Another East African Adventure
Posted By Linda Branham on February 19, 2014 @ 8:27 pm
Our second year into the African safari business has come to an end, but only until December when we once again will be taking small groups to the East Africa we love.  I think each year gets better and after spending close to two months in Kenya and Tanzania, we are definitely learning about the best places to go.

We left Alaska on Christmas day, which turned out to be a great day to travel, especially to the United Arab Emirates, spending Christmas night in Dubai and taking off the next morning for Nairobi.  Our first group, the Shewmaker family, met us at Wilson Airport where we took off immediately for the Maasai Mara and Richard’s Private Camp, our first stop of the trip.

After four days we flew to the Mathews Range, staying at Tassia which is a fabulous lodge where you will not see another vehicle, only wild animals and the local Samburu.

View from Tassia dining area.

From there we went to Sirikoi Lodge at Lewa Conservancy.

The women horseback riding in the afternoon.

Dan out for a Waco flight.

Then back to Nairobi, where we bid our sad farewells, such a great time.

Our second group of adventurers, were all from Alaska!  We also flew into Richard’s Private Camp, then Sarara Lodge, 

A little hike before breakfast.

also in the Mathews Range, then onto Sirikoi, then Manda Bay on the Indian Ocean for a little snorkeling, and island hoping.

Lunch in Lamu

Ready to go out for Sundowner's, let out the sail . . .

Alaskans making a fire Maasai style. 

Each place was magical and had its own special qualities, with the best of guides and managers that treated everyone so regally.  Easy to get use to!

After our second group left to go back home Chris and I went to Nanyuki, (near Mount Kenya,) and stayed with Charlie Strachan, (our partner in Kenya) his wife Amy and their adorable 2 1/2 year old, Harry.

We ventured out for an overnight trip to Elephant Bedroom, which was quite an experience, with elephants literally disrupting breakfast and making us all retreat to higher ground.  Charlie very patiently drove us around to visit various lodges during the next few days so we could see them all first hand, all of them within driving distance of Nanyuki and Mount Kenya.  We saw some beautiful lodges, which I am sure we will be visiting soon.

We then flew to Nairobi and caught a commercial flight for Tanzania, where we connected  with a flight to the Selous, and stayed at Sand Rivers for the first time. .  .it was hot, 120-degrees.  I think too hot for this Alaskan!  Still had a good time though and had the fortunate experience of seeing an adult lion actually climb a tree! 

Also took a great boat trip down the Rufiji River, the largest river in Tanzania. If you have ever read Peter Matthiessen’s Sand Rivers, you will know the history of this area and the Selous, all very interesting reading.

After the Selous we flew to a small airstrip in Ruaha National Park, where we were met by Andrew (Moli) Molinaro and his girlfriend Noelle Herzog who own and operate "Kichaka Expeditions."  This is an unexplored little haven in the least traveled part of Ruaha National Park, where you will see the largest population of elephant in East Africa. 

It is small lodge (6-max) and the emphasis is on hiking, but really suitable for anyone that wants to go out and explore.  Moli is well known as one of the most expert guides in East Africa, and if you are willing to listen, you will learn more about animals, plants, trees, birds and anything else having to do with nature, then anywhere else in Africa.  

Moli is my source when I want to know the truth about anything having to do with Africa and nature.  Noelle is an expert chef, so with great food, good companionship and comfortable sleeping tents and beds, it makes for an unbelievable African experience.  We will definitely be back.

We also met up with our friends Sue Stolberger (incredible wildlife artist) and Rob Glen,  the bronze sculpter that is well known for his larger than life “The Mustangs of Las Colinas” in Texas.  We enjoyed spending several days with them and despite the heavy rains starting, it was incredibly exciting to see dry river beds become rushing rivers overnight.  Good company and majestic nature all made for a wonderful experience. 

Even our lunch under the “sausage tree,” became an exciting adventure when several elephants decided to visit at table.  Moli and Chris were left to clean up the lunch and remove the table and chairs, while Noelle and I did our part by biting our nails and telling the men to hurry, as the elephants were getting closer!

Elephants are abundant in Ruaha and we were privileged to see a massive collective of herds meeting to cross a dry river bed.  A lot of trumpeting and chaos, it sort of resembled the great Wildebeest migration, but they were elephants!

We flew back to Kenya, stayed overnight with Antonia and Mark Glen in Nairobi, then flew out first thing in the morning to Alex Walker’s Serian Ngare camp, which is on the “other side” of the Mara River and to get to the camp you must walk across a suspension bridge that crosses the Mara River.  Thank heaven "Sundowner's" are served on the “other side!” 

We saw lions under siege by some very cross buffaloes, which lasted almost 2-hours and I am happy to say the buffaloes soon tired and left the poor female adult lions and their 3 small cubs in peace.  I was lucky enough to get 10-minutes of video, which was nerve wracking when a buffalo charged and a small cub slipped off the log and fell to the ground.  Luckily the cub was smart and scrambled back up to be with Mama and a crisis was avoided. 

We also saw a Leopard sleeping in a Hamerkop’s nest high in a tree top . . . very silly site to see, but picture below testifies it is the truth.

Now we are planning for the next safari’s, which will take place in December.  Our friends ask, don’t we get tired of doing this and I think: how could anyone tire of East Africa?  It is never the same, you can go to the same place, (if you had to) day after day, and always see something different.  Sometimes it is fun to just go out in the Land Rover, turn off the engine, and simply sit and watch the theater of life around you.  Never boring, always something to see that makes you feel alive and glad to be in such a very special place.