While on her trip to Africa, our staffer Jessie reflected on the travel tales that inspired her once-in-a-lifetime journey.
To be honest, an African safari wasn’t on my travel radar. Go Ahead launched the two of our Safari Tours—Botswana & Zimbabwe Wildlife Safari and Tanzania Wildlife Safari—I started to learn more about the safari experience from other Go Ahead travelers and I suddenly needed to go to Africa.
One of my favorite things about Go Ahead is their passionate team. The scenes and stories I’d read in books like Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa and Beryl Markham’s West with the Night were brought to life through their accounts of zipping across the savanna in a land cruiser, meeting the local tribes and spotting wildlife.
And now, with a head full of these images, I am here on tour in Kenya. Just today I saw lions, zebras, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, elephants and more. I’d heard about the sheer volume of life on the plains, but in real life it is truly staggering. Zebras, warthogs, wildebeest and a number of different kinds of antelopes will graze the same area at the same time.
The strong traditions of the local tribes are so powerful to see. In her book, Blixen described her many interactions with the Masai and their proud warrior spirit lives on today. Kenya is still very much marked by the different tribes and their traditions, but the country is also quite modern in many ways.
On our way to the Masai Mara, we saw young men in full warrior attire, women adorned with beads and silver, and men with the Masai plaid slung over their jeans and sweatshirts—the blend of tradition and modernity was striking.
I think my favorite thing about Kenya is that there is always more to see. With daily game drives, we are still coming across new wildlife and new activity. One day it is a vast swatch of plain covered in zebra, wildebeest and antelope. The next it’s a leopard cub struggling to stay up on his tree branch or a lone young cheetah unsuccessful in her hunt for breakfast.
By lush Lake Nakuru we saw zebras grazing, monkeys playing and rhinos mating. On the sweeping plains of the Masai Mara, we saw lions lounging in the shade of the acacias and giraffes trekking to the watering hole. In swampy Amboseli, at the foot of Kilimanjaro, we came upon a hippo and elephant teaming up to scare a hyena away from their vulnerable babies.
It is only in Africa that you can learn certain things—like how elephants call each other by name, that gazelles dance when they are happy—and truly appreciate them. Reading books and hearing stories from friends brought East Africa to life for me, but also inspired me to see if for myself and for that I am forever grateful to those storytellers.