Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Holland – Kenya Trip 2015 - Mary, Peter and Brenda


Friday, September 11, 2015   Toronto – Amsterdam
Air Transit   4:40 PM to 5:30 AM arrival in Amsterdam
Saturday, September 12, 2015 Met at Airport by Peter Raps. Breakfast in Hoofddorp with Peter and Marianne Raps. Drove into Amsterdam Central. Did Canal Tour, followed by Capacino and Apple Tart at a café in front of the Central Train Station. Strolled through the Red Light District and then back to car. Drove north to Monnickendam and saw Speltoren play at 2 PM. Saw street market there and went in St Nicholas Church. Did not find Gerbrand Tessel at home but spoke with Mieke’s daughter, son-in-law and 2 small children who were living in Maarten Tessel’s renovated home.
Off to Volendam . Ate some fish on the harbour and had our Dutch picture taken in a photo shop. Back to Hoofddorp for a lasagna dinner. Joined by Piet and An vanGelderen. Bed by 8:30 PM – very tired.
Sunday, September 13, 2015    Hoofddorp Holland to Nairobi Kenya
Breakfast at Peter and Marianne Raps. Followed by little stroll around the Hoofddorp Windmill before being dropped at Schiphol airport for our 11:15 AM flight to Nairobi, Kenya. Had a 30 minute delay, watched 3 movies and had 2 meals. Were met at Nairobi Airport by Julius from LoveLiveAfrica for ride to Best Western Hotel Nairobi.
Monday, September 14, 2015  Nairobi to Maasai Mara
Breakfast at hotel and Julius picked us up and drove us to Wilson Airport for our 10:30 flight in a small plane to the Maasai Mara. Had one stop before our stop – only an hour flight. Met our safari driver Simon and hopped in the Toyota Land Cruiser – we would be together for the next 9 days. On our way to the Ilkeliani Camp we picked up Mike at the Hard Rock Café in Talek ( a very poor Maasai town). On our way we saw large numbers of White-Bearded Wildebeests, zebras and Thomson Gazelles. We had a delicious lunch and settled into our tent.
At 4 PM, Simon picked us up with Mike and we had a 2 hour safari drive – seeing giraffes, elephants, hyenas, lions, cheetahs, African Buffalo, Marabou Storks, Tobi, Impala, Black-Backed Jackals and Vultures.
Had fish dinner with Diplomatic Pudding at 7:30 PM. Staff turned down beds, chocolate on pillow and inserted a Hot Water Bottle to warm the bed. Lots of night sounds – Brenda’s snoring sounded like a lion creeping nearby.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015  Maasai Mara  Ilkeliani Camp
Quiet wake-up call at 6:30 Am, Breakfast at 7 AM and into Safari Truck at 7:30 AM with Simon and Mike. Spent the entire day out on Safari with the challenging dusty roadways. Saw giraffes first thing and then on to Hippo Pool to see 9 or 10 hippos enjoying the muddy waters.
Picnic Lunch under an Acacia Tree.
Lots of time spent at the Mara River hoping to see the migration crossing of the wildebeests and zebras- very confused animals, teasing us. Got back to camp around 6:30 PM, had shower and then Buffett Dinner in dining tent with Mike.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015    Maasai Mara   Ilkeliani Camp.
Another 6:30 Am wake-up call followed shortly after by a laugh over Peter’s dream of his dance with Dave Carson – thanks to the Malaria pills? 7:30 Am back on Safari Drive with Simon – no Mike today since he was balloon piloting – all 4 of their balloons were going up since they had 53 passengers booked and $450 US each!
Explored the Sand River area. Had fantastic morning – had private showing of ostrich mating ritual – feather dancing – red neck of male. Saw Leopard perched in a tree. Back to camp for lunch.
Had afternoon with Mike – Market Day in Talek – bought some salad tongs for Sina and Tante. Saw Mike’s camp and his tent.
Went out with Ciera – hyena (fici) research assistant at 5 to 8 PM to hyena den – in Maasai Mara in the dark. All hyenas had names identified by their markings. Matriarchal Society – oldest female hyena is boss of the den. Learned a lot about hyenas – hard to distinguish sex of animal, can digest bones – very strong bite, kill 90% of food and don’t waste any of it.
Barbecue supper and to bed for early wake-up call for Balloon Ride!
