Archive | Kenya

Kenya Travel Advice – US Warns of Imminent Terror Attack in Kenya

Posted on 23 June 2012 by onthegroundtravel

National flag - Kenya Travel Advice

Our Kenya travel advice today is based on a recent US government warning of an imminent terror attack in Kenya.

While our safari trip started in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, we want to highlight that US has issued a warning about an imminent terror attack in Kenya.  All US government personnel are required to leave Mombasa (~ 6 hrs drive away from Nairobi).  If you are planning a trip to Kenya, please take this warning into consideration in your planning.  Mombasa has beautiful beaches, but there have been reports of kidnappings of foreigners in the area by militants from neighboring Somalia.

Please stay safe!

 

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Picture of the Week: An Interesting Cultural Exchange with the Maasai

Posted on 22 June 2012 by Danica

maasai women colorful clothes

When you first meet the Maasai people, you can’t help but notice their distinctive clothing.  Men mostly wear red or blue textiles in plaid.  Women wrap themselves in clothes that come in a rainbow of different colors or African design, and are adnored with beautiful beaded homemade jewelry and headdress.

The Meeting

After meeting the Maasai women above, we sat down with a young Maasai man in his home (similar to the mud hut in the background.)  We politely asked about the living condition in his house, which is no larger than a 150 sq ft room that fits a kitchen, a bed for the entire family and a few basic supplies.

You Heard What About America?

We had expected to see this type of living arrangements before we went in, but what caught us by surprise was his curiosity for the American culture.  He has heard a lot of “strange” customs about Americans, he told us.  And he wanted to know whether the rumors were true or not.

  • Is it true that a woman can divorce a man in America?
  • What about the rumor I heard that American women raise children on their own without a husband?
  • Oh, and I heard that some women paid men to have babies by themselves?

It’s rare that we become the subject of interest and under the spotlight when we travel.  Usually, we ask all the questions!

Surely You Don’t Want to Know About That

And as we replied yes, yes, and yes to all his questions, you can see his eyes grew larger and wilder.  He simply could not understand why on earth would Americans do such a thing?  What could be the reasons behind these “crazy” ideas?

And in our heads, all we could think of was, “geez, better not tell him about all the other concepts such as it’s legal for same-sex couples to get married and raise children together in some parts of America, or what about test tube babies?”  The answers to those questions would surely blown his mind away!

The Unforgettable Exchange with the Maasai

It was an unforgettable cultural exchange with the Maasai.  At the end of that encounter, we learned a bit more about the Maasai, and they learned a bit more about us.  While we may not understand the motivations behind the other’s decisions, we tolerate and accept the others’ viewpoint.  And that’s the most satisfying part of traveling – being able to share our differences, and being accepted at the same time.

 

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Picture of the Week: Birth of a Baby Gazelle on Kenya Safari

Posted on 15 June 2012 by Danica

 

Birth of a Baby Gazalle on Kenya Safari from Trips Around the World

 

Our picture of the week was taken while we were on an a Kenya Safari.     Being out in the open with the animals in Mara was an amazing experience.  We saw the circle of life from the birth of the baby gazelle as shown in the picture above to the death of the wildebeest mentioned in our previous safari posts (highlighted below).

Although standing guard, the gazelle can not defend itself or its young from predators.   We were warned by our guide that getting too close to the pair would scare off the mother, permanently leaving her young to endure a very uncertain future.  We kept our distance, watched, and took photos of this amazing event.

 

If you are interested in reading more about our wildlife safari experience in Kenya, check out our seven-part series here:

  1. Introduction
  2. 10 Must-See Animals (including the Big 5)
  3. Five Tidbits about the Mara Crossing You Should Know
  4. Our Wildebeest Crossing Experience
  5. Choosing When and Where to Go
  6. Kicheche Camp Review
  7. Transportation to Maasai Mara

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Picture of the Week: Maasai Warriors Jumping Contest from Trips Around the World

Posted on 08 June 2012 by Danica

Masai Mara Tribesmen from Trips Around the World


On a sunny afternoon after our morning game drive, we followed our Maasai guide to visit one of the local villages in the Mara Conservancy.  What immediately caught our eyes was the bright color clothing they all wore that contrasted against the deep green African plains and blue sky.  In addition to interacting with the locals and visiting their dwellings, we were also treated to their famous traditional dance, the Adumu (or the “Jumping Contest” as Westerners call it).  As a show of strength and endurance, these Maasai warriors formed a circle, and took turns in competition jumping as high as possible while the others sung in high-pitched tones.

