Out of Africa- The Kenyan Experience

Aug 4, 2009

Kenya in East Africa beckoned for a holiday with a difference- to witness for ourselves the amazing phenomena of Discovery and Nat Geo programs in a vibrant wildlife haven.

Indians have long been a driving force in the economic life of Kenya. A Kenyan friend spoke admiringly of the Swaminarayan temple in Nairobi, the first such temple outside the Indian sub-continent. Sculpted Jaisalmer sandstone houses the intricate  interior of carved African mahogany and camphor wood. We felt proud to take in this impressive celebration of Indian culture and craftsmanship in a foreign land. 

Tribal Tryst

The landscape on our drive from Nairobi was picturesque and varied- arid plains and scrubby grasslands alternating with fertile fields and lush hills laden with tea and coffee plantations.  After some five hours on the road, we reached the celebrated Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, the former home of the famous Hollywood actor William Holden and a favored haunt of the World’s Who’s Who. The spectacular natural monument Mount Kenya looms in the background- the highest mountain in the country, the second highest on the African continent. At the time of its discovery in the 19th century, it was considered a geographical oddity, being a physical body with snow and ice on the Equator. This was our first exposure to weather patterns encountered throughout the trip- of the daytime nip evolving into the night’s biting chill, the cozy comfort of hot water bags and blazing logs in the   fireplace. The 100 acres of the Club and the 1000 acres of the William Holden Wildlife Conservancy Program enable a guest  to commune intimately  with nature- heading off to the verdant forests on horseback, biking and trekking  up the mountain, teeing off on the golf course or strolling the sylvan  expanse to feed marabou storks and wild geese. The animal orphanage is a touching interface with rehabilitated wild animals of different species. 

Bidding a regretful farewell to this old world idyll, we made a brief detour to a roadside location of the Equator at Nanyuki. We witnessed experiments to demonstrate the behavior of wind and water in the northern and southern hemispheres, falling on either side of this imaginary twelve meter line. It was a worthwhile stopover at the little shops selling beautifully carved African curios of animals and tribal life in mahogany, ebony and other African wood.    

Our destination was the Sweet Waters tented camp in the Ol Pajeta conservancy. This private reserve amidst Savanna grasslands and riverine forests hitherto belonged to the Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. Arriving at lunchtime, we headed straight for the glass walled dining room overlooking scrub forest outside. Competing for  attention with the wonderful food on the buffet tables were the wild animals wandering in for their afternoon drink - boar, zebra, deer… I practically dropped my passion fruit tart at the amazing sight of a giraffe ambling towards the waterhole with the awkward grace of a dinosaur, squatting and craning its long neck forward to drink. 

The unique chimpanzee orphanage is a project of the famous conservationist Jane Goodall. These appealing creatures are not native to Kenya- they have been rescued from the crossfire of a civil war in Burundi or from distressing captivity. Their tales are heartrending, but it is heartwarming to watch the bonds that have been forged between these orphans in the sanctuary. At the time of our visit, many of them lovingly groomed one another. They respond to their names- Socrates, Jojo, Raponzee etc. Later on, our game drive took in the varied wildlife of the reserve- giraffes, zebra, black rhino, white rhino, Grant’s gazelles, impalas, otters, hornbills. Ol Pajeta has a unique Wildlife-Livestock integration program, using controlled cattle grazing as an ecological tool to rejuvenate the grasslands.  

Lake Nakuru was next on our itinerary.  What appeared to be pink rose garlands floating on the water translated into the exhilarating spectacle of fabulous flamingoes. Our eyes feasted on the marvellous pink hue of their feathers as they dotted the salt water  lake in their hundred thousands for algae to eat. Fish eating pelicans entranced us with their graceful aerial ballet.  Tiny colobus monkeys swung with acrobatic ease on the tall branches of trees- enchanting,  endangered creatures whose exquisite fur makes them an unfortunate target for ceremonial tribal headgear. Dik-dik, charming miniature antelopes darted swiftly about the bushes. Bison herds lumbered around. Though not visually appealing, they are formidable adversaries of lions. Their fierce strength places them among the traditional Big Five of the Safari. From the vantage point of Baboon’s Cliff, where troops of sad eyed baboon mingle with picnickers, the view of the lake below was unforgettable. We were distressed to find some withered trees on the hills- hapless victims of arson from tribal conflict in the aftermath of an uncertain electoral verdict in 2007.

