about with regard to wearing swimsuits?! :eek: You are both lovely people and shouldn't be concerned one bit! Sheesh!

Love the vibe you are creating. Almost like Achebe in "Things Fall Apart" where he uses words to convey the sound of the drums... you've caught that tone here.

One question though, and yes it's early on in the report but... will your children ever be happy with WDW again? With AK? :unsure:

25-08-2010, 05:16 PM
John photos are uploading :yes: I will put them in the photography group

Tink, I'm sure we will go back to Disney but much as I utterly love WDW, I can't really get across how utterly overwhelming it all was to all the senses, it was all Real with a capital R. Disney is many things to me but it isn't real. The kids were utterly blown away

25-08-2010, 10:32 PM
Just so cool! These are those moments that you, Lisa, and the boys will always remember.

26-08-2010, 11:39 AM
Yes, Doc. That's it in a nutshell. Disney isn't real by any means. It's nice to know that they get a bit of realism involved (in AK to be specific) but I fully recognize that it doesn't compare (nor should it).

The boys will know that Disney is fantasy, but that there are incredible places on this earth that are not fantasy. It's a wonderful gift you are giving them... taking them to places other than Disney.

Disney, regardless of the corporate name ;) is not the "World."