I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Africa – my 6th continent.
I love traveling to places that are new and challenging. Kenya gave me a whole new perspective on our international community, it was so exciting to wake up every day in a new places with exotic wildlife and foreign customs.
Some of my distant family members have lived in different parts of Africa for the last 20 years, they settled in Kenya six years ago and now run a boarding school for local children as well as children of missionaries who are living in other parts of Africa.
Traveling around Africa is difficult. Airlines do not have established routes, not to mention the continent is so massive that it can take 18 hours by commercial aircraft from north to south. Extremely friendly people, many of whom can speak upwards of 5 languages.
Large metropolitan city, Language: Swahili (trade language) & English
Just outside the city limit is miles on miles of cramped and metal housing
Just past that is open grazing land – usually a boy (ages 7-14) will be guarding a whole herd of goats or cattle on his own and he is also in charge of keeping watch over any younger siblings he has.
Located right on the outskirts of downtown Nairobi – the elephant orphanage rescues over ** a year. The number one cause of a baby elephant being orphaned by its family is falling into a well, the second largest cause is attacks by poachers. Tireless efforts are being led to stop the ivory trade (mostly to China) and to cover water wells created and then abandoned by migrating tribes.
Life at RVA:
(Ester lives near the campus in a house she built with her family members and works as a housekeeper at RVA)
Getting out to the RVA campus took about 2 hours from the Nairobi Airport in Kijabe– the roads are dark and unpaved and it is recommended to hire a driver. The boarding school primarily for missionary children whose families are stationed in more dangerous African countries. It was founded in 1906 and now has over 500 students – only 10% of which are native Kenyan.
Teddy Roosevelt laid the corner stone of the school on one of his many trips to Africa. RVA stands for the Rift Valley Academy – it sits on a hillside over looking the Rift Valley, it was more green than I would have thought Africa to be. The climate in December reminded me of Thailand. The campus itself is patrolled around the clock with armed guards and is surrounded by a tall reinforced fence. This is said to keep out introduce both human and animal – before the fence was constructed it was common for African buffalo to roam the campus. The fence, however, can not keep out the monkey intruders and this can cause a lot of mischief on the campus. RVA is a mostly American compound and is supported by charities in The States.
Keep your windows rolled up when arriving to outdoor markets, passerbys will throw in their goods for sale and then expect you to pay for anything that remains in your car.
- Colorful plaid blankets – looks more like what you would expect to find in Scottland
- Weapons – small bows and arrows, daggers with giraffe-bone handles, shields covered in goat skin, the Masaai club, a long club with a big round head and a small sharp point on the end of it, the Masai people use it for sheep herding, the scare off lions, and for self-defense against other tribesmen.
- Fly swatters made from zebra or cow tails
- Handmade beads – jewelry, The Masai wedding charm
- Woven straw baskets
Fairmont Safari Club
Located in the Masai Mara – a four hour drive from Kijabe, mostly due to the bad condition of the roads. Covered in shady trees, has a beautiful lobby, lounge, balcony over looking a river where you can watch the hippos, and a pool. Guests stay in individual tents – every tent is equipped with a shower, toilet, AC, etc. it is very comfortable.
There are 3 safaris per day, guests are loaded into open air jeeps (about 8 guests per vehicle) they are assigned the same driver for their entire stay, each safari lasts about 2 and a half hours. December is a great time to visit the Masai Mara , it is a seasonal time when the animals all coexist in the Mara and nearly every species is accompanied by newborn babies, they are all very active and make for a great sight-seeing adventure.
The animals are not gated or interacted with by humans in any way, however, they are extremely comfortable with jeeps which have become familiar to them so the drivers and the guests are able to get with feet of the animals! We saw hyenas fighting over a fresh kill, we were only three feet away from a male and female lion mating, within touching distance of two enormous white rhinos, and right in the midst of graceful giraffes. Every safari we went on had new and exciting experiences.
Southern Kenya is home to the Masaai Tribe, there are over 200,000 living there, mostly in the same way that they have been living for hundreds of years, over 500,000 Masai live in Northern ***. Our safari driver was a Masai and he took us to his village in between our safari. To visit the village we were asked to pay $20 a person as a donation to the village, we were asked to participate in a cultural welcome dance as well as the Masai’s infamous jumping dance – a competition of who can jump the highest, everyone from the tiniest toddlers to the village elders participate.
On holidays they drink a mixture of goat milk and cow blood, cows are very important to their livelihood and are treated with great care, every night the herd is brought to a corral in the middle of the houses (arranged in a ring) and the new born calves are brought inside the individuals hut and kept in a room that was specifically designed for them. When a Masai man wants to marry he must pay the girls father with cows , usually it costs 8 cows to buy yourself a wife.
My sister and I befriended a 17 year old girl named Leila, she had just been married a few days before – bought for the price of 9 cows. She said she did not like being married, she wanted to continue in school and felt that life could be so much more than remaining in the village. She said that the cultural was changing very quickly with the arrival of school in the area and more and more young women are being encouraged to get an education.
Located just south of Kijabe, a massive volcano surrounded by otherwise flat farmland. The volcano is still considered active although it has not erupted since ***. It can take about 5 hours to summit the volcano on foot, circle the rim, and return to the base. We had quite the scare on the volcano when we started to see smoke rising from the side of the volcano when we were about halfway around. It turned out to be a wildfire quickly scaling the trees on the outer shell of the volcano and we had to run to escape it, missing the flames by just about a minute.
Two hour drive from Kijabe, it is surrounded by *** Lake. They offer fishing tours and hippo watching. The island was man made in the 80s (?) for the purpose of filming Hollywood movies there, animals have been introduced there. You can take a boat ride there and then be accompanied by a guard as you walk around the island, you can get very close to giraffes, mule deer, zebra, etc