Maasai Mara constituted the last and most important segment of our safari trail- the locale of the greatest animal migration on the planet. A lone stone marker, totally unmanned, delineates the border between Maasai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania. As the grass in Serengeti dries up, some 1.3 million wildebeest, bull like antelopes with shaggy beards, stream into the Mara. Their sheer numbers constitute an overwhelming spectacle, making July and August the ideal months to witness this natural epic of life and death. These heavy beasts, unlike the swifter gazelles are easy prey for predators. A mass of Nubian vultures and Ruppell’s gryphons alerted us to the likely proximity of lions. A further cue was a hyena in the vicinity- not only a known scavenger of leftovers, but a predator’s active assistant in singling out the young and weak as potential prey. Incredibly, within five minutes of our game drive, we struck gold with a pride of “Simba”. The lion ladies were fast asleep after a feast of wildebeest, paws hanging lazily in the air.  It was a tender moment to witness a lioness wake briefly to hug her sister in a warm embrace. They are said to have strong family bonds, and freely suckle each other’s offspring.  Two cubs emerged from the bushes below. One of them chased away a vulture pushing its luck with fairly fresh kill. We were just a few feet away in an open topped jeep, but the slumbering creatures didn’t move a muscle nor did the wakeful ones so much as bare their teeth. They seemed as cuddlesome as pussy cats!  Further on, we spotted a lion couple nestled in the bushes in the intervals of mating. 

Black backed golden jackals were a frequent sight. It was exciting to observe elephant herds - mothers with calves of different ages, the grandmother elephant being the herd’s matriarch. Lone males were spotted further on, somewhat disgruntled. The co-existence of hippopotami and crocodiles in the river was an interesting phenomenon. River crossings are vulnerable points for traveling wildebeest with crafty crocs waiting to grab a hapless migrant by the leg. Winged beauties of different species dazzled us with exotic plumage. The world’s largest and fastest running bird, the African Ostrich gave us good opportunities to view its size and speed across the Savanna.  

The Mara teems with different species of deer- topis, elands, waterbucks…The most numerous are undoubtedly Thomson’s gazelles- with exquisitely wrought features and sturdy, compact bodies with distinctive markings. They have an interesting social life- we saw that a single dominant male controls anything between thirty to a hundred females. Bachelor herds comprise their displaced male offspring. These wanderers can be observed locking horns with each other, as they practice for future battle with aged patriarchs to control their own harems. 

A trip to a traditional Maasai village rounded off this part of the trip as an exposure to a simple, semi-nomadic way of life, untouched by the march of time. 

Mombasa is a port with an ancient and interesting history- a melting pot of Africa with cultural inputs from Arab, Portuguese and  British rulers. It has its own marine wealth- coral reefs, dolphins, nesting Olive Ridley turtles… This resort town of stunning beaches, delightful people, foot tapping music and delectable seafood refreshed us before our homeward journey. 

The Safari demands that one should be an involved and active tourist. Ventures into  the jungle are charged with the adrenaline rush. Capturing a spontaneous moment of animal behavior is a rare moment of cosmic unity, that exultant sense of being in sync with nature. Typically, the ice breaks between strangers in the sharing of unique and varied wildlife encounters. The rugged Safari holiday is softened with the charm of quaint English customs like Afternoon Tea and the norm of formal dressing for dinner. Kenyan hotels and resorts are active partners in conservancy. Sustainable eco-tourism is aimed at saving dwindling animal populations from poachers with viable livelihood for the locals. For families with young children, a Safari is pleasurable education, the instilling of early sensitivity to conservation issues. 

From baboons to forest rangers, spiced Mangalore cashewnuts were universally popular. Visitors to these parts can be overwhelmed with requests for gifts- even old clothes and toys.  The heartfelt delight of the recipients will linger as a warm memory. The vacated space of a few extras carried along can later be filled with Africa’s unique artifacts. 

Jambo - Hello. Karibu - Welcome. These words greeted us practically every time we came across a new face in this friendly land. So much so, we never got round to learning the word for goodbye. The tantalizing African continent invites yet more trysts with fantastic fauna and natural wonders. 

