When I was a child, I used to watch the Disney cartoon “Lion King”. The backdrop for the scene was set against the vast lands of Kenya, and listening to the familiar song of “Hakuna Matata” … but it is only after I have personally set foot on this land … hence it is true that one must visit this country at least once-in-your-lifetime.
Kenyan Wild Playground ‧ Kenya
When I was a child, I used to watch the Disney cartoon “Lion King”. The backdrop for the scene was set against the vast lands of Kenya, and listening to the familiar song of “Hakuna Matata” … but it is only after I have personally set foot on this land and found that indeed I have not been disappointing by my expectation, instead it exceeds my imagination with pleasant unexpected surprises.
Imagine, there lies in front of you, a leap of leopards feeding and tearing of an antelope; witnessing large herds of wildebeests grazing for food on the other side of the vast plains, then galloping in unity as they swim clear the Mara River, taking the chances of being ambushed by the ferocious crocodiles of the rivers … hence it is true that one must visit Kenya at least once-in-your-lifetime.
KENYA SURPRISES AT EVERY CORNER
The mundane feeling of just another trip of sightseeing and shopping was tugging at the heart. Also the much needed breathe of fresh perspective on cultural heritage and adventures, hence with this I opened up heart to Kenya and accepted a different kind of adventure.
Like most people, I have only ever known Kenya through documentaries from various Animals TV channels. It did not cross my mind at that point of time that one day I would step into the magical wild plains of Kenya.
Being incredibly different is my first impression of this land. It is absolutely impossible to chance upon the same experience you find here, comparing to another country.
Although yes, I have traveled to different countries in the African continent, Kenya has been one of the most untamed, wild, primitive lands, making it the easiest to spot the “big five”.
Of course not everyone loves the wilderness or even animals, but it is an undeniable fact that the land is full of mystery. We modern people of these times and age, have been living in steel and concrete forest, working as if we were robots, a daily repetition of hard work in order to live. If a stranger were to ask you, “are you happy?”, I guess the answer is most apparent. After all, many people have forgotten how to make themselves happy.
When life takes a toll on the physical body, I used to imagine that one fine morning, as my eyes opens and step outside, a sight of zebras, deers, and giraffes feeding on the grass greets me, right at my door steps. After lunch, as I sat idle on a lazy chair watching the hippopotamus playing in the Mara River. Leisure conversations with friends and family makes for a good afternoon past time . . . This is an ideal life, never in my wildest imagination that it would come to past.
MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
Every experience in Kenya is unique, a breath of fresh air. I especially enjoyed the hot air balloon ride. Once the hot-air balloon is high up the ground, looking over looking the might reserve, watching the sun rising slowly in the horizon, natures call to awaken the fellow residence of the reserve, and given the opportunity of witnessing this awakening, from the tiny black ants to the wildebeest which roams this savanna. Maasai Mara National Reserve is truly unforgettable!
Traveling to certain destinations, might require a mental and physical preparation well in advanced before the journey. However, visiting Kenya does not require such extreme preparations. On most occasion throughout the journey, we explore the beauty of the land within the confines of a four wheel drive vehicle, no needing to explore on foot, hence it is most suitable for travelers at any age. The only thing to be taken note off is the uneven road conditions on the Maasai Mara reserve, travelers with spinal injuries must pay more attention to this.
Many of Kenya’s main attraction is found at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level. The average temperature is at 15 degrees at night, and by 23 degrees during the day, certainly more than comfortable through out, you don’t have to worry about hot humid weather.
RECOMMENDATION 1: The 3,000 KM Long Trek to MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
Around June annually, the green patches of grass in Tanzanian savannas gradually shrinks in size due to being consumed. Following the month of July and August, the wild animals of the plains (1.5 million hers of wildebeest, an approximate count of 150,000 zebras, and 350,000 gazelles) will journey over a 3,000 mile trek, constantly consuming the vegetation along the way, until the animals reach Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, staging the most spectacular show on earth, known as the “Great Migration”! A mind-blowing cycle by nature, is truly amazing.
RECOMMENDATION 2: LAKE NAIVASHA is close to the reserve
Located at an altitude of 1,884 meters, Lake Naivasha, a rift lake found to be at the highest elevation in Africa. Surrounded by a mountainous green carpet, the lake is surrounded by papyrus and acacia trees. Explore further by boarding a boat, and taking a ride to a secret island known as Crescent Island. There are only herbivores on this island, giraffes and zebras. Every time when the tides ebb, the herbivores feeds on the grass, during high tides, no animals are able to leave hence they remain on the island, there are no carnivores thus far. With this, it is safe for visitors to roam and come in close proximity with the wild herbivores, making picture perfect moments that much easier. When I left the island by boat, I caught a glimpse of hippopotamus bathing in the water.
