Kenya & Tanzania Travel Tales by Emily, Absolute Africa Tour Leader

Thanks for visiting and I’m thrilled to share my travel tales as I take a fantastic group through Kenya and Tanzania on their Nairobi to Dar es Salaam adventure…..

27/07/18 -

Giraffe close up

Today we picked up some new people who are joining our trip in Nairobi. We first head to the Giraffe Sanctuary so that everybody can feed the giraffes, learn some cool facts and get slobbered on by the tall gentle giants themselves! This spot is great for a close up animal selfie of a giraffe licking your face! An hour or so here, then we make our way to Sheldricks Elephant Orphanage.

Sheldricks Blog baby elephant with bottle

This is such a lovely and heart warming experience that even I, as a Tour Leader coming here often, opt to do over and over again. The baby ellies are a delight to watch as they run around, playing in the mud and being hand fed by giant milk bottles. Each elephant has its own story and the loving staff talk you through each one until you feel you know them on a personal level. Afterwards, you have the opportunity to sponsor your chosen baby ellie and follow his or her path until release. Do not expect to come back clean though, they are extremely cheeky and love to splash about in the muddy puddles!

Sheldricks Blog keeper feeding baby elephant

Once back on the truck we made our way to Nakuru but not before stopping to get supplies for the next few days. John, our cook who only joins on this section of the trip, makes delicious food and tonight we will have mushroom soup followed by his delicious beef stew with rice. Once we made it to camp, we set up tents, unpacked bags and went over the following day’s activities. Tomorrow is the group’s first game drive and everybody is extremely excited! Early bedtime for us all as it is an early start. As I lay in bed, I can already hear the sound of hyenas laughing in the distance!

28/07/18 -

Up early this morning, Jon, and I made French toast complimented with chocolate spread, honey and fresh fruit. The group are all bustling around the campsite getting ready to set off for their game drive. The 4×4’s arrive at 6am and they head out. It’s definitely worth the early start as the cooler it is the more active the animals will be. Plus, early hours of the morning is prime hunting time so if you’re lucky you may get a glimpse of a chase!

Safari 4x4

The group will be out for a full days game viewing today so everybody took a packed lunch with them. There is a lovely place they stop for lunch in a nice hotel with a beautiful swimming pool, so everybody took their swimmers too. Myself, John and Robert our truck driver (yes, it is a truck, not a bus…5 pushup rule if you call him a ‘bus driver’!) stayed in camp today to catch up on truck maintenance, paperwork and dinner preparations.

Loading one of the trucks ready for travel.

The group came back from their safari full of it and absolutely buzzing! They saw 15 rhinos in total, both black and white and many close up encounters with giraffes, zebras, buffalos and flamingos.

Nakuru with rhinos

It has started to rain this evening and everybody has run for the showers. They are gorgeous here, open top with bamboo surrounding you and nearly always nice and hot. Tonight, we are having BBQ chicken with baked potatoes and salad and I’m sure another early night for all after a long day’s safari.

29/07/18 –

Today everybody had a nice lie in, we had breakfast at 07.30am of sausages, beans, eggs and toast. We left at 8am and headed for Naivasha. Usually on the way we would stop at a local school and take them supplies whilst we spend a few hours here playing with the kids. Unfortunately, due to all the rain yesterday and overnight it made the roads impossible to pass with the truck so we had to give it a miss this tine round. We stopped to grab lunches and supplies from a shopping mall and then an hour later we arrived at the edge of the hippo infested waters of Lake Naivasha at a camp called Marina.

Hippo in Lake Naivasha

It is a lovely campsite, with only a fence between your tents and the hippos! This is one of my favourite spots on this trip; there is so much to do.

After lunch, most of the group decided to take a walking safari with a great guide and friend of Absolute Africa, ‘Chris’. I have been many times on this excursion and always get up close and personal to giraffe, zebras, warthogs, and impalas and spot some fascinating birds and plants. Watch out for those buffalo though and even the leopard has been spotted lounging in the trees above you!

Naivasha Lake flamingos

Then you walk to the viewpoint of the Green Crater Lake, which is perfect for a snack and photo stop.

Crater lake

Afterwards you can visit Elsamere, the home of Elsa the Lion and learn of her life whilst visiting the gardens of the Adamson’s and hearing their story over afternoon tea.

Elsemere afternoon tea

It’s so gorgeous here, the house is right on the water edge and usually zebras graze on the lawns and black and white colobus monkeys swing above you. My group will visit here on their way back from their walk. It is a highly recommended afternoon. Some of the group decided to stay here at the campsite and catch up with sunbathing, reading and washing clothes. There is also a pool so a few are chilling out there. Tonight I usually do ‘Africa Night’ and John and myself will cook goat, chapatis, local greens and ugali (a local maize meal a bit like mash potato). Then we will show the group how to eat with one hand like a real Kenyan! Tonight I will tell everybody to watch out for those hippos, but enjoy listening to them from the comfort and safety of their sleeping bags.



30/07/18 –

This morning all 14 of my group headed out to cycle around Hells Gate National park. This is one of my favourite optional activities and I always get great feedback. It is the park that The Lion King is based on and you will see the reasoning for this if you go, it has stunning scenery.

Hells Gate cycling safari

The day is usually 8am until 1pm and includes a walk through the gorge that you see the stampede occur in the movie!

