Sunday, September 23, 2012

African Adventure: The road to Masai Mara

Our Safari guide, Peter, picked us up at 7:00am from the hotel and off we went to Masai Mara. In typical fashion, I didn't have all the details of the trip memorized, so I have to admit I was a little surprised when Brian asked Peter how long the trip to the safari camp was and he replied, "about 6 hours". I won't even try to describe the look Brian gave me. Guess I should have read the fine print.

We rode in a big Toyota 4x4 van with a pop up roof so you could stand up and get photos of the animals. Here's a photo of Brian modelling our mode of transportation for the trip.

The first half of the trip wasn't bad at all. Nicely paved roads and a stop about every hour at some local road-side stand that had decent bathrooms and huge souvenir stores. Every stop had loads of other vans all doing the same thing we were.

The rough part started a little after hour #3 and continued until we reached camp. All at once the road turned to gravel, which continued for about an hour, and then it got even worse. Horrible rutted, washed out roads, sometimes gravel and sometimes just dirt and occasionally a little grass. The last 2 hours were bumpy, dusty and we didn't stop once. By the time we reached the camp, my only thought was for a toilet, which I thankfully found immediately. Here are a few photos I snapped on the drive in.
 One of the road side coffee shops. On the other side was a huge souvenir shop and some decent bathrooms.
 A market we passed. Couldn't get a great photo from the truck window.

A view of the Great Rift Valley on the way to Masai Mara. About an hour outside of Nairobi.

And then we arrived as the Ashnil Luxury Camp where we were greeted with cool washcloths to wash off the dust and sweat of the trip and handed a glass of cold apple juice while being shown to a comfortable seating area near the bar. One of the hotel staff gave us the basis of the place (meal times, check out, pool, etc.) and then we were shown to our "tent".

To call it a tent probably conjures up the wrong image. These tents were huge and really gorgeous and comfortable. We had a four-poster bed with mosquito netting, rough polished wood floors and a granite bathroom with a shower bigger than the one in our apartment. Off the back was a big deck with lounge chairs and a view of the river where we could see hippos. The place was amazing!

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