I was selected as the judge of the contest, and the warrior jumping in the picture won the competition.Then they challenged David to jump in.  He did well but the Maasai’s jumping skills could not be beaten.

It was a beautiful and unforgettable afternoon visiting the friendly and knowledgeable Maasai people.

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Plan a Perfect African Safari in Kenya: 7 – Getting to Maasai Mara

Posted on 06 June 2012 by David

Today, we are on the last part of our seven-part “Plan a Perfect African Safari in Kenya” series.

To reach the safari camp in the Conservancy, your itinerary will have two major components.  The first is getting to Kenya.  The second is making your way from wherever you are in Kenya to the camp.

Typically you would fly into Nairobi International, take ground transport to Wilson Airport, and then take a prop plane out to the Maasai Mara.   Our around the world trip took us through Turkey on Turkish alines and we landed in Nairobi around one in the morning.

Arrival at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

For the most part you will need to fly into Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (airport code: NBO).

Kenya Ministry of Health regulations

Here's a sign with info about vaccinations. Please double-check this with the Kenya Ministry of Health for the latest info.

 

Waiting in line to buy a visa

Kenya allows you to purchase a visa on arrival. Make sure you have enough US Dollars or Kenyan Shillings to cover the cost of the Visa as the ATM's around in the international arrivals area may not be working!

 

If you’re flying out to Maasai Mara, you’ll most likely need to go to Wilson Airport.  Wilson airport doesn’t open until the morning daylight hours.   This presents a dilemma if you arrive very late at night or really early in the morning into NBO.  Should you stay at NBO and wait around until it’s time to head to Wilson airport for your departing flight or should you book a room at an hotel?   It’s up to you but we decided it was not worth the time and expense to go to an hotel for only an hour or two of sleep.  We decided to tough it out at NBO.  We arrived at 1am and were out of baggage claim around 2am.   Our driver picked us up to go to Wilson at 6am.

One tip, if you decide to wait around the airport, try to not exit the baggage claim area.  We made the mistake of exiting out into the arrivals hall to find that there are almost no seats available once you exit baggage claim!

Cafe in NBO arrivals hall

These are the only seats you’re going to find in the arrivals hall. It’s a little dark here so only take a nap if you have family or friends with you who can watch over your belongings.

 

NBO arrivals hall

This is the arrival hall. It's quite sparse but reasonably lit. Money exchange booths open around 6am. There are a number of ATMs here but every one we tried was out of service.

Nairobi Wilson Airport

Prior to us landing in Nairobi, we booked transportation with a well reviewed car service operator.  He picked us up at 6am from NBO.  Nairobi has very bad highway congestion and it took us an hour to reach Wilson Airport.

When flying out of Wilson Airport you will by flying on a small aircraft.  Do note that there is a weight limit but  if you have too many bags you’ll have to leave it behind.  Fortunately you can rent a locker with Air Kenya at Wilson airport when you check in.   We left our large duffel bag there  and we had no issues picking it up on the return.

 

Air Kenya aircraft

Air Kenya prop plane.

 

Air Kenya lobby is comfortable but can get crowded quickly.

This is the Air Kenya waiting area. There is a small cafe upstairs. They both get crowded quick so it's good if you get there early.

 

Mara Landing Strip

Air Kenya landing strip

The landing strips in the Mara are busy with aircraft coming and going quite frequently.

 

On landing you’re met by a representative of your camp.  Depending on how far the camp is, this becomes your first game drive of your safari!

 

That’s it for our series on Kenya.  We couldn’t cover everything so if you have questions let us know!

Also if you have an idea on a location you want to go, but not sure how to plan it all out?  We have traveled around the world so if you have a question about a place, we probably have been there.  =)   So leave a comment below. Your destination may just be our featured location next month.

Our entire seven part series of our “Plan a Perfect African Safari in Kenya“:

  1. Introduction
  2. 10 Must-See Animals (including the Big 5)
  3. Five Tidbits about the Mara Crossing You Should Know
  4. Our Wildebeest Crossing Experience
  5. Choosing When and Where to Go
  6. Kicheche Camp Review
  7. Getting to Maasai Mara (Current Post)

You may also enjoy our Picture of the Week:

  1. Maasai Warriors Jumping Contest (Adumu)

 

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