Hells Gate group

Two new clients joined the group at lunchtime and everybody bonded this afternoon on their Hippo cruise. This boat ride is a highlight of the area and one not to miss. Life jackets on and you jump into boats, camera and a beer in hand.

Navaisha lake cruise

You find great pools of hippos wallowing and get up close and personal. This isn’t just for hippo spotting, if you are a keen bird watcher, this is a great spot for it and if you are lucky you may even see the fish eagles catching fish that the boat men throw. It poured with rain half way out for my group, but it only made the hippos more active and the group returned very happy. Tonight, we had Tilapia from the lake, bought fresh at the market, homemade potato wedges, veggies and salad.  Everybody told stories to the new guys of their trip so far and then headed up to the bar to sit around the campfire and toast marshmallows over a few beers and new friendships were formed.

31/07/18 –

Today is an exciting day and I can feel the buzz in the campsite. We are heading to the Masai Mara! We had egg in the nest for breakfast with fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereal. Last night I decorated the truck as it is one of the guys birthdays today.  We set off driving, balloons blowing in the wind and birthday vibes all round and en-route spotted the many flower farms and beautiful scenery. We arrived in to a town called Narok at lunchtime and here I usually give the group a choice of shopping for lunch supplies or eating local food. Everybody chose local food, so we headed to the back of a butcher shop and all shared Nyama Choma (BBQ meat) Ugali, cabbage, chapatis and greens just like the locals. The people in the area are always happy to see us and love to show us their ways. Afterwards we bought meat from the butcher for the next few days dinner and then I ran off to find a cake for the birthday boy! The road into the Mara is what the locals call getting an ‘African massage’…it is very bumpy but worth it as you begin to see animals appear on the roadside.

Masai Mara safari lion beside the 4x4

We arrived into camp and there were 3 4×4 vehicles waiting for us, everybody jumped in and off we went for our afternoon game drive. Within an hour we had already seen elephants, giraffes, zebras and the stunning views of the Mara. Then we were lucky enough to come across who I now know as Eliza (named by the local Masai) and her 6 cubs. We sat with her and watched the cubs play for over an hour, it was magical. As we headed out of the park, the sun set behind us and storm clouds formed in the distance to make a stunningly picturesque drive back to camp.

Masai Mara with two Masai men

John and Rob had been working hard on dinner and it was ready when we got to camp, the storm passed us luckily and we ate outside by the fire. Tonight, was lamb curry and afterwards I brought out the cake and we all sung happy birthday. The birthday boy said it had been his best birthday so far. Tomorrow we go in search of the Migration, deep in the park. Everybody is very excited.

Masai Mara safari 4x4 with Masai and client

 01/08/18 –

Another early start this morning with a 5.30am breakfast. The 4×4’s arrived at 6am to take us on our full days game drive. We drove into the park as the sun came up behind us and headed in search of the migrating hooves. Our drivers were local Masai, all coloured in their blankets and jingling jewellery. They knew so much about the park and the animals as they have lived here their whole lives, they know every inch of the land.

Masai Mara with Emily

The radio was constantly bustling with other drivers explaining where the animals had been found, we heard the key word ‘Simba’ and suddenly it was full throttle speeding through mud across the plains to find the treasure that was a family of lions and lionesses all walking around and also sunbathing!

lioness in grass 1

After a good 45 minutes with them, we headed out further to find the famous Masai River. Along the way, we were driving past hundreds and thousands of wildebeest, zebra, antelope all part of the Great Migration from the Serengeti. It was just like being on one of David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries!

Wildebeest & zebra Migration Masai Mara

When we got to the river we were lucky enough to see a heard of wildebeest wanting to cross. We waited here for an hour as they stood at the water’s edge, toes inches from the river……it will only take one, just one to go for it and the rest would follow. Unfortunately, the croc infested waters put the wildebeest off entering for today and they all returned to their grazing. It would have been the cherry on top of our safari to see the famous crossing, but it was so lucky to see them approach the water and consider showing us the display. We had lunch at a lovely viewpoint and took photos and continued our game drive. We got so close to everything, sometimes just a metre away from lions and elephants. The day was fantastic, I never get tired of the game drives as each is different and you just never know what to expect.

African elephant

Upon our arrival into camp, John had made a lovely chicken stew with mash potato and a veggie curry. Everybody was tired from the long day but went to bed glowing from a full day in the sun surrounded by wildlife. Some even said it was ‘genuinely one of the best days of their lives!’

02/08/18 –

This morning we saw so many giraffes, about 20 of them all together on the side of the road, it was the most I have ever seen together.


After some more animal spotting we went to visit one of the driver’s local village. Here, you have the option to pay $10 and experience some of the local Masai culture. They perform dances, sing and show you their home. You learn how to make fire by rubbing sticks and learn why each Masai is dressed differently.

Masai Mara

Afterwards, you can go into the small market where the ladies offer handmade jewellery, wooden ornaments and different coloured Masai blankets just like the ones they wear. These make great sofa throws! We spent about an hour and a half here and my group came out looking like locals, covered in the colours and jingles of the market. It’s the perfect spot for souvenir shopping here and giving something back to the local community. Then we started our drive into Nairobi. We stopped at the viewpoint overlooking the Great Rift Valley and had lunch.

