On Safari, Naboisho Camp, Kenya
Naboisho, in the Maasai's Maa language, means 'coming together'. A quality which the team at Naboisho Camp has not only embraced with open arms, but whole heartedly. After our short flight from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara region, we were greeted by Daniel, our Maasai guide dressed in the traditional red shuka (wrap). As part of his quick debrief, he asked us what we'd like to see, our response "anything & everything!". Our first game drive started the minute we left the airstrip in an open 4x4 Landcruiser. The 45 min drive to Naboisho Camp introduced us to the dry yellow savannah plains and volcanic rocky hills, home to the resident cheetahs, leopards, lion prides, buffalos, giraffes, gazelles, elephant herds, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra passing through as part of the annual great migration. On arrival at Naboisho Camp, we were greeted by the manager Roeluf and his hospitable team offering cool lemongrass scented face cloths which I couldn't help but bury my face in. Roeluf guided us to our tent which in fact was more like a luxury suite in the middle of the bush, flushing toilet and hot showers included! Each tent is positioned to achieve ultimate privacy, facing directly towards the open savannah with neighbouring tents distanced far enough away so you feel you're on your own amongst the acacia trees and the sounds of the African bush. At the heart of the Naboisho Camp lies the main dining and lounge area, disguised under a thatched roof and surrounding wooden deck. This is where meals are shared, past stories told and daily sightings exchanged. By day the natural light fills the open space, bouncing off the organic materials and pastel furnishings with curious blazing red and blue lizards warming their skin on the deck. At night the main area is transformed into a candlelit romantic cocoon, with the outdoor shades rolled down to protect us from four legged passersby, big and small. Whilst Naboisho Camp is stylish, luxurious and harmonious, the real show stopper is the wildlife, and the reason why we'd flown over 12,000 km's to Kenya from Sydney. The Camp is located within the Naboisho Conservancy, part of the greater Mara region. An exclusive conservation project which was created to protect the wildlife and landscape from intensive herding and farming, yet still provide an income to local land owners through land fees paid by the camps. The benefit to tourists is that there are only five camps operating within the conservancy, which guarantees that you won't share your game drive experience with hundreds of other safari goers, as you do within the boundaries of the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. After three years of being established, the conservancy has an abundance of wildlife. Since returning from Africa, I've been asked multiple times what was our highlight. Whilst there were so many WOW moments, I have to say having the privilege of spending an afternoon observing the above pride of Lions was simply breathtaking. Our guide Daniel spotted them in the distance lying in the burnt yellow grasslands, white bellies up and legs sprawled out. He pulled up the 4x4 within 10m of the pride and switched the engine off. Nervously I asked "Are you sure this is safe?". "They're not interested in us, their bellies are full" Daniel replied as he pointed to a fresh kill. This particular pride had approx 20 members led by one male. His status was loud and clear. Not only did his physique and appearance scream I am king, his roar made the ground and our 4x4 shake. As the Naboisho Conservancy lies adjacent to the actual Maasai Mara National Reserve, you have the opportunity to visit the park to test your chances on witnessing one of natures greatest events, the wildebeest cross the Mara River as they chase the rainfall in pursuit of lush green grass. The Great Migration takes place in August-September in the Mara Region and Northern part of the Serengeti. Again, we were extremely privileged to see two crossings the day we ventured into the park. Enroute back to Naboisho from the Maasai Mara park, we met a local tribe who allowed us to walk through their village. The chief introduced us to his wives, yes wives, and explained how important the women's role is within the village. They cook, mend, fetch water and fire sticks, build the mud houses, not to mention are super mums to many children. The kids were full of smiles from ear to ear & shrieked high pitched giggles as they played together. To farewell us, the men performed their ceremonial jumping dance and invited my husband and a fellow traveller to join them who were quite quickly put to shame (sorry guys!). Now, I realise I still haven't mentioned anything about the food. Whilst we were located in a extremely remote location, this by no means affected the quality and range of food on offer at Naboisho Camp. We were spoilt with full cooked breakfasts at the camp and a rustic breakfast on the road including freshly baked Mandazi and hot strong Kenyaan coffee. For lunch we enjoyed both gourmet picnics under the shade of an acacia tree and a long table spread on the lawn as giraffes graced the rolling plains in front of us. In the evening we lingered over 3 course candlelit dinners inside the main dining area which always started with a glass of rich South African red wine in front of the roaring fireplace. My favourite part of each day was dusk where we cherished icy cold sundowners, watching the beautiful sunset or on one occasion, lighting strike the distant ground with force and attitude. Here was the first time I drank gin and Fanta, thanks to our guide Daniel who accidentally forgot to bring the tonic one outing. We shared many laughs that evening. Having never been to Kenya, my husband and I really didn't know what to expect, but our first safari experience with the team at Asilia Naboisho Camp was truly outstanding and will never be forgotten. As we waved goodbye and anxiously boarded our next flight to the Serengeti in Tanzania, we only hoped our next camp would be just as special. Stay tuned for On Safari Part 2......
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