The Safari Experience

free essayI have always wanted to experience an African safari adventure. I was, however, afraid to do so due to the numerous negative media stories about Africa. These stories always portrayed the African continent to be a poverty-stricken perpetual war zone. Nevertheless, my friends and I decided to take a risk and make the trip to Kenya to visit the Treetops Hotel, Lake Nakuru National Park, and the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

The Treetops Hotel

We started our trip to Kenya on Saturday evening and after covering a distance of over 7,000 miles in about 15 hours, we arrived in the country. In the capital city, Nairobi, there was a tour bus waiting to take us to the Treetops Hotel in a nearby town called Naivasha. I could not help marveling at the green environment. We passed by more trees than I had ever seen in my life. The leaves of the trees danced in the sun on the cold November morning. We reached the destination in less than forty-five minutes. I chose the hotel to stay in on our first night in Kenya because of its association with the British monarchy. It is in this building where in 1952 Princess Elizabeth became Queen after she got a report informing of her father King George’s death. Moreover, it is at this hotel where Prince William proposed to his current wife, Catherine Middleton.

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On arrival, my eyes widened at the sight of the house built on top of the trees. It was as beautiful as a rainbow and looked improved compared to the snapshots we viewed in the hotel’s brochures. The lodge was inside Aberdare Park, one of the leading tourist sites in Kenya. The hotel attendants showed us to our rooms where we rested until the evening. At 7 pm, we were escorted to the top deck of the hotel for our dinner and to view the wild animals that usually come out at that time to drink water from the water holes. I observed elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, giant forest hogs, and hyenas that I had previously seen only in documentaries about nature. My friends and I could barely sleep that night as we recalled the evening’s adventures. We could not wait till the next morning to view more animals on the bus tour.

All the tourists were ready for an adventure of their lifetime by 7 am the next morning. Traveling around Aberdare Park, we were privileged to experience the variety of terrains in the region. It took us about five hours to observe and photograph the moorland, bamboo forests, and rainforests. There were different species of wildlife on the terrains. I witnessed leopards, herds of elephants grazing on the moorland, wild hogs, black and white rhinos, buffaloes, waterbucks, jackals, and elands. At around 2 pm, we were lucky to spot the African golden cat and the bongo, a bamboo forest antelope. The tour guides informed us that the two animals were elusive. At the end of our exploration of the park and the lodge, everyone was satisfied with the adventure. We left the hotel at 2 pm after taking some snacks for another trip.

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Lake Nakuru National Park

The park is located at a distance of about one hundred miles from the Treetops Hotel and it took us approximately three hours of traveling by road. The park is famous for a large number of flamingo bird species that surround the lake. Upon our arrival, the friendly hotel attendants took us to our hotel rooms to rest. By 7 pm, our tour guides took us to the Baboon Cliff, a vantage point for viewing the flamingoes. Viewing millions of flamingoes was a marvelous experience. The scenery was covered with shifting masses of flamingoes as pink as roses, which made the lake almost unrecognizable. Moreover, the honking of the birds was so deafening that I wondered if other animals in the park used earmuffs to muffle the noise. Overall, the scenery was breathtaking.

Apart from flamingo birds which are the main attraction, there were other birds such as kingfishers, eagles, and pelicans, which made a magnificent view. Moreover, I feasted my eyes on white rhinos that were as white as snow in the evening light. There were also warthogs, baboons, giraffes as tall as giants, and waterbucks. I retired at around 10 pm knowing that a new adventure at the Maasai Mara National Reserve awaited me the next day.

The Maasai Mara National Reserve

The following day by seven in the morning we all boarded the bus to Maasai Mara located about 130 miles away from our previous destination. The natives we met were extremely friendly. We booked our hotel room at the AA Lodge Masai Mara. At 2 pm, the tour guides took us around the reserve on our tour bus. I was amazed at the famous African lions, leopards, buffaloes, rhinoceros and elephants. Other animals in the reserve included hyenas, cheetahs, antelopes, gazelles, giraffes, elands, and zebras. Crocodiles and hippopotamus could be seen in the Mara River. The varieties of birds at the game reserve included ravens, ostriches, eagles, and hawks. So far the game reserve had the highest number of animals among all the sites we had visited.

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As we were returning to the hotel at night, the driver of the tour bus almost hit an infant elephant who was crossing the road we were going down. As the vehicle went to a screeching stop, the baby elephant made trumpeting sounds that were a call for help to his mother. Within a span of a moment, I stared with astonishment at what I can only describe as a gigantic elephant crossing our path. The tour guides advised us to stay as quiet as we could as the elephants passed. It seemed like infinity before the mother and baby vanished in the trees. Only then were we able to heave a sigh of reprieve. At that moment, I appreciated life as I thought of how negative and different the whole situation could have turned. Moreover, I also appreciated the native tour guides whose advice saved our lives.

On the second day at the game reserve, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of traveling over the park in a hot air balloon. I was able to see the vast Mara landscape composed of mostly open grasslands and acacia trees. Moreover, the animals in the reserve could be seen divided into groups from the bird’s-eye view. The highlight of the day was observing one of the worlds’ wonders, the wildebeest migration that has made the game park internationally famous. The day was pregnant with rain. One of the tour guides informed us that to avoid showers of rain was the reason for the millions of wildebeests migrating to Serengeti in the neighborhood of Tanzania. It was almost magical to watch the animals move in the race of life. Unfortunately, some of them were killed by the hippopotamuses and crocodiles in the Mara River. The memories are forever etched in my mind. I rested for the evening satisfied with all that I had experienced during the trip.

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Throughout the safari experience, I never faced any military conflicts. Even though it is clear as day that Kenya is nowhere near as developed as the United States, I could clearly see that the level of poverty portrayed by the media was exaggerated. The experience changed my perception of Africa because if the press was wrong about one country, then it might be as well wrong about other nations in Africa. Even though it is true that some countries in Africa may experience conflicts, it is a mistake to lump over fifty nations together upon the occurrence of a negative event in one country.

Conclusion

The safari adventures at the three wildlife centers in Kenya enabled me to experience the safari I had always envisioned but was too scared to take part in. I was able to view different species of wild animals such as lions, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, antelopes, and zebras and the unique species of birds such as flamingoes, eagles, and pelicans. Even though we experienced a life-threatening incident with elephants in Mara, the highlight of the trip was witnessing the migration of wildebeests that is one of the wonders of the world. Throughout the journey, my perception of African countries as poverty-stricken war zones perpetuated by the media was completely overhauled. I left Kenya with the images of wild animals, green vegetation, warm and friendly people, and a peaceful and beautiful country. Maybe it is time for people to stop believing every news story delivered by the media and decide to find out the truth for themselves.