Nairobi, Kenya

If you could be any wild animal, what would you be? I legitimately asked myself this the entire time I was on the safari in Kenya. Would I want to be as quiet and meek as an elephant or as bold and alert as a lioness? I’m still not sure, but what I am sure of, is that I will be going back to Kenya soon. It was breathtaking. I’ve finally found a bit of time to share images and experiences and I hope you feel like you’re on the African plains with me.

First, here’s a bit of information on the place we visited. It is called Masai Mara National Reserve and it is based in the same general area as the Maasai tribe. The reservation is bigger than anything I expected. “The Maasai Mara lies in the Great Rift Valley, which is a fault line some 3,500 miles (5,600km) long stretching from Ethiopia’s Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and into Mozambique.” The cultural density in the area makes it that much more supernatural to experience. It was only 2 short days, but it felt like much more. My desire it to engulf each of you, my readers, my people, my friends, into the natural beauty of Kenya and God’s creation.

I think the easiest and most effective way to do this is to take you on this journey as I experienced it; beginning to end.

We took a flight from Nairobi, using Safarilink. It was super comfortable and about a 30 minute flight from the city to the reservation. I’m going to link as much as possible in case anybody is interested in going! The plane dropped us in the middle of nowhere and guess what I did, took a picture, LOL. It was pretty small. I think only about 40 seats, so you felt EVERYTHING, but you saw everything too, so the nausea was well earned.

From the plains, we got into our jeeps and took another 30 minute ride to the camp. On the way, we were able to see a few animals so it was a sweet taste of what was to come.

As tempting as it is to show you every single picture I took, I know that will make for a poorly put together informative blog, but honestly, it needs to happen. There was so much beauty around us. It’s an understatement to say it was overwhelming but there were times when we just sat in silence and stared off into the distance. That’s the power of God’s Creation. It was untouched, unaltered, and in all its greatness around us we couldn’t utter a single word.

The tent was definitely a 21st century one, lol. It was tucked away into a tree, but sturdy enough to keep the baboons at bay. We also were able to pass through the Obama Forest. There, the Obamas visited and planted some of the trees, so that was cool. Yes, yes that is an outside shower. No, I was not bold enough to use it.

Now, let’s head out for our first drive, shall we?

It took very little time for Jonathan (our guide) to start spotting things. He noticed many of the animals, made his team aware, and sped off to get up close. One of the first encounters we had was a group of cheetahs- 5 brothers, they say. They were so in sync and could not care less about the fact that we encircled them to take pictures. Eventually, you start to feel bad-like you’re invading their space, then you get over it because the smallest one yawns and it’s so stinking cute. *I did not use the zoom for these pictures, that’s how close they were to the cars*

We were eagerly watching them prowl on a herd of zebras. They used all of our cars as shield so the zebras had no clue they were behind us. They, soon after, went for the kill and ate. My crew and I weren’t patient enough to watch that, though, and Jonathan saw an elephant, what seemed to be, a million miles away. Pretty soon after, we saw a herd of them and a few giraffes waiting for me to blow them kisses.

Okay, let’s pause for a second. I didn’t formally introduce anybody. Here is my group. We really did have a good time. Standing up in the roof of the jeep, laughing, and learning with our tour guide made the experience even more memorable. If you are considering going to Masaai Mara, ask for Jonathan! He’s wearing his traditional attire. Many of the men in the village still do so. The necklace symbolizes how many wives he has. In his village, polygamy is still very much recognized and praised, but Jonathan is a one woman man.

From left to right: Steve, McKenna, Karen, Jonathan, and me, I’m Shakiyla and the sun was in my eyes.
still with the sun…

Okay, moving on. This was where everybody lost it. Nobody on the tour who had been on a safari had ever seen a leopard this close. He walked under each of our cars. He walked beside them. He sat and stared. It was surreal. Again, I did not use zoom specifically because I wanted to model just how close we were to the game.

Maybe 5 minutes after we all picked our jaws up off the ground (figuratively speaking of course) Jonathan saw a cheetah, again, a million miles away and we were off.

He posed for us.

We rode around for a while and Jonathan talked to us more about what it’s like living in this area. He was so accustomed to being around the animals because for him, it wasn’t a tour, it was just everyday living. The land the reservation is placed on, was protected from big companies wanting to build and destroy, not tribes willing to live peacefully alongside the wild animals which is exactly what they do.

As we headed back to camp to close our first day of the safari, we were gifted with goodbyes from a pride of lions and their cubs.

We ended Day 1 with a beautiful sunset and more giraffe kisses.

The next morning, we were on our way by 6:00a.m. it was pretty chilly, but I couldn’t keep myself from sticking my head out of the window. On this morning we saw hippos, water buffalo, and the remnants of a successful lioness hunt.

This ride was not nearly as long as the other one because we were going to close our afternoon with a visit to the Masaai village. I was able to see all of the things they make and sell by way of the Masaai Reservation, and the authenticity of their compound. They allowed us to go into their homes, sit in their living areas, and ask really intrusive questions. I had to stop and ask Lemayian if he enjoyed it… if he actually liked having strangers in his home regularly or if this was something he sacrificed to provide for his family. I was pretty forward, but he received it beautifully and with kindness. He said, “I really do like it. It gives me the chance to educate outsiders on my people, our lives, and who we are.” It was the most sincere answer. As we entered their home, they welcomed us with traditional song and dance.

I only got a couple of shots of their crafts, because I was too busy asking questions…. surprise surprise…

One of the most captivating things they showed us was the way they make fire. I’m sure, they are able to get matches from the camp we traveled from, but in asking him why they don’t, the chief’s son responded, “What we do works. We don’t have to go looking for easy options. If it works, and ours, why would we change that?” I nodded in agreement because what does one say to that..?

So, they take a piece of softwood and a piece of hard wood. They wedge them together on top of a machete and spin it around in their hands until it begins to heat up. If necessary, they’ll take turns and eventually, smoke will begin to rise. Once it does, they put dry cow manure on top of it to catch flame and it begins to burn. The process took no longer than 3 minutes. I was in complete awe.

We were able to walk around for about an hour more, ask more questions, and see what life was life for them. I felt, in a word, undeserving. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I left with a new sense of admiration for village life and what it entails.

After visiting the Maasai tribe, we headed back to the camp, had lunch, and prepared to head out. I must say, I have never been so struck by Creation. That entire trip I found myself reflecting on how ridiculous it is that I doubt God’s power, the author of all, and I have the audacity to doubt His power. It put much into perspective and helped me to mentally prepare for doing His work confidently, intentionally, and relentlessly. I hope you felt like you were in Kenya, even through pictures alone. My website has only a few goals: make God’s glory known through sharing His creation, make His healing seen through transparency, and make our need for Him evident through authenticity. I pray I have done so.

Thank you for reading.

I love you.

2 Comments on “Nairobi, Kenya

  1. Wow! I enjoyed this and the pictures, live, laugh, love for me. Love you

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