Sunday, April 19, 2015

African Safari - Born free in Kenya

We left for Nairobi from Mumbai at  5.30 am by Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa. The other airlines which have reasonable rates are Kenyan Airlines and Qatar(if I remember correctly) - which flies directly to Nairobi from Mumbai.

At Addis we met Abhijitda and his wife, who came from Delhi.It takes around 4.30 hours to reach Addis Ababa and 1.20 hours from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.

We are eight people - My father, friend of mine, cousins(2 Adults and daughter) and my cousin's friend (couple). Any African safari should consist of 8 people since Toyota Land Cruiser Car can accommodate only 8 people. Not a single more - 1 in the front (who cannot stand ) and 2+2+3 = 8. Actually 7 people are ideal if all of you want to stand and for photographers group normally they recommend 4 people.


The size of Kenya is 581,000 Km compared to almost 90,000 Sq km of West Bengal. So it is 6 times the size of West Bengal. There are 47 counties in Kenya.

Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa. It is surrounded by Somalia to the north east and Tanzania to the south. Its other surrounding countries are Ethiopia and South Sudan to the north and Uganda to the west.

Kenya is one of Africa's more powerful economies. Although made up of many diverse ethnic groups and tribes, Kenyans have strong sense of national pride which may be due in part to unity in the struggle for Uhuru (Kiswahili : "freedom") – independence from British colonial rule, achieved in 1963. The population of Kenya is only 42 million or 4.2 Crores.

Nairobi has a population of 3 million  or 30 lakh plus. Situated on the Nairobi River, the city is not only the largest and fastest growing city in Kenya, but one of the largest in Africa.The word Nairobi derives from a water hole known in Maasai (an Eastern Nilotic language) as Enkare Nyirobi, which means "cool waters." Nairobi, which was a swamp area, was founded in 1899 and was first a railway camp for the Uganda Railway. The city became Kenya’s capital, which was Mombasa initially, and it also became the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate in 1905. 
Somewhat in the middle of Kenya lies Nanyuki town - which is located on Equator. So Kenya is hot. WRONG. The height of Nairobi is similar to hill town of Kalimpong (1500 metres). No wonder you need cold clothes whenever you go to Kenya. It is for this reason Kenya is one of the largest producers of Tea in the world. Famine in Kenya causes the price of tea in India to increase. 

World famous Kenyan runners typically come from districts like KeiyoMarakwet and Nandi in western Kenya. Almost all of them represent Kalenjin tribes. Because of the high altitude practising over there is good for long distance runners. Many foreigners come to this part to practice.

Vasco da Gama expedition set sail from Lisbon on 8 July 1497. By 16 December, the fleet had passed the Great Fish River (Eastern Cape, South Africa) . Vasco da Gama spent 2 to 29 March 1498 in the vicinity of Mozambique Island. Arab-controlled territory on the East African coast was an integral part of the network of trade in the Indian Ocean. Fearing the local population would be hostile to Christians, da Gama impersonated a Muslim and gained audience with the Sultan of Mozambique. With the paltry trade goods he had to offer, da Gama was unable to provide a suitable gift to the ruler and da Gama departed the harbour. In the vicinity of modern Kenya, the expedition resorted to piracy, looting Arab merchant ships – generally unarmed trading vessels without heavy cannons. The Portuguese became the first known Europeans to visit the port of Mombasa 7th to 13 April 1498, but were met with hostility and soon departed.
 Vasco da Gama moved further North and first arrived at the port of Malindi on 14 April 1498 – whose leaders were then in conflict with those of Mombasa – and there the expedition first noted evidence of Indian traders. Vasco Da Gama and his crew contracted the services of a pilot whose knowledge of the monsoon winds allowed him to bring the expedition to Calicut, located on the southwest coast of India. Sources differ over the identity of the pilot. Vasco da Gama left Malindi for India on 24 April 1498.
Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by ocean route, as well as the Atlantic and the Indian oceans entirely and definitively, and in this way, the West and the Orient. This was accomplished on his first voyage to India (1497 – 1499).

The British, who were one of Kenya’s colonizers, set up shop in Nairobi, leading to the creation of big hotels primarily for the British hunters. Also, Nairobi has an East Indian community (Gujarati and Punjabi) from those who are the descendants of original colonial railway labourers and merchants.
The GDP of Kenya is around 62 Billion US Dollar i.e. 1/30 of Indian GDP and per capita income is only 1500 USD which is similar to India.