Thursday, September 17, 2015  Maasai Mara  Ilkeliani Camp
Wake-up call service at 5 AM with hot coffee and tea. Drove with Simon, picked up Pilot Mike at 5:45 AM and headed to Balloon site. Big balloon with 16 passengers this morning. One hour ride over the Maasai Mara. Half way through ride, Mike turns the balloon basket around so the back row becomes the front row. Fantastic silent flowing ride – not cold or scary.
When the balloon landed, got in safari trucks to go back to Champagne Breakfast set up under an Acacia Tree on the Mara.
Simon picked us up from breakfast with Mike for another safari drive to the Mara River hoping to see a crossing this day. We crossed the Mara River to the Mara Triangle side and waited between several sites – one had hippos and the other had up to 9 crocodiles. Again we were teased for hours and only saw a reverse crossing of 3 silly wildebeests – rejoining their family?
Even drove to concrete Kenya / Tanzania Km marker on border (marker every km) so we stepped in Tanzania momentarily. Back to camp for shower and dinner and good-bye to Mike – who will be flying back to Canada at the end of September – one month short of 4 month contract – not enough tourists around.
Friday, September 18, 2015  Maasai Mara to Flamingo Hill Camp  Lake Nakura
Early wake-up call, quick breakfast and drove away from Maasai Mara to Nakura. Very bumpy dusty ride for the first hour of journey before joining the Trans- Africa Highway – passing many many big trucks on the 2 lane road – with many speed bumps through little towns. Arrived for lunch at Flamingo Hill Camp outside the Lake Nakura National Park. Park fees of $80/person, $90/car, $40 for resident = $370 to do a safari drive in this park for a day.
At lunch, had Naan bread made of us – baked on sides of clay oven.
Safari drive at 3:30 PM in Park. Saw Flamingos (pink and white) and white pelicans on Lake Nakura. Visited high look out  and later spotted to 2 white rhinoceros grazing. Back to camp for supper, emails and bed.
Saturday, September 19, 2015   Lake Nakura to Lake Naivaisha   Sawela Lodge
Breakfast at Flamingo Hill Camp and then south to Lake Naivaisha area. Visited Hell’s Gate National Park for a 90 minute gorge walk which was very challenging, scary in some places. Guide James – a Maasai dancer looked after us. Noted Hot Springs in Gorge and Chinese drilling operations for harnessing the thermal water drilling down 3 to 4 km. This gorge was used for filming several movies and has the mount that inspired the Disney Lion King lookout.
Then on to a small boat launch of Lake Naivaisha and motored over to Crescent Island. We walked around the island where giraffes, African buffalos, wildebeests, gazelles and impalas roamed free. Filming for the movie “Out of Africa” was done on Crescent Island. When we were in the boat leaving the island, the captain threw a fish into the water for a Fish Eagle to get and it turned into a fight of 3 Fish Eagles in mid air.
Had lunch at the Sawela Lodge where we stayed for the night. There was a wedding taking place at the Lodge and we were the only white faces around. This lodge was only 2 hours north of Nairobi so it was used as a weekend resort for Nairobi people and less for safari types like ourselves. We spent time at the pool in the afternoon and got caught up on my journal notes. Lots of greenhouses in this area – have buses to pick up workers and schools for the worker children but the workers are not well paid.
We had TV in our room (first since Nairobi ) and watched some BBC news to catch up and had the best internet reception yet.
Monday, September 20, 2015   Lake Naivaisha – Nairobi – Amboseli National Park
Up at 6:30 AM. Peter is grumpy because he did not sleep well due to Brenda’s snoring – poor Brenda has a cold. He had a mosquito bothering him in the night even though there was mosquito netting on the beds. We had breakfast and then left for a long drive south. We stopped at a souvenir shop at the top of a hill overlooking the Rift Valley. The Rift Valley is still shifting – the lakes have flooded more land because their bottoms are lifting so you see many dead trees on the shores of the lakes.
Our weather in Kenya has been hot in the middle of the day 90 degrees tops (29 degrees C) and 60 to 70 degrees (20 degrees C) at night. It has rained 2 x so far – late afternoon and only short times – we were at camp both times – at Ilkeliani Camp.
On our drive through Nairobi we passed the 2nd largest slum in Africa – largest is in South Africa. The government has built new apartment buildings close by but the transition was having big problems. More education would help but public teachers were very unhappy asking for a 100% pay increase since they are so poorly paid. There are many private schools but they cost at least $5000 per child and most people do not have that. Also the Kenya society is very male dominated so women are little more than a possession.
