Day Four: Masai Mara
After our feast of a breakfast in Narok we drove for a few hours into the Masai Mara, arriving at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club. Even on our drive we managed to see several types of animals including giraffes and gazellles.
After a quick lunch we had our first safari experience and loved seeing the animals as the sun set over the vast african plains. Its hard to describe or capture in a photo the beauty of the expanse of flat green land you can see for miles and miles.
We returned back to the lodge for afternoon tea before going back to our room to get ready for dinner that evening.
The rooms at the Fairmont Masai Mara are luxury stilted tents, I was impressed with our glamping tents the previous night but these just took it to another level.
Two four poster beds surrounded by mosquito nets, with a huge bathroom and an outdoor deck to hippo watch in the river below.
We all met back at the main lodge for pre-dinner drinks, before enjoying a traditional Kenyan nyama coma BBQ for dinner.
After ordering out morning wake up tea and coffee for our early safari the next day we retired back to our tent for a night of hearing the huge hippo sounds just outside our tent.
Day Five: Masai Mara
Our morning wake up call at 5.30am was a knock on our tent zipper followed by room service bringing in jugs of hot tea and coffee with biscuits, the hotel also provides paper cups in the room for you to take this tea with you.
Bubba was also up bring and early eager to join us in seeing more marvellous animals, although the early start and bumpy drive meant he flew asleep half way through. It was one of my best Monday mornings spent watching baby lion cubs out in the wild of the mara whilst my little cub slept soundly in my arms.
Seeing the animals in their natural environment is a magical experience and makes it very hard to see them now held in captivity such as zoos as you can see this is not how natural intended for them to be.
The drivers and guides at the Fairmont know the landscape so well and communicate constantly with each other to locate the animals.
We returned back to the lodge for breakfast and spent the rest of the day relaxing before our afternoon safari.
That evening the hotel allowed our very large party to take over the cooking and rustle up a traditional Karoga. A Karoga is a very unique Kenyan way of cooking outdoors, normally involving the making of a curry, it is very much a social affair with everyone gathering around the fire during the cooking and normally involves a reasonable amount of alcohol consumption also. After coming home I looked Karoga up on wikipedia and its origins are from the Indian Kenyan community gathering at each others houses decades ago to share a meal together, now it has become much more commercialised and several places both in Kenya and London now offer this as an alternative to just ordering a main meal. We often do this at home during the summer months, similar to a BBQ.
|The charcoal BBQ to cook on|
|Prepared ingredients - garlic|
|A biting dish whilst the main cooks of masala sausages|
|Crucial browning of garlic, onions and chillies form a curry base|
|The final product after hours of cooking|
Day Six: Masai Mara - Nairobi
A few of us awoke extra early again this morning to squeeze one last safari in before we left, glad I was one of those that did wake up as we got to see a Lioness and her very newborn cubs, one of which got so tired walking to shade she had to lift and hold in her mouth, so cute.
After breakfast we set off back to Nairobi, a long drive home through the stunning African countryside.
We stopped for lunch again at Tuskys - my favourite supermarket, I wish I had not brought so many things from home as everything you need is actually available. We ordered some freshly made pizzas to enjoy for our car picnic, washed down with my favourite drink of the holiday - Passion Fruit Fanta.
We pulled into Nairobi early evening to our home for the next few days at Bidwood Suites. The first impressions were great, a large lounge and kitchen area and huge bedrooms and bathrooms. Only thing I found strange was that the kitchen was empty, nothing in the cupboards. We weren't planning on cooking a three course meal but there was a full kitchen with several large cupboards not containing anything apart from two mugs. We called up for room service for drinks after we arrived and had to then call back several times to ask for glasses and a bottle opener. That evening we just relaxed in the hotel and ate at the restaurant - Ventana downstairs. Overall the food and service was good, a relaxed delicious meal before an early night.
Day Seven: Nairobi
Breakfast at the Bidwood was one of the best hotel ones we had in Kenya, it was all al-a-carte which helps I think as it was all freshly made when you ordered it. I started with a breakfast granola (healthy) followed by pancakes (not so healthy), whilst others enjoyed the omelettes, burritos and indian masala chai.
