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Our world Travel On 10th May 2007 I fled the UK on a journey around the world with a long list of places to go. Got as far as the Philippines where I met my wife. We got married on 11th May 2010 and are now sharing the experiences of travelling the world together

Kenya - Part 2

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 26 July 2007 | Views [2393] | Comments [1]

Thu 12th july - off to treetops today. Whoopee! Early breakfast as being picked up at 8am. I had booked the treetops thing with the intention of paying for it when I got here, first port of call the office to pay up the $450. My driver was to be Joseph. Nice guy and part of a very large family from a poor area with him supporting them. First task...get the vehicle going....this made me nervous. Off to a good start! After much bashing behind the front passenger seat got it going. It's the wiring and it's cold. The least I expected for my 450 bucks was a functioning chariot but this is Africa, and the average state of the vehicles on the road would be classified as scrap in the UK. Raining when we left Nairobi and 21°C. Headed out of the city along the Thika road which goes past Kenyas first university (Kenyatta). Quick summary...kenya has had three presidents in its time. Mzee Jomo kenyatta who died in 1978 was replaced by Daniel arap Moi from 1978 to 2002. Every kenyan city has a Moi avenue as well as a kenyatta avenue. His successor, chosen by the ODMK coalition was Mwai Kibaki, who's first term ends in december. He is being credited with the most changes and improvements in kenya's history. As he is liked he stands a good chance of another term. He too now has roads named after him already. Off to Aberdare national park, the home of treetops lodge. Around 3 1/2 hrs. This country is extremely fertile as is evident on this journey. Major producer of coffee as we know. Two varieties of bean, the 'Arabica' mainly grown in Uganda and the 'Robusta' grown In Kenya. Ethiopia is apparently attributed with producing the best coffee beans. Now is harvest time for the beans, which are picked three days a week. 1st husk removed then air dried, 2nd inner husk then Removed then air dried. Stored for a while before going for preparation prior to roasting. Regular stops by traffic cops along the route. They put 'stingers' across the road so you have to stop (metal strips with upward pointing spikes which all seem rather bent - just like the cops!). Now comes the fun bit...as mentioned earlier, there is hardly a vehicle on the road here that is in one piece. So, not too difficult for the cops to find something wrong. Only way to proceed is bribery. They all seem very happy people...any surprise!

Loads of other crops en-route...Maize, bananas, pineapple, tea, mango, papaya, avocado, rice, cassava, yam, arrowroot, sweet potatoes, tomatoes ,Potatoes . This country is edible! They have a term here...Shamba... means living off the land. Saw monkeys running across the road. Sweet. Conditions getting colder as we climb towards Aberdare which has a peak of around 4000m. Stopped at an Interesting African Curio shop. One piece carved from a single piece of rosewood took 6 months to carve and cost $24,000. Awesome. Had some roast cassava chips which are really nice and sweet.

Arrived at the outspan hotel at 1pm, which is the starting point for a visit to treetops. This place is POSH. The road leading to is typical Kenya then all of a sudden, manicured lawns, beautiful flower borders, smart armed guards at the entrance gateway. A bit of a shock to the system....not complaining though!Once checked in, lunch was a superb buffet. They have it all timed as expected. The bus up to the lodge leaves at 2:30pm so after lunch they sqeeze in a tribal show by the Kikuyu tribe. Optional extra of course, so another 650/=, but worth it. There was a defined heirarchy to tribal village life and circumcision plays a large (or small part depending on how you look at it) in progression for the males through the ranks. Huts as usual made from cowdung & straw. Not sure whether I would have wanted to stay in a freshly built house! Got to try some of their tobacco snuff. Interesting. Demonstrated making millet, sobek and maize flour. Tribal dance performance given and then...yep...dragged up to get involved. These tribal women were big..I mean big! Covered in limestone paint, looked the business. Then followed the usual sales tactic trying to sell beads, bangles etc. Bought a cowtail bug squatter - might come in handy where i'm going. On the dot of 2:30pm the bus set off for the 1/2hr trip to the lodge. Close in is like going into jurassic park. Big gates and electrified fences to keep the poachers out and animals in. When you spot the lodge it is awesome. Well worth the cost. Stephen introduced himself as the head naturalist for our stay and explained the system. 4:30pm a 2hr game drive by jeep, 7:30pm dinner, 6:30am breakfast. In between times do whatever you want. There are lookout positions all over the lodge.