100 Kenyan Shilling is = 85  Indian Rupee. However prices are generally more than DOUBLE than that of India. e.g. 2 pound of good quality loaf is Rs 96. 1 kg of salt is Rs 40-50.

In Africa, many countries are divided in straight lines by the colonialists at the time of leaving the country, without any serious thought of ethnicity - this resulted in many a fight between the countries. e.g. 
The North Eastern Province with its capital at Garissa. and previously known as the Northern Frontier District (NFD), was carved out of the Jubaland region of present-day southern Somalia during the colonial period. It is and has historically been primarily inhabited by ethnic Somalis. At the time under British colonial administration, the northern half of Jubaland was ceded to Italy as a reward for the Italians' support of the Allies during World War I. Britain retained control of the southern half of the territory, which was later called the Northern Frontier District (subsequently renamed the North Eastern Province). 

On June 26, 1960, four days before granting 
British Somali land independence, the British government declared that all Somali-inhabited areas of East Africa should be unified in one administrative region. However, after the dissolution of the former British colonies in the region, Britain granted administration of the Northern Frontier District to Kenyan nationalists despite an overwhelming desire of the region's population to join the newly formed Somali Republic and the fact that the NFD was almost exclusively inhabited by ethnic Somalis.
On the eve of Kenya's independence in August 1963, British officials belatedly realized that the new Kenyan regime was not willing to give up the Somali-inhabited areas it had just been granted administration of. Led by the Northern Province People's Progressive Party (NPPPP), Somalis in the NFD vigorously sought union with their kin in the Somali Republic to the north. In response, the Kenyan government enacted a number of repressive measures designed to frustrate their efforts in what came to be known as the Shifta War:

Get in
Indian Citizens can avail VOA which is quite hassle free for 50 USD at Kenyan airport. There is no need to have prior Visa.

The yellow fever AND polio vaccination is required for India. You can go to Marine house near Kidderpore, Kolkata for vaccination (open on Monday,Wednesday,Friday). Although I had done my yellow fever vaccination for my Brazilian tour during world cup, I had to go to Marine house only for the polio oral drop (free of cost) and got a certificate from them.

By plane
Regular flights to Nairobi are operated by Ethiopian and Kenya Airways among other airlines. Kenya Airways is the national airline and flies directly from Mumbai unlike Ethiopian which halts first at Addis Ababa. For Indian's probably these two are the cheapest. Nairobi’s main airport is JKIA Jomo Kenyatta International Airport . There is also Wilson Airport, near city's center for domestic flights. 

By train
The city is also accessible by train, with daily arrivals and departures at the Nairobi Railway station. The trains go east to Mombasa and west to Kisumu.  This is the only route they have. It appeared to be metre gauge and not metre gauge . That is why train is slow. Probably bus is faster and more convenient. However we saw work going on for more tracks by Chinese companies.

There are 3 classes: First, Second and General. First and Second are sleepers. First-class includes bedding, breakfast, and dinner all-inclusive for around $50; Second is $35 all-inclusive. Both can be purchased without bedding or food. Tickets have to be booked through the office on Station Road in south-central Nairobi, or online. 
By bus
Kenya’s bus system is mostly reliable. There are many bus companies that have routes going to and from the country’s different cities, including Nairobi, the centre of the bus network. Regular bus services operate between: Nairobi & Arusha (Tanzania); Nairobi & Kampala (Uganda); Mombasa (Kenya) & Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania); Kisumu (Kenya) & Kampala (Uganda);
Reliable bus services on these routes include Kampala Coach, Easy Coach, Crown Buses, Modern Coast, Mash, among others.
By Matatu
Matatus (14-18 seater minibuses) and shuttles (6-seater cars) are convenient, inexpensive (and often the only) modes of public transport connecting Nairobi to towns and tourist destinations in the Rift Valley and Central Highlands such as Naivasha, Nyeri, Nanyuki, Isiolo, and Thika. Matatus can be obtained from the River Road area. 

The petty theft in matatu is a major concern and valuables such as mobile phones and wallets should not be prominently displayed here, particularly after dark and even while in the matatu. 
By Boat
Entry into Nairobi by boat is of course not possible, however, one could certainly arrive in Kenya by boat via Mombasa or Lamu, and proceeding by road, air, or rail to Nairobi. Immigration should be processed at the port facility.


