Updated: Mar 30, 2020
From a private conservancy in Northern Kenya, overlooking the slopes of snow-capped Mt. Kenya in Lolldaiga Hills to the Maasai Mara and Nairobi proper. This next part of my Kenyan adventure is completely different than my last Travel guide: Kenya, Part 1.
This time we flew from Nanyuki Airfield on the equator, elevation 6,200ft. located in Laikipia county. When flying to the Maasai Mara, there are 3 airports you can arrive into (Mara north, Keekorok Airstrip and Olkiombo Airstrip - this is where we finally landed). Our journey took 3 hours due to several stops so factor in another travel day to be safe. When we returned to Nairobi 6 days later, our flight was only 45 minutes long but the plane was delayed almost an hour and we had to make some unexpected stops. So again, another 3 hours - I see a trend here!
Landing in Maasai Mara, you’ll know you’re still in Africa with elephant poop on the run way. While flying with other visitors of the Mara, I heard (and guest rave about this place) that the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has the largest rhino conservatory in Kenya. You’ll see white and black rhinos (which are critically endangered with roughly 5,000 left). Fly into Lewa Downs (it’s an “airport” surrounded by zebras and giraffes in the middle of nowhere). Take off and you’ll see rhinos and elephants from your seat. It’s pretty wild, literally.
We stayed with Emboo River, a luxurious full eco lodge in the Maasai Mara. Located in a river bend within the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Emboo River is the perfect spot for your Glamping Safari. Fun fact, Emboo River also has the first and only all electric vehicle in the Maasai Mara. This is great from not only from a sustainable point of view but also a noise point for view as you can get closer to the animals (and you don't scare them). Go on a Game Drive to see your favorite animals & enjoy nature, while listening to the sounds of nature, smelling the scents of the savannah and causing no pollution! Emboo River's EVs are charged 100% from solar energy from 2 solar banks in camp.
Another thing I loved about staying at Emboo River is the opportunity to offset my carbon footprint! Before leaving, we were offered the opportunity to plant 2 trees per person to offset the carbon emissions we created by flying from Nanyuki to the Maasai Mara.The trees planted are indigenous and are known for absorbing carbon. On top of this ‘carbon farming’, Emboo River also plants indigenous trees for the purpose of reforestation. Did you know that a tree can absorb around 22 kilos of carbon dioxide per year and over a medium lifetime of 10 years a tree absorbs around 220 kilos? To learn more about Emboo River's tree planting initiative and how to travel CO2 neutral, click here.
Over my 5 nights and 6 days, I learned so much from the staff and our Maasai warrior guide. Here are just a few fun facts I walked away with!
Pumbaa doesn't mean warthog. It actually has a very complex meaning: “to be absentminded, careless, foolish, ignorant, lazy, stupid and negligent.” That is a lot of adjectives for just one word and character! The Swahili word for warthog is ngiri. These Warthogs, known as pumbaa, are called this because they have short term memory loss. They can be running from a lion and after a short time, forget why they are running and just stop.
The months of March and April are known for their rainy season. However due to global warming, Kenya has been experiencing a rainy season since December. Some areas have been affected so badly that river camps have been washed away. When there is a lot fo rain, the grass grows quickly. When the grass is too tall, the plains animals tend to move on, as they don't like being in tall grass where they can't see anything. This in return leaves the lions starving because there is no prey to hunt. When this happens the lions can really only can prey on young giraffes as they have to stick to their territory to avoid other prides in the areas. This was certainly the case when I was there. In fact on one side of the Maasai Mara National Reserve there was very little game and on the other side it was heaving with animals. Who knew the height of grass could make such a difference!
There are three particularly deadly snakes; puff adder which lives on the ground (which kills your tissue when bitten), mamba which lives on the ground and in the trees and is one of the longest snakes in the world. The mamba has a small head and a long black body (and permanently damages your nervous system when bitten). Lastly the cobra which has a white cape that opens when it’s ready to attack. None of these snakes are common in the camps but can be in the nearby villages. It’s important to go on bush walks with guides who know how to avoid the snake invested areas. For reassurance, I never saw a snake.
Flying back to Nairobi after 10 days in the bush was hard. However a lunch at Talisman Restaurant will cure any bush blues you may have with their incredible menu. An environmental friendly place with an organic garden and highly rated and awarded on International restaurant platforms. From the humble beginnings back in the 90’s, The Talisman started as a small old house in Karen originally occupied by the famous wildlife photographer and author Alan Root in their youth. The Talisman has since grown into a household name with one of the best cuisines in the country.
After indulging on a feast we headed over to Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which operates an orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in Kenya. It is important to note that you must adopt an orphan for as little as $50 per year before arranging a visit. You can adopt an orphan elephant, rhino or giraffe for yourself or as a gift. I love supporting organizations like these and adopting an orphan as a gift. In fact we adopted Apollo as a gift for someone. Unfortunately he was not in Kenya when we were there as his present home is close to two rivers: The Athi, which is a permanent river, and the Mtito River, which is a picturesque rocky lugga. For the past 42 years, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that complement the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife and habitats. Born from one family’s passion for Kenya and its wilderness, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is one of the pioneering conservation organizations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. To learn more about this wonderful organization, click here.
Did you love following along my adventures in Kenya? Next year why don't you come along and join me! Stay tuned for a Flower Farm & Safari retreat launching in 2021. Get on the waiting list by clicking here.