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Touchdown In the Cradle of Mankind

After about 7 straight hours of sweet, sweet sleep, I finally woke up somewhere over Ethiopia, and we had about 90 minutes left in our flight. Kevin and I were in our own little cocoon in the middle of the plane, so we had no real point of reference out any windows, which was probably just as good, since it was pitch black outside. After a rather bumpy touchdown, we were greeted at the end of the jetway by the incomparable Willis, who took our passports and directed us to baggage claim, where, lo and behold, our bags were already waiting. Willis reappeared, and then Bobby met us and herded us to the van. We literally spent all of 10 minutes in the airport, and at no time did we have to hassle with ANY immigration line. So far, Royal African Safaris was treating us like, well, royalty.

We headed out of the city center and to Ngong House. The drive took about 45 minutes, and even though it was nearing 11:00 PM, Paul met us and arranged for dinner (which was CRAZY good). After one last hurrah on the internet, we headed over to our tree house for the night. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it is at Ngong House; the grounds are filled with the biggest bougainvillea you’ve ever seen. We were awakened with coffee and hot chocolate on our patio (helloooooo Kenyan coffee….I heart you so much), and after a shower, we headed over to the main house for breakfast. Paul sat with us for a bit, and then Bobby came to fetch us and take us to the airport, where we caught our 1 hour flight up to Buffalo Springs.On the plane

Even though it was seriously overcast when we took off, we were fortunate enough to be able to see Mount Kenya from the plane. It was a stunning sight, to say the least. The descent was bumpy, but we made it to the airstrip in one piece. We were met by Nic (our other guide from Royal African), Robert, and Lepeta (our two Samburu guides), and we began the long game drive to camp. We were instantly fascinated by everything we saw, and we must have been making poor Bobby crazy. We immediately spotted some gerenuk (an antelope which dislocates its hips in order to reach the higher leaves of the acacia) and several weaver birds’ nests.
Weaver Bird Nest
The drive in was a big wake-up call for both Kevin and me. As we made the 90 minute trek to camp, we passed lots and lots of lion tracks, and it really hit us that there was stuff out there that would kill us. Sure enough, once we got settled in at camp, Bobby gave us what he referred to as the “Pep Talk”, and he reminded us not to wander further than the perimeter of the camp as well as not to go outside of our tents once we were settled in at night. Sure enough, sleeping was a little bit of a challenge that first night in camp; there are LOTS of sounds to contend with, and it was hard to tell the difference between a roaming gazelle or something bigger. Tent Sweet Tent

The coolest thing about the first day, though, was the herd of giraffe that made its way through camp. We passed them on the way in, and by the time we had lunch and settled in for an afternoon rest, they had decided to check us out. They skirted around the perimeter, going from tree to tree munching on acacia leaves. There were about 10 of them in all, and they watched us like “What are you doing here? Don’t you know you’re in the middle of nowhere?”. Giraffe in Camp

We ended that day with an evening game drive and our first sundowners (I MISS sundowners!). We drove up to Booze Hill (really. Booze Hill), and Lepeta and Robert poured the wine while we watched our first African sunset. There’s definitely a reason why watching the sun sink down is an event unto itself in Africa; it’s the most beautiful spot in the world to watch day turn into night, and you never forget your first. That evening, with a glass of wine in hand, the sun painted the sky every shade of orange, red, and yellow, and zebras roamed in the distance. We listened to the brush settle in for the night along with the sweet strains of Mozart (seriously. We listened to Figaro that first night while the sun went to bed). And I experienced first hand how very small I am in this world, but how much I love exploring it. Sunset in Samburuland

One Response to “

Touchdown In the Cradle of Mankind”

  1. camille Says:

    I love this. I can almost imagine being there.

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