Samburu – Kenya’s beautiful gem

DAY ONE

Wednesday 12th June

7:26am

Somewhere on the Northern Bypass

I’ve always said that if I have to be up before 6am, I can rise but I cannot shine before my first cup of coffee. Not today, though. I was out of the bed as the alarm on my phone woke me up to the strains of Fur Elise, and I was ready in no time, like a student going on an exciting school trip. Except that I’m no student and this isn’t a school trip, but the excitement is high.

Globetrotter Agency LTD have been absolutely brilliant. From the time I saw their Instagram post about the Samburu packages, right down to sending a well-equipped and comfortable van for the long journey ahead, they’ve left no stone unturned in all this. So, yes. That’s where I’m off to. Samburu. The last time I went to Samburu was (I’m laughing as I write this) when I was in high school. Maybe that’s where the excitement stems from – the nostalgia. I can’t remember much of the last trip probably because it was a long time ago therefore I’m all set to make new memories about Samburu.

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7:58am

We are whizzing past the vast pineapple farms of Del Monte in Thika.

I’m forcing the song Pineapple Fields Forever to the tune of Strawberry Fields Forever in my head. The Beatles would have been aghast at this. Good job my think-bubbles don’t come with sound. Mostly.

8:43am

Are we there yet?

9:18am

We arrive at Kibingoti which is a short distance after Sagana. Time to stretch the legs and back, and have a comfort break. There’s a massive curio shop run by the very smart Clement. Peter, the shop assistant, can’t get over the fact that I can speak Kiswahili and that I’m not a mzungu. I almost gave him my national identity card number, Huduma Namba, and was also tempted to sit over a cup of tea and explain how my great grandfather came to Kenya. The temptation to eat breakfast was greater because of the scents wafting from the little cafe.

Samuel, our very chilled out driver, was already in the middle of polishing off his breakfast. The simple egg and toast washed down with Kenyan tea can be deemed soul food.

Drool!

Because the economy of the country rests on my ability to fall for every marketing gimmick, I decided I needed a safari hat to look the part. It’s besides the point that I’ve already carried a hat and a cap. I end up being gifted the hat and I’m feeling very happy and satisfied with my life.

I like this hat, and the filter too.

9:55am

We are passing Karatina and I’ve been told the biggest open-air market on the continent second to the one in Lagos is in this area. I’m fascinated.

10:10am

We turn left towards Kiganjo. We will bypass Nyeri. Mount Kenya is on the right. It’s not very visible at this point but I can just about make out the range in the distance.

10:18am

We are suddenly chatty after the breakfast.

10:35am

We are passing through Naro Moru. The temperature is noticeably warmer compared with Nairobi. The fleece jacket has come off. The playlist is peppy. My teenagers would be horrified if I said it’s ‘lit’.

(It IS lit.)

There are many ranches in this area. Samuel has informed us that the owners mostly live in Karen in Nairobi, and they fly to their ranches every now and then. My imagination can see a Cessna flying across the skies. Next thing I’m thinking of is the Nairobi traffic. You know where my thought process is going with this…

10:45am

We are near the Nanyuki airstrip. Also there are many cops since the beginning of this journey, all kitted out in their neon jackets. The road is really good, too. I don’t think that has anything to do with the neon jackets.

Nanyuki Airstrip

10:56am

OH MY GOODNESS! WE ARE CROSSING THE EQUATOR! HOORAY!

Cheesy photos on the way back. I promise.

Look. It’s a big deal. The last major thing I crossed was the threshold of pain while getting my legs waxed. Allow me this excitement.

We didn’t stop because Samuel said it’s better to do so on the way back. He did graciously slow down at the signpost so I could take a picture for Instagram. As one does.

Nanyuki town is buzzing, by the way. Samuel said it’s a happy town. I have dear friends who hail from here. The railway line ends here. It was to go up to Ethiopia but when the builders reached here, they were very happy to settle down and not go any further.

Sorry, Ethiopia.

11:02am

Second cop stop. He’s not about this life of smiling at anyone. He’s checking the driver’s license, insurance documents and possibly thinking of the leftover custard and cake pudding in the fridge. Actually, I’ll take ownership for that last part. I’m the one thinking about it.

Oh wait. He just waved at me and said, ‘Safi safi’.

I waved back and grinned.

Hi. Fine.

11:11am

Gratitude for everything.

11:13am

We are now in Timau. Samuel says the best flowers in the world come from here. Is it me or is it suddenly chilly?

Flower (especially rose) farms in Timau

Mount Kenya would have been visible on our right hand side at this point but there’s cloud cover.

Majestic Mount Kenya except that it’s hidden!

11:38am

The climate is excellent for flower farming. The roses from here are far superior to the ones from Naivasha.

Apparently.

I’m reeling from this information. Kenya’s roses are the best I have ever seen.

On the right is Mount Kenya blanketed in clouds.

On the left is our president’s private wheat farm. Samuel is telling us all this. I’m suddenly craving freshly baked white bread in all its glutinous glory. With thick cut orange marmalade.

11:51am

Samuel points out that Lewa Dam is there, yonder.

Lewa

‘Do you know that famous man called Michael Joseph? He lives here.’

I smile serenely and name drop like I’m related to him. Michael is the gentleman who gifted me my first ever iPhone. I’ve never looked back since.

Hi Michael!!!

12:25pm

Are we there yet?

1:03pm

We have just entered the Chokaa Gate at Buffalo Springs National Reserve. I’ve handed over my national identity card for the payment of park fees.

As we were driving, Samuel marvelled at my Kiswahili skills. I’m smug and proud. I may start giving tuition.

Are we there yet?

1:09pm

Just spotted the first zebra. It’s huge! And very beautiful too. It’s stripes are aesthetically pleasing, and quite symmetrical. A white-socked giraffe too.

This is not the zebra I was talking about…

Now driving towards the lodge. The game drive will commence at around 4pm. A lot of animals tend to come out when it’s cooler.

2:09pm

As we come down to the main dining area for lunch, I spot an elephant. Within minutes, I see two calves a short distance away allowing me to conclude that they’re probably with their mother. Could be an aunt. An uncle, even. How do I tell the gender of an elephant anyway?

Note to self: Google it

Not Dumbo

The lunch is delicious and the view is lovely. It’s quite hot here even though it’s a bit cloudy. The infinity swimming pool looked very tempting but I think I’d like to take a short siesta before heading out for a game drive in a couple of hours.

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