Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Safari Side Trip

Oh Boy! I'm so excited I have to walk around with my legs crossed. Not easy, you try it. Why are you so excited Peter? I hear you ask. Well, in October Jacky and I are taking a little side trip from Dubai to Kenya on the way home from Britain. It's easy enough to do, and not outrageously expensive. Less than AU$700 return per person. So, if you're on the way to Europe, or on the way back from Europe with Emirates, why not zip across to Nairobi instead of staying in Dubai. There are lots of wonderful adventures to be had there. Even if you only have 5 days to spare you can reach the Masai Mara in half a day's drive or an hour's flight. Plenty of time for a really good safari, and there are so many options, from budget camping to the most amazing five star lodges you can possible imagine. Of course you'll be going there for the wildlife. Time it right and you'll see the massed herds of wildebeest and zebras that migrate there every year from the Serengeti. If you're really super duper fortunate you might even get to see them as they cross the Mara River. I warn you though, this is not for the faint hearted.

If you only have a couple of days to spare you could instead visit Lake Nakuru which is even closer to Nairobi. I love Lake Nakuru. It has loads of wildlife crammed into quite a small area. You can't help but see some of the best fauna that Kenya has to offer. It's very scenic too, steep sided hills rolling down to a soda lake more often than not teeming with flamingos and pelicans. Here too there is a wide variety of accommodation. It is very easy to combine the two, both the Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru. If you have five nights, spend three in the Mara and two at the Lake.

Jacky and I will be heading north to Samburu National Reserve. This is probably my favourite reserve in Kenya. It's scenically stunning, has four of the "Big Five" (Rhino's are absent due to poaching unfortunately.), and also has some unusual species of animal that are seen in very few other places. The gerenuk, the grevy's zebra and the vulturine guinea fowl to name three. But, what's making me even more excited is that we are having a private safari. Just the two of us and our driver guide. This means that we don't have to stick to a set itinerary and if we want to stick around to watch animals in a certain situation we can do so without upsetting other passengers who might get bored, or want to do something else. We're looking forward to five wonderful days of animal and bird observation - pure bliss. We'll be staying at the Sopa Serena Lodge - a good quality three star lodge with thirty rooms.

The only down side of a visit to Samburu is that it can take six hours to drive there on somewhat indifferent roads. It's a scenic drive however as the road threads between Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Mountains and there's always plenty of other things to see besides. If you don't like the sound of six hours on dodgy roads you can always fly or stop half way in one or both directions. I can thoroughly recommend a night at Sweetwaters Tented Camp near the town of Nanyuki or perhaps The Serena Mountain Lodge which is tucked under Mount Kenya itself. We'll be staying at The Serena on the way back to Nairobi where there's always the chance of interesting wildlife sightings at the waterhole. We can do all this and still be back in Nairobi in time to catch our Emirates flight back to Dubai without having to spend another night there. It's brilliant.

So next time you decide to fly to Europe with Emirates, consider a side trip to Kenya instead of spending so much time in Dubai flitting from one air-conditioned building to another to avoid the 45 degree heat, or in my case avoiding the shopping malls. 

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