Again we travelled on the Trans-Africa Highway. Through Nairobi it is not completed sending us through several miles of dusty, bumpy dirt road on the outskirts of the city close to the airport – bad diversion – unbelievable really. After getting off the Trans- Africa road (passing hundreds of trucks again) we travelled on a much quieter highway to a 4 km dusty road leading to Amboseli Sopa Lodge where -we stayed the next 2 nights. We had a late lunch and then off for an afternoon game drive – 18 km down the dusty road to Amboseli National Park – with a view of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It was a windy day – Amboseli – meaning dirt devils – little tornados of dust – red dust funnels. We could hardly see the Mountain for the flying red dust. But the park had lots of elephant families walking about and ostriches.
We got back for dinner and then bed – no internet – the lodge’s connection was down for our stay so family was a bit concerned because otherwise we stayed in regular touch.
Tuesday, September 21, 2015   Amboseli Sopa Lodge
Up for morning game drive. Could see Mt Kilimanjaro clearly this morning – wind calm. Back to the park to see the elephants, African buffalos, hippos, ostriches, gazelles, etc. Went up look-out hill over swampy area. Took lots of pictures with animals in the foreground and the mountain as the backdrop. Went back to the lodge for lunch.
In the afternoon, Simon arranged for us to visit a working Maasai Village close to the Lodge. This village had 130 inhabitants living in mud huts positioned in a circle with livestock – sheep, goats, cows corralled in the centre – for nighttime protection. A thorny hedge surrounded the entire village giving them protection from wild animals.
We were welcomed to the village with the welcome dance and were included in the dancing. Peter had to do the Maasai male jumping – the higher you jumped, the better wife you could have. Maasai men (warriors) marry at 25 years of age and the women at 16 or 17 years of age. More than one wife is allowed. Saw the Medicine Man and learned about different roots he used as medicines for the people of the village. They showed us how they start fires by friction. We were allowed to enter one of the huts and hear how it was constructed and the different roles men and women had in the village. The women have to haul the water from wells miles away and wash the clothing in the rivers. Men shepherd the animals for many miles every day to pastures and water. Their diet consists of one meal a day of fried meat, milk and blood drink. There are no overweight Maasai men or women seen.
At the end of the visit we had to tour their handicrafts which they had displayed on blankets in front of them on the ground. I had to leave to go back to the safari truck but Brenda and Peter did some shopping and were danced out at the end. I missed supper that night at the Lodge since I was ill with nausea and vomiting, diarrhea; consuming pepto bismol and started the prescribed antibiotic. Brenda had a severe nosebleed that night too.
Wednesday, September 22, 2015       Amboseli to Nairobi
On the road at 8 AM for Nairobi. Terrible traffic in Nairobi  – on way to Best Western Hotel. Peter and I walked around the neighbourhood and bought some Rooibos trea at a Safeway Grocery Store using the credit card since we ran out of the Kenya Elephant Schillings.
Sidewalks are not sidewalks – no wheelchairs or strollers could manage the uneven ground. Brenda hung out by the rooftop pool on the 7th floor. We had lunch and dinner in the Best Western Hotel Diningroom. Got caught up on emails.
Gas prices in Kenya is about $1 US a litre and Diesel is .80 a litre and they drive on the opposite side of the road since they were a British Colony.
Gave Simon his $240 US tip for our days together and he reported we covered almost 1700 km (over 1000 miles) together on our Safari.
Thursday, September 23, 2015   Nairobi, Kenya
Up at 7:30 AM for shower, breakfast and checkout. Our favourite driver Simon picked us up in the Safari truck for a day of sight-seeing in Nairobi – Karen neighbourhood – upscale area where British descendants live. First stop was the Giraffe Manor – an environmentally friendly place for the endangered Rothschild giraffe – the gentlest of the 3 kinds of giraffes in Kenya – no spots on legs – killed by lions easily. We fed small food pellets to the giraffes from a balcony. The giraffes have very long tongues – 40 to 50 cm from the base at the back of their throats. These tongues can heal from acacia tree thorn piercings in 20 minutes. There were warthogs below the balcony cleaning up the dropped pellets. Tortoises were also on site.



