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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kenya Tomorrow

Tomorrow we leave for Kenya but the getting there is a real drag. We arrive in Kenya 23:30 hours after boarding the first plane in San Diego. We go from here to Washington-Dulles (IAD); IAD to Amsterdam, hopefully, arriving in time for our KLM flight to Nairobi. Amsterdam is the main gateway to Kenya and Tanzania; however, it is also possible to go through France and the UK. The flight to Nairobi or Arusha is then longer.

In retrospect, I did not plan this well as we should have stayed in Amsterdam overnight and then onto Nairobi the next day. By the time I realized this and called United, the change in fare amounted to a shake-down so we elected to be tired.

We arrive in Nairobi at 5:30 pm, go to a hotel, hopefully have a good night's sleep and get up in the morning for the 4 hour drive in a Land Rover to Samburu National Reserve. The adventure begins.

A friend of mine asked if I would outline the details in preparing for a trip to Kenya--which were basically the same as those required when we went to Tanzania in 2002. There are three basic things that differ from preparing for Europe.
  1. Visa: You need a visa which is easy. You simply fill out an on-line form and then mail your passport to an Embassy here in the United States. Your passport will be returned with the visa attached. Children under 16 do not need visas.
  2. Shots: You will need yellow fever vaccination, typhoid vaccination, up-to-date polio, heb a and maybe hep b shots, and tetanus shot. Additionally you will be given maleria meds and meds in the event of severe diarrhea. In California, you must go to an infectious disease or travel doctor for the yellow fever and typhoid vaccines. But since most insurances won't pay for these doctors, we go to our regular doctor for the other shots. Be sure you do not wait until the last minute for the vaccinations.
  3. Packing: Duffles are the way to go on safari. Hard sided luggage is not conducive to the type of travel and vehicles you will be using. You do not need an abundance of or fancy clothes. We basically rely on the zip off pants so that we can be warm in the mornings and evenings and comfortable in shorts in the heat of the day. 
It is important to understand the seasons in Kenya and Tanzania. There are two rainy periods, one of which you really want to avoid. The "long rains" between March and May (or early June) are really when you do not want to be there. This year in March there was a terrible flash flood in Samburu, our first stop. Many of the lodges were completely destroyed as well as, and more importantly, a major elephant research facility. The lodge where we were scheduled to stay was destroyed. Fortunately, we were able to get into one of the few lodges left habitable. There are also rains in October and November but they are not as severe.
    In preparation for the experience, we watched several movies: Out of Africa, Born Free, To Walk with Lions, I Dream of Africa, National Geographic films and some other documentaries.  Because we are stopping in Amsterdam on the way back and taking Casey to the Anne Frank Haus, we also watched The Diary of Anne Frank.

    There is another website which I have found fun to be a part of as we have planned. It is devoted to Africa and has been developed by a friend of mine, Nico Pannevis and his friend, both of whom grew up in Kenya. Their purpose is to preserve and support responsible growth in the country they love. The site is Bushdrums. Incidentally, many of you may know Nico as the famous and talented owner of Sant' Antonio in Montepulciano, Italy.

    I am going to post pictures as we travel if the wi fi is strong enough--yes, there is wi fi in the bush! Well, at the lodges and camps anyway. If you are interested in following along with us visually, this is the link. Photo Gallery. There is a folder for each area we will be exploring. The photos there now are place holders I downloaded from the various camps where we will be staying. So, feel free to join us in the adventure.

    From Our Tanzania Safari  2002