RECOMMENDATION 3: Be a guest of MAASAI MARA TRIBE
They are the only ethnic group in East Africa, which also leads a primitive life. The Maasai people makes a living from animal husbandry, are also nomadic. They do consume meat such as beef, and drink cows milk, and they also practice drinking fresh cows blood. Each family consists of large members, which raises a large herd of cows, also mainly for this purpose.
But do not be afraid of them! They are one of the most hospitable people, they welcomed us with the Maasai songs played with traditional instruments, and dancing inviting everyone to join in!
The village of Maasai has a circular space, made up of circular mud houses and large circular fences from dried bush. Each village can accommodate 4 – 8 families and their livestock. The Maasai people’s traditional house is like an upside-down cylinder, with a small door. A person have to bend their form in-order to enter. Within the house, there are no electric run lights, but only a small window that catches the light. Each house set-up is simple, with one or two bed room, a large living room to entertain guess, and a small room which acts as master bedroom.
IN-REGARDS OF THE LOCAL CUISINE, I have some thoughts to share . . .
As a fellow traveler who once have explored Kenya for 8 days, I wish to clarify a few things about the local food!
MYTH ONE: During your stay at Kenya, you will only be served with wild animals meat?
When we are talking about being served with wild animals meat, it is generally referring to the ultimate “Beast of a Feast”. Barbecue lovers will savor the unique tastes on offer, from traditional lamb, pork, beef and chicken to the more uncommon zebra, crocodile, antelope, ostrich etc. The prime meat is ceremoniously roasted to perfection on Maasai swords hung over a huge charcoal pit and carvers then move from table to table delivering unlimited amounts onto cast iron plates.
The meats served are dependable on the hunters’ hunt. Meaning that sometimes you are able to try every wild animal, but sometimes only one type is available. And, talking about local cuisine, it means that the taste of the food are different from what we are familiar with. From the very first bite, you might be surprised, it is a unique experience and memories too. Hence, we suggest you to take this food experience with an open heart, not just by tolerance, agree?
MYTH TWO: Must I eat well everyday?
As long as we our hotel accommodation is a good one, the food prepared here is suitable to our palate. In the Maasai Mara National Reserve, we stayed at a five-star rated hotel, hence the ambiance and environment is clean, and the meals prepared are suitable to our taste buds. There were a variety of cuisine, from chinese to western dishes, as well as we get to enjoy the authentic African specialties.
In fact, many people did not realize the level of personalized service provided by hotels in Kenya. They will observe and understand the guests background, and making effort to adjust your meals to your favor, in order to ensure that your appetite and journey in Kenya is of the best experience.
THERE IS NO DANGER IN IMAGINATION
i) Before leaving for Kenya, many friends and family worried on behalf of the safety there. The truth – no danger, especially as we are stay within the four-wheel drive, specially equipped with grills, it’s safe!
ii) The idea of there will be a walk of a thousand miles here. The truth – there is rarely any walking to be done, no harsh phisical movement required. But of course it is wise to bring along a pair of sturdy good shoes!
iii) Travel in unique aircraft, captain and airports! The propeller run airplane which brings you to Maasai Mara Reserve can only take 15 passengers at one time. There are no tickets or flight attendants. The captain welcomes you, standing by the airplane doors, holding a small notebook to record your name as you board. After boarding the plane, the captain will then start the meal service by distributing aircraft meals, where everyone can share, a truly special experience! There are also tax free goods in the local area. These are makeshift stalls that are set-up beside the airstrip. The products placed on the clothes are only available for locals.
iv) It is not wise to save on your hotel budget, as choosing a good hotel is very important! If you would like to catch the epic migration, you must choose a hotel closest to the Mara River. The timing of the great migration falls on a few factors, such as the time, place, people and nature in itself. Even if the great migration is missed, there will be ample opportunity on the next.
v) An eight day trip to Kenya which cost approximately RM 18,000 (* The bulk of cost going into the hotels, hotels which are arranged within the Maasai Mara Reserve ranges from USD 400 to 500 per night), which is an average rate for backpackers to destination such as Europe. But the question that begs to be answered is, can Europe give you such an untamed unique experience?