Reaching for the fruit on the highest branches
September 13, 2012
Follow us in East Africa
September 17, 2012
Show all

Part 8, A Boston Journalist Visits East Africa

The drive from St. Kitizo’s to Entebbe airport was a pleasant one. Entebbe is a beautiful tourist town right on the shores of Lake Victoria and there are a number of pretty guesthouses. Jeanne Whiting stayed at one and found it to be very relaxing.

The flight on Kenya Air was quick and smooth and we were back in Nairobi in about an hour. To drive probably would have taken 10 hours or more. A quick stay over at the Parklands Sports Hotel (and a chance to check emails!) and we were off to visit a couple more schools north of Nairobi. These schools were great – as a rule the ones in Kenya appeared better, at least in terms of the quality of the facilities, than the ones in Uganda. In some cases, it was just the fact that they had indoor toilets that made them so in my mind.

After visiting two schools, Mary and I pulled an audible and decided to drive back to Nairobi so we could get an early start on our little safari. We were going to visit a small park inside the Nairobi city limits but the tour guide said we would be disappointed and recommended we go to Lake Nakuru National Park, about two hours west of Nairobi, where we were likely to see many more animals. So we needed to get an earlier start.

When we got back to Nairobi — through mind-numbing rush hour traffic that was at least as bad as what we had experienced in Kampala (sigh) — we had no hotel reservation and were having trouble finding a room. After going to several hotels and finding no vacancies, we had our driver drop us at the Parklands where we were planning to camp out in the lobby if necessary. We got a table at the restaurant and hoped for the best. Fortunately, rooms became available at the last minute.

In the morning, we boarded another van and started out towards Lake Nakuru. We got another chance to drive through the spectacular Rift Valley. By noon, we were entering the national park. A family of baboons greeted us in the parking lot.

We drove around for four or five hours and were spellbound by the incredible animals. We saw water buffalo, rhinos, antelope, flamingoes, pelicans, giraffes and, finally, a pack of lionesses who were sleeping by the side of the road. We parked nearby and waited for them to wake. We took pictures from about 10 feet away as they woke up and walked around. They didn’t seem to care. It was something I will always remember.

If you find yourself in Kenya and don’t have the time or the money for a full-fledged four-day safari at one of the more celebrated reserves such as Masai Mara, I highly recommend a visit to Lake Nakuru Park. It can be done in a day and costs about $100.

Finally, the day was winding down and we had to get to Nairobi Airport for our flight home.

All in all, a wonderful and successful trip. I saw many of our inspiring schools, met many of our dedicated and grateful students, got to know some wonderful people  — educators, nuns, van drivers and more — and saw some beautiful animals close up. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *