Somewhere in Africa
Sitting in a class, I watch lazily as my teacher scribbles away something on the board which slowly begun to grow hazy, her voice a faint mumble in the background as I drift away with my thoughts. Life has surely been on a monotonous note ever since I can remember. It’s the same picture every day, the same sour-creamed walls, dull and dreary faces dragging on with the cumbersome existence.
Same is story of our parents, who must be sore from being confined within their respective four walls, be it be an office or a kitchen, be it be a stack a papers or blunt cutlery, be it customers or food, to serve.
Clearly what we long to greet with an amiable gesture is a warm summer. The holiday season which sever the chains that bind us to the sordid structures that had attained the holiness of a pilgrimage. But with the dawn of the vacations, the mind frees itself on a journey seeking out the divine places, whilst the fingers mark dates on calendars and instantly a holiday plan is made. With just a click of a mouse, we can opine for enthralling offers by tourism agencies that promise a tour of fantasy: The European Blitz of 10 days at $349, Discovering Orient in 2 weeks at $229 or The Absolute America of 12 days at $399.
Yes all these offers are certainly irresistible, but they lack a certain thrill. Though the craftsmanship of man reflected by all the intricate structures marked across the map of Europe and America sure leave one gaping in sheer amazement but it is devoid of a certain element. The element that sparks off adventures. The element called the wild.
And this is where I make you an offer of a rather undeniable tour. Venturing into the ‘Dark Continent’, crossing our ways through the hot deserts or sailing through the tempest Indian Ocean, I welcome you to the Savannah Grasslands. Yes, with the warm sunlight, the tropical drum beats, snow-capped mountains and beaches of white sands, begins our journey of Kenya, where I shall be your guide.
Well then let’s start off from the coastline of Kenya, which is a part of the port city Mombasa, where the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean embrace the pure white sands sprawled on the beaches, where for tourists it is a tradition to sunbathe and flaunt a tan. These beaches are lined with resorts of great comfort built in the traditional African designs for tourists to experience the culture.
The resorts specialize in the sea food delicacies they serve, which range from exotic marine fish to shelled creatures like barnacles, oysters, clams and from crabs, lobsters to squids. Well even for the vegetarians a great deal of care is taken with a variety of sea weeds. Apart from the regional delicacies, they also serve continental banquet. The resorts also ensure that tourists derive the most of the ocean and hence introduce various water sports as motor boating, surfing and scuba diving under expert guidance. And of course you would miss the utmost delight if you say no to the “show trip of exploring the seas” where a glance at the crystal clear waters plunges you into the marine world where sea urchins and starfish lie at ease on the sea bed. The coral reefs and alien fish life they sustain simply gives you a feeling of utter divinity.
Mombasa welcomes tourists to the town which is symbolized by the tusker arches that resemble a pair of giant intersecting elephant tusks forming the shape M for Mombasa. The ceremonial arch was built to commemorate the arrival of Queen Elizabeth the second during her visit to Mombasa in 1952. Mombasa also takes pride in the craftsmanship of African wood work which surely serves as souvenirs for tourists and also finds place in all homes, far and wide, across the country as decorative.
Anyway packing up from the beaches and traversing further into the heart of the city, a must visit is the historical monument, The Fort Jesus built in the 16th century, a mark of the dominance of the Portuguese in the race of colonization. Traveling back in time to the present from the historical fort, brings to the outskirts of Mombasa where lies the Mamba Village. Mamba is the native word for Crocodile. And yes just as the name suggests, the Mamba village houses thousands of crocodiles, of all sizes, all ages. The Mamba villages reveals to you the true nature of the nature’s one of the most ferocious predators.
They may play gargoyles all day but contrary to the belief that they are lazy and slow, these reptiles are swift when it comes to preying and can jump, yes jump, straight upwards up to several meters in height from the water using their tails all of which is witnessed as wildlife experts entice tourists through the feeding time of these reptiles. Amazed as you may be, but please be wary of the minimal distance to be kept from the boundary walls or to lean over them, as on my last visit I remember seeing a huge board that clearly read with bold letters “The last tourist was delicious” next to the largest crocodile in Mamba Village known as the ‘Big Daddy’.
Well next en route is the capital city Nairobi which fulfills your desire of fine architecture, museums, modern life yet greenery and the large shopping complexes. Nairobi is exemplar of being a planned city with a few tourist naturally carved tourist sites like the Rift Valley.
Now moving away from the busy city life, it is time to leave our cameras behind and instead buck up the mountaineering gear, for, capped in snow, shrouded in the clouds, waiting to be unraveled lies ahead of us the mighty Mt Kenya. Bracing up on our path against the freezing wind we will come across various welcoming cottages that serve as lodges for tourists. Made of wood, with a fireplace to warm ourselves against the bitter cold, these cottages feel no less than abode. Upon continuation on our way, we see the mountain in its pristine form as it whispers to us silently of its serenity and the tales of gutsy mountaineers who have left their marks.
Barely broken free of enchanted beauty of Mt Kenya, we shall now hold our breath for an even greater spellbinding sight. The Pink Lake Nakuru, which appears pink and blue from the aerial view. We have heard of the Yellow Sea, the Red Sea, even earth appears blue and green from the satellite view. So what is it about Lake Nakuru? Well then friends, let me tell you that Lake Nakuru is the home of all the graceful pink flamingos of the world who give it its pink tinge. Indeed a sight to behold.
With a few more snapshots, let us finally venture into what Kenya is most widely famous for. Some call it the hunt. Some say it’s the Big Cats. The Discovery Channel discovered it and ever since telecasts it to the world – The wildlife of Maasai Mara. 1510 sq.km of Kenya is nothing but a zoo, a vast zoo where we are the ones in enclosed in motile cages with wheels whilst the animals roam about in freedom in their natural habitat.
Maasai Mara, the largest game reserve in Africa, is the home to a very enormous species of animals and plant life. The home to the elegant black mane lions, the largest land mammals – the African elephants, the tallest animal on earth-the giraffe, the fastest -cheetah, and a variety of never seen or heard before animals like the okapi, honey badger, hammerhead fruit bat, bushbaby, caracal, civet, dugong, wildebeest and yes of course the famous timon and pumba as well. Each year Maasai Mara witnesses the greatest natural spectacle, the great wildebeest migration which brings together around 1.3 million wildebeest together into a massive single heard.
There are several other game reserves such as the Tsavo East and West, Taita Hills, Amboseli – Land of Giants which provide lodgings of a class apart with early morning drives to catch nature in its pristine form. Some lodges to fuel up the excitement even offer balloon safaris to watch the wildlife from above, drifting in the skies.
After a complete tour of the game reserves, well we have charted the entire map of Kenya leaving not a stone unturned, covering all that the country had to show us and any other tourist who seeks the wild element. Hence with this, we close the chapter of a summer which went in touring Kenya. But having the experience of such a rejuvenating holiday, we sure can bear the constrained walls in the hope of the next adventurous holiday season.