ravings, rantings and ramblings
It was tough deciding where we were headed. The choice of destination rested on a few key factors. First up, minimal travel time; which meant long-haul flights were off the radar. Second, both wife and I wouldn’t have time to stand in queues and procure visas. So, this destination had to give us, blue passport holders, visa on-arrival. When you search for places with this criteria, one realises that 70% of the globe gets excluded. And finally we wanted to go to a place that would take us away to a new world.
And so we zoomed in on Kenya.
Kenya ticked the three criteria boxes. And so, Kenya it was.
There is this thing about Africa. Anything that is not Egypt, is savannah, where lions roam around freely. That is the first rush in the head. Soaking in newer information about Nairobi, where we wanted to weigh anchor, we found that the Nairobi National Park would be ideal for a quick wildlife getaway; besides visiting the animal orphanage and the David Sheldrick baby elephant orphanage. Perfect for the 3 days we had in hand. I somehow convinced my wife that we needed more time for Amboseli National Park and the Masai Mara, as this wasn’t the wildebeest migration time. Besides I wanted to go prepared with a telephoto lens and some lens filters. And so Nairobi fitted the bill perfectly as a backyard national park that boasted of the big three out of the five Africa always promises.
With the recreation and education out-of-the-way, we Googled for the basics on Nairobi. And that was the first time that we started doubting out choice of destination. City nicknamed ‘Nai-robbery’ where there is a strong possibility of getting mugged on the streets was definitely not a welcome destination. Caution is the one thing that must be worn at all times, irrespective of clothes or money. Other travellers’ tales were not that encouraging either. And then the following day, what the wife ‘netted’ was yellow fever, malaria and even diarrhoea. We were flying a couple of days later and here I was mentally cancelling tickets and planning to stay at home and watch films all afternoon. A few phone calls to friends and well wishers mentioned inoculation at least 10 days before travel. OK, so this one had to be cancelled. Wife, thankfully, wrote to the embassy in Dubai and received a prompt reply that was in the positive. No inoculation needed, no blood tests, no anti-tetanus. We reconfirmed with our hotel in Nairobi and they gave us a set of do’s and don’ts and we decided to go through this. Bought a couple of mosquito repellents which came in pretty handy. A box of sticky plaster and aspirin; our cameras, chargers and my tripod; shorts, cap and the usual. We were packed and ready.
Still a little iffy about everything, we sat up the night before we were to travel and decided to change our plans. We called up a new travel operator and fixed them up for a day trip to Nakuru Lake, north-west off of Nairobi where the largest population of flamingoes flock. That apart, one could get to see lions and leopards. I peered over some images on the net as my wife fixed the deal, 11 at night. We were all set to fly.
Next morning, we set off to the airport, still in a mechanical mode.
We plonked off our red carry-case on the conveyor belt and sat in the food court.
It was only when we sat in the plane that it felt like a holiday.
A quick jump over the Gulf of Aden, something that I had seen in geography books and never in real, and suddenly the colour of the topography changed. The beige of the desert changed to a deep, dark, broccoli green.
I turned to my wife and smiled. We were headed to Kenya.
This was so exciting!