- We left Melbourne after a very stressful week trying to get our Kimberley Karavan through Australian Customs and Biosecurity and then towed home and put to sleep for six months. We boarded what smelt like a brand new Boeing Dream Liner and it was amazingly comfortable. One thing we noticed on this flight though was that the quality of the food was not on par with the food we were served on the way out from Kenya. It seems the cooks are better on the Abu Dhabi side than the Australian side! On arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport we were met by the Jungle Junction Camp driver where we had left our Land Cruiser for the two and a half months while we were in Australia. On our way back to the camp from the airport the motorway passes right beside the Nairobi National Park and we saw six beautiful Giraffe which made us instantly feel that we were back in Africa. Back at Jungle Junction we had a bit of sorting out to do like our Comesa 3rd party car insurance for the next 6 months, buy some provisions to get us going and also we needed to source a soccer ball supplier. For those who don’t know Marcus turned 60 while we were back in Australia and instead of gifts he asked that his friends donate some money towards buying soccer balls to give out to African schools. We found a good supplier and bought our first batch of 10 balls at the price of $35 Australian and at that rate we should be able to donate 45 soccer balls so thanks all who donated.
- We also got to try out our roof top tent that Chris from Jungle Junction fitted for us while we were at home and no it is not as comfortable as the Karavan but will be just fine for six months! We even have some new signage so that we don’t have to answer so many questions about where we’re from etc!
While we were at JJ’s we met some great people who were on their way south having already done the Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia route so we were able to gain much first hand knowledge from them. It seems that Ethiopia while an absolutely beautiful country is not necessarily a country of friendly people but rather they will pilfer anything that is not bolted down whether you are watching them or not. Between that and the constant begging for money tends to wear one down it seems. We plan to enter Ethiopia with a positive frame of mind and continue with our big smile, handshake and a bright hello because so far this has worked well for us. One of the couples that we met were again from Switzerland, a country we have found to have really lovely friendly people. Fred and Sophia (I hope I have the spelling right!) are just a very positive couple and we spent a very enjoyable evening with them feasting on a yummy curry they had cooked. We also had a couple of great conversations with a young man called Kai who was out to do a trip through Ethiopia with his father. Kai was a great guy who was training to be a teacher but was still not convinced that he was on the right track but will we felt that he will work it all out eventually.
We left JJ’s and set off for the Masai Mara National Reserve for what we thought would be a reasonable main road and it was for the first half but then deteriorated into a rough small track and eventually just a two wheel track where I thought it prudent to ask a passing motorcyclist if indeed I was on the right road. No I wasn’t said Andrew who is a director of a Masai Mara Balloon company but he soon had us back on the right road to the town of Talek which has a gate into the park. We spent three nights at the Loita Riverside Camp which was a mere 200 metres from the Reserve gate making it very easy to start early and be in looking for animals while they were just waking up.
Over the two full days spent in the park we saw many elephants, Buffalo, Hyena, antelopes of all sorts including many more Eland than we had seen before. We saw Lions on four occasions, two males on a buffalo kill, two females, three females with a cub and then we returned on the second day to see the two males who were still with their kill. One animal that we wanted to see though was the Cheetah but unfortunately we just could not find any but that’s Africa baby and remembering how long the grass was we more than likely passed a dozen without knowing!
The reserve is stunningly beautiful with wide open Savannah, rolling hills and there was so much grass that it was difficult to see many of the smaller animals eg. Cheetah! We drove down to the infamous Mara River where twice a year the migration of Wildebeest cross the river hoping not to be that animal who gets picked off by the huge crocodiles. It is quite a muddy river with lots of hippos and crocs. We stopped at a park gate to have coffee where a Ranger called Billy offered to take us for a walk down to the river to have a look which was nice. At the same spot a chap by the name of Pedro introduced himself to us and his story is that he is from Spain and works in Nairobi for Unicef where he met his Kenyan wife 12 years ago and has now a son. We just love meeting all the people and finding out their stories, it just makes the trip even more enjoyable.
We also decided to take a drive down to the Sand River Gate which is on the border between Kenya and Tanzania but is no longer open to cross at for some crazy reason. It is a beautiful area and not often visited due to the gate being closed but was definitely worth the drive.
After returning from our second day in the reserve we had no sooner set up when the heavens opened and we got our first taste of what it would be like when it rained and we had no Karavan to retreat to! We survived but did end up with some water inside the roof top tent that I will have to sort out! While down in the Mara we realised that we had left our Carnet (car passport) back with Chris at Jungle Junction and after talking to Chris he suggested he put it on a local bus to us. Our Carnet is just as precious to us as our own passports so we declined the offer and will drive the 250 kilometres back to Nairobi to pick it up before heading to Uganda.