To have finally managed to accompany, on a safari (trip) to the wild, my two young boys, Quesney and Gavin who are five and two respectively as well as Millie, my beautiful wife, was a huge thing for all of us, given that I have had to reschedule our earlier official family trips together to the iconic Masai Mara reserve due to work engagements. I say “beautiful” because my wife is truly gorgeous, and also to guarantee my own happiness in the family, just in case she comes across this post – You see, nobody likes to fetch trouble where he can easily evade it.
On the 29th of June 2018, we were scheduled to be picked by Derrick, one of the renowned Silver- rated guides around the Mara, at 11.am in Narok town – about 150km from the Mara, for a two-day escapade. Derrick happens to be my former student at Koiyaki Guiding School, one of the few schools training Professional Guides in the Masai Mara since the year 2005, and it was clear to me that my family were in for an awesome and specialized treat. So, Millie and I knew very well that we had to do things unusually fast in order to fit in to the schedules of our hosts. Everything however depends on Millie as she decides literally what everyone wears, eats, and at what times – sound familiar huh?
Well, the kids were, on their part, excited and ensured that their favorite animals were on their Must-See list. And I kept reassuring the overambitious lads that they would see all those animals. I let them learn for themselves that a few cats like the lion do, from time to time, decide to keep away from the limelight. But with the relatively huge population of cats in Masai Mara one is almost guaranteed to see them. Excursionists who drive around for just a day may be unluckier. Well, we somehow managed to be on schedule. Derrick was just in time to pick us from town and he was awesome all through our bumpy ride to Nkoilale shopping centre, just 800m shy of Naboisho conservancy gateway, where our host camp, “Eagle View Camp” is. It is placed in one of the more than 16 private conservancies within the greater Mara. All this time Derrick was very patient with Quesney, who was as intrusive as usual and the two became instant cronies. Gavin on the other hand kept mimicking everything said by his senior, as Millie and I just relished the moments. What an epic reception we each got, with a glass of cold juice to slake our thirst and some bouquet of roses by the usually warm staff with natural smiles, accompanied by two Maasai warriors dressed in their full insignias. We then joined Alphonse, the manager and other guests for some nice lunch, just before checking in to our family tent for an after-lunch breather. At the table we were also joined by Steve, our new guide, as Derrick had other similar engagements. Also a Koiyaki Guiding School graduate, and just like Derrick, Steve literally knows everything as we discovered.
Our two-day itinerary involved a raft of fun activities for the boys- some of which we could not exploit due to time constraints. Of course, while in the in the Mara, as I know it, one can be spoilt for choices on what to do including Game Drives and Nature Walks, Balloon Safaris, Picnic lunches and dinners, a bush breakfast or dinner. It’s also helpful to visit a manyatta (traditional Masai homestead) to witness the Masai culture real-time. We were scheduled for a game drive later in the evening and the weather was perfect, having slightly drizzled earlier in the day. Of course, the rest of the days were extraordinary as the boys left the Masai Mara with lasting memories, evidenced by their obsession – I tell you, the boys have never gotten over it to this day.
One fascinating thing to me, about any tour I take in Kenya is that every time I visit a place, my familiarity with the environment notwithstanding, I feel some level of awe and everything looks, sounds and feels amazingly different and my last family jaunt was not an exception
And by the way, a safari in the Masai Mara, particularly during the extraordinary spectacle of the annual wildebeest migration (usually between July and October), the seventh wonder of the world, is surely one of the most memorable experiences kids would have in nature, and this time, the spectacle began earlier in June. If you take your kids to one wildlife reserve, make it the Masai Mara, and of course certain preparations need to be considered before such a trip, which I’ll talk about in my next blog – “Preparing for a safari in the Kenyan wild with Kids” Also check out for another soon to come piece from me on “The charmed Kenyan coast”
A vacation in Kenya is “magical”, “therapeutic”, “awesome”, “amazing” these are just some of the good words I’ve always heard, but I particularly heard from some three Canadian vacationers I met last week when they came visiting this organization I work with to offer some support to the local community; Tony, Brat and his wife – Alice, or Peggy if I’m not wrong – good lord I can’t seem to recall her name!! I’ll have to figure out on how to ask Brat…he is a jokey but firm; I bet he will be easy with me on that. I could clearly see they had their vacation of a lifetime in Kenya particularly in Masai Mara.
Being Kenyan and having lived here for the longest time possible, I can’t help but confess that Kenya is the finest destination for any traveler, but more so a family traveler. Obviously, this may seem biased, coming from a Kenyan, but just to highlight, Kenya is an undoubtedly gorgeous country. Everyone dreams of tropical weather, white sandy beaches and lazy afternoons out in the sun enjoying a cold beer and looking out into an amazing landscape. These are some of the best things that can be found in Kenya. In fact, Kenyans are so bold as to say it is the most beautiful country in the continent despite the many.
With lush plains, awe-inspiring mountain ranges, impossibly beautiful weather, a warm coastal region that rivals most other parts of the country in climate, which relatively range from temperate to cold Kenya will simply blow your mind.
The biggest asset the country has, is the people. Oh Kenyans, you amaze me – Kenyans are so loving, welcoming and generous – we just love guests! If you haven’t been here then you haven’t been anywhere.