Nairobi has notoriously bad traffic and at rush hours (7-9am, 4.30-6.30pm) much of the city grinds to a halt. Even Kolkata pales into comparison. In the airport we were received by Didi's car and our safari car's driver Alex.We reached my sister's house around 2.30 pm. We had lunch in Didi's house. Tomorrow we will leave for Naivasha. They stay at Kitisuru - a very posh locality in Kenya. That area has a feeling of hill town because of undulating road. Gopu treated us with some piano.  

In Didi's house two maids work. They speak very good English like almost all Kenyan's we met in this journey.In Kenya almost everybody read newspapers - which costs around 40-50 Ksh per day ! ie Rs 35-40 !

In Kenya you will always listen to few words - Jumbo for hello (when you enter any hotel you will always listen this!) ; asante sana for thank you very much, asante for thank you , Mzuri sana for very good, Zuri for fine, Karibu for welcome and Ksaheri for Good Bye

However in Maasai hello is Sopa


Lake Naivasha

We left home around 8.30 am for Lake Naivasha, West of Kenya. It takes around 2.30 hours to reach Lake Naivasha. We saw the rift valley view point on the way to Naivasha.

The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately 6,000 km in length, that runs from northern Jordan Rift Valley in Asia to Mozambique in South Eastern Africa.The name continues in some usages, although it is today considered geologically imprecise.

rift valley is a linear-shaped lowland between several highlands or mountain ranges created by the action of a geologic rift or fault which is subsequently further deepened by the forces of erosion. east-Africa-rift.shtml

We took a boat ride @ 30 USD on Lake Naivasha. We saw numerous birds and Hippos in the lake. After 1 hour boat ride we went to Naivasha Sopa lodge in Naivasha around 10 minutes from the Lake.

From boat you can see Cormorants (Pankouri in Bengali) drying their wings, Ibis, Pink Backed Pelicans, Herons, colourful Kingfishers and Fish Eagles, Heron, Jacana, Great White Egret, White Fronted Bee-eater and the Saddle- billed Stork. 

If you can get down at the other side of the lake called crescent island you have to pay $ 30 per person. We did not do it. In fact it started raining just after we finished our tour.

Naivasha is a market town in Nakuru CountyKenya, lying north west of Nairobi. It is located on the shore of Lake Naivasha and along the Nairobi -Nakuru highway and Uganda RailwayThe main industry is agriculture, especially floriculture. We saw many greenhouse on the way to Naivasha. Apparently they are growing rose there. The name derives from the local Maasai name Nai'posha, meaning "rough water" because of the sudden storms which can arise. Lake Naivasha is at the highest elevation of the Kenyan Rift valley at 1,884 metres (6,181 ft). The lake has a surface area of 139 Sq km  and is surrounded by a swamp which covers an area of 64 square km.

Inside our lodge we saw giraffe, water buck and we sat beside the lake to see the birds.

See the giraffe within the jungle inside our lodge complex

Inside the lodge when you go for dinner from your room  or go back from dinner room to home you are supposed to take an armed guard since the hippos in the night get up from water and wander inside the complex. In fact the security showed me a prong like instrument to ward off the hippos.


Today we had breakfast in the lodge and left for Hell's gate. Other member's of our group left for Elsamere. It was retirement home for the Joy Adamson of Born Free fame.

This is what Joy had to say about Elsamere: “For years I had been looking for a house where George and I could live. Eventually I found a place  that seemed to combine all we wished for.It would be impossible to imagine a more attractive sight for a home…..We decided to call our home ,Elsamere”.  Actually you can also stay there and go for river cruise from there. We were told it is a wonderful place.

Hell's Gate

However we (Did,Baba, Barun, Gopu and me) left for Hell's gate. The entry fee is 35 USD.

Dry and dusty but infinitely peaceful, Hell's Gate is that rare thing: an adventurous Kenyan park with large animals, safe to explore by bicycle or on foot.

Large carnivores are very rare, so you can cycle to your heart's content past grazing zebras, giraffes, impalas and buffaloes, spot rock hyraxes as they clamber up inclines and chase dust clouds as they swirl in the wind. 

