Our adventure starts in Lagos, where we are up at 4:30am to take a 1-hour bus ride in the dark to the Lagos airport. We are flying Kenya Airways, and no surprise; there is no Kenya Airways counter at the airport. Since there is only one flight a day for the airline, the staff only arrived to set up their counter at about 9:00am. We finally checked in and were told that the plane was delayed and would not arrive in Nigeria until 2:00pm. The 3-hour delay dictated that a complimentary lunch at a bar counter be given, where we were given an update to our flight that now was due to arrive at 4:30pm.
While waiting for our plane, we finished novels, played PSP video games, browsed every shop at the airport, and were generally bored.
Finally, our flight left at 5:30pm and arrived in Nairobi, Kenya at 1:00am, including a 2-hour time change. After clearing immigration, we met our Driver and Guide, Samuel, who drove us to the Hilton in Nairobi City Centre. The streets were quiet and still – a big change from the chaotic fervour of Lagos at night.
The Hilton was built in 1945, and still maintains that old world charm. After a short night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, Sam met us at the hotel front door at 9:00am to begin our wilderness adventure.
Nairobi in the day is a clean, bustling and organized city with beautiful landmarks, parks and historic buildings. We traversed the city and headed toward Aberdare National Park.
Our driver, Sam, has 1 wife, (most Maasai have 4-10 wives), and 1 daughter. He was born and raised in the small town of Narok, about 150km outside of Nairobi, and has been driving and guiding these safaris for eight years.
After travelling north for 2 hours past vast pineapple groves and extensive coffee crops, climbing up to 2000 meters altitude, we stopped at a little curio respite for a stretch and cool drink. Other safaris stopped also, but they were heading further north to Samburu Nature Reserve.
We went west to Aberdare National park, another hour’s drive, and checked into the Outspan Hotel. The room is a picture out of the 1920’s and could be a shoot location for “Out of Africa”.
We explored the grounds, watched and listened to numerous birds, and kept looking to see a better view of Mt. Kenya, the 2nd tallest mountain in Africa. As if on cue, as we sat on the patio for afternoon tea, the clouds parted, and there in the distance, with the sun streaming down to illuminate it’s face, was the mountain. Although we would not be going there, it is a popular hike on the international circuit, and one of the tallest mountains on the continent.
To be continued……