So the journey begins. After all the preparations (see our Prepping for Kenya post from August 30), we settle in for 24 hours of flying and waiting. We leave Atlanta on a Saturday at 1:30 p.m., fly to Philadelphia and then overnight to London before heading on a British Airways flight to Nairobi. This last leg gives us views of vast deserts and our first African sunset.
We arrive at 9:00 p.m. local time the next day. A bus picks us up at the plane and takes us to a large hanger where we wait in line to go through customs. Once through, we gather our bags and walk outside to meet our Gamewatchers representative who takes us to our car.
It's cool and dark with just the hint of a breeze. We are not tired so much as excited to be in Kenya. Traffic is relatively light as we leave the airport. It is Sunday night after all. Life size metal statues of wildebeest and zebra grace the medians along the roads around the airport. As we drive down a freeway, I notice people walking near the road. It is dark except for the street lights and headlights until we reach our hotel.
A large metal gate opens to admit our car to an area in front of the hotel. A guard stops us and walks around the car before we can proceed. When we enter the hotel door, another guard takes our luggage and puts it through an airport-style screening machine. We are escorted to the front desk for check in.
The next morning the process reverses itself. We check out and are escorted to the Gamewatchers car that is waiting for us out front. Then we are off to our first park, a two night stay at a tented camp in Nairobi National Park. It takes less than 10 minutes to get there. We are later told that Nairobi National Park is the world's only wildlife park that is adjacent to a national capital. We are in a wild place.
After switching guides and loading our stuff into an open top safari vehicle, we drive through the National Park gate. Men in military uniforms man the gate. Once through the gate, we are on a paved one lane road with trees lining both sides of the road. We think we are driving straight to the camp but soon discover that we are going take a meandering game drive through the park on our way to the camp.
As this news is sinking in, we turn around a bend and stop. A giraffe, 16 to 20 feet tall, is standing in the middle of the road eating the leaves off the tops of a nearby tree. We are both shocked and delighted. The beast is magnificent. Large and colorful and in command of its environment. We are not in Kansas anymore.
I am also unprepared as I grab my small travel camera and stand up to take a photo out of the top of the car. The giraffe, of course moves on quickly, as I fumble to take a shot. The adrenaline and surprise yield a shaky image as I wish I had not packed away the good camera for this short leg of our trip.
Things just get better from there. As we pull out of the woods onto a dirt road that leads into grasslands we are greeted by a herd of giraffes and Thompsons gazelles. Above in the treetops, go away birds are making a racket. A few minutes later, a small herd of zebra join the party. I am beginning to wonder if we are going to see everything on this first drive.
Before our drive is complete and we reach the camp we also see Grants gazelles, wart hogs, impala, ostrich, white rhino, hartebeast and cape buffalo. Not bad for a first morning out.
The camp is as advertised. A tented greeting area with sofas and tables, a separate tented dining hall and large tents for accommodations that feature a king size bed, small writing table and bathroom with sink with running water, flush toilet and a bucket shower. There is a small porch outside the tent with a couple of chairs and a table.
We unpack a bit and get ready for lunch. The dining tent is open and inviting and the food fresh and better than expected. We meet and talk with the other guests as they arrive. Most, like us, are just getting started so the talk is about what is to come.
There are no fences around the camp so animals can come and go freely. A small antelope has already greeted us outside our tent. At lunch, a small warthog wanders in and then saunters off.
We are off to a good beginning.
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All photos and text are copyright Clinton Richardson. The images are from the author's Safari Collection at Trekpic.com. If you like these posts, please tell your friends about the Venture Moola blog at Readjanus.com. Want to plan your own safari? If so, feel free to check out the outfitter we used at Porini.com.
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We write for creative doers who seek inspiration from experience. Our readers are students of life, interested in travel, photography and ideas.
Clinton Richardson, has been writing and photographing for decades. His acclaimed venture strategy series is now in its 5th edition. His Ancient Selfies is an International Book Awards Finalist and an eLit Award Gold Medal Winner. Many of his images can be seen online at TrekPic.com.