Africa, Page one, the pre-trip

On May 24th we started our month-long adventure to East Africa.  I was a bit, maybe a bit more than a bit, apprehensive about this trip.  I was expecting the accommodations to be, perhaps shell we say, crude.  I've seen too many Tarzan movies and figured I'd be living up in a tree somewhere.  They were not as nice as a fancy hotel but they were quite nice, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Here's a small map showing the areas we covered including the pre trip to Masai Mara, and the post trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Most of the flights inside Africa were made in this type of plane, a two engine Otter, a twin Otter they called it.  It held about 20 people and luggage.  Here we had just landed at our lodge on a dirt runway and as you can see we were just 1.5 degrees South of the Equator.

This was our tent for the 4 days we were at Masai Mara.  We had hot and cold running water for the shower and sink, a toilet that worked, electricity during the day until midnight, and hot water bottles in our beds at night because it was a little chilly.

Another view of our tent.  We had to keep the front zipped and tied with a cord to keep the monkeys out of our tent.  They knew how to work the zipper but not how to untie the knot in the cord.  This strange contraption was our hot water heater which the porters kept stoked with charcoal.

Our first day out in the bush, we were so excited to see our first animals, a herd of gazelles, as time went on it was old hat to see even vast herds of these gazelles.  Then our first elephant, wow!  But then even the elephants got to be very common, we saw hundreds of them.

However the lions weren't quite so common, we stopped and viewed the lions at every opportunity.  The lions paid no attention to the safari vehicles what so ever, they were just big house cats, basking in the sun or more commonly lying in the shade of a tree in the heat of the day.

These were a group of cheetahs, again like the lion they paid no attention to the people or vehicles that were around them.  The Masai Mara was a game reserve unlike a national park so the vehicles were allowed to drive off road except where it was posted, and ours did.  The mini vans you see in the cheetah picture didn't drive off road much.  The Masai girls knew that the cars had to stop at the entrance to pay the entry fee, so they would surround your vehicle while you were waiting, being very pushy, and try to sell their trinkets.  That's Linda.

This was our car, it was three wooden park benches with a motor under it and it bounced along the roads and across the bush with a violence you wouldn't believe.  Thank goodness for the blow up cushions that Shirley had brought along just for the occasion.  Here were the Masai girls waiting at the entrance ready to pounce.

We got to visit a Masai village where the men put on a little demonstration seeing how high they could jump.  The girls sang a little song.  We had the opportunity to vist another village later in the trip where you'll see more pictures.  The later village was a step up in culture from this one.

Here the men were demonstrating their fire making ability.  They could get a fire going in about two minutes.      Carlie buying a trinket or two from the entrepreneurs.

There were five of us that took the pre-trip to Masai Mara, Carlie, Shirley, Doug, Linda, and me, the Masai guy didn't go with us.  A Picture inside one of the huts, very close inside, difficult to take a picture.

Another entrance to Masai Mara, there were several, this one had a few cape buffalo skulls for decoration.  This next picture was just off the road and was a river with hippos and crocodiles.  They let us out of the jeep where we could take a short walk up to the river's edge to get a closer look.  There were several armed guards watching over us.  This scene reminds me of a scene in the movies where the wildebeests are migrating in great herds, crossing the river, and then climbing the bank on the other side, avoiding the crocodiles, maybe this is the place.

Then after the four days of bouncing along in the bush we took the Twin Otter back to Nairobi where we met up with the main tour group.  There were seven more making a total of twelve.  They split us up into two groups of six giving each of us a window seat in the vans.  I was very glad that we were able to take the pre trip because it was the only time we were able to go off road and that was pretty exciting.  More to come!  Page two starts our main trip.