And if the pedalling isn't enough exercise, hike the gorge or climb Fischer's Tower.
In the early morning the park is all aglow; its rich ochre soils and savannah grasses squeezed between looming cliffs of rusty columnar basalt. The hushing wind passing between the rock formations gives it an otherworldly feel. 
Outside of the midday heat, the park is a good place for quiet meditation, and there are lots of great picnic spots, too." : 

The terrain is completely different. 

Inside the park

We also went for hiking with a guide. We did not go to the end to see the hot spring - since we had to go back to Nairobi. While doing the hiking Didi told the ordinarily built guide can you hold me ? Are you strong enough - Since the hiking was bit risky and rains made it slippery. To that he stared at Didi for 1 second and said "I am a Maasai" !

There are about 42 different tribes in Kenya - each of these with its own unique culture, but majority of them with intertwining cultural practices brought about by the close resemblance in the languages, the similar environment and physical proximity of the tribes. The Masai are the most famous tribe not only of Kenya, but of Africa as a whole. They have become an international symbol of African tribal life. But they are not the only one. Kenyan tourism has made the Maasai and Samburu tribes the most famous because of their long preserved culture.
Ethnic groups are: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%. 
Most Kenyans know English and Swahili, also a large percentage speak the mother tongue of their ethnic tribe. 
Swahili,  a Bantu language with Arabic, Persian and other Middle Eastern and South Asian loan words, later developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.

Speaking Bantu, the Nilotes, the Cushites...
There are three major unifying categories of languages
the Bantu speaking people of the Coastal region, the Central Highlands and the Western Kenya Region, 
the Nilotes who are mainly found in the Great Rift Valley and the Lake Victoria Region (Nilotes include the MaasaiSamburu, and Turkana people) and 
the Cushites who are mainly composed of pastoralists and nomads in the drier North Eastern part of the country.
The Maasais are a nomadic people. Their style of life has remained unchanged for centuries and their daily life rotates around looking for water and grazing cattle. They believe the ‘sky god’ was once on earth and later went back to the skies and sent all the world’s cattle to them for safe keeping of the Massai.
The cattle are still central pivots of their lives with blood and milk of their cattle continuing to be the preferred diet. The cattle hide acts as clothing, footwear and sleeping mattress, while cattle still act as marriage bonds and used to pay fines. 
The jewellery of the Maasai tribe is always made by women , as this is one of their many jobs.  Leather, beads, and sisal plants are used as the main materials in these intricate designs.The men of the Maasai tribe are responsible for raising the cattle from which the leather for the jewelry will be made. The cattle are also used as currency for the purchase of the beads.Beads were not commonly used in jewelry until the 1900's.  Although beads were introduced to the Maasai tribe in the 1800's by the Arabs and East Indians, they did not become popular until the 1900's.  Prior to using beads, the Maasai mostly used copper and brass wire, in addition to plant seeds, to make their jewellery.  Glass and plastic beads are now commonplace. 

We came back to Nairobi from Hell's gate and met our group members and went to sleep early, since tomorrow we will leave early for Amboseli. We (abhijitda,Arunidi and me) went to have dinner at Carnivore once considered one of the best 50 restaurants in the World. It is famous for Nyama Choma - grilled meat of Kenya.They no longer serve “game meat” like Zebra.


Amboseli ( or Devil's wind) National_Park

Today we left our Nairobi house at 7.30 am and reached Amboseli at 1.30 pm. At the gate we encountered colourful Samburu people. Amboseli according to a Maasai word means Devil's wind,  since you see the wind formation all the time, which from a distance looks like a Tornado.

Amboseli belongs in the elite of Kenya’s national parks, and it’s easy to see why. Its signature attraction is the sight of hundreds of big-tusked elephants set against the backdrop of Africa’s best views of Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m). 

Africa’s highest peak broods over the southern boundary of the park, and while cloud cover can render the mountain’s massive bulk invisible for much of the day, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas when the weather clears, usually at dawn and/or dusk. 

Apart from guaranteed elephant sightings, you’ll also see wildebeest and zebras, and you’ve a reasonable chance of spotting lions and hyenas. The park is also home to over 370 bird species." 

Amboseli National Park is located in Loitoktok District, Rift Valley Province of Kenya. The park is 392 sq km;  Amboseli has an endless underground water supply filtered through thousands of feet of volcanic rock from Kilimanjaro’s ice cap, which funnel into two clear water springs in the heart of the park. 