Tender Tuskers

Walking Tall- Reticulated Giraffes

Happy Hippos

With Orphaned Eeland

Stripes in the Grass - Zebras

African Elephant

Dainty Deer- Thomson's Gazelles

Rendezvous with Rhino

Wildebeest Feast

Simba- Sister Act

Crocodile Smiles

Butterfly in Spider's Web

Ruppell's Gryphon

Predator's Pal- Hyena

Pink Magnificos- Flamingoes

by Giselle D Mehta<br>Pics by Nawal Mehta
To submit your article / poem / short story to Daijiworld, please email it to news@daijiworld.com mentioning 'Article/poem submission for daijiworld' in the subject line. Please note the following:

  • The article / poem / short story should be original and previously unpublished in other websites except in the personal blog of the author. We will cross-check the originality of the article, and if found to be copied from another source in whole or in parts without appropriate acknowledgment, the submission will be rejected.
  • The author of the poem / article / short story should include a brief self-introduction limited to 500 characters and his/her recent picture (optional). Pictures relevant to the article may also be sent (optional), provided they are not bound by copyright. Travelogues should be sent along with relevant pictures not sourced from the Internet. Travelogues without relevant pictures will be rejected.
  • In case of a short story / article, the write-up should be at least one-and-a-half pages in word document in Times New Roman font 12 (or, about 700-800 words). Contributors are requested to keep their write-ups limited to a maximum of four pages. Longer write-ups may be sent in parts to publish in installments. Each installment should be sent within a week of the previous installment. A single poem sent for publication should be at least 3/4th of a page in length. Multiple short poems may be submitted for single publication.
  • All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format or text file. Pictures should not be larger than 1000 pixels in width, and of good resolution. Pictures should be attached separately in the mail and may be numbered if the author wants them to be placed in order.
  • Submission of the article / poem / short story does not automatically entail that it would be published. Daijiworld editors will examine each submission and decide on its acceptance/rejection purely based on merit.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to edit the submission if necessary for grammar and spelling, without compromising on the author's tone and message.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to reject submissions without prior notice. Mails/calls on the status of the submission will not be entertained. Contributors are requested to be patient.
  • The article / poem / short story should not be targeted directly or indirectly at any individual/group/community. Daijiworld will not assume responsibility for factual errors in the submission.
  • Once accepted, the article / poem / short story will be published as and when we have space. Publication may take up to four weeks from the date of submission of the write-up, depending on the number of submissions we receive. No author will be published twice in succession or twice within a fortnight.
  • Time-bound articles (example, on Mother's Day) should be sent at least a week in advance. Please specify the occasion as well as the date on which you would like it published while sending the write-up.

Comment on this article

  • sujithpolali, polali,riyadh

    Mon, Aug 24 2009

    wonderfully snaps thank you

  • Lawrence D''Mello, Karkala/Sydney

    Thu, Aug 13 2009

    Nature at its best:Wonderful pictures and knowledgeable experience indeed, Thanks for this

  • bhaskara, surthkal

    Tue, Aug 11 2009

    Really wounderful photos........thanks

  • Rafeek Sompady, puttur -al ain

    Tue, Aug 11 2009

    So cute thank you Daiji.

  • Canute Carvalho, Udipi_Kenya

    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    Good Lovely snaps

  • Ganesh Kumar, Udupi, Abu Dhabi

    Mon, Aug 10 2009

    A small correction - Adnan Khashoggi is of Saudi/Turkish decent and not purely Saudi as stated. Anyway, tx for the wonderful pics and the write-up.

  • juliet mascarenhas, bejai, mangalore

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    hats off to you giselle for sharing through daijiworld your memorable kenyan safari experience with millions of people who do not stand the chance.thanks to dharmendra for his support.

  • Joe Gonsalves, Mangalore - U.S.A

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    Even though I am ten thousand miles away from my native place - MANGALORE I have viewed with great interest the unique and wonderful pictures of wild life photographed by my dear friends Giselle and Darmendra (popularly known as D.B.)Giselle... How did you manage to get the photographs of your two children with a Rhino? The account presented by Giselle of her experience in Africa is both educative and interesting. When I return to Mangalore I am sure I will have chance of meeting my dear friends (Mehtas) at their beautiful residence on Light House Hill when I would like to hear the first hand account of their experience. Joe Gonsalves

  • ibrahim , thubay

    Fri, Aug 07 2009

    Realy wonderful pictures. Thanks to daijiworld

  • susanna carlo, bantwal/israel

    Sat, Aug 08 2009

    WOW... really excellent pictures & artical. thank you daiji.