Northern-rift-valley-tanzania-1389229 (1)

Tonight, is the last night for 7 of the group so I booked a table at ‘Carnivore’ – a well-known restaurant in Nairobi centre. It was a great night to say goodbye to such an amazing bunch of people. They will be greatly missed by all on our big yellow truck. Cocktails all round and we said cheers to a fantastic adventure. Tomorrow I pick up 9 new people who will join our group and continue towards Tanzania, the Serengeti and Zanzibar. Let the new section full of wild and wonderful things begin!


Posted in a) 14th Nov 2010 Absolute Safari on Shaggy, Denis | Leave a comment

11 December 2015 East African Encounter with Vee & David on Kifaru


Arriving in camp in Arusha we all meet up to find out about our trip through the Tanzania game parks, to the gorillas and into Kenya, and particularly to get organized for the next few days. … Dinner and bed – first night in a tent. Check out what happens from here…


We have a relaxed morning and take off at a breezy 08.00 after some goodbyes to Mugo and Kanyo who had been our crew up till now. There’s excitement in the airPC060999 as everyone is looking forward to this afternoon, we are making our way to Karatu where everyone will transfer into the 4 x4’s for their afternoon in the Ngorongoro Crater. By 12 noon everyone is off, for their safari in the ancient caldera. We then all meet up at camp at the end of the day and everyone has had a great day with not only the animals but just been in the Crater as they said was mind blowing…..

This evening we sit around the camp fire and get entertained by two of the rangers as they tell us some of their stories of the happenings in and around the Crater. Some of us sit up quite late. Some of the guys were hoping to spot some game which can come in to camp, and yes they did see a bit of wildlife tonight……that is if you consider a domestic house cat as a wild beast – domestic cats can wander through too…..

None the less we call it a night and as soon as everyone was settled in, then the camp was flooded with buffalo. Some of the guys even said they could hardly breathe cause they were so scared……….. ahhh happy days when camping out in the parks.


Its another relaxed start to our day as we make our way from the Crater.

Our drive this morning is so breath taking because of the amazing scenery, and we are quite lucky and start spotting animals within a few minutes.. giraffe really close to the road.. And as we leave the IMG_20151213_103438Conservation area of Ngorongoro and get into the Serengeti.. ……what a sight it was to behold – part of the migration was there and there were animals all over the plains – zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, hyena – you name it, it was so good.

The joys of travelling in the wet season though, before too long the skies open up and we get some heavy rain.. none the less all is good – we continue on seeing animals on our drive through to Naabi Gate.

At Naabi we check in but the rain hasn’t eased off.. and I’m afraid this afternoon the park seems very quiet, we drive for a couple of hours constantly looking for wildlife, but very very little in sight…….some game drives it can happen, luck just wasn’t with us.

IMG_3939We stop over at the Visitors Centre for a warm tea then continue with the drive. Through the rest of the afternoon we came across some giraffe right by the road, a few impala and topi.. ….so that marked the end of our day with some small treats.

Spirits were still high. We are quite glad to have seen as much as we did today. We spend the evening sitting around and exchanging stories. This evening there was not too much around the camp just a few hyenas coming though.


This morning Vivian and her mum are up bright and early as they going for the hot air balloon ride. Tank goodness the rain had eventually let up.. we have two massive giraffes that have come in this morning close to the camp for a visit. A wonderful sight to wake up too.. the rest of us leave for our drive.. but our luck has changed today cause within the first 20 mins we spot a leopard in a tree, and this has now completed everyone’s big five, so happy HAPPY days. And well Christmas surely did come twice for us because we managed to spot leopard number two.


We head back to the visitors centre where we find some very happy ladies after their flight over the Serengeti.. We start making our way towards the Ikoma gate. And a bit more lucky with the last few kilometres as we did spot a few more animals heading towards Grumeti.

After the check out we make our way to camp and no sooner have we put the tarps down because of the rain. Sure enough lo and behold what do we see bolting from the bush near camp, none other than a good old cheetah. Never have I seen people jump so fast to lift the tarps. I think we were quite lucky today.

We arrive at Grumeti camp. It’s a mad rush to get every thing off the truck as it looks like heavy rain is just about upon us. We move the truck to the lodge as we feared getting bogged, and seeing we were at camp by 14hrs all roads lead to the lodge where everyone has enjoyed some cold drinks with wonderful views across the Grumeti.


Today again we wake up to a sky full of more rain. We make head way but due to the rain the road is extra bumpy . Its one of those drives on African roads that gives your rear end a good truck massage.IMG_20151215_160446

We arrive in Mwanza by 16.30 for some shopping before we head to camp. Everyone is looking forward to spending a bit of time by Lake Victoria. The boys are quite happy to be having some beers with Johan as he wasn’t able to drink for the past two weeks being on medication. So it was a very merry group and a happy evening which we topped up with some fresh tilapia fish from the lake for dinner



08.00 am we make our way from camp with a quick stopover for some fuel before we hit the road. A short ferry ride to cross the lake was and then we are back again on dirt road for a while……. This road was offering an even bigger massage than the one the day before!!

We arrive by 16.45 at our camp for the night today. We are in the small village of Nyakanazi. Overland trucks don’t pass through here so its always nice to see the reactions of people as they see the Mzungu’s “the white people” arrive. We are set up in a simple local guest house today so no camping for tonight and a good chance to experience something more rustic and local which can be a real eye opener for some.

