Trip Report written by Kathryn Totah, Photos by Paul Totah
My family and I were fortunate to be able to take a wonderful safari in Kenya last month. After researching several options, we arranged our trip through The Wild Source and were so glad we did. Our contacts at The Wild Source patiently answered my questions, offered suggestions and crafted an excellent itinerary. The more I learned about The Wild Source and its missions of wildlife conservation and empowering local people, the happier I was with our choice.
This trip was a chance to celebrate my husband’s and my retirement and to have a once in a lifetime experience with our grown children and son-in-law. We met up with “the kids” in Germany and flew on Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Nairobi. We were concerned about possible flight cancellations (our daughter’s Lufthansa flight to Germany was cancelled and rebooked twice) but were delighted to all arrive in Nairobi as scheduled (late evening.) We spent our first night at the Four Points Sheraton Nairobi Airport which was conveniently located close to the airport. The hotel was modern, clean and comfortable and had an excellent breakfast. We had a security check prior to entering the hotel complete with luggage screening and a dog sniffing check.
We were driven the next morning to the Wilson Airport and flew to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy where we were met by our friendly guide, Michael. After quick introductions, Michael asked if we would like a drink. The airport consisted of a dirt runway and a few huts so we thought perhaps Michael had brought bottled water. To our surprise, Michael pulled out a well equipped travel bar cart and we proceeded to enjoy the first of many G & Ts – a very good beginning!
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy was a great first place to visit as we saw many animals there that we weren’t likely to see elsewhere including: white and black rhinos, Grevy’s zebras, Somali ostriches, reticulated giraffes, oryxes and gerenuks. We also enjoyed seeing lions, antelopes, warthogs, elephants, Cape buffalo, baboons, gazelles, hyenas and many fascinating birds. Michael brought us to the Ngare Ndare forest where we did a delightful forest floor walk (with an armed ranger) and canopy walk. We hiked to a beautiful waterfall and the “kids” enjoyed swimming in the river. Michael was a terrific guide and we enjoyed getting to know him. He was very personable and knowledgeable and patiently drove us all over the conservancy.
We stayed at the beautiful Elewana Lewa Safari camp which we really enjoyed. Our ensuite tents were lovely and felt quite luxurious. The camp has a large garden area that was visited by beautiful birds and a watering hole just outside the camp fence were we watched several elephant families drink and cool off. The camp chef offered a delicious menu with several choices and the staff were very friendly and attentive. For our last night, the staff set up a table by the watering hole for just our family and lit up the area with portable lanterns – it was a very special evening.
The next morning we flew to our next camp in the Masai Mara on a Safarilink small plane. Note: a couple of our guides mentioned they were glad we were using Safarilink rather than Kenya Airways as KA apparently is notorious for delays. As it was, the Safarilink departure times seemed to change slightly with each flight but we were always given plenty of notice.
Our family felt so fortunate to be able to stay at Enaidura Camp. From the moment we arrived, we were treated like honored guests. The all-Maasai owners and staff greeted us warmly and throughout our visit made sure we were having an enjoyable stay. By the end of our stay we felt like part of the Enaidura family. We met a guest who returns frequently to this camp and we would, also, love to be able to do so. The location was beautiful, above a scenic river, with immaculately clean tents and facilities and very comfortable beds. The “bucket showers” were not a problem – hot water was delivered at whatever time we requested. When in camp, we enjoyed delicious meals with the other camp guests and guides but we also had good picnic meals and an amazing sunset sundowner experience at scenic locations in the Mara.
We felt we were in expert hands with our guide, Peter Kiyaa, and he clearly loves his profession. Peter was able to locate a wide variety of animals, teach us about their behaviors, and patiently answered all of our questions. It was a pleasure to spend each day with him. Peter is very humble but we learned he is actually a world-renowned guide as are the two owners of the camp.
Highlights of our stay here were: watching three cheetahs hunt and chase a wildebeest, seeing the beginnings of the Great Migration, hearing a chorus of many hippos “singing” in the river, visiting a recent Cape buffalo kill over several days and first watching lions and then hyenas, jackals and vultures “enjoy” their meals.
Our last stay was at the Eagle View camp in the Naboisho Conservancy which is in a private area of the Masai Mara. We learned the land is leased from Maasai landowners and the fees provide income for the local community while allowing conservation of the wildlife. The camp is located on a high hill overlooking a beautiful valley where we could watch animals roam.
We had spacious, comfortable tents and enjoyed the eco-lodge with its amazing views. Our guide, Kevin, was very hard-working and personable and we enjoyed hearing his stories around the campfire. We noticed greater temperature shifts at this camp – the mornings were quite cold and the afternoons much warmer. My son joked that he wore everything he brought most mornings and spent most of the day shedding clothes. We spent two days here and saw many giraffes, lions and new (to us) species of birds. Highlights of this stay included: watching cheetah brothers groom each other and hunt, seeing a lion come roaring out of the bush chasing a warthog, observing a large hyena family with its pups and enjoying close views of several elephant families.
We felt so fortunate to have had such a wonderful adventure!