Kenyan adventure

Trip Start May 02, 2012
Trip End May 01, 2013

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kenya is amazing! though Nairobi at first is rather scary... Officially titled "Africa's most dangerous city"we are proud to say we survived there! During the day the traffic is lethal, we were just hours in when we witnessed our first car crash... Nobody else batted an eyelid so we just kept walking. By night, Nairobi takes on a very quiet & sinister air... everything closes, metal shutters and armoured gates close, and the city goes from bustling to dead within 30 mins.

The longer we stayed in Kenya the more comfortable we became... Spent more time in the slums, our favourite place to eat was a little slum cafe... Kinda like an English cafe except the floor is mud and the walls are corrugated steel, and the kitchen is just a fire... Needless to say, we didn't eat in the first time but took away 10 samosas for 100 shillings (75p)... At bargain prices like that, they knew we'd be back : )

What we really came to Africa for was the wildlife! We had heard that the Massai Mara was the best place on earth for a safari, so that's where we headed. We met our driver Michael in the rift valley... An immense valley that runs from israel all the way to Mozambique, very beautiful. Our safari bus looked like a minibus but handled like a tank - which is lucky as it needed to on the rocky dirt tracks with all the rain water eroding the tracks away! We had our first obstacle brought on by the rainy season... Although we had already bounced and crashed through streams, we had met a river that was too strong and fast to drive through! Michael isn't a driver who stops for anything - he answers his phone whilst crossing broken, bumpy, narrow bridges, but the river stopped him! We took in the sights and spoke to some local kids whilst the river calmed. In the end we think Mike ran out of patience and just went for it! Just as we went through the river we crash down a bump and a big tidal wave goes over the windscreen but Michael stops for nothing and kept going - we think he looked a little surprised too, but he lapped up the applause when we made it to dry land : )

Then came the best bit - Massai Mara itself, not even the adventure 4x4 driving stood a chance with the feeling we got when a giraffe was right by our truck! That was only heightened with every other new animal we saw. The van's roof went up so we could stand, feel the breeze and take in the amazing scenery and animals! Special thanks to Kris for a great camera and binoculars helped make a special safari even better! We got within an arms distance of lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, hyena, you name it Mike could find it! When in Tanzania we got to go on a short foot safari to see crocodiles and hippos. Our Massai camp was right in and amongst the animals too.

We also visited an elephant orphanage! We walked to a field with lots of baby elephants you could stroke, cuddle, feed and play with... Though the only game they seemed to know was wrestling and soaking you with water : )
Each elephant had it's own story, usually involving poacher attacks... One was found with 17 spear wounds! It was lovely to see him fully recovered and playing... gradually as they get older they spend less time at the orphanage and more time in the wild until they are completely wild again. Feeding time involved several 3 litre bottles of SMA baby formula milk which they held with their trunks, adorable right?
The orphanage also had a baby rhino who was born blind who would have to remain at the orphanage for all his life.

There was a really fun giraffe centre we went to! It was a really cool treehouse up in a massive tree where the giraffes came to feed. The occasionally enjoyed the odd leaf but the first thing we learnt was our pellet food must be pretty darn delicious for giraffes! They couldn't get enough of it, though we were nervous to begin with as you're on a wooden platform 20ft up and all these long necks start poking through with their long tongues reaching out, but by the end we were putting entire fists in their mouths and getting sloppy kisses from them : )

We also visited the kazumi charity organisation, essentially a bead and pottery factory that worked to provided employment and lodgings to as many disadvantaged Kenyans as possible to keep them off the streets. 
We obviously thought this would be a snore but it turned out to be rather interesting - it was like a factory from Victorian times, hundreds of people making and sorting beads and pottery by hand... We're also ashamed to admit the enjoyment we got when our guide told us that all of their tools, presses and kilns were from Stoke-on-Trent! They were shipped to Kenya over 60 years ago when the English potteries began to close down... It was more interesting and fun at the time trust us : )
 Had we not needed to travel so lightly we'd have definitely bought some.

We also made many travelling friends along the way two of whom were Karin and Darcy from China. Karin wanted to play football so we said we'd join him for a game, here's Reanna's match report...
We met up with Karin and Darcy and went to the Nairobi international stadium - it was no wembley but still lovely to see. The outskirts of the stadium are full of slums and a slum market. We walked into the stadium to find Gormahia fc training. They came second in the league last year and are one of the two biggest teams in Kenya. We got to shake the managers hand and got pictures with two of the players! Karin was determined to play with locals so we went outside to where a team was playing street kids on a dusty bumpy pitch. Karin and Calvin joined in the fun and the football magic started! Within a minute Calvin pops up and scores a great goal, the crowd erupts (the team and Darcy and I) karin isn't quite as prolific and misses a few chances but he's loving it so is forgiven. Calvin makes a good few simple passes and runs box to box, then more magic! He gets the ball does a little move past a player and slams it into the net! Karin also gets a goal so success all round! Darcy mocks Karin as he scored 1 of 6 chances! After Calvin's goal the subs suddenly all ask me his name and comparisons are made of Steven Gerrard - acceptance into the team - a magical sight, after the match all the lads are eager to talk Calvin
We find out about the SHY Homeless project, and get a tour of the slums from Alex the manager, who was an ex-street boy who got his education as he was good at football.  He helps street boys by giving them a house, letting them play football and providing employment (they clean the market, have a toilet and run the stadium kiosk!) We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and felt like we got a taste of the real Kenya!

One evening, our good friends from China took us to a Chinese restaurant (harbin). As it was their culture and we were their guests they insisted on treating us (it wasn't a cheap place!) We also let them pick and got a real taste of what Chinese people eat! Stomach of a pig was the first surprise, they were nice dishes, they just use interesting areas of meat. It was a great meal with our new friends (who said we were the best couple ever) and we were grateful for the new things they have shown us : )

We visited the national museum and all the other usual touristy haunts, plus a snake park! The snake park was unusual in the sense that lots of the snakes were not in tanks but in an open environment with live lizards and tortoises walking around... We saw many snakes hunting little lizards and eat them alive!! Really made us shudder at the time.

We loved kenya's beauty and wildlife more than it's urban slums but we had ended up really enjoying Kenya. We will miss it but the excitement of a new part of our adventure just beginning is what we look forward to!
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