Amboseli Safari Video

Safari Pictures Posted

I’ve finally managed to get through all of the safari pictures from Amboseli and the Masai Mara and posted them to my smugmug page. Enjoy!

The Masai Mara
http://photography.jbwoodruff.com/Travel/Kenya-2012/20121216-Masai-Mara/

Amboseli
http://photography.jbwoodruff.com/Travel/Kenya-2012/20121214-Amboseli/

Lake Naivasha
http://photography.jbwoodruff.com/Travel/Kenya-2012/20121208-Lake-Naivasha/

Shan’s Enjoying the Weather

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If there was one reason to move to Nairobi it would be the weather.

Weekend in Lake Naivasha / Mt Longonot Lodge

Shan and I decided to spend the weekend outside of Nairobi to enjoy neighboring Naivasha. Our goal was to enjoy Hells Gate National Park and see some hippos. What we got was so much more.

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We booked a night at the Mt. Longonot Lodge based on the notion that I thought it’d be cool to stay near an extinct volcano. Turned out to be a good thought. We were the only ones there. The place was built back around the second world war and turns out that Ernest Hemmingway’s 2nd wife lived there. I believe we actually stayed in her room.

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Our meals were served in a fashion that I can only explain as being a hollywood depiction of Africa. Table out in the grass, under the acacia tree, with a breathtaking view.

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The staff Klaus, Duncan and Kris were wonderful. Klaus is a 70 year old German gentleman who arrived just a couple of years ago to spend the rest of his years in what I consider a paradise.

We started the weekend with a trip to Hells Gate National Park for some bike riding. I’d been there before just a couple weeks prior, but had such an amazing time that I wanted to bring Shan. It did not disappoint. Our ride started with an approaching thunderstorm, but we threw caution to the wind and headed out. A little rain never stopped us. We saw zebra, warthogs, gazelle and even managed to see a herd of water buffalo (thankfully from a distance).

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We made our way to the gorge for a nice tour. Our guide Joseph decided that we were the adventurous type and we took the double black diamond way into the gorge on a rope. I was very proud of Shan as she hurried her way down as I was the one feeling timid. It was cool though as on my previous trip we avoided this way so we got to see a lot of new things. I couldn’t help but feel we were hurrying through our journey though. I later learned that Kenya was playing Uganda in soccer; it then made a lot of sense.

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Our return journey on the bikes presented us with the most amazing rainbow we both had ever seen.

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It also presented us with water buffalo just about 5o feet off the road. Having heard quite a few stories about the dangers of water buffalo we weren’t really sure what to do. We did what any clueless person would do and we proceeded and at quite a quick pace. The first group we encountered seemed to take a step toward us. We watched with held breath as we sped by. Phew. Then another group on the right. This group was startled and ran away. We escaped unscathed and with a good story. We certainly weren’t in any danger, but sure was an interesting moment. Just glad there weren’t any lions.

That evening we had an amazing dinner, bon fire and enjoyed the sky full of stars. We saw water buffalo and hyenas at the watering hole. I have to say that it was a great night sleep on a very comfortable bed.

The next morning we arranged to go out on a nature walk at 7am with a Masai guide. Nothing like walking in the bush of Kenya. The sound of a herd of gazelle running is quite an amazing sound that I hope you all can experience some day.

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Breakfast was ready for us when we returned and in their amazing fashion was situated again in the grass land outside the building. I’ve really never felt so relaxed.

It was a good thing because what came next was a boat ride to see Africa’s most dangerous animal, the hippo. This boat ride was amazing on Lake Naivasha. We saw hundreds of birds and dozens of hippos. I can recommend this trip to anyone.

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Our return trip found me driving Klaus’s 25 year old Land Rover Defender through the fields of the ranch in pursuit of 3 ostrich. I think this weekend was a perpetual dream to me as I kept feeling like I needed to pitch myself. Truly an amazing two days.

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The trip was capped off with another amazing meal on the porch of the lodge as a rain storm came in. It was chilly and great weather for a nap, which I happily obliged myself with.

My Gift to Kenya

Besides the hours and hours of work I put in I decided today to go a step further.  The introduction of beer pong.  We all had a blast and I showed them why I’m feared at many tables around the world (not really).  I think this will soon be a weekly thing.

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Notice Anything Funny?

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An exciting day out the windows of 88mph.  First a small protest and now camels.

Matatu Drivers Hate These Leafy Sticks

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This was the sight out in front of our office for an exciting one whole minute today. Apparently the Kenyan government has passed a law that matatu drivers hate. As such, the natural reaction is to protest and walk down Ngong road with leafy sticks. After doing some research it enacts the following:

  • Life imprisonment for reckless driving (I believe matatu actually translates into reckless)
  • Physical and mental examination for matatu drivers every 3 years
  • Criminalizes drunk driving
  • UPDATE: No more overtaking (this is like asking a person to stop breathing)
  • UPDATE: No more cutting through gas stations to jump traffic

Now I get it.

Yes You Can Drink & Drive

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Dumbfounded? I was.

On our way to Hell’s Gate in Naivasha, we passed this sign on the highway. Turns out it’s for a non-alcoholic beer.