2nd stop was the Elephant Orphanage which is open to the public only from 11 to 12 each day – the time they bring the baby elephants in for feeding. At this time there were 29 elephants under 3 years of age in this orphanage. We heard of the reason each baby elephant was rescued from – some had fallen in wells, some of their mothers were killed by ivory poachers, some just abandoned. After 3 years of age these elephants go to another location until they are 5 years of age. During this time they are assisted to be wild again and are released to join elephant families in the wild. You could adopt one of these baby elephants for $50 US/year for 18 years. . The baby elephants are feed hugh bottles of baby formula (cow’s milk is too fatty) – 2 each – which they hold with their trunks. We learned elephants have the potential to live to 60 years of age and get 6 sets of teeth in those years – a new set every 10 years and after the last one they may starve to death because they can’t chew their food anymore. The gestation period is 22 to 24 months. The oldest female in the family leads the family.
Our 3rd stop was the Karen Blixen House / Museum – “Out of Africa” book and movie fame. Story of a Danish women who married a Count in Kenya and ran a coffee plantation in the 1920’s. She was also very dedicated to the natives who lived on her land and even built a school for them and doctored them as needed. Then lunch with Simon at Karen Bixen Café down the road. Big lunch – rare burger loaded. On to the Utamaduni Craft Centre followed by a tour of the Kazuri Bead Factory where 350 women now work. Kazuri , which means “small and beautiful” in Swahili, began in 1975 as a tiny workshop experimenting in making handmade beads. Its founder, Lady Susan Wood started with 2 African women – single mothers who needed employment. They handmake clay beads and pottery sold worldwide now by the World Fair Trade Organization.
Then through the hellish Nairobi traffic to the Kenyan Airport for our 10:25 PM flight to Amsterdam.
Thursday, September 24, 2015   Kenya to Amsterdam to Zwolle, Holland
Slept a little on the plane. Sat beside a British man who lived in Nairobi – worked on construction and was on his way to England for bowel surgery.
Arrived in Schiphol and took train to Sina’s in Zwolle (20 euros – about 1 ½ hour journey – free wifi on train). Sina picked us up at train station with her neighbour’s car and took us home for breakfast. Quiet day. Mustard soup for lunch. Walked around neighborhood in the afternoon.  Sweet beets for supper. Quiet evening. Bikes are rented for tomorrow. Weather was overcast but warm with a little rain – first time to get my rain jacket out. Headache through night – Sina took some stuffing out of a big pillow – sore neck?
Friday, September 25, 2015    Zwolle, Holland
Sunny morning with clouds in the afternoon. High of 16 degrees C.
Oatmeal breakfast. Biked to Giethoorn (Goat’s Horn) – Venice of Holland. Village of canals – no cars. Had picnic lunch and walked around old village. Brenda got a very sore butt – we did about 55 km. Used electric bikes. Sina made us Nasi Goring for supper and boerenjeunigs for dessert. Good sleep in Sina’s bed.
Saturday, September 26, 2015   Zwolle, Holland
Sunny morning and clouds in the afternoon. High of 17 degrees C.
Oatmeal breakfast. Peter, Sina and I took off for a 67 km bike ride around Zwolle for the day and Brenda had a day to herself and explored Sina’s neighbourhood a bit. I biked on Sina’s Flyer electric bike and Sina had a Gazelle electric bike. Peter had a high class regular bike rented from the bike store. We stopped in the morning and went through a wheat grinding windmill. Then to Hattem – where Sina and Hank lived after selling their hotel restaurant the “Witte Berken”. We crossed the Ijssel twice on little barges. Went by motorcycle races and cable waterskiing in a big park. We got back to Brenda at Sina’s condo at 6 PM. We enjoyed a little skillet/grill supper and played “ Rummikub” at night. I finished reading “the Orphan Train” on my ipad. Spoke to Don on phone. Good sleep.
Sunday, September 27, 2015  Zwolle to Oss, Holland
Sunny / cloudy day. Oatmeal breakfast and bye to Sina. Train to Oss (20 Euros) instead of Deurne because Tante Miep has a bigger house than Tante Nel and Tante Nel and Yvonne met us in Oss. Lunch on patio – lovely garden. Dutch family questions answered by Tantes and notes taken. Biked with Tante Miep to Ome Cees’ Nursing Home. Yvonne, Brenda and Peter walked there. Left after Tante Miep helped Ome Cees with his dinner – which she does every day for lunch and dinner and has a dinner there herself. Back to house for our supper which Brenda (salad)and I (sweet potatoes)helped prepare. Bed.