Today we have a delicious meal that’s cooked for us by Mama Idi at the guest house. After dinner, Brian, one of the passengers, became very good friends with a goat that he found IN one of the rooms at the bar. Before we knew it he had the goat on his shoulder, keen to keep it…..goat stew or a truck pet………….

Be back in touch with more adventures about pet cats and goats, and wilder more African creatures soon…….


We make our way at 08.00am. Its just over 107 km but it takes us 2.5hrs to get to the border – the road is not the best! Luckily just after we arrive two buses full of teachers pull in. We cross over to the other sideIMG_9020 for visas, then a quick lunch and by about 1pm we are on our way. As soon as we take off the skies open up for an afternoon shower or two.

We are climbing now as our journey takes us into the land of “a thousand hills” as Rwanda is known. Arriving in to Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel, Kigali, late afternoon we pick up 5 new members. Happy days! A few tonight decide tonight to eat out at “Hotel Rwanda” and then later we all meet up for introductions, a chat and to get to know our latest travellers.


There is a referendum this morning so we have a free morning before our visit to the Genocide Memorial and Museum. This gives us the chance for a good walk around to have a look after a few drive days in the truck. When we do get to the Memorial it is so busy, and lo and behold we meet up with the same teachers that we saw at the border who seem thrilled to see us. So much so everyone wants to have photos together, particular with Johan in our group. They seem very taken by his size. Everyone though is soon being photographed and we feel like mini celebrities.

We eventually get in to see the museum.

The Genocide Museum is always a very sad eye opener for everyone.

When we are done, you always walk away from this place amazed at how far the country has come, that people have managed to unite and move on from such a horrific thing that only happened 21 years ago. Driving through the streets, everything seems clean, tidy, and well organised.

IMG_8554We head to Musanze district where we will be spending the night at Red Rocks. We get there by 18.00 hrs. After setting up camp we are treated to a local Rwandan dinner which comprised of cassava, yams, pumplin, rice, ugali, meat and vegetables.. a meal suitable for a king. After this a few of us head out for some traditional story telling.


There’s not far to go today. We exit Rwanda and into Uganda and its Just a mere 10 km to get to camp. As always there’s a warm welcome from the people we pass along the way. OnIMG_9138 arrival we are soon out and about. Some are going to do the coffee tour and others are off to Lake Mtandwa to go and have a relaxed afternoon while others do some canoeing. By end of the day all are back. The coffee tour twas really outstanding outstanding providing a good chance to interact with people in the village as well as experience everyday life.

Excitement is in the air for the big day tomorrow. After a yummy chicken dinner most retire to bed bright and early. Everyone is happy to be in a bed as well. No tents for the next two nights for us as we stay in a local guesthouse for the next two nights.


IMG_7618The long awaited day has finally arrived. All are up by 05.30 and ready to go by six. There are 15 of us on our way to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest this morning to trek the amazing endangered mountain gorillas.

Johan is seriously considering hiring “ the African helicopter “ as he is still not sure what to expect of the long walk. In case you were wondering, the African helicopter “ is basically porters carrying you up and down the mountain on a stretcher! ! Others in the group vow that there was no way he would allow him to pay the $500 or more to be carried.

2When they return I was glad to hear that everyone made it including Johan. Ahh happy days.

I think at the time wasn’t so sure how happy he was to see the gorillas – it was quite a hike, but as the hours pass its safe to say that he is a happy chappy. The rest of the group are also a little tired but it would be a lie if I said there was even one person that was not absolutely over the moon about seeing the gorillas. They are so very special.

We make our way to town to have some celebrations after such a great day.


This morning we are saying goodbye to two of the girls who are finishing their trip today to go back home. A few go through to the orphanage this mIMG_7405orning whilst others spend some time at the lake once more.

By lunch time we make our way to Kabale. The scenery on the way with views of lakes and farm land as we pass the rolling hills is truly beautiful. We arrive by 15:30 at camp and some of us take the opportunity to use the facilities at camp which has a pool and gym.

IMG_9168This evening we have Vivian and Mom cooking us a Chinese meal. Mom gets so excited that she starts laughing and speaking to everyone in Chinese forgetting that we can’t understand a word of what she is saying.. ahh happy days again!! The meal was very yummy by the way.


07.00 am we make our way from the camp and head for the capital Kampala today. We are all geared for a day on the truck today.  Lunchtime finds us at the Equator where we have lunch, a wander around the markets, and check out the Equator Water Demonstration.

From there we braced ourselves for the heavy traffic of Kampala. After a stopover for shopping we make our way to camp by 18.45.. a quick dinner then relaxation time by the pool area for a few drinks.

There is a casino in town and a few of us head there. We had a few wins which saw some walking out with a big grin on their faces-  over a million shillings richer ha ha. 05.30 was the time people got in.. It’s Christmas soon so an early celebration was in order!


verticalFunny enough as some were going to bed, others are waking up to do the white water rafting on the Nile today.

The joys of trying to get out of the city during Christmas period. After 5 hours of travelling we finally reached Jinja, a drive that normally takes us half the time. Almost everyone did call it a night bright and early.


nhs-solo-rider-near-riverAll energized today we have some of the guys leaving to go see the legendary Source of the Nile and then a wander in town to see what the markets had to offer.. Others just went for a stroll around the town, while others went horse riding.

