I’m off on a new adventure!
Honestly, I wasn’t sure it was going to pan out, it was touch and go there for awhile. But my itinerary finally arrived last week, my tickets two days later and I started to relax. It was really going to happen. The waiting and uncertainty were drawing to a close and the promise of golden sunsets, sage-scented air and spectacular wildlife encounters were on the horizon.
I’m going back to Kenya, at the invitation of the Ministry of Tourism, one of the most beautiful countries on earth and a place that has tugged at my soul since the first day I set foot in the Masai Mara two years ago. The following year, I found myself in Amboseli, southeast of the Mara, and I still dream about the dusty blues and golds, and the large herds of elephant that almost defy the imagination.
Kenya’s tourism has been hit hard these last couple of years. The Ebola threat which was thousands of thousands of miles away—Rome is closer by the way than Nairobi— and the fear of terrorist attacks (while I can’t say it’s impossible it’s unlikely in Nairobi and non-existent in the bush where most people stay. Heck we have more public shootings in the U.S.A unfortunately), have struck the country hard which directly impacts the people and important conservation efforts that keep the national parks and the wildlife safe. Therefore, when the opportunity to experience Kenya again came my way, I jumped at it. If I can inspire more people to visit by sharing my stories and photos, I’m thrilled to do so. It deserves your attention.
This time, I’m headed north into Samburuland and the Shaba National Reserve. I’d never heard of Shaba before—my bad. Or more honestly, I wasn’t paying attention. It’s where Joy Adamson, of Born Free fame (one of my favorite childhood movies), lived until her death in 1980. It was the setting for many of the scenes in Out of Africa, and I just read that it was also the setting for Survivor: Africa. (I wouldn’t know first hand. I can’t stand reality shows.)
Speaking of Joy Adamson, my first stop is Joy’s Camp, built on the site Adamson’s tented home once stood. How cool is that?
According to a promotional video I watched last night, the Shaba National Reserve is sometimes referred to as the “Namibia of Kenya” because of its arid landscapes and spectacular rock formations. Having loved my visit to Namibia in March, that sounds just fine by me. I’m told it’s elephant and leopard country, but it’s also home to some unique species of wildlife including the aardwolf, striped hyena, gerenuk, grevy zebra, beisa oryx, the blue-legged somali ostrich, and the reticulated giraffe, all of which, of course, I hope to see. However, when I go to Africa, I always remind myself that I must never “expect” to see anything. Don’t misunderstand me, if you go into the bush you’ll definitely see wildlife, but that’s just the point, they’re wild and can’t be counted on to appear out of thin air as if in a storybook.
That may seem obvious, but I’ve run across countless travelers who act as if they’re entitled to sightings on cue and become really crabby and unpleasant when it doesn’t happen. It’s beyond my comprehension really. Disappointment? Sure. Angry? That’s just plain ridiculous. (Ok.. I’m stepping off my soapbox now…)
My second stop will be at Ol Malo, a family owned and operated lodge in the Samburuland desert. Friends of mine stayed there a few years ago and loved it. I’m looking forward to seeing the dunes, riding camels—which I haven’t done since a visit to the Sahara five years ago—or possibly sleeping outdoors in the lodge’s tree house under a sea of shining stars.
At both camps I want to visit with the local Samburu tribes. I love learning about new cultures and spending time with people who live traditionally. Photographically, I can’t wait. My time with the Himba in Namibia last March is one of my most treasured memories.
There’s more of course, but I don’t want to give it all away on the first post!