We stayed in Serena Hotels serenaamboseli. After having our lunch we went to afternoon game drive at 4 pm. Africa is famous for its Big 5 animals.

In Africa out of Big 5 are : 2 carnivores - Leopard and Lion and 3 Herbivores- Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino.  

Why not the hippo,gorilla or giraffe you may ask? Are they not large as well? How about the cheetah -- that would be an animal you would probably like to see as much as a buffalo. Well, the term "big five" was actually coined by big game hunters (not safari tour operators).
 It refers to the difficulty in bagging these large animals, mostly due to their ferocity when cornered and shot at.

We saw wonderful view of Kilimanjaro and a wonderful view of horizon.


Today we went to morning game drive at 6.30 am and returned our lodge at 8.30 am to have our breakfast and left for Nairobi. However we went to a hillock and went to the top to have a wonderful view of the forest.

We went to Nairobi via Makindu and other group members went straight to Nairobi. Sikh Temple Makindu is located about 170km from Nairobi on the main Nairobi to Mombasa Road. It was built in 1926 by the Sikhs who were working on the construction of the Uganda railway line from the coast (Mombasa) inland to Lake Victoria and beyond to Uganda. Today, all types of people visit this Gurdwara everyday and it is a 'must-see' Gurdwara for any Sikh travelling to Kenya and East Africa

This holy Sikh shrine provides a peaceful atmosphere and has facilities for langar (free food) around the clock and living accommodation for travellers. We had our lunch over there. We clicked picture with a Virendra Sewag look a like. He is from UK.

On the way back to Nairobi our Tyre got punctured. We got down at a cafe cum curio shop and bought some masks there. We were late since the office crowd made the roads of Nairobi completely standstill - worse than Kolkata !

Samburu National Reserve

Today Didi did go with us. Today we left home at 6.30 pm and reached Samburu at around 1.30 pm. The Samburu National Reserve is located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro river (meaning brown water) in Kenya. The park is 165 km² in size and is situated 330 kilometers from Nairobi. It is located in Samburu County.The Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness made famous in the best selling book and award winning movie Born Free.The Samburu National Reserve is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves. You can see the hoarding before entering the forest.

There are 5 animals called Samburu 5 which is only found here. They are : gerenukGrevy's zebraoryxBlue Shanked Somali ostrich and reticulated giraffe.

Grevy's Zebra

Normal Zebra

                                         See the difference in stripes


Reticulated Giraffe

Maasai Giraffe
                                                     See the difference in stripes


We got the best resort in Kenya in Samburu. It is just beside  Ewaso Nyiro River .click here

My favourite resort in Africa

All three big cats, lioncheetah and leopard, can also be found here, as well as elephantsbuffalo and hippos.The Ewaso Ng'iro river contains large numbers of Nile crocodile.

We went for after game drive at 4 pm. Today we were very lucky to see a Leopard killing a Gerenuk. 

They are normally very shy animal and hunt in the evening. Since today it was cloudy so it was somewhat dark .Our guide said he saw it for the first time in 10 years! We were told we can earn thousands of dollars by selling that video to National Geographic.

People often confuse Cheetah with Leopard. In reality they are very different.

Leopards hunt at night. Cheetahs hunt during the day.

Leopards rely on stealth upto do 60 km/hr, Cheetahs rely on speed (up to 113 km/hr) over short distances . They are the world’s fastest animal. 

Leopard is also bigger in size. You find leopard in India too. Cheetahs are lighter, but taller, than leopards.Leopards live a solitary life while cheetahs are more social.

The two black lines below the cheetah’s eyes are known as tear marks, and act as reflection absorbers while they are hunting during sunny days.

Leopards climb trees since they have retractile claws while cheetahs don’t.

We came back around 6.30 pm.

There you have other options like Bird walk for 700 Ksh per person and Samburu cultural dances for 700 Ksh per person.

In the evening the crocodiles from the river come near the hotel and they are fed by the hotel stuff.

We had our dinner early and went to sleep. In the hotel after 9.30 pm the lights are switched off to conserve energy. The electricity comes from diesel engine. When I was feeling bit hot at night I thought of coming out of my room and sit in the verandah, but I decided not to do it, since you never know which animals are inside the complex, more so since the river water is very scanty! With different types of animal sound you are transported to a different world. Officially rain started in Kenya from 28.3.15.


