A F R I C A

Tsamina mina zangalewa, this time for Africa!

On December 21, 2017, my family and I flew out to Nairobi, Kenya to experience first-hand the natural beauty of the world. We planned a trip unlike anything we had ever experienced. From taking photos of a roaring lion 8 feet away to being chased by a black, female rhino in our Jeep to having a picnic lunch in Maasai Mara amidst zebras and giraffes, we immersed ourselves within the beauty of nature.

For 10 days, my family and I visited various national parks in Kenya and Tanzania, stayed in multiple hotels, and experienced daily game rides (game rides = safari rides). We started off in Nairobi, Kenya, and drove past the border into Tanzania to Ngorongoro Crater. Ngorongoro Crater is a 300sq km wide crater rich with the ‘Big 5’ (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino), wildebeests, zebras, and more animals. We saw groups of zebras crossing the path in front of our Jeep, lions traversing the plains, and birds flying overhead us throughout our drive. We even ate a picnic lunch in our car, in the pouring rain, surrounded by lions cubs walking around us, a memory that I will never forget.

After our drive within the crater, we drove back across the border to Kenya to stay a night at Lake Manyara. While the Lake was a bit dried up, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and then drove to our next destination, Amboseli National Park, home of the elephants. At Amboseli we saw elephants of all sizes as we drove on the dirt filled roads. As the day progressed, we witnessed lions strategically surrounding zebras to fulfill a kill, hippos lazing around a small water hole, and dead carcasses littered across the plain. Following our escapades in Amboseli, we ventured to Sweetwaters hotel and had a glamping experience. At this hotel, we stayed in structured tents, which didn’t have any locks, only zips to enter and exit through. The hotel was built alongside a watering hole, so as we dined, we were entertained by zebras and gazelles herding around the hole to drink water. During our game drives at Sweetwaters, we saw lions, gazelles, and cheetahs, and most excitingly, were chased by a black rhino, totally not scary or anything. Sweetwaters was probably my favorite place to stay because of its glamping appeal and unique atmosphere.

As we neared the end of our vacation, we visited Lake Naivasha, the land of the hippos. We stayed in little cottages by the huge lake filled with birds and hippopotamuses. At night, the hippos would be resting in our backyards! We went on a boat ride in the lake, seeing hippos, pelicans, and gazelle, encompassed by mountainous terrain in the background. It was a beautiful and scenic view.

 

We finished off our trip at Maasai Mara, one of the foremost parks to see the Big 5 or any other animals. Maasai was my favorite park by far, specifically due to its varied terrain, numerous wildlife, and beautiful views. We spent a whole day driving through the park. However, it had rained the day prior, so the paths were muddy and probably not the safest, but that made it even more of an adventure. As we rumbled down the muddied paths, we saw a roaring lion and a lioness with her cubs. We traversed through muddy ditches to explore other sides of the plain, where we witnessed a leopard munching on its prey, a gazelle. Surrounding the leopard and gazelle were multiple hyenas and vultures (i.e. scavengers) anxiously awaiting to devour the remains of the gazelle once the leopard left. It was so interesting to see the dynamics within animals in the wild! In Maasai, we ate a picnic lunch under a tree surrounded by giraffes and zebras, how freaking cool?!

 

We left Maasai Mara the next day and began our journey back home to America. It was bittersweet leaving the warm weather only to be greeted by snow and bitter cold temperatures.

I have to say, I had a frican good time in Africa.

xo, ritz

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