  • Madhusoodana Bhat, Mangalore

    Thu, Aug 06 2009

    Nice article and breath taking photos. The very fact that they have chosen such a place like Kenya than more popular European countries speaks volumes about Mr & Mrs Mehtha''s innate kindness to the less privileged.


    Thu, Aug 06 2009

    This is quite informative materials with nice pictures...specially the one with Rhino and butterfly in spider''s web...Rgds Hitendra

  • Shobha Peres , Mangalore

    Thu, Aug 06 2009

    Great aricle, Giselle.Very descriptive.Looks like u had a lovely time. Tammy specially must have enjoyed spending time with the animals. And Nawals pics are also very good.

  • Sanjeev Kamath, Patla / Bahrain

    Thu, Aug 06 2009

    Thank you, Nawal for showing us Kenya through your eyes.

  • Sr.Ritamary a.c., udupi

    Thu, Aug 06 2009

    Enjoyed reading your ''Kenyan experience''. All the best, Giselle!

  • John Pereira, Kulshekar,M''lore/Ghatkopar,Mumbai

    Thu, Aug 06 2009

    This Kenyan safari experience of the Mehta family seems to be a unusual story. I am amazed, about the chilly nights and snowy mountains can be observed on equator dividing the globe into Northern and Southern hemispheres. The chance to be with the local tribal people and with the animals, many of whom we fear to go near.

    My hearty Congrats! to Giselle Mehta for giving a vivid description of the Kenyan visit/Safari experience and also to Nawal Mehta for the beautiful photographs.


    Thu, Aug 06 2009


  • Allen , Mangalore

    Thu, Aug 06 2009

    The article was interesting and informative. The photos were superb - simply tempting us to fly there! How about letting us know the travel/stay details to help us have a good holiday?

  • Dr.Anand & Geeta Pereira, Sakleshpur

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Thank you for giving us wonderful insights about Kenyan wild life. we do hope India can replicate the same success as the African safari. In fact we have diverse forest habitats which accomodates a range of wild animals from the tiny slender loris to the majestic indian elephant.


    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Beautyful article and photos.tempting to visit the place...

  • jerardin dsouza, mangalore/ kuwait/blore

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    OH MY MY !! Giselle was a star of our days.. I mean the dr. srinivasan anchored K.M.C. QUIZ. WOW !! whatta star performer she was..!!!For me ..she looked like a outta the world kinda fairy...Even before the question is out ..there was Giselle''s answer... & today too, looks no different..even before we could imagine a question there is HER ANSWER...

    A splendid ,visual display of the MASAI MARA...the AFRIKAANS...you saved us the journey , and the fare!!!haa! both Giselle & the budding or rather already bloomed NAWAL..it indeed was a " LIVE" presentation..THANX A MILLION...& yes I AM STILL YOUR HUGE FAN GISELLE.

  • Yatheesh Naik B, Kasaragod

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Thanks to you. Its Beautiful.

  • Staffs of Allegro, Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Really.... wonderful views of Kenya. Article reveals knowledgeable informations.

  • Grace Noronha, Bijai, Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    A beautiful and narrative article. On going through it I felt as if I were a part and parcel of the expedition. Nawal has to be commended for the lovely photographs. Beats a professional. All the best dear Nawal. Grace Noronha Principal,Lourdes Central School

  • Habeeb Thumbe, Dubai

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Reaily great wondarful photos thanks daiji world

  • lavina castelino, Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Wonderful pictures and knowledgeable experience indeed.Thanks for the article

  • lavina castelino, Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Wonderful pictures and knowledgeable experience indeed.Thanks for the article

  • Abdulrub, Gangolli/Saudi Jubail

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Wow..what a Fantastic pictures ,thank u Daijiworld

  • Vijay, Bangalore

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Wow...beautiful photography, thanks.

  • Stan Rodrigues, Farla/Rome

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Thanks for the beautiful article and photos on Kenyan safari. Kwaheri is the word for goodbye in Kiswahili.

Leave a Comment

Title: Out of Africa- The Kenyan Experience

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. Daijiworld.com will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will Daijiworld.com be held responsible.