We got up early morning and went for Morning game drive at 6.30 am and came back at 8.30 am to have our breakfast. Today we left for Nanyuki for Ol Pejeta conservancy.

Sweet Waters Tented Camp

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 360 sq km not-for-profit privately owned wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya's Laikipia County. It is situated on the equator, west of Nanyuki, between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya. 

It took around 3 hours to reach the resort. This one is also owned by Serena. Once the grand ranch house of multi-millionaire Adnan Kashoggi, this magnificently presented house stands at the centre of the private Ol Pejeta Conservancy very near to Nanyuki. There is glorious views of Mount Kenya from the resort. Just in front of our “tent” there is a watering hole.   serenaolpejeta

After having our lunch we went for after game drive at 4 pm. By mistake I had one glass pineapple juice - since I thought it was part of buffet and had to pay 300 Ksh. After some time we went to see Rhino sanctuary. There is no entry fee, but you have to tip the guide. The Conservancy boasts the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and in 2013 reached a population milestone of 100 black rhino.

It also houses three of the five last remaining 
northern white rhino in the world. The word "white", in the name "white rhinoceros" is a misinterpretation of the Afrikaans word wyd, itself derived from the Dutch word wijd for wide, referring to its square upper lips. 

Being one of the first rhinos born in the open fields of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy on November 20th, 1994, the tender hearted mammal was aptly named Baraka meaning “blessings” in Swahili. Black rhinos are very aggressive and will fight each other to protect their territories and unfortunately for Baraka, he was involved in a fight that caused an injury to one of his eyes. This eye later developed an abscess that ruptured and consequently had to be removed. As if life hadn’t proven to be difficult enough for this young rhino, Baraka later developed a crystallized cataract in his other eye which, even after numerous attempts at finding a cure, eventually led him to become completely blind. 

We fed Baraka. The black rhinoceros or hook-lipped rhinoceros is a species of rhinoceros, native to eastern and central Africa . Although the rhinoceros is referred to as black, its colours vary from brown to grey.They have pointed or hooked lip. They have two horns.
These species are now sometimes referred to as the square-lipped (for white) or hook-lipped (for black) rhinoceros.Both black and white rhinoceroses are actually grey. They are different not in colour but in lip shape. The black rhino has a pointed upper lip, while its white relative has a squared lip. 

Update : In 2018 the only male white Rhino Sudan died, leaving only 2 female white rhino.

The difference in lip shape is related to the animals' diets. Black rhinos are browsers that get most of their sustenance from eating trees and bushes. They use their lips to pluck leaves and fruit from the branches. 

White rhinos graze on grasses, walking with their enormous heads and squared lips lowered to the ground.

Except for females and their offspring, black rhinos are solitary. Black rhinos feed at night and during the gloaming hours of dawn and dusk. 

See more at: baraka-black-rhino

Then went to see the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. There is no entry fee, but you have to tip the guide. It provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned and rescued chimpanzees.T
he opened in 1993 in a negotiated agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. The facility was initially established to receive and provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) from West and Central Africa.- Rwanda,Ghana and Burundi in 1993 . This group of chimpanzees needed to be evacuated due to the outbreak of civil war in Burundi. 


Then we went back to our resort to have our dinner.  In the night I saw water buck, zebra coming to the watering hole sitting on my tent at the same level – only a narrow moat separating us. We also saw elephant in the evening at the waterhole. We were told sometimes waterbuck jump off the fence and come just in front of the tent.


In the morning we had a wonderful view of Mount Kenya from our Tent. 

Then we went to morning game drive at 6.30 am and returned back at 8.30 am for breakfast.Inside the Park we saw the equator point. Then we saw many Zebras at the waterhole in front of our tent.

Just in front of our tent.
 After breakfast now it is time for leaving for Nairobi. On the way we got down at Equator point and learnt the magnetic effect of equator on water. However within  20 metres North or South the effect is neutral.

