Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Our African Safari - Part One

Jambo, everybody!!  Thanks for reading our blog today!! "Jambo" means "hello" in Swahili - and is the all-purpose greeting for any and all things in East Africa!!

I want to begin today with this fun-fact: My wonderful wife is impossible to shop for at Christmas time.  Especially nowadays since she's not involved in the horse-show world at present, due to our living in India.  I used to be able to go to Broken Horn, fill up a shopping cart with riding crops and socks and gloves and a few cute horsey-things, and I was good-to-go. This year, she actually made a request...all she wanted for Christmas this year was that I digest our African Safari and begin to blog about it as soon as we got home!!  We got home early yesterday morning...and - after a day of recovery (and unpacking all of the treasures we brought back from Kenya and Tanzania!) - I got to uploading photos to Facebook (a link to my page is on the right-hand column of this blog-page!) - and now - it's almost 3:30 P.M. on Tuesday, January 10, 2012....and here I begin!

First of all - - Happy New Year, everybody!! Heri ya mwaka mpya!!

It's actually quite a good thing that I'm starting to blog about our trip while things are still fresh.  You see, I will be turning 55 later this month...and - it's not that my memory is failing, exactly - actually - it functions just like a computer.  The data is in there, somewhere - but sometimes it gets put into the wrong file and gets hard to access properly!! Also - sometimes I think my brain is a Commodore 64 living in an iPad 2 world!

I will be relying heavily on the Safari Itinerary provided for us by Eve Wertsch at Fugazi Travel in San Francisco - that way I won't miss any large sections of our trip and can concentrate on recalling the smaller details.  If you have any travel needs - Eve is the best - and - unlike many travel agents - she has actually been to any of the places you might be considering.  Her advice is golden - and - all of the trips we have booked through her have been beyond outstanding!

The safari that Eve booked for us was called the "Kenya and Tanzania Game Tracker". You see, for Amy Suzanne - it's all about the ANIMALS! Everything else is secondary.  And the trip is aptly-named.  Man - did we see a lot of game!!  Everybody who goes to Africa on a safari like ours wants to see the so-called Big Five animals (see photo above)....it doesn't always work out that way.  As our guide told us during one of our last game-drives (in Kenya) told us - - "These are wild animals...and this is not a zoo!"

Well...the Game Gods were certainly smiling on us - - during our two-week-long safari (it turned out to be longer - more on that to come!!) - our totals on seeing The Big Five was:

Lions: 21
Rhinos: 10
Leopards: 3 (and they are shy and rarely seen, so we found out!!)
Elephants: I can't count that high!
Cape Buffalo: Hundreds, maybe thousands!

As I continue to write this blog (it will be in several parts - I don't want to bore you, dear reader!) - I will be posting links to our Facebook photo albums - so - if you want to be surprised - don't peek!!  There are lots of photos of all of the Big Five and many, many, many more incredible animals!!

The Safari Begins:  We left Hyderabad at around 3:00 A.M. on Qatar Airways - for a quick 3.5-hourflight to the capital city of Doha - a brief layover there - then on to Africa!

After another 4.5-hours of flight-time, we arrived safely and comfortably in Nairobi, the bustling capitol city of Kenya.  Highlights of the day were that we flew to Qatar on the first leg of our journey with our ex-pat friend from Manchester, England, Graham Hardyman (we quaffed a few cold ones at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport Lounge).  Our flight-attendant's name on the flight from Qatar to Nairobi was "Pei Yu" - I am not lying and I thought I was going to lose it!  The airport arrival was flawless (typical for a Fugazi Travel-arranged holiday!) - but the Nairobi traffic is almost (but not quite!) as bad as Hyderabad.  It took us almost 2-hours to get to our hotel - the beautiful Fairmont Norfolk Hotel!  We actually saw our first animal just outside of the airport - some giraffes were right there in town - grazing on flat-top acacia trees!  We had a late-lunch - forgot to wake up for dinner - slept a needed 12+ hours - - then we got up for the first real day in Kenya!! As they say in Swahili: Hakuna matata!!  Everything was going to be all right!!

Please stay tuned!!  Next up: Amboseli National Park in Kenya

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