Our first stop after breakfast was the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary, where we rushed to in order to make in time to see the baby elephant feeding time.
Our next stop was the Giraffe Centre, a sanctuary for Giraffes which is also heavily involved in helping the local youths benefit from conservation education too. Here you are able to feed the giraffes yourself via a special feeding platform. Bubs was brave enough to feed a giraffe himself, but only once as the giraffe did end up licking most of his little arm. A really fun place to visit as the giraffes pop out of nowhere, he has got a cuddly giraffe called Twinga as a present from the gift shop.
The gift shop in here is actually very reasonably priced and worth picking up a few bits and bobs from as they make 90% of profits from entrance fees and purchases made.
|Is it lunchtime yet?|
For lunch we went to the The Talisman, a gastrolounge set in the Karen suburb with an immaculate garden and play area attached. We dined under a giant alcove in the garden on an assortment of fusion food incorporating asian, african and european flavours.
Some of my favourite items for starters were the Talisman Thai Prawns, Nyati Wings, Feta & Coriander Samosa and the Prawn Tempura Mahi Rolls.
|Prawn Tempura Mahi Rolls|
|Talisman Thai Prawns with Salsa|
|Feta & Coriander Samosas|
|Steak and Bhatia|
|Steak and Vegetables|
|Desert - Ice cream|
Part 2 of the birthday party was held later that evening at my families house in Nairobi, a charming house that combines indoor and outdoor living seamlessly. With a large outdoor lounge that can be kept warm in the cooler months using small charcoal fires places around the room.
On the menu tonight was an entire roasted lamb and few of my other favourites, spicy chicken wings, okra fries, spicy sausages and corn on the cob. All enjoyed with lots of salads, including one made of avocado balls, since the avocados available are so large you can use a melon baller to create bitesize pieces, not sure it would work so well even with the large avocados we have here.
|Corn on the Cob grilled|
|Chefs prep for okra fries|
Day Eight: Nairobi
Our last full day in Nairobi, we split up as a group today with the guys going to visit my families old home and factories. A huge trip down memory lane and amazingly the house and factories still contained a lot of the original fixture and fittings from my granddad over 30 years ago.
The rest of the girls visited the local markets in Westlands Curio Market. I love markets when on holiday and this one was no expectation. I took the opportunity to buy lots of magnificent carved wooden dishes to serve food and try to recreate some of these african flavours at home.
A mention on safety in Kenya, with these markets being very close to the Westgate Mall which came under tragic attack a few years ago. We were pre warned before travelling to not take anything valuable so we all took off jewellery, watches etc beforehand, also the entire time we were in Kenya our family there had organised our transport so we were always with local drivers who knew the areas and could speak the local language which helped if we were stopped. Generally I never felt unsafe but apart from walking around the markets the majority of the time you do drive from each location to the next. I am not saying crime does not happen and you do need to be vigilant but from my experience I did not feel at risk anymore than I do going into work in central London each day.
For lunch we went to FEIL, not a restaurant, although it could easily open as a pop-up with the quality of food available on the top floor lunch room.
This is actually my families business and in the factory they produce and sell farming and agricultural equipment.
We had a tour before lunch and Bubs went crazy with all the tractors and diggers around, every toddlers dream a holiday filled with animals and tractors.
For lunch we had an assortment of indian food, my favourite being Kuri - a yellow gram flour curry served with rice. Followed by a cup of tea and a cookie a perfect lunch in my eyes.
Dinner on our last evening was at a local hotpot place called Beijing Restaurant, a hidden away little gem opposite a Chinese karaoke bar. It was really authentic with a food choice of ingredients to build your own pot, the only issue I have is being able to wait long enough to eat it without burning my mouth
We then carried on the evening at a rooftop bar listening to some great african beats alongside your mainstream music, a fun night out in the capital without Bubs.
Part 2 - Narok and the Big Party
Part 1 - The Journey - London - Nairobi