It took around 4 hours to reach Nariobi. On the way we had lunch at Village Market food court - one of the most expensive places (Mall- Nakumatt) in Kenya, since UN offices are nearby.One chicken fried rice at the food court costs Ksh 480. This is the cheapest of all the foods! Then I went to the Maasai Market to buy some handicrafts. It is a wonderful market and prices are reasonable. But normally you have reduce the price from one tenth to one third generally ! Kenyans are real gentleman and they have a typical style while bargaining. They will say " This is a secret...don't discuss with anybody...because this is a business deal.".Once my didi's friend told them my price is so low I am ashamed to tell you, then they said please whisper !

Didi's friend Satarupa and her husband came to meet us and treated us with reciting wonderful Bengali poems.

We went to sleep little late though tomorrow we will leave for Maasai Mara at 6 am. Mother of all safaris in the world.


Today we left home at 7 am and reached Maasai Mara at around 1.30 pm. Didi , Baba and Gopu left by Plane. We took the Naroke route. Till 11 am the road was metallic and perfect.Then we took left turn and took the non metallic road - like all other roads to National Parks in Kenya. But the distance is by far the more than other places. We had to travel for 3 hours on that bad road.

Didi reached before us. Their 15 seater plane left Nairobi at 10 am and reached at 11 am. Like other major resorts our resort also has a air strip where plane land and from there it is transferred to the resort by a jeep. The fare is around 185 USD to and fro.

We intentionally kept Maasai Mara at the last since it is the grandest of all.The Maasai Mara National Reserve not the largest conservation area in Kenya but it is the most famous one. The Masai Mara and the Serengeti are part of the same Eco-system.

Park Fee is USD 80 per adult per night, valid for 24 hours. This Park Entry Fee- will allow you to go on game drive in one the 3 part of the official perimeter of the Masai Mara National Reserve (there are 3 areas or districts: North Conservancy, Keekoroke and Mara Triangle). The areas are independent and if you pay the park fee for one of them you cannot visit another part unless you pay a second park fee. Normally people stick to Mara Triangle. My sister's Bengali friend Jui has opened a resort - Porini Camp - Olkineyi Conservancy - which is a Private conservancy. They pay for the upkeep and is very expensive. However experience is unparalleled. It is Ol Kineyi Olkinyeimasaimara .

Like all other places we were greeted by a welcome drink and wet towel at the wonderful resort - Mara Serena. There is a grand view of Mara sitting on the balcony. The grandness of these parks are unparallel compared to obnoxiously priced parks in India and actually within the range of many Indians contrary to what people in India think. We hired a local Bengali Travel agent (staying in Kenya for 16 years)

The Maasai Mara National Reserve (also known as The Mara) is a large game reserve in Narok CountyKenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Mara RegionTanzania

It is basically an extension of Seregeti , which is much bigger. It is named in honour of the Maasai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar: "Mara," which is Maa (Maasai language) for "spotted," an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area. 

Grasslands have many names—prairies in North America, Asian steppes, savannahs and veldts in Africa, Australian rangelands, and pampas, llanos and cerrados in South America. But they are all places where there is too little rain for trees to grow in great numbers, but not so little to form a desert . They are however scattered with trees mostly Acacia and Bobab.

Based on climatic dryness there are 2 types of Savannahs - Tropical grassland (also know as Savannah are located near equatory) and Temperate Grassland. African tropical grassland or Savannah has more variety compared to South American Savannah like Pantanal. One fourth of the earth's land is grassland. According to WWF there is third type called Flooded grassland.
(To know more click here)

It is globally famous for its annual migration of zebra,Thomson's gazelle, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October, known as the Great Migration.

When it was originally established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary the Mara covered only 520 square kilometres  of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. The area was extended to the east to 1,510 sq km in 1984.

In 1995, the TransMara County Council (TMCC) was formed in the western part of the reserve, and control was divided between the new council and the existing Naroke County Council in Mara Triangle.
In May 2001, the not-for-profit Mara Conservancy took over management of the Mara Triangle. So this part is privately managed and rules are strictly followed and the rangers are the highest paid among all the rangers in Kenya. If  you don't come back within 6.45 pm you will be fined.

The best kept secret of the Mara is the Mara Triangle. Although one third of the Mara, The Mara Triangle has only one lodge within its boundaries (compared to the numerous camps and lodges on the Naroke side) and has well maintained, all weather roads. The rangers patrol regularly which means that there is almost no poaching and therefore excellent game viewing. 

We had our lunch and left for afternoon game drive at 4 pm and returned back at 6.30 pm. 