There is a buzzer system in the bedrooms for when there are sightings. 1 buzz= hyena, 2 buzzes=leopard, 3 buzzes=black rhino, 4 buzzes=elephant, 5 buzzes=something being killed (including human if they don't obey the safety warnings).Everybody ran to their rooms, dumped their stuff, grabbed camera and binoculars and set to the task of wildlife spotting with tea and coffee flowing to keep warm. Water buffalo, wart hog, gazelle, baboon right in front of the lodge within minutes. The game drive was freezing as it is winter now so 20°C. In addition to above, saw hyena, colobus monkeys, mongoose, elephant, giant forest hog, water buck, bush buck. Aberdare is 767 sq km so impossible to see it all in 2hrs and animals have the upper hand in being able to hide. Back at the range thoroughly frozen after 2hrs in an open top jeep. About 50 or so elephants waiting for us. Incredible to be able to get within a few feet of them, could feel their breath. Excitement from everyone as we scurried around taking photos. Knackered so ready for dindins. You are organised where to sit and I was with a scottish couple from edinburgh and a couple from Denmark. Dinner was superb as expected. Interesting beetroot, apple & ginger soup. Plenty of everything. After dinner coffee sat watching the elephants, water buffalo and hogs feeding. Very surreal. Chatted to people from all over the world for a couple of hours. A diverse bunch. Only one buzz during the night for hyena so not very exciting. Fri 13th - up at 6am, coffee and back on bus back to outspan for breakfast. Super spread and thoroughly stuffed. 3 hr drive back to Nairobi and a different hotel, the really nice Boulevard on Harry Thyuku rd.Checked in, dumped my stuff and bumped into a couple of girls (sisters Monica & Megan) from California in reception. Ended up we wanted to do similar things so agreed to join up. Booked the evening at the famous 'Carnivore restaurant'. This is a must when In Nairobi. Then went walkabout in town. Got 50yds outside of the gate to the hotel (armed guards patrolling it) and was approached by a guy who within 2 minutes wondered if I wanted a kenyan girl...told you so..I seem to be attracting 'em! Have come to the conclusion that, because there are so many women here (outnumber men quite a bit) thst they want to empty as many women out as possible to give the kenyan guys a fairer chance. The carnivore has been going for 21yrs and holds 850 diners. Nothing can prepare you for the atmosphere in this ace. Fantastic! Set price starter, main, pudding with all you can eat for main. There's a flag on your table which you lay down when You have 'surrendered' and cannot eat any more! Quite a range of meats brought to your table on spears and swords...it's buzzin'. Unfortunately, they cannot serve zebra and giraffe like they used to for conservation reasons. But you can have ostrich, crocodile, bison. After dinner, free entry to the equally famous simba saloon bar and night club where we strutted our stuff til 1am. What a hoot that was! Great time had by all. My daughter katie got her SAT results today and did extremely well so very pleased with her. Sat 14th jul - met up with the girls again. First stop the Kenyatta International Convention centre. This is the best vantage point to get a view over nairobi city. 400/= to get in. Saw the maasai market from up there so decided to go when we got back to ground level. Same sort of thing I had seen on my visit last week. Bought a nice wooden bracelet. Turning into a hippy now! They wanted 450/= and haggled down to 100/=. Shows you that you have to haggle. Played off a dozen or so taxi drivers to take us to the giraffe centre. This was the highlight of the day. 500/= to get in. Home to the previously endangered rothschild giraffe which now have increased numbers thanks to the conservation work of this place. There are two other sub-species of giraffe in kenya, the 'reticulated' and the 'maasai'. Got to feed giraffes. Slobbered over quite a bit but worth it for the experience. One stuck its tongue in my ear whilst I was having my photo taken. Had to lay down for a smoke afterwards. We are now good friends and planning a long life together!Back to hotel to get ready for tonights meeting at 6pm for the overland tour to capetown that starts tommorow. Going to be 23 of us on this tour with only 3 doing the whole journey. Me and one couple from oz. Others only going as far as victoria falls. This is a biggie. 49 days, 45 of which will be camping. More of that next time....

Tags: Sightseeing

Comments

1

I've enjoyed reading yr blogs. You have the appreciation of a true traveler!

How did the African overland tour go ? Zanibar ?

would love to hear yr thoughts.

  karen Feb 3, 2008 7:53 PM

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