This was my second trip to Africa and my first trip to East Africa, specifically Kenya. I travelled with my husband Paul and was also able to meet up with fellow Travel Beyond coworkers Craig and Matt for a few overlapping days as well which was great! We began our trip in Nairobi, then drove to the Samburu and Lewa conservancies and ended in the Masai Mara before flying back to Nairobi. I have been asked a few times what is the biggest difference I have found from South Africa and East Africa. From observation of my two trips, I would say the cultural piece of the people of the East African tribes is definitely more of a component in Kenya as well as the views of open plains for days. The other unique piece for me was the fact that we had the same guide, Henry, for the majority of the trip. Henry was Masai, so we learned a lot about the Masai people as well as the land and animals. We had such a great trip; we truly felt humbled flying away from our last day in Kenya.
The biggest highlight for us was the experience of our first walking safari while we were at Lewa Wilderness Lodge in the Lewa Conservancy. It was such a treat to have a full day at the lodge like a client would experience, and the morning was filled with unexpected surprises. After awaking to tea and biscuits in our room in the early morning, we met our guides Karmushu and Supukia and headed out on foot into the bush from the lodge. In the beginning of our walk, the guides were teaching us about the plants and grasses: what medicinal purposes the tribes use them for as well as what kind of animals consume them.
Then we spotted our first animal in the distance, a solo male buffalo, which we learned from our guides is a very dangerous animal on its own away from the herd. He most likely had gotten kicked out of the herd by another male buffalo and therefore lives a life of solitude and feels threatened by almost anything, so will do what he will to defend himself. Luckily he was far enough away that we didn’t need to worry about being charged.
Further in the distance, laying in the sun along an edge of a cliff, our guides pointed out to us a lioness, which to the untrained eye looked like a white rock. She also spotted us and moved further away, so far in fact we couldn’t see her. The guides thought we should make our way down to where she had been sunning so we followed their recommendation. When we got to where she had been, we could hear rustling and squeaking and with a huge grin on his face, Karmushu told us to look down just a few feet below us to see two lion cubs. As he took his hand off of the safety of his gun, Karmushu told us to take a quick picture so we could move away quietly and quickly, we didn’t want to come between the lioness and her cubs. Paul was nervous, to say the least. It was an adrenaline rushed moment!
We then crouched down behind some bushes and came about 10 feet from a few grazing rhinos. Eventually, we found the lioness sunning herself again ahead of us. Lucky for us, she didn’t see us this time! We also saw elephants, which completed four out of the five Big Five just on a walking safari. We headed to breakfast feeling accomplished, thrilled and hungry!