Subject: My Kenyan Safari
Ziners, I had been on an African Safari in Kenya recently that is, from 24th May to 5th June.

My trip was fantastic and very exciting. We visited Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, Samburu and Amoboseli game parks, and Mount Kenya Safari Club & The Ark hotel. Except for the few hours during first couple of days when it rained, the weather co-operated. As Kenyan economy is heavily dependent on tourism, they have very good infrastructure and tourist friendly staff. All our hotels/lodges were very good (during my return journey, I read in the in-flight magazine that the Serena Group Hotels where we stayed at most of the places, is ranked in top 10 hotels in the world by the Traveler magazine). And the Narfolk Hotel in Nairobi is over 100 years old, and presidents, dignitaries and diplomats of foreign nations on Kenyan visit stay there.

We used to go out for game drives twice a day from 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning and from 4:00 to 6:30-7:00 in the evening. On these game drives I saw many animals including prides of lions and cubs, leopards, cheetahs, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, gazelles, impalas, baboons, hippos, rhinos, hyenas, wildebeests and around 90 kinds of birds. As most of our hotels/lodges were inside the park (having electrified fences), we could hear calls of wild animals, noises of their movements, splashing of hippos at night. Most of the herbivorous animals we could see from a very close distance (baboons, zebras, gazelles were sometimes less than 7-8 feet away).

In fact, once a lone elephant made a mock attack by charging on us. On one occasion, one of the lioness was about 20 feet from our car. But fortunately, she ignored us and was focusing on a zebra pack near her.

The balloon ride was a different experience altogether. Our balloon rose gracefully and calmly over the green savanna and we had an aerial view of the smaller animals running around down below. During our horse ride at Mount Kenya Safari club we went up to 30 feet from a pack of zebras.

I also got an opportunity to visit a masai village. The son of its chief has done some schooling and therefore, could speak fluent English. He lead us to his village, took us in and around their homes, and answered our queries. I also participated in their welcome dance.

After our game drives, we used to go for swimming (in the hotel's swimming pool), read books from library or attend lectures/slide-shows arranged by hotels about the local tribes, flora fauna, animal research etc. Food at all these places was very good with a very wide choice.

Well, I got an opportunity to taste ostrich, crocodile, camel and one more exotic animal (I don't remember its name now but I have a photo of the entire menu). Camel tasted bad, ostrich okay but croc was delicious!

During our journeys from one park to another, we used to halt at curio shops. At such places we enjoyed fun of bargaining. Items initially quoted at 3600 Kenyan Shillings were bought for as less as 400 KSH (by others)! Most of the time I did window shopping. But bought one masai blanket and a 'crocoli' -- Masai shirt (don't worry, it looks quite civilized :-)).

You can visit to see some of the photographs of my safari.

Kaustubh Shejwalkar Mumbai, India