So back when we were on the other side of the globe, we decided we needed to go on a safari. After all, how many people get to see African animals in Africa. I mean, seriously. This seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity.
We researched a handful of safaris, but really wanted to go to Kenya and explore a bit, so we decided to do a safari on the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya. And since we took so many pictures during our time there, I'm going to break this post into a few blogs, rather than overwhelming our highly neglected blog with thousands of pictures.
We had very little time to spend in Kenya, so we decided to do overnight busses. I would highly recommend doing this if any of you are making a trip from Uganda to Kenya. Although you do not get a ton of sleep on the bus, I would much rather spend a night on a bus than a day. We had to walk across the border (of course) and had to take a quick picture at the Welcome to Uganda sign. We didn't take anything like that at the airport.
When we got to the bus station (around 4 or 5 in the morning), our safari guide came to pick us up and take us out. We stopped at the Great Rift Valley, which is basically a big rift that runs from Jordan to Mozambique. It is basically Kenya's version of the Great Valley from the Land Before Time. In the Great Rift Valley you can find the "Big 5" - which are the big mammals that are most difficult to hunt on foot (which I didn't know until I read the Wikipedia article). It is the African elephant, leopard, African lion, rhinoceros, and cape buffalo. We got to see all of these animals on our safari. :)
We stopped by the Mai Mahiu Catholic church that was built during World War II by Italian prisioners of war. It was tiny. Seriously tiny. It would only fit a handful of worshipers inside (like 10-20 max). But the outside was absolutely gorgeous. The details were intricate, and the grounds were really well kept. I loved the windows, since they were pieced together from old glass bottles.
Something else that was great about this church was that it gave us a chance to walk around. We had been in a bus/car for so long that we were dying to explore a little bit.
The grounds were really small (just like the church) but we took advantage of the delicious Kenyan weather and soaked up a bit of sun.
And then we kept driving to the reserve.
As we are approaching the reserve, we see this.
Seriously one of the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Both Caitlin and I have been in love with giraffes since we were little. I think Caitlin nearly peed her pants. She was jumping up and down in her seat. And this guy was just standing there, like a sentinel at the gates to our safari. He just stared us down for a while, hardly moving. We thought he may have been a statue at first since he wasn't moving, but he was 100% real. The grace and elegance of giraffes never wore off during our time in Kenya.
After seeing this beauty, we kept going toward our campsite. Oh yeah, did I mention that we were camping? It was so cool. We had a great campground with beds in our tents and hot water. Real hot water. What a luxury. But before we got there, we had to deal with a flat tire.
Dang. Totally sucks, right?
We were in Kenya. Nothing could ruin this trip for us.
So we just got out and watched our driver change our tire. It was pretty impressive since he didn't have a car jack. He just rolled it up onto a rock and did a quick change (less than 10 minutes). And we had a Maasai guy come up and try and chat with us, although he didn't speak any English, so we just watched our driver do his fascinating tire change.
Once we got to our campsite, we had some tea and relaxed for a few minutes before heading out into the savanna. As Caitlin and I were walking to get some tea, we heard a rustling in the distance and looked over to see some baboons digging through the trash pile from the campsite. How crazy, right? The people at the campsite urged us to keep our tents closed and zipped all the way since the monkeys (baboons) will get inside and trash the place. Why are monkeys so insane? After our incident in Nicaragua and hearing about these baboons, I can't say that I trust those little devils.
As soon as we left our camp we started to encounter a ton of animals. Literally right outside of our camp. There were a tons of baboons, and then we spotted zebras, gazelle, impala, etc. So many animals. We were going insane with pictures.
But how could we not go crazy with pictures? We were seeing these animals in. the. wild.
We compared so much of our experience to the Lion King. We sang/hummed/whistled Lion King songs for the entirety of the trip. But we really couldn't help ourselves. When you see a wildebeest stampede, or a family of warthogs, it brings back all the Lion King childhood memories within you.
Our guide was great and would tell us the names of all the animals (most of which I've forgotten). He was also able to spot animals that were hiding in the bush that we could barely see. I don't know how he could do that while keeping his eyes on the road. He also went at our pace so we could spend as much time as we wanted taking pictures with animals or just gawking at them.
And of course, our group was amazing. We had so much fun together. Since there were seven of us, we were able to have our own private transportation. And the top of our van popped up. I loved it. It felt like we were cruising around in pimped out minivan.
Some things about our safari seemed like a dream. Exactly like you picture it in your head. The trees for example. We couldn't get over the fact that they were African trees. Of course, we had been in Africa nearly 2 months by the time we went on our safari, but they were different. Solo trees with a handful of animals basking in their shade. Definitely dreamlike. I'm sure I'll continue to rant about some of these things in future posts, but for now I just wanted to mention how much of a dream everything felt like, and I'm sure anyone who has had a similar experience can attest to that. Stay tuned for Part 2.