Kenya: we arrived excitedly…
Kenya, all was not well in the safari camp. Really not. So, having arrived in Nairobi full of excitement for the month ahead in East Africa to visit Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zanzibar… we found ourselves stranded in Nairobi airport by our local Kenyan travel company. First, you wait. Then you wonder. Then you realize. It is happening. No one is coming is for you. It was the only part of the entire year around the world we paid for upfront, in full.
Taxi, Taxi I give you good price!
Nairobi airport is a bustling place with crowds of people trying to offer you a ‘cheap’ taxi ride. Do not go with them. Furthermore, when they realise you are abandoned, in they swoop! Definitely, do not go to with them now. They recognize you have been screwed and are pretty desperate. Consequently, they have already mentally tripled their already over-inflated price.
As darkness descended and planeloads of other travellers came and went smoothly, Iain became enraged. I kept assuming there must be some explanation and all would be well soon. It wasn’t. His rage was justified. It was true we were in Kenya, and all was not well in the safari camp. We weren’t even going to get there!
Kenya: we were not excited for long
We called the hotel where the tour company booked us into for the night. No booking – not under our name or the travel company. They were not expecting us.
Now, on the Richter scale of everything will work out fine – 1 is Tom Cruise is about to parachute in and whisk you off to safety Mission Impossible-style, and 10 being Boris Johnson is about to come dangling down with a rope stuck halfway up his ass waving a Union Jack and wishing you well; I give it a 12.
Next, the UK phone stopped working; it had run out of credit. The next passing person received the wrath of Iain. But, anger does not solve your problem and worse, it wastes thinking time. So what to do?
Okay, so you don’t have what you should have: but what have you got?
While Iain now spouted furiously at every unsuspecting passing Kenyan; I looked around. Kiosks selling local sim cards. Drivers holding signs from well-known hotel chains. Let’s solve this logically. Buy a sim, phone a reputable hotel and ask for availability for the night and an airport shuttle.
Thank you, Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. Within minutes of phoning them, we were off and safely deposited at a hotel for the night. Phew.
Kenya Walking Survivors Safaris: a name I will never forget
We booked and fully paid our tour with a local company, Kenya Walking Survivors Safaris. Well, they had not survived their own greed and swiftly ran off with all of our money. Leaving us with nothing booked and nowhere to go. It’s a rather long story, but let’s say karma dealt with the company. In any case, we were screwed. It was confirmed for sure, abandoned in Kenya, and all was not well, in the safari camp. At all.
We spent the first day of what should have been our 32-day safari with the Kenyan Tourist Police. They told us dozens of travellers had been stranded throughout East Africa courtesy of Kenya Walking Survivors. I wondered how someone could live with that on their conscience.
Kenya: Returning to Tsavo after 24 years
I was gutted. We had arranged the whole trip to coincide with our wedding anniversary and return to where we had gone on our honeymoon. The driver guide who arrived the following morning tried to explain the impossible situation and urged us nevertheless to try and salvage something of our trip. So, we did manage a 4-day safari with him back to the same lodges at Voi and Ngulia where we had stayed 24 years ago. It was lovely for a little while, and we felt 21 again!
The staff all heard of the terrible time we were having and gave us the VIP treatment, fruit and little flowers in the room, tables overlooking the waterholes for dinner; a reminder that, of course, not everyone in Kenya is corrupt. Just, unfortunately, a lot of the people we seemed to meet this time around.
Kenya: the animals are amazing
Well, while some of the humans left a lot to be desired, we saw some incredible animals. We were hugely lucky to see lions hunting zebras, and Iain managed to capture it on camera – The one that got away; Photographing Lions and on another day came across a recent kill. However, we could not enjoy it as we should. There was a lot of tears.
It was constant stress over what was happening, phone calls to police, not knowing if we could recover our money or how long we could keep going for. It was a huge disappointment. Particularly as we had timed our trip to see the wildebeest migration and to go gorilla trekking in Uganda.
The elusive gorilla
I had wanted to go gorilla trekking for about 30 years. Ever since watching Gorillas in the Mist and deciding I would make a suitable Dian Fossey type studying gorillas in the mountains. Well, I never did become a primatologist, nor will I now ever get to spend my hour observing the gorillas. As I said in our About Us page, dealing with MS, time is not on your side, and this was it, this was our time, so sadly I think perhaps the opportunity has now been lost.
However, I believe in life, sometimes an obstacle in your path is for protection. So consequently, for reasons we may never know, it was just not meant to be.
Anyway, after four days we realised the situation was not sustainable, so we cut our losses in Africa. Returned to Nairobi and made plans to move on.