Now Charlotte has been set on the idea of buying a pet chicken and hoping that we could take it with us on the truck. Well that wouldn’t work unfortunately. She isnt deterred and buys her chicken who she named Mzungu and we all shared a few happy moment’s with Mzungu  over the next few days.

Most of us have planned to meet later for the sunset cruise for Christmas eve, setting off by 17.00 hrs. Finishing the cruise we mix with the locals, enjoying few dances at a local bar,  before returning to camp where the party was in full swing for the rest of the night. 25.12.15

Bit of a slow starting to the day after all the festivities of last night. After breakfast we all head down to have a swim in the Nile with Brian having good fun on the zip line.

We later cooked our festive goat which we enjoy with an assortment of African dishes, before opening our Christmas presents. It’s a merry Christmas for us.


Some of us wake early today to go for the bird watching, IMG_9097then later on for the village walk, both activities enjoyed very much. Sad day for Charlotte as she has to sadly to say goodbye to Mzungu but she has definitely made sure that she has found him a good home even exchanging contact details with the new owner of Mzungu and left him lots of food behind. Hope that all works out well.

The rest of us swim and have a chilled out day.


6 AM wake up as we have a very long day today crossing the border and making our way to the town of Nakuru. We arrive at camp by 18.20 with enough time for a shower and then dinner.

Today we have a new member join our family for the next week as well, We also happily always have on board Jon our cook for the next week as well. Happy days all round to have a little extra help through our final days for the special Kenyan game parks.


white rhinosAnother early start to the day as all are having breakfast by 06.30 am and by 7 then all roads lead to Nakuru National Park where the guys are having a full day in this park. Excitement is in the air cause this is one of the few places where you are almost guaranteed to see rhino – both black and white.

We are back at 6 PM all happy.


We sleep in a little this morning, leaving camp by 08.00. There’s just an hour and a half drive and we are stopping over in Naivasha where we top up on shopping then quickly make our way through to camp as we have quite a number of people that are wanting to go and see Green Crater lake. The few that remain behind spent the afternoon relaxing. Some of the guys are back just in time to squeeze in the hippo cruise on the lake and tonight we enjoy fresh whole tilapia.


Today is the big day as we have half the group opting for a walk rather than the mountain biking in Hells Gat46201fac23d6ac13136834a4446eae99128201ee6eae0216a8b500baec621687e and two do the biking. Tina does the normal route and Charlotte goes for the buffalo route on her way back – that’s the most extreme one you can do!

Always the gorge is something  to behold. All were happy with themselves as they managed to conquer hell by foot and back. Charlotte was extra happy cause she managed to break the buffalo record by 25 mins. This afternoon we meet Nick a new member of the family as well, and soon after arrival he gets zipped away to do the hippo cruise. Its been a great day all round for all and we all are looking forward to the next two days where we will be travelling into the Mara.


After a brief stop over in Narok for supplies and a quick snack, we have some very happy people who have managed the tastiest hot dog they have eaten in the last weeks for just $2.00 – that done we continue with the journey. Everyone has braced themselves for the Ultimate African Massage on this road!! And boy the roads don’t fail to disappoint

We make our next stop over at the Maasai village for a chance to do masai marketsome dancing before they go into the village where they try out making a fire the Maasai way, and then go into their houses where they learn a bit more about how they live and find out more about their culture… was a great time that they had at the village. That being done we make our way to the entrance gate and as we approach the gate some have fun time haggling with the ladies. You can get some great stuff at a really good price here.

A few presents tucked away and we start our afternoon drive.

We saw elephants in abundance so many times, then various antelopes. Then excitement is in the air – lion – as we come across some lionesses in the open. Not more than 5 minutes of been here, the next thing we hear that there is a leopard up a tree about 500 metres away.. everyone was so excited… as we got closer we all noticed the cub up in the tree, and on closer inspection we also see mum there.. woooow.. double bonus!!

I think I was more excited than anyone  as was noted to me after 30 mins of getting to the  and some of the excitement died down. Ha ha well who can help it seeing such magnificence – the cub put on quite a show for us having a bit of a play with mum and then later walking down the tree.

After a good 45 mins we decide to make our way back to the lionesses who also were a little more active now as the sun wlioness in grass 1as starting to set, and one of the lionesses makes a chase for a pumba (warthog)

Unfortunately the chase wasn’t long and her mission failed – lucky for the pumbaa!  On route leaving we see a huge herd of buffalo – the cherry on the top!!

We make our way to camp all very happy with the viewing of the day and John and I prepare dinner. The  camp fire is lit, and after a yummy dinner of Mbuzi choma and kuku (bbq goat and chicken) everyone heads to the bar,  the fire dying due to a downpour of rain. We all see the New Year in together with merry celebrations with all at camp


Well we have made our way into the new healthy, happy and happy new year!

This morning early it almost looked like the game drive would be done with just 2 people but eventually just before leaving time a few more people surfaced… and we make our way back on safari.

This morning its raining ostriches and later loads of elephants. We see a whole load of different antelopes and so may giraffes.. but we break up our dMasai mara (41)rive and head back to camp for a siesta.. much appreciated by all especially seeing that most people crawled into bed at about 4 am from New Years celebrations!