Today it started raining when we were very near to herd of lion.We saw some ostriches too.Normally during peak season you are not allowed to see lion for that long (normally 5 minutes) due to large number of jeeps. We saw them for 30 minutes since it is just outside typical season time.

Today we had our dinner little late since tomorrow is the first day after many days when we don't have to travel next day after morning safari. The food here is a buffet like most of the resorts and a lavish spread. 

Typically in breakfast : they serve 7-8 types of bread, butter, jam, fruits,various types of tea and coffee with scones,muffins, cakes,various types of cheese, at least 4-5 types of juice - passion,orange,pineapple,tree tomato,water melon,active cooking - pancake,various types of omelet,sausage (beef,pork),bacon,Rajma,beans,custards,desserts etc

In lunch and dinner normally they serve cream of broccoli or carrot etc soup with bread,under active cooking pasta, spare beef,Pork ribs,bacon,Rajma,papad,roti,various kinds of rice, beans,baked beans,various kinds of desserts,fruits,custard. 
Ugali and sukuma wiki, staples of Kenyan cuisine was also served.We were told that Gujrati and Panjabis controls more than 70 % of the economy and that is why you find Indian food there and they are the only Kenyans in the national parks there normally.
The fact is Indians treat Black Africans very poorly and paid less. Nearly two-thirds of Kenya’s Sh4.3 trillion ($50 billion) economy is controlled by a tiny clique of 8,300 super-wealthy individuals.  Industrialist Vimal Shah, the CEO of edible oils manufacturer Bidco, is listed as Kenya’s only dollar billionaire .


  Today we left at 6.30 am and took the car of didi. Didi's car is provided by the resort. The driver is also part of the resort. So they took us off the road and took us very near to Cheetah and cubs - normally which is not allowed, unless the rangers give you permission. It is very difficult to see the Cheetah sitting in the Savannah. Unless it raises its head it is very difficult to spot.

After coming back for breakfast we (Gopadi, Bappada,Barun and I) left for Maasai village around 10 am. It is around 25 Km from our lodge.After coming back for breakfast we (Gopadi, Bappada,Barun and I) left for Maasai village around 10 am. It is around 25 Km from our lodge.The Maasai village is near Oloolaimutiek gate of this game park. It is a good experience and will help you to deepen your understanding of the Maasai's culture and simple way of life. The main person speaks good English and went to a school. The entry fee of the village is 20 USD per person.

We interacted with them and also danced with them. Some of the curios were also for sale. They asked 900 Ksh for the keyring which we bought for 50 Ksh in Maasai Market.

We came back around 12.30 pm from the village.Then we again went for evening safari at 4 pm. Today we saw the lions really very very close.

We came back at 6.30 pm and had dinner and went to sleep early since tomorrow we will have a long safari.


Today we left for safari at 7.30 am after having our breakfast and came back at 12 pm. Today we went with our car since the resort's car does not have facility for extended safari. Didi is bit upset with that. It is also possible to go for  hot air balloon safari early in the morning and see the sun rising above the wildlife and the magnificent landscapes. 

Today we had saw Cheetah with its cubs - which is a rare sight among other things.  

Agama Lizard

We came back and had our lunch and again went for afternoon safari with didi's car. Today we saw the first lion in our Kenyan tour (though we have seen many lioness) and saw a very rare phenomenon called fire rainbow cloud.

TToday we got down near Maara river and saw one of  the important  places where great migration takes place. With an armed guard we saw many rivers in the river. We saw the foot marks of hippo,Zebra,Lion.


Today we went to morning game drive at 6.30 am and returned our lodge at 8.30 am to have our breakfast and left for Nairobi. Didi went to Nairobi by plane. After coming back to Nairobi I left for local market to buy some stuff. I reached there at 5.15 pm. It normally closes by 6.30 pm.

We had our dinner and went to sleep after doing all the packing.

15/4/15 and 16/4/15

Today I went to the Maasai Market once again since I could not buy everything yesterday. After buying some items which could not buy yesterday I came back home and left for Nariboi Airport with Alex for going back to India.In these 14 days Alex has honked the car only once ! Our plane is at 5.30 pm and left home at 12.30 pm !

We reached India safely on 16.4.15. and went to office directly from airport but Africa remained in our heart for quite few days.

PS: Our tour cost was around $1300  ex-Nairobi.

Chronological order