Hello again! I’m here in Kenya, in East Africa and am again, humbled! Every step of this journey shows me something new and teaches me more about people, the world, and our place in it.
Coming to Africa for a photographic Safari has always been a dream of mine…probably most of the people reading this have the same dream, so i am feeling very lucky and grateful….
Flying into Nairobi very late night, we were then up very early to catch a flight on Safari Air to the Amboseli National Park.
We were greeted at what I thought was the smallest airport ever.
Our beautiful Safari Guide, Julius, had prepared a table, draped in a typical Masai Shuka, with coffee, tea and lovely cookies. This was positioned just beside the Safari Truck that was destined to be a huge part of our lives for the coming days.
Julius said we would be enjoying a little safari on the way to the Tawi Lodge. A little safari turned out to be a mind blowing transit for this Safari virgin!!! We were with a beautiful french couple, Elisabeth and Pascal, and all of us were in awe.
Elephants arrived first and gave us a super close up! So massive and beautiful and completely unafraid of the truck and the humans inside.
Just a few observations about how our guide dealt with us and the animals…Julius is beyond passionate about the animals, the park and sharing his love of them with his guests. His enthusiasm is contagious but he goes forward in a very gentle manner. Scanning the horizon for animals, being very gentle as he passes by them and turning off the engine as we sat and observed. Conveying all the cool info about the animals in quiet tones so as not to disrupt the beauty of the situation. he was a blessing and as I’ve come to find out…a legend among guides!
Ok…next up, Black Faced Monkeys, Baboons and Wildebeest, aka Gnu!! Then came Grant Gazelles, Thompson Gazelles and Zebras!!!
After that the Giraffes decided to stop by and give us a show. Pumba made an appearance and then we arrived at the lodge….Holy Shizzle!!!!
Tawi Lodge is eco-friendly, beautiful, so thoughtful of their clients and, a generally fun place to be. Our hosts, Peter and Anita Gordon see to every detail with their amazing, friendly, warm and loving crew. Every single person we encountered knew our name and we quickly learned theirs as our paths crossed many times during the day. With smiles that lit up your day, you were offered chilled scented towels, an icy cocktail or a beautiful meal.
The food was beyond delicious and choices given to please every guest.
Night time began with cocktails around the fire pit that overlooks the water hole. A big gathering place for the animals, it’s almost surreal to sit with a gin and tonic and see Giraffes, Zebras, Pumba and a monkey or two frolicking just a few feet away.
Anita and Peter make sure everyone is introduced and strangers turn into good friends in a matter of minutes. I will assume that this is “Safari Lodge Lifestyle” and boy do I love it! I found out, in retrospect, that Tawi is very special and the top lodge in the area. With my limited Safari experience, I would advise all my friends to choose the lodges carefully!! Your hosts, guides and the lodge staff make or break the experience. Research and read reviews or…just take my advice and go to Tawi! 🙂
Days begin around 6:00 am with a wake up tray of coffee, tea and biscuits. Then it’s time to hit the road. First day out, we took a packed breakfast which we enjoyed mid-morning at Observation Hill.
Mount Kilimanjaro was more than accommodating and showed off all day!
We saw a parade of animals, new and previously seen but the absolute highlight of the day was the Lions in the early morning. We came upon 7 lionesses with 4 cubs. This was no accident because Julius knows every inch of that park and the favorite spots for all the animals. There were only a few trucks near the lions and it was quiet, amazing and so close. One lioness paced about 3 meters from our truck and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
We continued on till noon and returned to camp for another great lunch and a bit of relaxing before the afternoon Safari. I do want to mention that it is perfectly OK to opt out of a safari here and there and just enjoy the lodge, the pool or have a massage.
Each day brought more animals, spectacular vistas and fun camaraderie with our new friends, Elisabeth and Pascal and of course, the Uber-guide…Julius. there was always a little twist to make things more interesting and each day different from the last. One afternoon we went on the Safari and then up to a ridiculously scenic overlook of Mount Kilimanjaro for Sundowners.
Julius set a beautiful table with drinks and hot and cold nibbles. We all relaxed, reveled in the sightings of the day and felt very lucky and special!
Leaving Tawi was sad but I will go back to this beautiful place one day! One fun note…the only animal in Amboseli that we missed during out jaunts was the Cheetah. On the way to the airport, the very last day, a Cheetah showed up to wish us Bon Voyage!!! Mission accomplished!
We continued on to a different region called Masai Mara to have a new experience and see some other animals more common to that area. We were able to see the Black Rhino and Leopard which completed our sightings of the “Big 5″…Lion, Elephant, Water Buffalo, Cheetah and Leopard. Whoop-Whoop!!!
The Hippopotamus Pool was so surreal and the Crocodile massive and prehistoric looking!
He lies in wait at the Mara River crossing where the famous Wildebeest Migration passes. Like a crocodile buffet! We also saw Elephants, Giraffes, Pumba, Turtles, Dik -Dik and Topi in the Mara.
I’m not going to mention my accommodation in Masai Mara….Like my Mom used to say…If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!!! Just carefully vet your lodge and guide and you’ll do well!
I don’t have words to express how much I enjoyed seeing all of these animals in their natural habitats. I learned so much and came away with a love for my little slice of Africa, it’s natural beauty and wonderful people. This would be a top recommendation from my travels thus far….Let me know your thoughts, I’d love to hear other experiences, and advice about other areas to explore.
I’d like to give credit for several of the photos to my friend and Safari buddy, Pascal Pellerin!! The whole adventure wouldn’t have been the same without he and Elisabeth!! Merci!
Thanks for following along!