View of My Nairobi Home from Work

Yep, I live this close to work. Part awesome, part sad.

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Kenya’s First Highway

The Chinese have been building Kenya a nice new highway.  I’ve been told that people are having to relearn how to drive in a place where such high speeds are possible.  Given the current driving habits of most Kenyans I fear that highways are more of a curse than a blessing.

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Bombing in Nairobi

Just to clarify, I’m ok, safe and the bombing was on the other side of town.

On Sunday a bomb was placed on a public bus and as such killed 7 and wounded 30 or more. These attacks are taking place due to Kenya’s hand in fighting the Al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia.

This has since enflamed some local issues in the Eastleigh neighborhood which is home to many Somali families. There has been some rioting and conflict between Kenyan Christians and Somali Muslims. This was the second day of such riots. The issue has been primarily the Kenyans fighting against the Somalis because they really have no one else to attack for the bombing.

Here is a story from the local paper: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Riots-rock-Eastleigh-for-the-second-day/-/1056/1624512/-/14918h2z/-/index.html

I know the magnitude is nothing like that of 9/11 in the U.S.; however, the targeting of innocent Muslims, neighbors is very similar. How do you fight a faceless group?

Nairobi Rains

We’re in one of the rainy seasons. Can’t seem to figure out which, but that means it rains pretty much every day in the evening/night. Check out the downpour in this video. These regularly last for about 30 min to an hour.

Things I Miss

In case you’re considering moving to Nairobi, Kenya here are some things I find I’m missing most. It’s not a long list.

Shannon is at the top of this list.

In no particular order:

  • Fast Internet (think back to dial-up days)
  • Driving
  • Good hamburgers
  • Ordering a beer/coke and expecting that it’s cold
  • Drinking water from the tap (and not getting you know what)
  • The absence of malaria – to be fair, there is no malaria in Nairobi, but if you travel outside then you’re on your meds for the next month.

Friends and family are also obvious so have left them off the list. Walvis, you are in there too.

Telling Time in Swahili

Our daily Swahili class this morning was focused on telling time and we found out an interesting fact.

Here’s how you’d say it’s 7am:  Sasa ni saa moja asubuhi.

Let’s deconstruct this sentence.

Sasa = Now.

Ni = Is.

Saa = Time.

Moja = One.

Asubuhi = Morning.

Now you’re probably wondering the exact same thing that we did.  Why are you saying it’s one in the morning when it’s really 7am?  Like in Ethiopia, time begins with the rising of the sun.  So effectively, 7am is one hour after the sun rises near the equator.  This works well here and in Ethiopia because the time the sun rises and sets is pretty much the same every day.  Fortunately, we don’t see this in practice on a daily basis, but certainly something to think about.

Sad Elephant Story

I came across a blog post from last year from the Elephant Watch Camp.  It’s a sad story, but highlights a reality that still exists in Kenya.  Not sure how/when/if this is going to stop.  I spoke with a local my first week here that didn’t seem to think poaching is an issue.  Seems like some local indifference is the real issue.  WARNING: IMAGES ARE GRAPHIC.

Link: http://www.elephantwatchsafaris.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=21&Itemid=32

Nairobi Sidewalks

Oktoberfest in Nairobi

Big 5 Breweries (same bar that’s in our building) is putting on Oktoberfest this weekend just across the street at the Impala Club.  It’s a 3 day, beer, music and food festival.  We went last night and were greeted by a power outage.  After about 30 minutes the power came back on and we were able to see that the festival is actually pretty cool and definitely doesn’t feel like you’re in Africa.

They included a nice branded 500ml glass in the 3 day price of 1,000 Kshs; that’s about $12.  So for $12 we get entrance for 3 days to a music festival and a souvenir glass.  I consider this a deal.  Oh, and it also includes a beer tasting.

There are some fun and exciting things going on in Nairobi, so if you get the chance to visit Kenya sometime, don’t overlook the city.

Persons with Albinism in Kenya

I was just watching a news story while eating lunch and learned an interesting fact about beliefs on albinism in Kenya.  There are some who believe that the body parts of people with albinism are magical and therefore will pay for them.  As such, there are some who will attack these individuals, cut off various body parts and then sell them.  I am not certain what people do with the body parts.  Additionally, the belief continues that people with albinism vanish when they die.

When I was here in 2007 I was working with the United Disabled Persons of Kenya.  The main goal was to advocate for equal rights for persons with disabilities.  They are still not protected under the constitution in Kenya and many spend their entire lives indoors and out of sight.  This is due mainly to the stigma of having a child with a disability as they believe it reflects poorly on themselves.

Nairobi Weather

In case you were wondering, thought I’d share a little bit about the weather in Nairobi.  It’s actually quite nice right now.  Every day is just about the same with highs in the low 80s and lows around the low 60s.  Nairobi’s elevation is 5,450 which helps keep the temps down throughout the year as compared to other regions of Kenya.

It’s nearing a short rain season which means that it just kind of rains in the morning and now and then.  Pop up stuff.  It seems to help keep the air quality better.

As for air quality, seems ok generally, but the cars/buses here are horrible.