Kenya part 3

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March 11th 2014
Published: March 11th 2014
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Feb 16

The high light of our short morning game drive was watching 2 lionesses and cubs (3 born dec and 2 that were 3 to 4 months old) that were members of the Enoolera pride - I think that the one lioness that we saw clearly ( when she came out of hiding to try to get her cubs to play in the bushes instead of in front of the humans) was Nashipai???? The cubs were playing just like regular puppy kittens ( yes puppies cos they were playing with sticks and kittens cos that is what they were)

Then it was off to the Masai village, about 15 minutes away off the conservancy. There was an added cost of $20.00 with all the money going to the village. Each group that is taken on a tour goes to a different village in the area. As it was Sunday all the children were around- they loved seeing photos of themselves on digital cameras. And Jan gave her camera to a couple of kids who had a blast taking photos. Daniel described village life - goat and sheep pens were fenced for protection - it used to be acacia branches but now cedar wood from the highlands is used. A leopard can still jump the fence though. A problem is the hyenas who may kill a lot of sheep but only eat one or two. It was somewhat disturbing to see the flies crawling over all the kids faces- they appeared to not even notice them.

The women sang for us - very colourful with lots of jewellery that they make themselves, buying the beads and pieces of silver on market days. We sure looked drab along side them in our safari wear. Finally we were taken inside one of the houses. Each village is comprised of many family members and as a man may have more than one wife, each wife has their own house ( which they make themselves from dung and straw) with the location of the house indicating the order of marriage.

"Maasai families live in an Enkang (a form of enclosure, stockade or kraal) formed by a thick round 'fence' of sharp thorn bushes; this protects the tribe and their cattle, especially at night, from rival tribes and other predators. The Enkang may contain 10-20 small squat huts made from branches pasted with fresh cow-dung (by the women) which bakes hard under the hot sun.

Maasai huts are very small, with perhaps two 'rooms' and not enough height for these tall people to stand upright or lie fully stretched. They are also very dark with a small door-way and tiny hole in the roof. The hole in the roof serves two purposes; it lets a little light into the hut but just as importantly it lets some smoke escape from the smouldering (cow-dung) fire which is kept alight for warmth and cooking - and perhaps to smoke off unwanted insects. The Enkang used to be 'temporary' and something that could be built elsewhere if the Maasai had to migrate to fresh areas of grazing, although such action is less feasible these days."

Heading out on the afternoon game drive, there seemed to be a lot more flies around and then someone noticed vultures circling. A short detour off the road and there was a dead giraffe ( the guides thought he had died of natural causes - if a predator had brought him down, they would have been feasting) . Instead, there were more vultures ( and the occasional marabou stork) that I ever thought to see at one time. And there were also a few jackals skulking in the background. The birds had already cleaned out the juicy organs at the head ( eyeballs) and there were a number attacking the stomach area, trying to break through to the intestines. There were many more vultures just hanging around on the ground and the trees waiting for the hard work to be completed so they could feast easily.

Continuing on we visited the hippos on the Enesikiria River and then got notice of a cheetah sighting near camp. This one was a female who the guides thought had given birth a couple of weeks before. That was the last time they had seen here and she was obviously very pregnant. Now she was less so, and we think she was taking us away from wherever her cubs were.

The plan for the evening was a night game drive so we had our final sundowner in an open area fairly close to camp and then it was back for an early dinner under the trees.

The night drive focus was the giraffe so we could watch the nocturnal feasting. Now it was the turn of the spotted hyenas - the infra red light used by the guide ( we had an extra guide for this purpose) gave a clear view of the action, as well as highlighting the many sets of glowing eyeballs in the back ground, Creepy. The crunching sound effects were pretty loud too. Natures disposal system at its best.

Feb 17. There had been a change in our flight time from Nairobi to Zanzibar so we left Encounter Mara earlier than expected (7am) for a 45 minute drive to the landing strip. While our jeep drove directly to the "terminal" - a corrugated iron roof supported in the corners with poles - Dickson drove along the landing strip to clear the wildebeests. Oh yes, there was a wind sock too. The Safarilink twin otter showed up shortly after, the luggage was loaded and it was farewell to most excellent safari experience and off to rainy Nairobi. In the planning stages, it was emphasised that there was a strict weight limit on this flight of 15 kg checked luggage and 5 kg carryon. This had caused a bit of worry to those members of our group who were extending their vacation in either Paris of South Africa but as we had a twin otter all to our selves, this prooved to be a moot point.

