Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tsavo East National Park – Kenya

Tsavo National Park is located in Kenya, about a 2 hour drive from the city of Mombassa. The reserve is approximately 20,000 square kilometers in size and is divided by a railroad track and road into Tsavo East and Tsavo West. After my cousins wedding, with a group of 50 people we visited Tsavo East.

Once we arrived at the gate in our enormous bus, we split into groups of 6-8 people and hopped into these open top Land Rover safari jeeps. They were not the most comfortable vehicles I have ridden in but they were built tough. Some of these Land Rovers must have been almost 15 years old but they cruised over the rough terrain with ease. And even though the ride was bumpy it did not matter because we were standing up most of the way.

Once again the misfits were ousted and Inny, Ro, and I were given a jeep all to ourselves whereas everyone else moved in larger groups.

But this did not matter as it gave us the freedom to indulge in more tomfoolery and entertain the animals. ‘Vere are the munkeeeeeezz?’

The park is MASSIVE. It took us an hour and a half of driving within the park just to reach our lodge. But that was through the safari park so we were already spotting animals. We entered the park at the Buchuma gate which is only one of 3 entrances I know of. Once you get past the gate there is not a fence in sight as far as the human eye can see.

We left most of the larger luggage in the big bus and took only what we needed for the one night at the lodge with us. I was hoping for a camp fire that night so I urged Fousto to bring along his guitar. I had my newly acquired drum in hand as well.

It was dry season on the savannah so most of the watering holes were dried up and the landscape was extremely arid. However the area on which the lodge was situated had some green grass because it was probably watered. For the life of me I can not remember the name of the lodge we stayed at but maybe Kubolo Bway can enlighten us if he reads this post. It was actually just a cluster of about 30 tents spread over an unenclosed area. That means apart from some thorn bushes surrounding the encampment and the tents there really was no barrier against the environment and its inhabitants.

Although we stayed in ‘tents’ they are actually quite comfortable. They are set up on a solid concrete foundation and they have thatched roofs over them. But essentially they are still plastic sheet tents with zips and all. Even the floor was plastic so once zipped up there is no way for any creepy crawlies to get in. The camp director advised us to keep the tent zipped up at all times because there are snakes and scorpions in the camp, not to mention mischievous monkeys. And because of the thatched roof it actually stays pretty cool in the tent even on a hot day.

The interior of the tent was totally phat. Ours had three beds in it. There are also a couple of electric lights and a standing fan in the room. The sheets were very clean and fresh smelling. The beds are actually more like cots and although they are not soft they are sill very cozy.

I think the most worrisome part about going on safari for most people would be the bathroom situation. And no matter comfortable you might be taking a shit in the bush there is still nothing like a decent bathroom. And the situation would be made even worse if nature calls upon you at some ungodly hour of the morning and you have to squat between thorn bushes at 3 am trying to push one out while worrying about some lion making breakfast of you. Fortunately this place had one hell of a bathroom. There is a zip door on the back of the tent that leads into this bathroom built on the concrete foundation. It is actually better that many of the hotels I have stayed at in the past. The complementary shower gel was off the hook. I walked around all night smelling like lavenders. The only problem with this bathroom is that the walls are quite thin and the back sits on the edge of the pathway. So if you are taking one of those emotional dumps you will definaintly draw attention from wandering lodge guests.

The shower has cold running water all day from the white handle on the left. On the roof you can see a shower head with a red handle attached to a large rubber bag. Every morning and evening the bag is filled with hot water enabling the early bird or first one home to have a hot shower. And dude, it fucking rocked. I loved having a shower under that thing.

There were also some larger suite tents with more extravagant facilities such as free standing bath tubs, sofas, and ceiling fans. They also had larger front porches with deck chairs and exclusive views of the lodges man made watering hole.

The bed in the suite tent was also much larger with animal print blankets and nifty bed lamps. Ade did not come with the room; you have to bring your own Ade.

As I mentioned before, there is man made watering hole under a tree about 200 meters from the front of the tents. All day and night there are herds of elephant moving through the area. It is amazing to just chill on the porch and watch them interact with one another. The tree also has a light attached to it aimed at the watering hole so you can see what is going on all night. At night you can even here the elephants.

The lodge keeps track of the animals sighted at the watering hole.

Apart from the drive to through the park to get to the lodge, you also take a sunset safari and a morning safari as well. After a quick lunch and putting our stuff in the tents we were herded back into the jeeps and taken on a sunset safari. It was breathtaking and inspiring. I can not justifiably describe the way I felt watching giraffes move across the landscape.

After the safari we all retreated to our tents for some R&R then reconvened back at the dining hut for drinks and dinner. After diner most of the crew chilled around a camp fire while Fousto played guitar and sang classic tunes. He is one talented individual. As the night progressed people went back to their tents one by one, escorted by a Massai guide. As I mentioned before, this is not a fenced resort so animals do freely wander through the lodge and late at night there have been cats sighted.

It was a cold night but we kept the fire burning till about 4 am. Most of the people had gone to sleep by then because there was a morning drive scheduled. I already made up my mind that I would stay in bed and catch up with some sleep. After the safari we all went back to Mombassa and the faction began to split. One by one we all slipped back into reality but the safari was the perfect cap to our vacation in Mombassa.


Shan said...

That looks like an amazing place. Fantastic. A perfect vacation :)

kubolo bway said...

What a blast the Safari trip was, it was the best way to finish off the wedding holiday. The camp we stayed at was called SATAO CAMP, they have a webite too: