Saturday, October 17, 2009



Here is a list of the things that worried me most before I took my first African safari:

A)Coming down with malaria, sleeping sickness, typhoid fever, and pretty much every other disease for which I had, and had not, been inoculated

B)Finding that our lodges in no way resembled the 'touched-up' photos on the websites. I feared everything from shabby rooms and broken-down generators, to holey mosquito netting around our beds

C)Having to eat bad, strange food while my supply of Imodium dwindled

D)Being attacked by rampaging elephants, hungry lions, enraged rhinos – you name it – while stranded in our disabled vehicle, under the broiling African sun

E)Getting stuck with miserable boring people while stranded in above vehicle

Was I being a bit neurotic?

My companion thought so.

Tom seemed mostly concerned about missing out on one or more of 'the big five'.

Maybe that’s just how a guy thinks.

Here is what we DID experience on our trip to Kenya and Tanzania:

On our first day we had a relaxing afternoon and fine poolside dinner under the setting Nairobi sun. Wow – we’re really here!! It was surprisingly cool and pleasant.

After a good night’s sleep we met our traveling companions, and split up into three safari vehicles bound for the Maasai Mara. Our fellow travelers hailed from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and Belgium. What a terrific group!

Our guides in Kenya and Tanzania were wonderful. Geevon and Amari were not just punctual, courteous and friendly. They were great drivers, and amazingly well-informed about the local flora and fauna.

They were also mysterious. On our game drives, they were in constant radio contact with other guides. Eavesdropping was fruitless, although one of our friends did speak a smidgen of Swahili.

We all knew something was up when our driver would take a quick detour, and we’d go flying and bouncing over the sandy, rutted tracks. We were rewarded by a group of young male lions enjoying a juicy cape buffalo, leopards in trees with their kills, baby cheetahs chirping for their missing mom, white AND black rhino sightings and the ever-popular mating lions. We saw 'the big five' many times over – and so much more. Tom was a happy man.

After an early morning game drive, or at the end of the day, it was delightful to return to our lodge. Even by American standards, they were never disappointing – and sometimes downright luxurious. We enjoyed lovely spacious rooms, sparkling swimming pools, and stunning natural scenery. How impressive to be sipping a cocktail while viewing a panorama of Mt Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro crater or the Serengeti plains. The food was varied, plentiful and delicious, the hotel staff always gracious and smiling.

The nights and early mornings were often punctuated by the sounds, and occasional sights, of animals moving about. While at the Hemingway Bar viewing area at Amboseli Lodge, we were treated to the sight of the very rare Kenyan pussycat mingling with the mongooses. We always felt safe though – even neurotic me.

And yes, some of the roads are horrible, and sometimes vehicles have flat tires or mechanical issues (ours did once – and we all got out and pushed while Amari popped the clutch), but it’s all part of the adventure………and a great adventure it was.

PS. I still have a full packet of Imodium in my medicine cabinet!

Judy Gilbert

2AFRIKA, INC. remains committed to 'Keeping Africa Affordable', 'Corporate Social Responsibility in Tourism' but most importantly, the comfort, security and safety of its valued passengers!