Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our First Trip to Africa!

I'm not really sure if everyone who hasn't visited Africa shares the same mental image as I did before we landed in Nairobi to start our trip. Haley and I just arrived here in Kenya for our first time in Africa and while it has only been a few days, my image is slowly changing.

Haley on the airplane to Nairobi, trying to brush up on her animal ID's

Before I came to Africa, I imagined the entire continent as somewhat of a wild and dangerous war zone. In my head, I also imagined extremely impoverished conditions, where you have to worry about people with machetes chopping you up, deadly diseases eating your insides or lions eating you randomly as you walked around. I'm sure my impression came from multiple Hollywood movies (like Blood Diamond and Hotel Rwanda), and from the multitude of wildlife films I've seen over the ages.

In the taxi heading down a dusty road from Nairobi into the bush...

The truth is, I was wrong. Kenya is much safer than I thought. First, if you have at least one good connection that can hook you up with a ride from the airport, you can pretty easily navigate the entire country. Plus, the people in Kenya are about the nicest that I've ever met. The culture of hospitality is incredible. You're not treated like a "gringo," like you are in many other countries. They genuinely love that we're there in the country visiting. It's fantastic.

I was also wrong about having to worry about animals around every corner. The sad truth is that for the most part, there are only animals left in protected reserves. Fortunately there are a lot of these around. To help keep the animals in, they use giant electric fences. Inside those, the wildlife threat is a different topic all together. I'll get to that with the next post!

A rare wild dog spotting our first day in the field. These are one of the rarest predators in Africa!

Until next time, Akuna matata,