We left the Nairobi Tented Camp and drove to the Porini Amboseli Camp inside the Selenkay Conservancy the borders Amboseli National Park. It was a 5 hour drive (and the only drive of the trip, thank goodness – all other travel to parks was via small plane) and was our chance to experience the Kenyan countryside and the crazy Kenyan drivers (driving here is not for the faint of heart). When we neared the camp the dirt roads got worse and worse due to all of the heavy rains so our driver Boniface wisely called in for 4-wheel drive reinforcements from the camp. We had an accidental game drive before he did that as we saw a couple of giraffe families (mom and kids) hauling ass across the grasslands (watching giraffes run is absolutely beautiful). I have no idea where they were going, but they were really booking it! We also saw zebras and a dik-dik which is a cute as the dickens miniature antelope. (spotting them became a game of “I spy with my little eye…a dik-dik!)
Once at the camp, we settled into our tents which were much like the previous tented camp but this tent was more spacious on the inside. Selenkay is, from a connectivity standpoint, much more barebones – it’s powered by solar power. There is no cell phone connectivity and no wifi, and charging devices can only be done in one central location (translation: charging is sloooooow but hey, charging devices was NOT why we came to Kenya!). We drove to a Maasai village and got a tour and met the women who make the amazing jewelry and other items that are for sale at the camp. The village is a small community of 18 families who seem fiercely proud of their traditions, language and culture. We also experienced our first “sundowner” – where we got to watch the sunset while enjoying a glass of wine and some appetizers. Edson and Dennis, our guides, talked a bit about their training (extensive) and knowledge of the flora and fauna (also extensive). On the nighttime game drive back we saw our first elephant, a huge bull who didn’t seem super jazzed to see us and made a mock charge (that’s what Edson and Dennis called it, though it looked pretty real to me!). Further along we saw an owl and more elephants and some monkeys. All in all, it was a pretty darned magical evening. Back at camp we enjoyed another fabulous meal and battled an onslaught of extremely pesky moths (happily no mosquitoes though we all faithfully took our malaria meds). The peskiest bug of all were the flies – they didn’t bite, just drove us all crazy with their annoying persistence.
We spent day two in the Selenkay Conservancy and Amboseli National Park and saw loads of elephants, giraffes, zebras, gazelles (all varieties), lots of birds, and assorted other small critters. The 4-wheel drive Land Cruiser was put to the test as the unusually heavy rains of the last few months (can you say climate change?) have taken a serious toll on the dirt roads, in some cases completely washing them out completely and in almost all cases creating enormous ruts and potholes. By the end of the day we all had sore necks and backs from the constant jerking and jostling. On an up note: the constant jostling has confused the bejeezus out of my Apple Watch and I breezily closed all of my activity circles by just being tossed around a 4-wheel drive truck on bad roads! From the perspective of “things we hadn’t seen before” it was a pretty disappointing morning (you know you’re spoiled when you see a giraffe and go “oh, it’s just another giraffe”). But the afternoon ended on a high note with many elephants (some of whom nonchalantly walked right up to and past our truck). We enjoyed another delicious dinner and had a great conversations with a new visitor (a professional photographer) and I wrapped my day up with a hot bucket shower. Life is indeed good.
Getting out of the Selenkay camp turned out to be quite tricky – we were booked on a morning flight to our last stop in the Masai Mara but a torrential rain the night before turned the dirt roads into muddy messes. Dennis our driver got us out of the immediate area of the camp but got bogged down in a muddy bog about 200 meters from the camp. The folks at the camp heard him trying to get the Land Cruiser out and came running to help. It took all of them to get us unstuck and find an alternative path out of the mud and we then had a slip sliding wild ride to the airstrip – it was an ultimate E-ticket ride! The delay meant we missed our original flight but he Gamewatchers folks got right on it and rebooked us on another flight a bit later in the afternoon and bought us lunch at the airport. Yay Gamewatchers! They have been nothing but fabulous from our original planning to the day-to-day logistics of the trip.
The flight to Samburu was great! There is, I think, nothing like seeing the world from the window of a small plane and in Africa that’s even truer. As we took off we watched animals scatter and the tress and grasslands get smaller and our perspective on the beauty of it all widened.
More photos here.