|A Kenya/Tanzania Photo Safari:|
Part 6: Mombasa and Nairobi
©2002 Corbin Ball Associates
Monday 18 March 2002
George picked us up at 9 and we drove the bumpy and heavily trafficked road back to Nairobi, as Aaron and I pumped him with questions about life in Kenya – the 42 tribes, the 8 provinces, his hopes for a newer and more open government, etc.
After repacking suitcases at the Norfolk (safaris gear to business attire) we took a quick tour of Nairobi and arrived at Wilson airport by 1:30pm to meet Henrietta, Liz Nicholas, Richard Markam, and Dan and Robert from Safaricom, for the 75-minute flight to Mombasa.
Mombasa was as hot and steamy as usual. We stopped by the Tamarin hotel to check out the meeting space and equipment and then on to the Serena Beach Hotel on the Indian Ocean, a large Moorish-style hotel for the night.
Tuesday 19 March 2002
Presentation in Mombasa. Aaron spent the day touring Mombasa, Fort Jesus, the old town, a wood carving factory, and an animal refuge.
Wednesday 20 March 2002
The day was spent a speaking presentation sponsored by the East African Chapter of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives held at the Norfolk Hotel.
Thursday 21 March 2002
Our day of exploring in Nairobi being met by Henrietta and Alex (a new driver as George was feeling ill) and off with a game drive through Kenya’s oldest park, Nairobi Game Reserve, situated on the outskirts of town with an open end facing into the wilderness.
The sightings were not as numerous and more distant than most of the other parks we have been to – it was sort of the way I had expected all of the parks to be before I ever came to Africa – in the distance, lucky to see a few, rather than all over the place and in your face.
The bird life, however, was plentiful” pintail widah, short-tailed lark, hadad ibex, brown crested crane, blacksmith plover, ostrich, long-tailed shrike, yellow-rumped seedeater, black-shouldered kite, singing cisticola, yellow-throated long-claw, oxpecker, back-lored babbler, white-bellied bustards, and more.
We were also able to see buffalo, impala and two lions shading themselves under a tree.
We then went to the nearby David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Animal Orphanage to see about 8 baby elephants playfully playing in a pen. No more than about 4’ high, they were all covered with short bristly hair, not discernable from a distance. The inner parts of their ears were smooth and warm.
The highlight of the day was a trip up to a tea plantation, the Kiambethu Farm (meaning “a place to dance” - about 20 miles out of NBO. Henrietta leases a small house close to the estate house. We were greeted by Henrietta and the owner of the estate, Marcus, a third generation Kenyan that lived his entire life on the estate.
The two-story stately white home built in 1930 was on beautiful grounds, overlooking the hillsides to the carefully manicured green hills of the tea plants.
It was full of old furniture and pictures, and you could well imagine we were back in the 30’s or 40’s by looking through the house. Marcus currently offers the home for guest stays on a limited basis. After a wonderful lunch (tended to by several servants and all hand made down to the butter and ice cream), Marcus shared with us the history of the tea trade, now the largest export crop in Kenya.
His grandfather came to Kenya from Britain about 1900, eked out a living, built his first home (gone to termites) and finally built this stately home in about 1930.
Tea is continually harvested (only the top few leaves) and the plants will last for decades with very few problems. Using the CTC method (crush, tear, and curl), the leaves are then subjected to steam and oxidized to make a product similar, but much finer, than the tea we are used to seeing in the US. Tea, apparently, is blended with other teas around the world to make a consistent product.
The drive two and form the estate back into Nairobi was also a highlight of people watching – everywhere you look an amazing site.
Then for dinner back at the Norfolk and off to an early bed.