Monday, September 28, 2015  Oss – Enkhuizen, Holland
Sunny / Cloudy day. Breakfast with Tante Miep at 8 AM. Had to use Tante Miep’s car – bigger than Yvonne’s to tour us around. First stop was the Zaanse Schans –  Dutch shops and windmills close to where Opa’s farm was. Tante Nel bought me delft numbers 1 and 2 for our Florida condo and I bought a bike seat cover and bike bell for my bike back home. On to Ome Bay’s house for afternoon tea. Ome Bay (Bert) is almost 95 years of age and hopes to live to 100. He is looked after by his son Rick who has his Phd in agriculture? And has lots of gardens around the house and the old farm.
On to Enkhuizen to visit Bert and Lizabeth van Blokland where we will stay for the night. Unfortunately we had a slight car accident by being rear-ended about 5 minutes from reaching our destination. No one was injured and the car bumpers had minor bumps but it was very upsetting for Yvonne and Tante Nel. Peter, Brenda and I took a pleasant stroll around the pretty town and came back to their house for a delicious Chinese dinner.  Bed.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015  Enkhuizen, Holland to Toronto, Canada
Sunny / cloudy again. Up at 7 Am for shower and then breakfast. Took 9:24 Am train to Schiphol (14 Euros) Shopped at Albert Hein grocery store in Airport. Had delicious warm Euro Strop Waffel. Went through lots of checks and line-ups before getting to our waiting area. Bought some Dutch cheeses and bulbs to take home. The 2:15 PM Air Transit flight was delayed – first they told us there would be no hot tea or coffee on the plane because there was a problem with the hot water. Later there was a fuel leak that happened on fuelling the plane that the firetrucks had to come. They gave us a voucher for 15 euros each to have dinner and we finally left at 8 PM. Air Transit also gave us a $100 voucher (good for 18 months) to use towards our next Air Transit flight. Arrived in Toronto at 10 PM and Don picked me up and we got home after midnight. While I was away - New granite countertops in my kitchen, plumbing done for house with new pipes and shutoffs and new laundry tub in laundry room – Don was busy.
Additional Notes:
Kenya has 40 million residents and 4 million live in Nairobi – the capitol.
Kenya is 7 hours ahead of time than Toronto and Holland is 6 hours ahead.
While in Kenya I listened to the audiobook “An Affair with Africa” by Alzada Carlisle Kistner – looking at many trips to different parts of Africa in the 1960 – 1975 time frame. They were looking at beetles that cohabitat with Army ants and termites. Lots of interesting facts and history of African countries talked about in their travels.
On some evenings, Brenda and I watched some episodes of “Land Girls” which I had downloaded to my ipad. Great BBC series of British girls who worked on farms in WW1.
At Nairobi Airport, I converted $220 USD to 22376.40 Kenyan Schillings which did not last me for the whole time in Kenya – due to extra night’s payment to Ilkeliani Camp and tips in hotel and driver. Needed a little extra – used charge card.
Amazed at herds of sheep, goats and cattle right beside busy roads. On their way to water holes. Women washing their clothing in little creeks and gathering water from there and carrying it home. Even car washes by water holes.
So many road side vendors in shacks and people selling their wares on the busy roadways through the towns. Lots of garbage everywhere. Many plastic water bottles.
Chinese money is building a super fast train from Mombasi to Nairobi – speed to 250 km/hr – to reduce freight transport on Trans- Africa highway. But what about the wandering wildlife?
Preparation for trip:
Travel Clinic in Peterborough and trip to family Doctor for prescriptions
Yellow fever shot – not required but recommended – if a serious ailment or accident occurred and you had to be airlifted out of Kenya – they may transfer you to South Africa and there you would need a Yellow Fever Shot certificate to enter the country.
Dukoral – 2 doses orally for traveller’s diarrhea
Ciprofloxacin Hydrochloride tablets for bloody diarrhea
Typhoid Oral Vaccine -
Atovaquone Proguanil 250 – 100mg – anti-malaria pills – started 2 days before Kenya and continued 7 days after Kenya.

Clothing:
Good deals at Thrift stores for Safari clothing – Royal Robins Safari pants – online for $80 – cost me $2.50 at Vinnies, Safari hat from Garage Sale - $1 – retail on-line for $39. Also long sleeved Columbia shirt and top and more pants and capries.