Kenya Travel Story - "Safari in Tsavo East and West"

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A travel story from Nicolas Schmidt (Copenhagen, Denmark):



"This part of our Kenya travel story is about our safari to Tsavo East and West – me and the two couples I was traveling with. We were staying near Mombasa and trying to determine which park we would pick for a safari. The others wanted to do a budget safari. I didn’t mind as everything was new to me.

Tsavo seemed a logical choice because they are geared towards budget travelers more than the other parks, and because they were relatively close to Mombasa. We didn’t have the money to fly into a park and had to go by car… And because of the bad roads, traveling by car is taking much more time than you’d think. Plus the combination of Tsavo East and West seemed good: The first because it’s better for animal spotting, the second because of the scenery. Then my friends went into Mombasa and booked a 2-day tour with a company. We had a Nissan minivan with a safari rooftop, a driver and a cook for $70 per person per day, so totally $700. This included park entry for both parks, meals and tent hire.

Elephant in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya


Elephant in Tsavo East - (c) Kenya Travel Story

The owner of the company wanted the bulk of the money before the trip, which I didn’t like that much. We had some bad experiences before this, with a tour organizer making us pay up front and never showing up. But my friends didn’t want to change the deal so I payed.

The driver would pick us up from our cottages at 5 AM, because it was still a long drive to Tsavo and animal spotting is best done in the early morning. The owner told us: don’t call me if the driver is 5 minutes late, this is Africa!

Marabou in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya

Marabou, Tsavo East - (c) Kenya Travel Story

Well, we were all standing outside with everything packed at 5 AM in the dark, but the driver only arrived at 6 AM. We started driving for hours. Some roads in Kenya are good, but most of them are mediocre to very bad. Some roads have such enormous potholes that you have to drive zig-zagging around them, you can only drive for 20 miles per hour and still you are totally shaken all the time. It appeared the driver had to make detours to pick up about everything he needed, food, materials, etc. etc. including stuff from his own company office...

While we were waiting outside the safari company in our van, a group of homeless children – aged between about 6 to 14 years old – gathered around the van begging for money or food. Some began banging the van doors and windows. A couple were sniffing glue. One of us gave his lunch bag to one of the small kids, but a bigger kid immediately came and aggressively took it. The small kid started begging to the big kid to give it back, but the big kid didn’t do so. Several kids started yelling and threatening each other. I noticed our cook, Albert, being annoyed that we gave food to only one of the kids. My friend – a big guy from Germany – came in between and pressured him to give it back. We then handed all our lunch bags to the kids. It was hard to swallow that kids have to live that way. ...

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