28th – 30th May 2007
We were lucky enough to already have a television in 1954 when Zoo Quest with David Attenborough arrived on our screens. From the start I was a fan and, as I grew up, I began to dream of being his assistant and going on his travels with him. I think I was a little bit in love with him. But in those days I would have had to be a very determined girl to make that come true and perhaps I wasn’t very determined. Still, I never gave up on the dream to travel and in 2007 I was on my way to one of the places that I had visited many times by way of the nature programmes I’ve watched over the years.
There’s something to be said for setting off on a Monday. My work was finished, I had a clean house and I was packed in plenty of time. The flight was without incident, other than seeing Daniel Craig’s first outing as James Bond in Casino Royale.
We landed in Nairobi early in the morning but, by the time we left Jomo Kenyatta airport, the rush hour was in full swing and we had a very slow journey to the Jacaranda Hotel. Our first view of wildlife were the marabou storks perching on the trees by the roadside. Our tour manager said that we could go on two trips that day but I was so tired that I decided to go to bed instead. I always regret that I missed a visit to the famous David Sheldrick elephant orphanage. It wasn’t quite as famous as it is now and I didn’t really know what I was missing. In the afternoon I went to the Karen Blixen Museum which is situated in the house where she used to live. It’s not a big museum but it contains a lot of the original furniture and pictures together with some items from the set of “Out of Africa”. The house is set in beautiful grounds which cover many acres.
After tour of the house we were taken to a nearby giraffe conservation and breeding centre. There were giraffes there of different ages and they were all very friendly. You can feed them and they carefully take the food from your hands with their soft, gentle tongues. Back at the hotel we spent the evening getting to know each other.
This was another Saga holiday (my third) and was my first and only singles holiday specifically for people who travelled alone. There were fourteen of us altogether, twelve women and just two men. I’ve never had any problems finding people to chat to or or share a seat with on the coach, so I’m not sure why I chose this particular holiday. Perhaps it was just going at the right time.
We were woken up next morning at 6:00 ready to get on our way for 7:30. We were spread between three minibuses which we were going to use all week for our game drives. We were on our way to a game lodge in a small town called Voi, on the edge of Tsavo East National Park. It took 7 hours to drive there. Some of the roads were horrendous and bumpy but we eventually reached a stretch of new road running between the Tsavo West and Tsavo East national parks. Here we saw zebra feeding near the roadside and a troop of baboons.
When we arrived at the game lodge, we were met by dancers and given a cooling, fruit drink. After lunch it was pouring with rain! The evening passed with a “welcome cocktail party”, while we sat above the waterhole, which was reached by a pier built from the lodge’s main building. We only saw birds that night, although we were to have many much larger visitors on other evenings.