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Yejide McKenzie Trip Report: Kenya Sept. – Oct. 2019

Iconic Amboseli: an elephant with Kilimanjaro majestically from the plains in the background

Day 1 & 2: Tortilis Camp – Amboseli National Park

After a night in Nairobi, Yejide took an early-morning charter flight to Amboseli. If you’re not an early riser, you should consider staying at the Tamarind Tree Hotel – it’s a 5-minute drive away from Nairobi Wilson Airport!

Her first destination was Amboseli National Park. It’s a place of stirring contrast: the gently undulating plains compared to the towering heights of Kilimanjaro, and the dry lake beds in contrast to the verdant swamps. After the Maasai Mara, Amboseli is Kenya’s most popular destination.

Tortilis Camp

A bonus of the early charter flight meant that Yejide was treated to a great morning game drive before her arrival at Tortilis Camp for lunch. Each of the camp’s thatched, platformed tents offer stunning views of Kilimanjaro – talk about a great way to wake up in the morning!

Left: Yejide standing with the general and chief of the Maasai Manyatta Right: warm greetings at the Manyatta’s school

Tortilis Camp is also a great base to visit Maasai Manyattas (villages) and to learn about their culture. Out of all three camps, Yejide enjoyed Tortilis the most – she attributed this to the staff’s amazing, friendly service and the many elephants (her favorite animal) at the camp’s waterhole!

The permanent water of Amboseli’s swamps ensures a sizable population of plains game
Lionesses & Cubs – Amboseli National Park

Her game viewing highlights included plenty of elephants, birds, plains game. Most notably, two lionesses with some playful cubs – check out the video above!

Yejide had clear views of Kilimanjaro during her entire time at Amboseli
With Dickson, her guide at Tortilis Camp

Her time at Amboseli came to a close with a sundowner of Kilimanjaro – and a goodbye to Dickson, her superb guide!

Day 3: Little Governor’s Camp – Maasai Mara National Reserve

Wildebeests grazing along the Mara River

In the morning, Yejide was off on a scheduled charter flight to her next destination: the Maasai Mara National Reserve. This area deserves its recognition as a top wildlife destination – Big Cats, elephants and Maasai giraffe are frequent, year-round sights.

But the biggest draw is the annual arrival of the hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra of the Great Migration, which Yejide arrived just in time to catch its tail-end. The fortunate safari-goer even has a chance to witness the a true spectacle: thousands upon thousands of wildebeest frenetically cross the Mara River!

Little Governor’s Camp

For those who desire the traditional, more rustic safari experience, then Little Governor’s Camp is a great option. The experience starts before you arrive: the camp is only accessible by boat! The canvas tents are elevated above the forest floor, providing a peaceful respite in between your game drives out on the Mara plains. To add to the ambiance, most of camp’s lighting comes from candlelight or lantern.

For families and young couples considering a safari to the Maasai Mara, Yejide recommends Little Governor’s.

Spotted Hyenas chasing off black-backed jackals – Maasai Mara
Left: a zebra cautiously drinking from the Mara River; Right: a curious baby giraffe

Yejide’s biggest game viewing highlight of the day was watching some spotted hyenas chase off some black-backed jackals away from a zebra cadaver. Earlier that day, a small pride of lions was chomping away at it.

Day 4: Governor’s Il Moran – Maasai Mara National Reserve

Unlike some camps in Amboseli and the Maasai Mara, Yejide stayed at camps with open vehicles
Governor’s Il Moran

Governor’s Il Moran is similar to Little Governor’s, but even more spacious and exclusive. As Governors’ Camp describes it, Il Moran “is the camp for those who want that extra bit of luxury.” The same activities are available at both camps, which include Maasai-guided walks and hot-air balloon safaris – a highly recommended experience!

Left: a crocodile sun-bathing by the Mara River Right: a topi scanning the horizon

Her final sundowner in the Mara was a wonderful time for Yejide to reflect on her time on safari. In her own words, she said “I had a wonderful time… this trip was life changing.”

Day 5-8: Nairobi City Touring

Left: with Jonathan Moko; Center: Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage; Right: Giraffe Center

Yejide returned to Nairobi the following morning. She was promptly met by Jonathan Moko – AAC’s super-friendly and super-knowledgeable guide!

An elephant at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage drinking directly from the hose

Johnathan took her to The Giraffe Center, Karen Blixen Museum, the Kazuri Beads Studio, and the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. These interactive experiences with the elephants and giraffe are definitely worth your time. Yejide particularly enjoyed her time at Daphne Sheldrick – there was a clever elephant who drank out of the hose instead of walking ways away to the waterhole!

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