After the much deserved rest we make our way again for the afternoon safari. We see all sorts but the high light of the day was when we came across another pride of lionesses And only to find that in a bush  thicket not so far away there were also some massive male lions having a siesta in the shade.

We waited to see if we could get a closer look, and just for a few fleeting mins one of them stood up and no sooner did he do that than he sat down again. Luck really wasn’t on our side, but we did get that small glimpse of these “big maners”

We make our way to camp and as you can imagine today is a very early night for all after all the celebrations of the evening And early morning.


We are packing up camp this morning and make our way into the park one  last time for a short game drive before exit and start making our way to the capital Nairobi. We are hoping to get to camp at around 4pm. We have a night of much eating planned for tonight as all want to go to the famed “Carnivores” restaurant.

But fate has other plans in mind for us.. we encounter some serious traffic. A bus has unfortuantley knocked over six cows belonging to the Maasai who have barricaded the road and demanded compensation……….so for 8.5 hrs we were stuck there and the cars only started moving at 9.30pm. It  was a hell of a mission to get going seeing that the traffic was backed up for more than 20km either side and on our side we had at least three lanes of traffic..Thanks to our wonderful driver, David’s skillful driving we managed to get out.  We arrive at camp at 11.30 at night. So instead it is chicken curry and some drinks for our good byes.  Well what a story we have on our journeys and a rather epic way to spend the last day on the truck finishing in Kenya. Hope you have enjoyed the stories of our travels on Kifaru!



Posted in December 2015 East African Encounter with Vee and David | Leave a comment

Kenya and Tanzania Safari with Philippa & Stephen on Makako: Days 14 – 18

Day Fourteendhows at sunset

So this morning we have thirteen tuk tuks waiting for us as our group and the truck from the gorillas now head for the ferry. We are so lucky that it’s a public holiday so the usual hassle is not too bad today.  Arriving at the main ferry office, again thanks to the holiday, the check-in was quite straight-forward.

CC1_4_Zanz_marketWe arrive on the island by 11.05am and after a smooth check-in at Safari Lodge we relax, regroup and then it’s off to lunch and then a spice tour…this was well enjoyed by all.

The end of the day and all roads lead to 6 Degrees Wine Bar at Shangani for sundowners as we watch the activity by the waterside and the dhows sail the harbour. The night food market was then, as always, a treat. It’s been a fantastic day for all.

Day Fifteen451

Everyone is all over the place this morning with some doing a city tour, others having a wander around on their own, and some heading off to the beach early. We all arrive at Kendwa by 1.15pm and enjoy a relaxed afternoon. Late in the afternoon a few set sail on a sunset cruise. We end the day dancing into the night by the Indian Ocean

Day Sixteen54_nzanzibar

Today is a very chilled out day for everyone spending the day either swimming, playing volleyball and getting their tan on. Some of us meet up for dinner and most of us are off to bed early today as the majority are doing snorkelling the next day. 

Day Seventeenswim wth dolphins

The snorkelling party head around to Mnemba Atoll for a most fantastic time today and they were all thrilled to see dolphins particularly.

When all are back we have some birthday celebrations – both Kim and Ann are 590df6d670d0e86ac5d088ac001cdb361f1e415d9b642fe23bbad47c07a6e958celebrating their birthdays. We have cakes, champagne and snacks all round. I don’t think it’s a bad way to spend your birthday!

We are also saying goodbye as it is the last day for many of us in the group. It’s been a fantastic time for everyone. All have enjoyed their stay here. Always on the last night everyone wants to squeeze another day in, but as much as one could stay here on this dreamy island forever, our journey must continue….wherever it takes us.

Thanks for reading. Safari njema.

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Kenya and Tanzania Safari with Philippa & Stephen on Makako: Days 12 – 13

Day Twelve

IMG_0252Leaving Arusha the following morning there was time to do a quick supply shop before commencing our two day drive to Dar es Salaam. The two trucks set off from the shops late in the morning and we were off to our first campsite in the midway point town of Korogwe. En route the landscape again was incredible, with the Usambara mountain range stretching the length of the coastline for some great photo ops.

Day Thirteen

We continued along the mountain range, whilst also viewing the vast sisal plantations (looking like oversized pineapples!).

DSCF0203We got into Dar in good time, not being too caught by the notoriously awful traffic and it was straight into the Indian Ocean for a dip!

That night the two trucks all enjoyed a gorgeous seafood BBQ of calamari and prawns whilst listening to a full briefing of all the wonderful and exciting things you can get up to on the paradise island of Zanzibar

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Kenya and Tanzania Safari with Philippa & Stephen on Makako: Days 9 – 11

Day Nine

exterior of 4x4Up early on the morning of day nine and we were loaded into our special 4×4 vehicles and off to the world-famous Serengeti National Park!

A beautiful drive to get there giving us the chance to really admire Tanzania’s gorgeous landscape. An included lunch was enjoyed at the park gate before we entered the 15,000 square kilometre plains of this magical reserve.

Serengeti Leopard Aug 10 Denis copyAlert eyes everywhere as we popped the roof on our cars for excellent viewing potential. Another successful game drive for this lucky group, spotting plenty of elephant, hyena, giraffe, antelope as well as lion and another fortunate sighting of a leopard!


Camp tonight was a real experience, in the middle of the park with no fences meant we really were at one with nature with hyenas coming through camp overnight and even an elephant passing through!

