Thursday, January 7, 2010

Safari Excursion

Yesterday (Thursday), our team had a break day and went to the Ambrosia National Park. For all you climbers/hikers, it is home to Mount Kilimanjaro. We took our new friend from Texas, Kristin, on the excursion with us... to give her a little break from the Kenyan life that she has been living for the past 7 months.

We traveled on many dirt roads...full of bumps, since Peter, our driver likes to drive like a true Kenyan (crazy). Unfortunately, there was road work on the paved road, so that's why we had to take a dirt road. Kenyans are great about being resourceful. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for road block barricades, they use trees and brush from the wilderness to block the road. We traveled into what is called Massai land. The Massai are a tribe that are herders. They wear colorful garments and live in poop/mud/stick huts. We saw many of these huts on our way to the park. The huts are clustered and have giant sticks/brush surrounding them to keep out the lions. It was really cool to see. If you get a chance, google Massai and see what comes up.

We were told that we see just as much wildlife on the way to the park, than just inside of the park. That makes since because the park is just the natural habitat, with miles upon miles of no civilization. Peter, our driver said that we can sometimes see Giraffe. I kept my eyes peeled since I know that my Aunt Lona would be upset if I missed one. I saw a baby giraffe off in the distance, but that was all that I saw.

For the first 5 hours, we didn't see much.... but then... we spotted a hippopotamus. After that, things looked up. It felt like we were in jurassic park. There was no civilization anywhere besides the random safari trucks we passed. The park has 4 lodges, but due to corruption, 3 of the lodges were shut down. We saw one of the lodges, it was a ghost town. Very errie. The wire fences were pushed through...probably by elephants. As we went past the gate... there, under a tree was a male lion, panting. A few yards in front of him was a freshly dead buffalo carcus. We snapped a few shots and went on our way to find right next to the road an entire herd of wild buffalo. Their horns were massive. Next we saw elephants in the distance. We tried taking some photos, but they were too far away. We next drove near many safari trucks pulled to the side. We were told there was a cheetah sitting under a tree. Unfortunately, I didn't see anything, but assumed it was there. A little farther from the cheetah was an entire clan of baboons. They were huge. Jim decided to coax a baboon over with a banana. I was fearful for my life, since I was told that last year, a baboon JUMPED into the car, grabbed all the food, and then jumped out. Luckily, the baboon took the banana Jim had and ate the entire thing in two bites. April has a lovely photo of it, looking like its about to attack us. We decided to turn around and saw a herd of gazelle-like antelope running... we only assumed that it was the cheetah about to attack them. Next, we went past another herd of elephants, but this time, they were much much closer to us, and decided to stop and eat lunch there. We got our first team photo of the entire GOYA trip in front of the elephants. As we started to head back toward the gate (which was a 45min drive), we stopped at a den of hyennas. There were two cubs and a mother off in the distance. Hyennas are massive... i would definitely fear for my life if I were on the ground near one.

As we stopped at the exit gate, Peter, our driver asked if we could take his friend to Nairobi with us. We didn't really have much of choice, and said sure. The man we were taking worked for the national park and so he was considered a Kenyan police officer. As we left the park, one of the Massai herders had a heard of giant camels. It was a really weird sight to see, so we stopped and snapped some pictures. The Massai man was NOT happy. And demanded that we pay him for every picture we took. (Side not, for some reason, the massai try to capitalize off of tourists and make them pay for a picture). Luckily, we had the Kenyan police officer who told him (in Kiswaili) that he should throw him in jail for trying to make us pay for a picture. The guy luckily backed off and we went on our way. A few miles further, we saw another camel herd and asked peter and the guy if we could take more pictures. They said yes, and yet again, the herder was mad. This time, this guy was even more upset than the first. I was afriad the guy was going to punch the police officer. Eventually we moved on.

The day was wonderful up until that point. It started to rain, and luckily it didn't rain until after we left the park. Peter was driving his usual crazy style, and then, we saw an entire herd of giraffes. We skidded to a stop, startling them, but they kept munching on the trees and we took pictures. Since it was raining, it was hard to snap photos. We moved on and it had stopped raining. We saw another herd of giraffes, probably 7 or so, and Paul jumped out of the car, only to scare them somewhat. We got pictures, but sadly, they weren't as close as we'd like for them to be. So Lona, I hope you can live vicariously through me and take comfort in knowing that wild giraffes do exist.

All in all, this trip was amazing. I felt like I stepped into a National Geographic episode on the discovery channel. What a great day!! I think that our team really bonded better with the clinic out of the way. We were all cheerful and happy to have done something like that.


  1. Dear Stacy: Good to hear you had a break. After missioning to the people everyone needs to recharge and take a site seeing day.
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