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Daily Journal
     May 19, 2021      #92-139 KDJ
We visited two traditional, nomadic villages — the Samburu in the north of Kenya and the Maasi in the southwest.

Travel: On safari in the Great Rift Valley

Viaje: en un safari en el Gran Valle del Rift

Dorothy Waddingham Wenzel, life@postbulletin.com

Looking for a unique travel adventure? Try a safari in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya.

That is what my husband and I did in February 2018. Our adventures far surpassed anything we had imagined.

Yes, we saw the big five — elephant, leopard, lion, cape buffalo, and rhinoceros in their natural settings. But we saw so much more.

We saw a baby giraffe and her mother crossing the road in front of us. (Our guide pointed out they were being stalked by a lioness.) We saw two giraffes fighting by swinging their necks.

We saw a family of five cheetahs chase a warthog into the bushes. Soon the cheetahs ran out of the bushes being chased by the warthog!

We saw the elusive leopard walking along the side of a rocky hill and settling on a rock to inspect the area.

We saw endangered rhinos — five black rhinos and eight Southern white rhinos. We were fortunate to see the last male Northern white rhino one month before he died.

We saw herds of elephants and a baby elephant suckling.

We saw three lions having lunch behind a bush, and a pride of 14 lions lazing on the savannah at sunset.

We saw three kinds of giraffes (reticulated, Rothschild’s, and Maasi), two kinds of zebras (Grevy’s and common), two kinds of ostriches (Somali and Maasi), and several kinds of gazelles (Thompsons, Grants, long-necked gerenuks and others) and antelope (impalas, elands, wildebeests, etc.).

In all, we saw 35 different kinds of animals. That doesn’t include the beautiful birds.

We walked among breakfast-eating giraffes on lodge grounds to go see hippos in a lake. An old cape buffalo charged our Land Rover. We carabined our tent zippers together so the vervet monkeys couldn’t trash our room.

We floated for an hour in a hot-air balloon over the Maasi Mara National Park (connected to the Serengeti in Tanzania). Upon landing, we had a champagne breakfast on the grasslands.

But animals were not our only experiences. We visited two traditional, nomadic villages — the Samburu in the north of Kenya and the Maasi in the southwest. They are tribal cousins. Both speak Maa. Both sang and danced for us, wore elaborate beadwork, and showed us their mud and branch homes.

Both bring their goats, sheep and cows into their circular villages at night for safety from the wild animals.

What was Kenya to us? It was beautiful, varied scenery in the Great Rift Valley. It was the more than 35 different kinds of animals. It was the people walking along the road or herding their animals. It was seeing Mt. Kenya. It was having our picture taken at the equator.

Every day was filled with new adventures — experiences to be remembered a life time.

If You Go

If you choose to go on safari, be prepared for bumpy roads, dust, early mornings for game drives, brushing your teeth with bottled water, and maybe times without electricity. Consider these part of your adventure.

If you shop for souvenirs at roadside curio shops or in traditional villages, be prepared to bargain. If you select several items, bargain for the whole lot. Whatever price they quote, cut it at least in half and go from there. Remember, they need to make a living, and you would like a souvenir.

Our trip was arranged through Friendly Planet Travel, www.friendlyplanet.com, 800-555-5765.

Dorothy Wenzel, of Bloomington, last wrote about her travel experiences for the Post Bulletin in 2015, after she'd traveled to Norway. After her safari, Dorothy and husband Lowell flew to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, had a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, and visited other sites in Africa.

The Post Bulletin publishes travel stories from writers in southeastern Minnesota. Inquire or send articles to life@postbulletin.com.

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