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Published: March 2nd 2018
Hey my friends, I’m back. No, no, I was not hiding. I traveled a lot in the last 9 months, - been to Peru, Chiang Mai, India, and then the last one in Kenya. As I wrote in my earlier blog, I was also busy publishing my book, so hardly I had any time. Now, I am backlogged. Let’s start with my last trip to Africa. I will post a series of blogs covering my fairy tale trip to Kenya. Hope you enjoy!!
It was midday at my work when an email popped out in my inbox – “Calgary to Nairobi airfare CDN$942 by British Airways”. I jumped out of my chair…OMG, generally the airfare from Calgary to Nairobi is over CDN$2000 that I have ever seen. It’s unbelievable! A trip to Africa is a dream come true….it is in my bucket list for a long time. And who doesn’t? I haven’t seen many people who don’t have a desire to visit this magnificent continent. Yeah, yeah, I want it! Nairobi is fine…Safari and African wilderness. But I also wanted to travel Zambia to fly a microlite over the Victoria Falls in Zambia-Zimbabwe border. Let’s do it!
“Hardev, I’m coming to Kenya.” I sent a Whatsapp to my brother-in-law in London who has a house in Nakuru.
“When, my friend? I am trekking in Leh-Ladak now.”
“That’s cool…It’s in January, man! For a couple of weeks. But I want a detour to Zambia for a few days”.
“Forget Zambia, two weeks not even enough in Kenya. Much to see, my friend.”
I was not getting a good fare to Zambia anyway, so I shelved the Zambia plan for the future.
“Ok, I’m game…do I make plans?” Sent another text.
“No, we will do it together when you get there. I will join you from London.” The reply came back pretty quick.
I always plan ‘A’ to ’
Z’ for all my trips. My friends joke at me, “Are you ready with your Excel spreadsheet?” So, I was a bit nervous, but I trust Hardev…he was born in Kenya, he has a house in Nakuru and he is used to the lifestyle in Kenya. Done! What else I need?
My flight to Nairobi from London arrived on time at 9:30 pm. My luggage didn’t arrive.
It’s not the fault of BA, but the Westjet in Calgary made the boo-boo. Westjet agent didn’t know how to handle the code-share.
“We book your luggage up to Montreal and you rebook it in BA, ok?” the confused Westjet agent told me. I was miffed, but didn’t protest. The golden rule of air travel…just go with the flow, don’t argue. That is the fun of air travel now-a-days. Anyway, the luggage even didn’t make it to Montreal. So, I lodged a missing luggage complain with BA at Nairobi airport and got out of the terminal after surviving a chaotic immigration line up. Hardev was waiting for me outside. He flew in the day before from London.
“Where is yr luggage?” Hardev asked.
“Didn’t make it.” I said in a matter-of-fact voice.
“Oh, you got to claim the incidentals until it arrives.”
“Hardev, it’s not BA’s fault…Westjet screwed me up. Forget it, let’s go have fun.” I said
It’s a three hour drive to Nakuru from Nairobi and we were not going to make it that night. The highway often gets the wild animals from the vast wild land on both sides, not advisable;
Hardev arranged for our night stay in a lovely villa around 30 minutes drive away from the city. It was a pleasant evening and Hardev explained to me the plan on the way to our night-stay.
“We will camp at Masaimara,” Hardev told me in the cab. “We will carry our gear in my Land Rover.”
“Wow! Go on.” I was excited
“We will head out to Nakuru tomorrow morning after meeting David.”
“Who is David?”
“David Langat is a highly connected business man and influential person in Kenya.”
“And why are we meeting him.” I was a bit surprised…I was wondering why do I need a businessman for my African safari.
“Well, David is my long time friend, we go a long way.”
There comes my second “Wow.” This guy is well connected, man! No wonder he kept the entire planning to himself!
We met David and his family. The kids are very nice, but the poor kids don’t get to see much of their dad as he was traveling most of the time.
“Why don’t you join us for the camping at Mara?” I threw the option.
“I would love to, but I am traveling to Tanzania day after.” David told. There goes my photo op with the influential man during the camping! I sighed.
We headed out to Nakuru around mid day…about 3 hours drive from Nairobi in our rented taxi from Nakuru. Edward, the banana-man made an early morning 3 hours trip from Nakuru to pick us up. Boy oh boy, Hardev has planned it right! The vast Nairobi National Park on one side of the highway gave me the idea of what is lying ahead. If I say I was excited, that would be an understatement. We stopped for a lunch break on a road side ‘dhaba’…yes, that’s the proper Indian word for these shacks where the shopkeepers were almost dragging the passengers from the cars to take into their shop for the Nyama-choma – the roasted goat meat. Hardev is a regular there, I found. I tasted a bit of Nyama-choma, but not my cup of tea.
We headed out after the lunch, now climbing up to 2000m. The zebras were grazing by the road side with the cows. The cows have the owners, but the zebras don’t. I don’t know
why the zebras were not domesticated like horses…such a lovely animal. The baboons were sitting on both sides of the highway; obviously they get foods from the passing cars. We stopped at a viewpoint closer to Naivasha. The vast Rift Valley was sprawled in front of us in the warm afternoon African Sun – gorgeous. Far away we could see the Lake Naivasha. This is the Africa I always dreamt about, vast, unspoiled, touching the horizon in a hazy, soft yellow sun. I know I was falling in love with Kenya.
The approach to Nakuru was chaotic as the construction was going on to expand the highway. We crossed the city and entered the suburb. The roads closer to the suburban area are unpaved, but the houses on both sides are like mansions. The lovely Jacaranda trees and their purple flowers were glowing in the sun. Bougainvillea is overflowing the gates of the houses. John, the caretaker of Hardev’s house opened the gate. John is a local of Kenyan origin who lives in a separate quarter inside the compound with his family. God knows how many times I have to say ‘Wow”. It’s another mansion. No, let
me correct myself…actually two mansions side by side on a huge piece of land. One for rental and the other one is for our living. The four dogs came running and they got used to me very quickly. The plan was that Nakuru will be our base. We will do the Masaimara circuit from here, then Lake Nakuru National Park and then head out towards Mombasa for safari in Tsavo National Park. We will not go through the tour companies, I usually don’t anyway and in Africa they are a bit of rip off. In Mara, we will just rent the land cruiser inside the game reserve, but we will use our Land Rover in Tsavo. The plan suited me fine and we went out to the town for a drink.
“Look, we are not going to go out tomorrow. Your luggage has to arrive first.” Hardev told me sipping his Guinness.
“Well, BA has to deliver it to Nakuru. I hope they do it by tomorrow.” I said sipping my Tusker.
“Forget it; the next flight arrives from London tomorrow night. So earliest they can deliver it to Nakuru is day after, possibly by noon time.”
Hardev is used to the drill here, so I nodded.
“Let’s meet the folks here in the meantime.” Hardev knows many in Nakuru. We lost a precious couple of days, but that gave me the opportunity to meet Suman’s aunt and her cousins in Nakuru. John in the meantime organized the camping gears and the trailer. We did a bit of shopping…breads, drinking water, sausages and little odds and ends for our lunch breaks during the trip. The luggage arrived the day after as Hardev predicted and we were on our way to Masaimara two days after arriving at Nakuru. There begins my dream trip of Africa starting with safari in Masaimara!
Next Masaimara…the exciting trip.
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