Elephants trumpet their delight in red dusty dirt baths, enraged buffalo chase a lion, giraffes chomp on leaves and tender shoots of thorny acacia foliage, a pink blanket of leggy flamingos line the shore and traditional tribes adorned with colourful beads herd their goats… This is Kenya.
We put our dream to reality and travel to Kenya to visit orphan elephants, Ngasha and Kandecha who we sponsor through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. After researching, planning and email communication with tour companies and guides we settle with Martin Maina in Nairobi and create a perfect itinerary for Kenya that includes Ithumba, Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria on our list of places to visit.
Nairobi Elephant Orphanage
Our first day in Nairobi, we visit Ngasha and other elephant babies during their 11am milk bottles and play time. In the afternoon, we return for a special afternoon visit when the orphans are put to bed. Going behind the scenes with the baby elephants and their keepers, who devote their lives to the orphans is a once in a lifetime experience.
Ithumba – 420 km – 8 hours drive from Nairobi
The next day we make the long dusty drive to Ithumba in Tsavo National Park. Kandecha our other sponsored elephant has been transferred here from the Nairobi Orphanage. He and the older babies will continue the next phase of their rehabilitation and eventual release. Ithumba is booked exclusively to one group at a time, so we have the camp and elephants to ourselves for the next couple of days. The mornings and afternoons are spent with the baby elephants during their milk bottle feeds and their 11am mud bath. The wild elephants arrive so they can bath and interact with the orphans, which is a sight to behold.
We drive back to Nairobi and spend the night before heading to the Masai Mara. We have a relaxing night at the Wildebeest Eco Camp while Martin makes sure everything is in place for our camping trip to the Masai Mara. He picks us up early the next morning with the landcruiser packed with camping gear, food, beers and Sammy our cook, who accompanies us to the Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru National Park.
Camping in the Masai Mara – 250 km – 6 hours drive from Nairobi
We spend four days at a camp site directly above a Hippo pool; go on safari drives spotting everything from lions on the savannah plains, giraffes on the escarpment and elephants at sunrise. It’s the beginning of the Great Migration and wildebeest and zebras regularly visit the river bank. We sit around the camp fire at night, listening to hippos splashing and wallowing below and lions roaring close by.
The amount of wildlife here is amazing and plenty of willing subjects to take photos of. Most of the wildlife are used to vehicles and ignore everyone while they go about their daily lives.
Lake Nakuru – 230 km – 7 hours drive from Masai Mara
From the Masai Mara, we travel to Lake Nakuru National Park and stay in Naishi Guest House. This is our base for the next three days while exploring Lake Nakuru. After camping for four days, the wood-fire heated shower is pure bliss. We all have a gorgeous bedroom with own shower and toilet and the huge timber kitchen is a dream for Sammy.
Lake Nakuru is a small park but has so much to offer. It is one of our favourite places in Kenya and different to the Masai Mara so the two parks can’t be compared. The rare Rothschild Giraffe is one of the highlights here for us.
Other great spottings for us are the five rhinos that came close to our vehicle, jackal pups and two leopard sightings.
Lake Bogoria – 160 km – 3 hours drive from Lake Nakuru
The flamingos are not accessible during our stay at Lake Nakuru, but Martin confirms they are at Lake Bogoria.
Due to climate change and fragmentation, flamingo’s numbers are nowhere close to what they were in the past. Although fewer in numbers, the sight of these long-legged pink birds on the shoreline is no less hypnotizing. We camp overnight at Lake Bogoria right beside the lake to visit the flamingos in the morning and the Pokot Tribes at Lake Baringo in the afternoon.
The Pokot tribes are cultivators and pastoralists who have kept their traditional ways. It is an authentic cultural experience. The road from Lake Baringo to Lake Bogoria is very dusty and rough. We would recommend this only if you are very enthusiastic to visit the tribes!
Kenya is recognised as one of the best places in the world to go on safari. Their long-standing policy of no hunting, coupled with their commitment to conservation and preserving wildlife against many obstacles, has countries following in their footsteps.
We can’t praise Martin our guide enough. Right from the start, he was honest and enthusiastic about our camping safari. He was open to any ideas and let us know what would and wouldn’t work. During our trip, we made a few changes which could have been a nightmare, but Martin took it all in his stride and remained flexible. His price is excellent as he’s not out to make a huge profit, only a wage. He is very knowledgeable about the wildlife and his country. We recommend Martin for any trip type and duration.
Sammy cooks the most delicious meals with a few pots and pans. He can whip up any dietary requirements or special requests on a gas burner or over hot coals. Martin and Sammy are the most genuine people we know. They love their jobs and make a great team. Go Martin and Sammy!
Read more about our Kenya trip
- Nairobi Elephant Orphanage
- Camping in the Masai Mara
- Lake Nakuru
- Kenya Safari & Travel Tips
- Kenya Travel Photography
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