Thursday, December 03, 2009

Half the Adventure is Getting There….

Safari, stage one……in all the excitement of getting up at stupid o’clock to get to Sharjah airport (incidentally, it may not be the most modern of terminals, but Air Arabia are amazing) I completely forgot that I do, on occasion get extremely travel sick. As in: raging nausea, hot sweats, in short: wanting to die. It didn’t help that the flight started out quite bumpy, and it also didn’t help that a) the guy sat across the aisle to me kept burping really loudly (nice) or that b) the girl sat next to him spent half an hour throwing up noisily into a carrier bag. Anyway, after some travel sickness tablets I came around..over the counter pharmaceuticals from Dubai somehow seem so much more powerful and effective than back home!

4.5 hours later we arrived at Nairobi airport to be met by our first lovely guide, Joseph. He was at pains to take us through every item on our itinerary- we were in a frenzy of excitement and trying to crack open bottles of wine in the back of the car (you can take the girl out of Manchester..).

We’d opted to stay just outside of the city in a gorgeous place called the House of Waine. It’s a private house that has been converted into a guest house. It’s small boutique style place with themed rooms and gorgeous gardens. There wasn’t much to do apart from drink wine, chill in the gardens, and eat. Bliss.

Next morning and the moment I’d been dreading…..the Safari Link plane down to the Masai Mara. I’m not scared of flying, in fact I love travelling and never think twice about getting on a plane. Big planes, that is. Small planes, I don’t get along with. It’s something I just can’t control, they terrify me.

This plane was a 13 seater - If I’d have known at this stage how much smaller the plane on the return route would be….well, that’s a story for later. Our pilot introduced himself – Jackson – it didn’t help that he looked about 12, and was there really any need for him to keep insulting the map as we went along?? It wasn’t really instilling me with confidence. I won’t go into the torrid detail, but there were tears… I could barely get off the plane at the end, but soon perked up when we were met by our wonderful guide for the next five days, Anderson.

We’d barely been in the 4x4 for five minutes when we started making our first sightings, by the time we arrived at Olonana Camp we were in a state of near-hysteria. The head of staff, Maurice (they all have such English names!) and introduced us to Daniel, our personal waiter, Duncan, our butler, and a myriad of other people on hand to look after us. Spoilt isn’t even the word.

After an amazing lunch we headed out on our first afternoon game drive. We saw everything, apart from a leopard (which we saw the next morning). Truly amazing. What Anderson doesn’t know about animals really isn’t worth knowing. We rounded off the evening with wine, dinner, and cards by the fire. Bliss.

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