You may have previously read my first blog post, “How to prepare and pack for an African Safari” — if not, head here and enjoy!
Today, I’m going to tell you about our journey to Africa and my very first Game Drive.
Here is Day One on my African Safari Expedition
We began our journey to Kenya with a flight from Houston with a layover in Amsterdam then on to Nairobi. This flight took around 26 hours 21 of those flying.
** I suggest if possible paying for the upgraded comfort class seating. These types of seats are not nearly as expensive as first-class but much better than regular economy.
We boarded our flight and we were on our way to the most exotic adventure we’ve ever been on. The flights were smooth and good. It was pretty incredible flying over Egypt and looking down to see areas where stories from the Bible took place.
We landed in Nairobi with our Visas in hand and it took around 45 minutes to clear customs and turn our paperwork for the Visa’s in. I do suggest getting a Visa beforehand if possible, this can be done online.
Once we arrived, we made our way out past the baggage claim where we were met by a lovely lady with a sign welcoming us to Kenya and our guide led the way to the waiting van. We were taken on a 30-minute ride to the Safari Park Lodge.
It was late, so we headed straight to bed (which was perfect because we woke up with no jet lag which was incredible). I highly suggest that you land at 8 to 11 pm so that you can go to bed right away. I travel a lot for work and on my last trip to Europe, I landed early in the morning after a long flight (with a baby crying) which caused bad jet lag.
The flight to Africa worked out perfectly with the comfort class seats combined with landing at night.
We checked in and we were given a booklet with more details on our trip. We were told where to eat breakfast the next morning and then where we would meet the group and be assigned our guide.
I had been a little concerned before the trip about the food in Africa and how different it would be than the food I was used to. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was. We ate breakfast and walked around the grounds of the Safari Park Lodge and I was stunned at the beauty of Africa from my first daylight glance.
After breakfast, we headed to the lobby where we were assigned a group leader/ driver and we met our group members. Our group had 5 members, a wonderful couple on their honeymoon from England, James and Romilly, and an adventurous lady, Rita, who has traveled all over the world by herself. Our guide’s name was Alex, a local Kenyan who has led Safaris in Kenya for 26 plus years. Our group was incredibly blessed by Alex’s joyful personality, his knowledge and his sixth sense for finding animals.
We loaded up in our land cruiser and our adventure began with a 4 to 5-hour drive from Nairobi to our lodge in The Masai Mara. The drive was an experience all on its own. In all my travels, I had never seen a developing world. It was an exhilarating experience to see different ways of life. The roads were different, the children were so excited to see the land cruiser coming down the road with people from different countries. They would run to the side of the road and wave it was truly the sweetest thing.
We finished our drive and arrived at The Mara Sopa Lodge. This was another new experience for us staying in an African Lodge. The Lodge was amazing and fascinating at the same time. The rooms did not have air conditioning which we were never hot, and the lodge ran off generators, so for several hours at different times during the day the power was turned off.
Surprisingly this did not affect our trip, but I was glad that I had my headlamp at night when it was turned off.
Tip: bring a bag of games.
James and Rom (two members of the group) had brought a bag of games and we would play card games during the times of day that the generator was turned off.
We rested for around two hours at the Lodge and then it was time for our first game drive. I had imagined the game drives before the trip and I imagined driving around trying to see a few animals. My Dad had carried me deer hunting as a child and we would sit in the woods for hours with my father hoping to see one deer. I think from my life experience I was thinking we would sit and wait to see animals.
I was wrong! The Masai Mara is loaded with 1,000s of animals. On our first game drive that evening we saw 100’s if not 1000’s animals on the Mara.
Elephants, Cheetahs, Cape Buffalo, Masai Giraffe, Grant’s Gazelle, Hippopotamus, Jackals, and Warthogs to name a few.
I feel God the most often in nature and on that game drive I felt God’s presence in creation so much that it brought tears of AW to my eyes. When traveling to see new places on some occasions, the places move my soul in AWE of God’s Grace and the Masai Mara is one of those soul moving places for me.
We stayed out around 2 and half hours on our first game drive then we returned to the lodge for dinner and then right off to bed so we would be ready for the next game drive in the morning.