Drifting off to the sounds of the wildlife that night, ready for more adventures tomorrow…

Day Ten

0266--IMG_4345Up with the sun again today to catch the wildlife at its best and we had a morning game drive through the extensive plains. Another fabulous start to the day seeing plenty of jackals and warthogs. A couple of hours in and we had once again managed to see the Big 5, having ticked off both rhino and buffalo by now

crater viewpoint 3


Leaving the park around lunchtime we headed over to the Ngorongoro Crater where we will spend the night camping on the crater rim (again unfenced so ears and eyes listening and watching for overnight visitors!).



The Crater is at high altitude so can get pretty chilly. Wrapped up warmly we enjoyed hot drinks around the fire after dinner over discussions of all we had seen so far.

Buffalo and jackals in camp tonight which really was an incredible experience.


Day Eleven

P2160042Another early rise to a misty morning and it was time to drive down into the Crater. The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, with scientists estimating that the volcano once stood at between 14,800 and 19,000 feet. Today it acts as a natural enclosure for the wildlife, gaining it the nickname of ‘the Noah’s Ark of Africa’.

The scenery is something out of this world and like nothing we see elsewhere and game was aplenty – we saw the elephants with their huge tusks thanks to all the minerals found in the soil. Plenty more lions showed up for us too as did zebra, Thompson’s gazelle, impala, warthog and many many more.

It was an awesome way to end our time in the Tanzanian game parks and memories we will always cherish.

Back on the road early afternoon and we were on our way back to Arusha. Here we meet up with another big yellow Absolute truck with 22 more travellers who have come through from the gorillas!

Arriving around 5ish there was time for a quick shower then we all got stuck in to a massive BBQ feast and enjoyed meeting the other truck over some cold ones.

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Kenya and Tanzania with Philippa & Stephen on Makako: Day Eight

Day Eight

Up early this morning before sunrise and then it was time to hit the 30road and meet our nine new travel companions! Five were staying at the Wildebeest Eco Camp so we headed there first and met Mike, Stephen, Suzanne, Jasper and Robert before heading over to the Heron Hotel to collect Phil, Mark, Emma and Leila. The truck was nice and full and the sound of greetings and laughter echoed around! We had a fair bit of a drive to the border today so used the time to get to know each other.

PC060990Crossing the border just after a quick lunch stop, we waved goodbye to Kenya and took our first steps into Tanzania. Continuing on our drive we made it to a lovely shopping complex where we met Ciara and Larry – two more faces to join our expanding group of adventurers!

After a quick supply shop it was on to Masai Camp where we will spend the night.

IMG_3291Spirits were high as we continued finding more out about each other over about few beers and about chicken satay dinner. Early to bed as one of the big highlights begins tomorrow – the 2 night excursion to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater – cue excitement all round!

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Kenya and Tanzania with Philippa & Stephen on Makako – Day Seven

Day Seven93f0ee2a33144ebd015da6997841c90bb3a29efd277f4c4eb51f967503e0dce0

This morning it was back into the park early.

Our expectations were realistic after two incredible days but still the Mara managed to surprise us!

After some fantastic views of hyena, zebra, DSC_2289 copyThompson’s gazelle and impala we drove further on to see a cheetah enjoying its epic kill of a wildebeest. It was fantastic to see the big cat enjoying its meal so passionately. With a heavy heart we exited the park by around 10 and continued on the dirt track to Narok to grab some supplies.



After everyone had enjoyed their lunch we continued onto the East African Rift Valley viewpoint. Cameras all out to see the stunning landscape that stretches all the way down to Mozambique.


Arriving into our Nairobi camp by 5pm, it was hot showers all round (and use of the first wifi of the trip! ) before we all headed out for dinner at The Talisman, a local Nairobi restaurant.

4c03988450142ccfe8516cc0b9639a295647b778a70248fcae21134b15e6dbadHere we enjoyed a great meal as we reminisced about just how fortunate we have been on this trip and all the experiences and laughs we have shared.

It was goodbyes and contact details were swapped all round as we said a big ‘cheers’ to a fantastic trip!

Thanks again to Sander Reinders for his photo of the cheetah.

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Kenya and Tanzania with Philippa & Stephen on Makako: Day Six

Day Six29a2e15e300d5dbdd5f012a9208e009fb5c5ba5c678ede3bfc1fdaf15684dfd6

Well what a PHENOMENAL day today was!! Setting off through the park gates nice and early we were dubious as to how we could top seeing the big 5 yesterday…We definitely managed it!!!

Heading over to the water’s edge we hopped out the truck and saw a huge pod of hippo splashing, grunting and snorting about, as well as a few huge Nile crocodiles lurking ominously nearby with jaws open.

190f2b6f1709b61448bc53cb351d703dd8d9bf37b0053586878c2fc6e6c210bfFurther on and there was a large pride of about 8 lion being their lazy selves in the sun. It appeared pork was the meat of choice today as we saw baby warthogs being chased by three black-backed jackals. Mum eventually protected them by sitting on top of them!

Continuing further into the park it was two lionesses turn to try for a piggy treat – no luck this time but great to watch.

DSC_2047 copyDSC_2156Next up came the absolute cherry on top of our already impressive day - not only did we have a close, clear few of an absolutely gorgeous big leopard, but also her cub frolicking around.

