God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lions, Elephants--No Tigers

When I retired, I gave myself a gift and dragged Ken along with me. We went on safari in Tanzania. Ever since seeing giraffes floating through trees enshrouded in fog, viewed from a tent set in the bush, I wanted to see them. Unfortunately, Ken was not turned on by the idea, but, as I am the trip planner, what was he to do?

As it turned out, he loved each moment, each elephant, each simba. When it was time to leave the Serengeti on a little plane, taking off from the bush, nineteen days after arriving in Arusha, our eyes were filled with tears and our hearts hurt as we left a world we had not known existed. I have documented this on my website with some evocative photos which include people of the ancient hunter/gatherer Hadza tribe.Tanzania  ((For some reason, the site will only open satisfactorily in IE. Sometime I need to fix this.)

As with anyone I know who has taken a safari, we have wanted to return and have often told Casey we would take him someday.  He has been traveling with us for much of his life, but we needed to make sure he was old enough to have a firm memory base before doing this. Now we feel that time has come so with tentative inquires I began checking things out a few days ago. It didn't take long--maybe a day--for the excitement and enthusiasm to build to a point of no return. Christmas this year will be spent in Kenya--on the Mara, in the bush. Are we excited? I think so.

When we went before, we were with a wonderful company that provided experiences beyond the pale; however, we can't afford them this time. For the three of us the cost would have been somewhere around $18,000 without counting the totally not-cheap airfare to get there. For a while I was quite discouraged until I realized that there are many less-expensive, quite acceptable options out there.

It didn't take long to begin to find them and to know that the dream is realizable. I did some research and then my very good friend Nico of Sant' Antonio in Montepulciano, Italy had some ideas for me. Nico grew up in Kenya as his father owned and managed hotels there.

Nico has established a website Bushdrums which is dedicated to promoting and protecting Africa--particularly Kenya and Tanzania. "The mission of Bushdrums is to encourage practices that will preserve the beauty and uniqueness of the mysterious continent of Africa - the land that we love and are bound to. Our information is designed to give real insights into the lands we travel, the wildlife and people we visit. Without this understanding the picture of Africa will always remain incomplete." Some day I'll devote a blog entry to Nico who is a dear and valued friend and young enough to be my son.

So, in a matter of days, we are well on our way to formally preparing for a trip that won't happen for 11 months--plenty of time to anticiapte, dream, get vaccinated, and whatever else. Already I can't wait.

At this point, I have exchanged e-mails with two very responsive men in Kenya. One represents a planned, packaged safari and the other designs based upon our wants. I think we are going with the second as he has been more than helpful with multiple e-mails a day with ideas and responses to mine. We definitely want tent camps right in the bush, along water holes, etc. as opposed to the more hotel like lodges. We liked that type of accommodations when we were there and I know that Casey will love them. In the evening we will sit outside on the porch waiting for something that may or may not happen but the air will be full of night sounds regardless. Oh--I can't wait!

Currently we are talking about four locations--Samburu, Mt. Kenya area, Lake Nakuru and the Maasai Mara. We may take out Mt. Kenya if we are willing to put up with a 4 hour drive between locations. These are the tent camps we're looking at Larsens Camp or Ashnil Samburu Camp in Samburu; The Sweet Waters Tented Camp (we may drop this locaton); Flamingo Hill Camp at Lake Nakuru; and either Mara Leisure Camp or Sekenani Camp.  I offer all these links in the off-chance that someone reading this may have some input to help with the decisions. I've checked Trip Advisor and other sources and, of course, everything looks good.

As in most travels these days, air travel dictates things. I need to make the Africa plans early so that we can try to use miles to get there. As it is, it will take two different mileage expenditures--from here to Europe and then from Europe to Kenya. We'll be pretty mileage depleted at the end of all this.

Oh--one other thing we will do. Since we will be in Nairobi, it makes sense to take a city tour there so that we have a visual to connect to in the future.

So, this is what is occupying me right now--really quite fun-- a lot different than our normal Italy planning. I do miss Italy every day but there are other places to see and things to do. Come along on the ride with me....


Judith in Umbria said...

It sounds like a dream to me, and one I have had for decades.

jmisgro said...

I love giraffes! I can't wait to see the photos!
Casey is a lucky kid!!
How are you going to top that trip?

Diane said...

It's my dream to take Dante on safari too. I've never been but a student tells me Kenya was gorgeous. She spent time on the beach too, which she also recommends. Guess living here in Italy we're half way there, in terms of airfare anyway. Happy planning!

nancyhol said...

OMG, Jane, your trip sounds so exciting!

Bill would love the trip you are planning, so I probably won't tell him about it, at least not right now!

Jane said...

Judith, I know that you would truly enjoy this. I wish it could be more than a dream.
Nancy, show it to Bill and join us.
Joanne, yes, Casey is lucky but there are things he doesn't have that most kids have--it's all a trade off.
Diane, Dante would love it. I know. And, you're right it would be so much less expensive from Europe.
I am so excited.