Thursday night I stayed in Kisumu with Sara who is a speech therapist. She is staying in a beautiful compound near the Impala Animal reserve.
There are more than 25 flats in the compound called Alkesh Apartments
They are very well appointed and entirely occupied by NGO workers, mainly Americans on the US Aid programme. Whilst it is very nice I cannot help thinking that you live like an ex-pat with little/no interaction with the local people or understanding of local life. Having said that I enjoyed the very comfortable bed, beautifully tiled floors, hot shower and swimming pool! The apartments are located next to the Impala Animal Sanctuary so overnight you can actually hear the lions – it is a most peculiar sound and could be quite unsettling if I had not been told in advance. In the evening a group of us went out for supper at a small vegetarian Indian. Lovely meal for under £3 each .
Our driver, Michael, picked us up on Friday morning at 7 a.m. We headed off for the Masai Mara and once a few miles from the apartment the roads became quite good for the next four hours. We stopped once for a short break, although the facilities had no water and it was a bit grim! Next stop was lunch where a group of mini-buses gathered so we could progress in convoy into the reserve. Just as well really as within 35 minutes we were stuck in the mud! The bridge on the main road had been washed away earlier in the week so we had been required to take a detour. It took approximately 20 locals and a lot of pushing, rocking, etc to get us out of the very large hole – picture attached. We progressed for a another 30 minutes or so paying some bribes along the way as we were crossing private land as opposed to using the main road. We also provided a lift to a young mother and child who were trying to get to a hospital clinic. We then came across another mud bath which had already claimed one wood lorry, one jeep and before very long us! Quite why the driver decided that it would be a good idea to try and get through I have no idea. This was far more serious and we were stuck there for over three hours. Eventually two ranger trucks arrived and managed to pull us free and ensured that the rest of the convoy also passed through safely. Meanwhile a Wrecker arrived to rescue the lorry! It was now getting quite dark so the driver hurried to get us to the lodge – just before 7 p.m. and sunset.
The lodge was very well appointed – it had only recently opened so although the facilities were fantastic the service has a little way to go! There were twin four posters in our tent and a very nice en-suite shower/bathroom.
Having quickly unpacked and had a quick freshen up we headed to the lounge bar and settled down for a G & T before dinner. The staff were all very friendly and the food of a good standard. It was just disappointing that we had missed our first Safari drive.
We had an early night prompted by the generator going off at 10 p.m. prompt. Luckily I had the head torch with me which came in handy.
The next morning we were up early and ready to leave at 7 a.m. having had a substantial breakfast. By 10.30 a.m. we had seen the Big 5 – Lion, leopard, elephants, buffalo and rhinoceros. Quite an achievement as most people we had talked to had only managed 3 or perhaps 4. The highlight was seeing two female lions with 4-5 cubs lying by a tree with very fat stomachs! They had just enjoyed a meal of wildebeest – the remains of which was now hidden in a tree. During the day we saw giraffe, zebra, mongoose (two types), hippos, crocodile, baboons, secretary bird, gazelle, ostrich, raptor, jackal (with kill), wildebeest, impala, toby, gazelle, Crown Crane, waterhogs and their babies, water bucks, velvet monkeys, yellow bill-stalk, blue lizard – a truly wonderful day.
Lunch was quite eventful as the picnic area had a large population of monkeys who were constantly eyeing up our lunch. We were provided with sticks to keep them at bay although one of the group still lost their sandwich and we lost as a group the remains of a carton of mango juice! They were very cunning and constantly looking for their opportunity.
We returned to the lodge in time for a shower before G & T/supper. On the Saturday evening they built a beautiful camp fire for us and we sat around it and chatted about the day. The lodge guards who are from the Masai did a traditional dance for us and chanted round the fire making it very memorable.
On the Sunday we got up for a pre-breakfast safari but the only different thing that we saw were hyenas. They were in abundance but the reserve was eerily quiet so I think everything must have fed well the previous day! We could not complain having seen so much the previous day although not actually a kill.
The return journey was less eventful – we just got stuck once and discovered the driver had broken the four wheel drive! We were pulled out by one of the other vehicles quite quickly and continued on our way. The tracks to all the lodges are very small and I am full of admiration for the petroleum lorry drivers who negotiate their way around – few signs and lots of small tracks. Their GPS must be good! We saw lots of lorries stuck generally carrying sugar cane or wood from the reserve towards market. Just too much rain/mud to negotiate.
I arrived back in Kisumu c 4 p.m. Sunday and had a cup of tea before catching the local transport back to the village. A great weekend but very tiring!
The picture of the group I travelled with are all standing by the order with Tanzania – Me, Hose, father of Rache who is working here and Sara in the front.