Mum was teaching baby how to hunt, burrowing inside a nearby den until both produced a baby warthog of their own. Mum wasted no time in enjoying her meal while bub had great fun playing with his food, frolicking and squeaking like a kitten with the warthog bravely fighting back. Mum kept a watchful eye and intervened when the cub squeaked in pain. After about 15 minutes she eventually put the poor baby pumba out of its misery with a powerful snap of her jaws. This was such such a huge highlight and a once in a lifetime viewing. At a loss for words we headed to camp to break for lunch, still unable to believe our insanely good fortune.

50bbb86ffb1a4a7abcd1b651ca72140f07e47a6aeeaad408c9bd4bd7ef3b35d5Returning after lunch we saw elephant, buffalo and then an excellent view of a large black rhino (in the politest way possible his 5th leg was out-of-this-world large!). This meant that we had seen the big 5 for two days running in the Mara – such a treat!


Back to camp as the sun began to set and a hearty dinner around the campfire awaited; excellent spirits all round as we reminisce over just how lucky we have been!

Thank you to Sander Reinders for his fantastic photos of leopard and cub.

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Kenya and Tanzania with Philippa & Stephen on Makako: Day 5

Day Five

3699af3d38cfdb28bee419a257f00ddb844d523d7ade0a9fe04454ad869ed67dThis morning we were up for hard boiled eggs on toast at half 6 before we were on our way by 7am.

A beautiful drive through the Kenyan countryside and towns en route before a quick stop in the town of Narok to stock up on supplies for our time in the world-famous Masai Mara.

One very bumpy road later we arrived at a Maasai village where the warriors sang for us, performed their traditional jumping dance (with a few mzungu helpers) before showing us around their homes and providing us with details about their way of life.  After the visit and a quick lunch we were just ten more minutes on the road until reaching the gate of the Mara!


What an INCREDIBLE game drive we had today! Spotting all of the big 5 – elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard and lion (and male and female getting jiggy which was a great source of entertainment!). We also saw hyena, a secretary bird and cheetah – no one could believe our good fortune!!


565bd71ff93928e1186f5b9c3ec3a24a087e0c58ef1b57685417a371187a5065As the sun began to set we headed to our camp for the next two nights, sleeping alongside the Talek River to the sounds of hippo splashing and bush babies in the trees above.

A dinner of chicken, tomato sauce, rice and mixed vegetables around a roaring bonfire before an early night ready for a full day in the Mara tomorrow – excitement all round to fcfd9db63cda80d13cf2ebf478edf774da61e8b8d882b6759c56f68fe71ca1afsee what could possibly be next!!

Thanks to Meike for many of our pictures in this blog.

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Kenya and Tanzania with Philippa & Stephen on Makako: Days 3 & 4

Day Three

colobusThis morning we had a “little” sleep in with a 7.15am breakkie of pancakes, fruit and toast before we headed off to a local orphanage called Amazing Grace. This was enjoyed by everyone. We played and sang with the kids and time passed far too quickly. We all had an absolute blast with these kids rescued from unimaginable conditions by a “complete Saint” named Margaret.

From Amazing Grace we continued on in our big yellow truck to the shopping mall to stock up on supplies for the next couple of days. A short drive later and we are camping on the shores of Lake Naivasha, the lake at the highest elevation of the Rift Valley and home to over 400 species of bird and huge pods of hippo.

danceclass Naivasha2A few of us went for afternoon tea at Elsamere, home of Elsa the lion and Joy/George Adamson of “Born Free” fame. We watched the black and white colobus monkeys larking around close by (with their awesome hairdos!). The rest of us chilled at the campsite catching up on blogs/laundry/reading etc.

Before a beautiful spag bol cooked courtedance class Naivasha1sy of our chef, we joined in with a group of local Kenyans here for the weekend and tested our African dancing skills…a great way to end a fantastic day exploring more of this beautiful country!


Day Four

hellsgateThis morning it was up at 7.15am for sausage sarnies before some of us headed off to cycle through Hells Gate National Park and others did a guided walk round Crater Lake sanctuary.

Those visiting Hells Gate cycled amongst game and the incredible volcanic landscape before walking through the gorge that was the inspiration behind Mufasa’s death scene in the “Lion King”.

Whilst in Crater Lake we enjoyed the stunning surroundings amongst hartebeast, waterbuck and the odd scary buffalo beforefish naivasha seeing the gorgeous black and white colobus monkeys playing in the trees overhead.

A few of us stayed back and enjoyed a stroll along the shores of Lake Naivasha to get some Talapia fish for dinner tonight. The fish were still breathing when purchased they are so fresh and it’s a very cool experience to eat food directly from where we are camping.

The truck got robbed today……… some cheeky vervet monkeys and poor Gavin and Briana lost their biscuits and apples (but ended up with a cool story to tell!!).

Once everyone was back at camp there was time to relax hippocruiseand recover before we welcomed our new addition to our group, Roland. It was welcomes all round as we all got to know our new group member.

At 5 we headed out on the hippo cruise which was fantastic. Seeing some of the 2, 000 hippo in this freshwater lake up close and personal was a great experience!

Once back from the cruise we enjoyed our Lake Naivasha fish dinner before an early night ready for our exciting trip to the Masai Mara tomorrow!cooking naivasha

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