We landed at the domestic Wilson airport and were very efficiently escorted to the pickup area, only to find there was no one waiting for us. However, we were not deserted and the fellow with us managed to get in touch with the local " emergency contact " for our group and after a relatively short wait we were on our way. The reason for the delay was our flight arriving 2 hours earlier than expected. The other concern that we had was the travel time between the domestic and international airports and stories we had heard about the time taken to actually enter into Jomo Kenyatta airport because of the security checks. All a needless worry in the end.

Departure from Nairobi was easy compared to our arrival, but then we arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania!!!!!! We had been given some additional forms to complete while on the plane and the first step on arrival was to get a visa. No such thing as lineups here. A uniformed fellow looked over our paperwork, took the $50.00 fee we each had to pay and then disappeared with everything. By now we were in a small section with 5 windowed wickets and a fellow traveller informed us that eventually someone would call out our name OR hold our passport photo up to the window. The group that was waiting for visa's was about 5 deep so we figured we had a while. Then suddenly Kelly pushes me to the front - his eagle eyes had noticed my photo from a few feet back. Then it was his turn and we went to stand in a stationary line for passport control. In the meantime, the rest of our group was being called forward and were given their passports along with one of the white forms we had completed - and sent to a different passport line. Next thing, Kelly and I were told we could go straight through ( no passport check for us) and as we were about to follow the " transfer " signs, Kelly noticed our luggage!!!! Despite having been checked through to Zanzibar from Nairobi, it wasn't ..... So we had to pick it up, go through another security checkpoint, and check in again on a domestic flight to Zanzibar. Some of our group decided a "group checkin" would be prudent, not realizing that ALL their bags had to be weighed together on a relatively small scale so they ended being piled 8 high.

Another security check to enter the departure lounge, no departure board, just barely understandable announcements and we were on our way to Zanzibar! But this wasn't the end of paperwork - walking into the terminal, we had to complete a simple form of arrival, pick up our bags and we were really here.

Island Express was waiting for us and it didn't take too long to get into the narrow streets of Stone Town and the Tembo Hotel on Shangani Street.

"The magnificent main Building has had various functions over the past centuries. Between 1834 and 1884 it served as the American Consulate in Zanzibar then passed on to become the trading offices of Cowasjee Dinshaw & Partners. Their headquarters was in Aden(what now is know as the Port of Suez), and with trading posts notably in most of the British Protectorate areas, it became the largest trading Company in the India Ocean. To this day , the name of Cowasjee Dinwash & Partners is still visible at the main entrance of Tembo House Hotel.

Tembo House Hotel has seen a few celebrities pass through is doors during the consulate era, the Conwasjee Dinwash era and as a Hotel. Mahatma Ghandi stayed here a few weeks with the Dinwash family on his journey back to India from South Africa in 1930. As a rising new star in the British, and the world music scene, Freddie Mercury and his family used to retreat to what is now ”Marashi” apartment whenever they came back to Zanzibar on holidays."

The rooms we were given ranged from small to expansive ( no rhyme or reason) and most looked out onto the central courtyard with its swimming pool and the ocean just beyond. Beds were once again mosquito netted and the staff came around at dusk and fumigated the rooms!The Tembo is the only hotel with direct beach access and a swim was the first thing on the list. Very delightful and it wasn't until we were making our way back to shore that the oily scum on the water was noticeable! Oh well.

Dinner plans were simple - Forodhani Night Market on the waterfront. Numerous stall with white jacketed chefs, all selling the same things - kebabs, naan bread, pizza, fresh juices, seafood. A couple of kebabs and juice and we were ready for a night cap. An earlier attempt at getting a drink at a waterfront bar hadn't been successful (they forgot our order) but the Livingstone Beach Restaurant that was right next door to the Tembo suited us perfectly.


11th March 2014

Part 3

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