Visiting Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Flying from Nairobi to Amboseli on August 30th

The Plane Ride

Today (August 30th) I flew in a 12-seater airplane from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Amboseli National Park. The airplane ride was only 35 minutes long and was quite bumpy. There was even one part when the plane dropped a little bit that felt like the tower of terror in Disney land; it felt like we were falling uncontrollably for about half a second. The landing was much smother than we expected, and we got off the plane once it came to a complete stop. Once we were off the plane, we collected our bags from the cargo hold under the main plane body and were off to the lodge.

Colossal Dust Devils

The part of Amboseli National Park that we saw today was almost completely covered in water, and where there wasn’t water, there were colossal dust devils. Thankfully for us, there were no dust devils on the roads. Amboseli National Park is covered in a layer of salt, so the wetlands are salty. Because of the lack of rain, there was so much salt in the water that there were wildebeest carcasses all over the place because of the imbalance of salt vs. water. Our driver, Isaac, said that the vultures and hyenas were getting very stuffed and fat, so much so that some of the vultures and storks were too heavy to fly! Soon we were at the lodge and were shown to our rooms, which were well furnished and neat. At 7:30, we had a delicious dinner and went to bed.

This is one of the crazy dust devils we saw. This photo was taken by my brother, Bardez, who has a knack for snapping incredible photos.

Game Driving Amboseli on August 31st

This morning, we woke up at 5:30 am for a game drive. We started driving at 6:15, and we grew freezing. I was wearing only my poufy coat, though I should have brought my fleece too. On the game drive, we saw a lioness eating a wildebeest, a pride of 9 lions with no adult male, and a ton of elephants, zebras, wildebeest, and birds. And a couple of hippos. Once we got hungry enough, we returned to eat breakfast. we have nothing else planned for today, and I will see you tomorrow.

Meeting the Masai on September 1st

Today I woke up at 6:45 am to go to a breakfast of Gluten-free pancakes and oatmeal porridge. After I was finished, I walked back to my cabin-like room, only to hear that there was an ant infestation due to leaving some bread in the room. I took the bread out and was chased by a monkey back to the lodge. After I had put the bread in a safe place, I ran out to where we were supposed to meet our car, only to find that we were not going to leave until 8:30. So we sat around for 20 minutes, and the car came, and we left for the Masai village.

The Village Greeting

Except for a slight detour to see a lion, we had a primarily uninterrupted trip to the village. We met Patrick, a village chief, when we got to the village. He told us that they were living a traditional lifestyle and were trying to preserve their old ways. He said that they would also perform a welcoming dance and that we could join in and/or take photos. Once we finished the dance, we were led into the village. Inside the walls was a small but intricate town, with pens for all animals: cows, sheep, and goats, as well as huts for the humans.

Making Fire

We learned about all of the medicine and how they make fire. They made fire with a specific hard stick, a soft wood with a hole to place the stick in, and dried elephant dung. They set the soft piece of wood on top of the spread-out elephant turd, set the hard stick into the hole in the soft portion of wood, and spun the stick between their hands. It was an extremely efficient way to start a fire, about the same speed as a match, except much more environmentally hospitable.

The hard stick is spin in a notch of the soft wood while being pressed into dried elephant dung, which is apparently highly flammable. You too can make fire this way at home, all you need is special sticks and some spare elephant dung laying around!

Inside a Masai Village House

After we learned about the fire, we went into a hut. A hut is made out of mud and sticks and takes 5 to 6 weeks to construct because the entire tribe helps out. A hut has two rooms: the parent’s and the kid’s rooms. The parent’s room includes a bed of cowskin, a fireplace, and a window. The kid’s room includes beds for the kids and possibly a window. We were told that the men marry only after they have been a warrior for 15 years and that they can only become warriors at the age of 15, so they generally marry at 30, whereas the women marry around 20. We continued on our tour to the marketplace.

The Marketplace

The marketplace was a stretch of land outside of the walls of the village with about 20 women sitting on each side with blankets full of handmade goods in front of them stretched out on blankets. We toured the market, and a man carried the things we were considering buying. We were told that the prices were going to be high and that we were supposed to haggle it down. For those who do not understand what haggling is, it is the art of negotiating down prices to what is reasonable for you. It is not practiced very much in the US, but I find it very interesting. It is nice to not have to just read a label and except or reject whatever the price is on it. By the time we were done haggling, the price went from over $1,200 USD for 73 items to a little over $200 for about 40 items. We had to put back many items and they reduced the pricing on many items. Ultimately, we got the goods we wanted and they felt like they got the money they wanted. It was tense at some times while negotiating, but everyone was really trying to get to a price for items that everyone thought was fair and happy for all. With that, our time was up with the Masai, and we thanked them and drove off.

Next, we’re off to Kilimanjaro

I am now headed to Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, and I just learned that it is actually pronounced tan-zaaan-nya, instead of the American pronuciation tan-zan-neeh-ah.