Wrapping up my trip to Kenya

DSC_0316Three parks in eight days, looking back it was not enough time. As my adventure began it seemed to come to an end. I have had illusions and expectations about Kenya for most of my life. I must say it exceeded my expectations tremendously. It is hard to put into words the emotions and experiences one has when they have been on an adventure that they have always dreamed about. I will do my best to put how I feel into words.
I must first say that the people of Kenya are wonderful. They are friendly and above all they are proud of their culture and their heritage. They are also proud of their wildlife and want to protect it. Now, this is coming from someone who only met a small portion of the people and most of them were those I met in the bush. Those that I met and formed a relationship with will stick with me and be friends I hope for a long time.
I tried to go into this trip with an open mind. I wanted to absorb all that I could so I could come home and share what I learned with as many people as I could. There is no way to remember everything or tell the whole story with some pictures. Some of the experiences that will stand out to me are as follows. Watching Mt. Kilamanjaro “wake up”, as the natives put it, early in the morning just after the sun rose was awe inspiring. I waited three days to see the mountain as it stayed cloud covered and on my last day in Amboseli it showed itself, but only for an hour or so. I felt lucky and blessed to experience the event in a moment of silence when my mind could be openned.
Seeing my first lion up close in the wild was spectacular. When it looked at me as I was shooting I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. On that same token, seeing my first leopard was more amazing. I went in without any expectations of seeing Africa’s most elusive cat. Yet, at the end of the day I saw five, but what I will truly remember is knowing that I am one of a handful of people who has witnessed these elusive animals in their mating ritual.
I was caught up in the power, yet humbleness of the elephants we encountered. The main reason I was so excited to go was to get the chance to witness part of the wildebeest crossing the Mara River during the migration. It was a long day filled with anticipation. Just as we thought nothing would happen, the animals crossed making the whole day that much more special.
With everything that I witnessed, what will stand out for me the most? The event that will stick with me and has not left my mind was standing a few feet away from one of Africa’s most endangered animals, the white rhino. I said I would leave Africa with no regrets if I saw just one of these animals. I was given the opportunity to see these animals up close. As I stood there photographing them, I was suddenly caught up in the moment. I found myself putting the camera down to soak in what I was witnessing. It is still hard to explain, but as I stood there with the understanding that these were the last two of their kind in the Masai Mara Park it brought tears to my eyes. Knowing that the rangers were there to protect these amazing creatures because of man’s desire for money brought everything into perspective for me. I may never be able to put into words the emotions that I felt in that moment, but I hope this is not the last time I see these animals in the wild. I had to think of my nephews and pray that they someday get to have the same experience I did, but with these animals roaming without their personal guard and without fear for their lives.
There was so much to this trip that I could spend weeks writing about it and never get to the end. There is a lot to sort through from this trip, but in the end I know a few things. My resolve to share with others to protect the wildlife I love has never been stronger and my passion for what I am doing has never been greater. I will go back and I will keep sharing what I learn with anyone who will listen. Thank you, asante san as they say in swahili, to those who followed this trip. It has been a wonderful ride that I hope is not close to being over.

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Amboseli day 2

We just finished our second day of game drives. We saw a hippo out of water today which was pretty cool. Tonight the highlight was we spent over an hour watching a herd of elephants graze and interact. There is no way to explain the majesty in watching these beasts. I got lost in how lucky I am to be here. I have to say I always wondered what the Johnson’s had to think when they spent their years here. I think I am starting to understand.

Amboseli day 1

First day in Amboseli reserve. We got here early this morning after a short ride on a Bush plane. Went on our first game drive for a few hours with our guide Moses. We have already seen a large variety of animals including lions elephants and hippos. We had lunch and a few hours to kill before we go on an evening drive. I have walked the compound and watched the baboons and black faced monkeys that live here. The view from my room is great. I can walk out my door and photograph a couple herds of elephant about 400 meters away. I am having a good time and trying to soak everything in. I am sitting here looking at Mt. Kilamanjaro and watching some widebeest graze. I have to prep for another drive so it is time to clean the dust out of my equipment. Talk later.

Africa day 1

Today turned out to be very interesting. We had our flight diverted to Tanzania because nairobi had a big fire. I did get to see the top of Mt.Kilamanjaro but did not get to take a picture. We spent a few hours at the airport then they put us on a bus and brought us to Nairobi. Along the way we were stopped for an hour because locals blocked the road protesting a child being hit by a car. It was scary especially when the military came to break it up and fired into the crowd. After that excitement we spent a couple of hours at the border getting across. Got to the hotel after about 8 hours of travel. It was an exciting day and getting to see Tanzania only makes me want to go back. Have to get a closer look at that mountain in other words climb it. Hopefully leave in the morning for our first park. We are waiting for the rest of our party who are stranded because of the fire. Very exciting day.

Qatar and Kenya Day 4

Had a dinner party yesterday.  Didn’t really do anything else.  We got up and went into the desert.  Went to a camel track and watched them practice with the camels.  We then went to Duhkan to swim in the Arabian Gulf.  It was pretty cool.  Might go for a boat ride this afternoon.  We are getting ready to leave for Kenya soon.  Will leave at 2 am local time and arrive in Kenya at about 7am.  So about 11pm central time in the US.  Hope I can blog a bit in Kenya, but I will be in the bush, so I am not counting on it.

Day 2 Qatar

I finally got some sleep today and was ready this afternoon to check out the town. My aunt took me to see The Pearl, which is an island that is being built out in the sea. We also went to Katara where they are planning to develop a large film school and where they already have a lot of their fine arts programs. I was able to see a lot of the bay and feel the humidity that they can get here. Being surrounded by ocean on three sides can do that. Tomorrow or Tuesday I will take a boat ride into the bay. There is not much to do during the day because most places are closed for Ramadan. Tuesday, I have been told we are going to the beach and a group of them plan to take me out into the desert. I am learning a lot and trying to take it all in. This has been a great trip so far and I leave for Kenya at 2:30 am Qatar time on Wednesday. Plan to talk tomorrow.

Qatar and Kenya Day 1

First full day in Qatar.  I spent yesterday on the plane, got here at about 7:30 local time.  This morning went to the pool for a while, then went out to run some errands in town with my aunt.  It is so hot here that there is not much to do in the day and most places are not open right now until 7 pm because of Ramadan.  We went out this evening to one of the market places and I had my first taste of Middle Eastern food at a Syrian restaraunt.  I must say it was very good.  I also visited an Iranian restaraunt to see their decorations.  It was pretty outstanding.  Planning to take a boat ride tomorrow evening to see Doha from the water.  I don’t know how much I will be able to post from Kenya, but I plan to take tomorrow and catch up on sleep while it is so hot outside.  Try to post something tomorrow.