[Note: Click here to skip down to list of reports]
The Idea for a Trip
The idea for this trip was born in 2006, at the end of our "Classic Kenya" birding and mammal tour. We saw fantastic new birds and spectacular mammals, but we didn't see any lions. Deep in my brain, a voice has been reminding me, "You didn't see any lions." After my diagnosis with a heart condition in 2011, I dropped everything and gave that all my attention, as you can imagine. The medication I was given worked minor miracles, and it became clear that my health was still good enough for world travel. I knew that last year, the company BIRDTREKS tried to get a group to do the "Kenya Southern and Coastal" tour, but it didn't draw the minimum required to go, so it was cancelled. I called BIRDTREKS and told them we were interested if they could find 3 or 4 more clients. In the course of time, one other couple signed up, giving us 4, but not the necessary 5. I brought up the possibility of paying a little more and going with only 4 paying customers, and other people involved in the trip had been having the same idea for some time. Well, everybody got involved, and with special thanks to Kevin Easley and his brother Steven, the finances were worked out to BIRDTREKS' satisfaction, and the trip was on.
However, we didn't know this until about a month before the start time. In the meantime, we made plans for our fifth visit to Turkey, where daughter Tara and husband Cihan live. We just didn't know whether we would fly back home from Istanbul at the end of our three week visit, or fly to Nairobi, for another life adventure. We took some behind-the-scene goings on into account, and decided to gamble that the trip would go. We bought air tickets accordingly, and life took that wonderful turn to give us the GO.
In summary, we flew from San Francisco to Istanbul on September 26, spent about three scrumptuous weeks with Tara and Cihan (read about Turkey 2013 if you haven't yet and want to), then flew from Istanbul the afternoon of October 17, arriving in Nairobi about 3 am October 18, where a driver met us and took us to our hotel.
The BIRDTREKS trip was scheduled for two weeks plus a few extra days for travel. Two solid birding weeks. Outstanding!
Here are the keys to the map of southern Kenya, below:
White line in the lower half of the map running basically NW to SE - The Tanzania border
Purple lines - airplane flights
Blue lines - driving on roads, paths not exact in this map
Red numbers - Travel Leg number (of 9 legs), chronologically, within Kenya
Red arrows - Direction of travel of the nine travel legs, within Kenya
Red "push pins" - Our accommodations
Black names adjacent to each "push pin" - Hotel or Lodge Name
In summary, first we flew from Nairobi to Malindi on the coast (Leg 1), where we stayed at the Turtle Bay Beach Hotel, 3-night stay.
Next we drove along the coast towards Tanzaniya (Leg 2), where we stayed in the Shimba Hills Lodge, 2-night stay.
Then we drove to the Ngulia Lodge in Tsavo West (Leg 3), 2-night stay.
Next we drove to Ol Tokai Lodge, in Amboseli National Park (Leg 4), 2-night stay.
After that, we drove to Nairobi (Leg 5), got on a flight to the Masai Mara (Leg 6), where we stayed at Mara West Tent Camp, 2 night stay.
Next was a short drive to Fig Tree Luxury Tent Camp (Leg 7), 1 night stay.
Next to last, was another short drive, to Siana Springs Tent Camp (Leg 8), 1 night stay.
And Last, was the drive to Hotel Boulevard in Nairobi (Leg 9)
I just want to mention when I say "...we drove...", it means we birded our butts off, stopping for frequent walks and forays, in forests, jungles, estuaries, etc., on the way to the next accommodation.
Following are the links to the daily reports. Brackets enclose name of night's accommodations.
0 Friday, October 18. Nairobi Arrival [Hotel Boulevard]
1 Saturday October 19. More Hotel Boulevard. Flight to Coastal Malindi. [Turtle Bay Beach Hotel].
2 Sunday October 20. Malindi, Sabaki Estuary, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest [Turtle Bay Beach Hotel]
3 Monday, October 21. Coastal Beaches near Malindi [Turtle Bay Beach Hotel]
4 Tuesday, October 22. Through Mombasa to Shimba Hills. [Shimba Hills Lodge Hotel]
5 Wednesday, October 23. Bushbabies. [Shimba Hills Lodge Hotel]
6 Thursday, October 24. To Tsavo West. The Leopards. [Ngulia Lodge, Tsavo West]
7 Friday, October 25. Tsavo West Elephants and More, Oh My. [Ngulia Lodge, Tsavo West]
8 Saturday, October 26. To Amboseli National Park [Ol Tukai Lodge, Amboseli].
9 Sunday, October 27. Amboseli [Ol Tukai Lodge, Amboseli].
10 Monday, October 28. Van from Amboseli to Nairobi. Domestic Flight to the Masai Mara National Park [Mara West Tent Camp, Masai Mara].
11 Tuesday, October 29. The Northwest Masai Mara [Mara West Tent Camp].
12 Wednesday, October 30. More Magnificent Masai Mara [Fig Tree Luxury Tented Camp, Masai Mara].
13 Thursday, October 31. Still More Masai Mara [Siana Springs Lodge, Masai Mara].
14 Friday, November 1. To Nairobi [Hotel Boulevard]
15 Saturday, November 2. To Los Angeles. Via Istanbul.. Oops [LAX Holiday Inn, Unplanned stop].
16 Sunday, November 3. To San Francisco [Home, Sweet Home].
17 Trip Summary.