We spent the last few days of our time in Kenya on a safari! This was definitely a highlight for the family! Jonah and Landry, being boys, loved all things about seeing the animals in their natural environment, especially when they saw things like lions eating zebras and vultures eating wildebeests. Kathryn, being the Disney and music lover that she is, loved connecting what we were seeing with Lion King or Jungle Book or any number of songs or movies. She also enjoyed trying to get the perfect shots of the animals, especially those she knew her friends would love. Darren was in photographer’s heaven! He was able to get some amazing shots of the animals and the savannah and even a beautiful sunrise! You can see many of his pictures here. I, like everyone else, was in awe of all of these animals in their natural habitats, especially the majestic giraffes. Most of all, I enjoyed seeing my family enjoy this amazing experience. I know – it sounds so cheesy, but it’s true. I got emotional just being able to watch my kids and husband have such a wonderful time.
(These were taken with my iPhone. You really need to check out Darren’s pictures for the full experience.)
To back up a bit, we drove for about six hours one morning toward the Maasai Mara. This is portion of the Serengeti that is a national game reserve. It is named in honor of the Maasai tribe of people in the area. “Mara” means spotted because the land is spotted with trees and such. The last 50 or so miles took more than two hours on an unpaved, very bumpy road. The road is sometimes called the African massage chair. It was so bumpy that my garmin fitness tracker was counting steps as we were riding!
As we got closer to the camp, we began to see animals like zebras and a giraffe. Mostly, we saw the Maasai people of all ages out herding their sheep and cattle to water holes. These people are noted by their bright colored (usually red) shukas that they wear. The bright colors help to scare off the wild animals. We saw a lot of really young children with the animals, all alone. Landry said it reminded him and helped him kind of understand how David, in the Bible, cared for the sheep as a young boy.
We arrived at Fisi Camp (Swahili for hyena) to find several military-type tents, complete with beds, showers, and toilets. The group members were assigned to our tents, and we spent some time exploring the camp. Right away, Landry was able to find giraffes and elephants in the distance with the binoculars.
That day, we went for a game drive for a few hours. The next day, we went out all day and even had a picnic lunch in the Mara right near a lot of the animals. The final day, before leaving for the six hour drive, we got up before sunrise and went for one more hour long drive. Each time we went out we were not disappointed. We saw so many amazing animals! Lions, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, monkeys, baboons, antelope, warthogs, buffalo, storks, ostriches, vultures, cheetahs, leopard, hyenas…and more. It was unbelievable!
While we were at Fisi Camp, we were treated so well. A lovely couple from Ireland moved to Kenya to run the camp, and they took care of us well. We had all of our meals there, and there was always hot tea and coffee available! There were a few Maasai tribesmen who guarded the area at night to protect our tents from the animals (yes, elephants, zebras, lions, and hyenas were right outside our tent each night!). The tribesmen also tried to teach the kids how to make fire with two sticks and even insisted on Jonah making the fire for the day. He tried, but he needed help from them.
After the safari one day, we visited a Maasai village nearby. We were treated to some of their songs and dances, and they showed us their huts. We went into one very small home that housed two adults, four kids, baby sheep, baby calves, and a dog with puppies. As it started raining, we had to remain in the house for awhile. So the young man told us all about their culture and answered any questions we had.
(that’s a lion’s mane on Darren’s head)
Thanks for the memories, Kenya!