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Murakami’s in Kenya, Family Vacation - Day 9

(sorry no pictures for today)

I was told by the shuttle company that I could just call to reserve a shuttle for my family back to Kitale. “Just call the day before. No problem”, she told me. WRONG. I called and she told me she can’t book in advance.. I have to go the morning of the departure at 5am to book. So I went.. at FIVE AM and they were sold out… at FIVE.A.M.!!

I went around frantically with the taxi driver, trying to find another option. There were none. So the taxi driver finally told me - if I was desperate enough, he could arrange for someone he knew to taxi us out to Kitale. So that’s what we had to end up doing. It actually didn’t end up being much more than the original shuttle cost, but still pretty expensive and took a bit longer.

But anyway, we checked out of the Crowne Plaza and 8 hours later, we finally arrived in Kitale. I think my family wasn’t too thrilled with that car ride. Sorry guys!

It was funny and a bit sketchy though, because the taxi driver worked for Crowne Plaza and knew they overcharged so he decided to arrange things on his own. Plus, he’d get the commission instead of the hotel. So he got another taxi driver from the hotel to pick us up as a “normal” taxi to wherever we needed to go.. to the airport for all the hotel knew. This guy took us to a location that had been pre-agreed upon. At this spot, the original taxi driver and his friend were waiting. We switched cars, I gave him the money, and we left from there. It was like some sort of drug deal or something

Anyway, even Kenya gets crazy during the holidays. Everyone was travelling, so shuttles, buses, etc were all booked and the roads were more crowded than I had ever seen them. Next time, although there probably won’t be a next time, I’m booking way in advance or we’re just staying where we are

> Coming up: Day at the ASH Wamuini Community Center, being hosted for meals, and relaxing dinner (and pictures this time)

Murakami’s in Kenya, Family Vacation - Day 8

Last day on safari

On the first part out, our AWESOME driver (Adan) found another cheetah with his eagle eyes. Seriously. It was so far out, but he managed to spot it without binoculars! 

And as if that wasn’t enough, Adan found a leopard up in a tree! It’s super rare find b/c they spend most of their time up in the leafy parts of trees. But of course Eagle Eye Adan found him! It’s hard to even see in this photo, but look just above the dark branches that make a diamond shape. He’s looking back… 

There was another vehicle that was with us when we saw the cheetah, so Adan radio-ed that driver as soon as he spotted the leopard. Well, EVERY OTHER vehicle in the masai mara heard the call and started showing up at our spot since the leopard is usually so tough to find. It was pretty hilarious, about 20 other vehicles showed up! 

Finished up the safari with more beautiful sites 

A couple more lions  and giraffes  

After the drive back to Nairobi, Adan dropped us off at our hotel and we said our goodbyes. Seriously, Adan is the best safari driver you could ever have. If you ever plan one, book through Pollman’s and asked for Adan Mbaganja 

Took some time to rest, then we went to hangout and have dinner at Nairobi’s Village Market mall. They have an Art Caffe there, so I got another Art Ice Coffee haha

> Coming up: struggle to find travel, 8 hr car ride, and final arrival in good ‘ol Kitale

Murakami’s in Kenya, Family Vacation - Day 5

My family and I were pretty ready to get out of Mombasa by the third day because of the intense heat and ridiculous humidity. So we did - flew back to Nairobi on Kenya’s main intra-national airline: Flight 540 

They were pretty happy to get out of the humidity, as you can tell

Once we landed in Nairobi, wonderful Gina drove us to our hotel. Now, I’m a bit embarrassed to say this, but we stayed at the Crowne Plaza. I know.. kinda contradictory: in Africa/Kenya and you stay at this upscale hotel. buuut, it was a very reasonable price considering how much you’d normally spend on a hotel during vacation. 

So after settling into our nice ash rooms, we headed out for Westgate Mall to hang out and have dinner. I embarrassingly, again, admit that it seems a little wrong to go to such a nice mall, but why not? haha It’s still boosting the economy and it’s still Kenya! fine fine. I lose 

But I mainly go here for this restaurant that has this drink I’m ADDICTED to: ArtCaffe’s Art Ice Coffee.. basically a coffee slushy, but with top-notch, Kenya coffee flavor. So we had dinner here and I had two (that bottom photo actually isn’t it. I didn’t have a photo of it, but you get the idea) 

It was a relatively slow day so we could rest up before the big safari!

> Coming up: safari in the Masai Mara, getting stuck in Masai-land, and awesome Adan

Murakami’s in Kenya, Family Vacation - Day 2

Woke up early Friday morning, checked out of the wonderful Wildebeest Camp, and had wonderful Gina take me to the Jomo-Kenyatta International Airport to meet my family.  

They arrived on time (after enduring through a screaming baby on both plane rides) and we took off for a quick trip into Nairobi before our flight to Mombasa.

We visited the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, where we watched and petted some baby elephants. This is also where we had our only rhino sighting (no rhinos found on our safari)   We then had a quick lunch at Carnivore - Nairobi’s version of brazilian bbq. They say you’re supposed to be able to eat every animal you see on a safari here. It was pretty good… 

With scrumptious meat in our bellies, we took off for the airport for our flight to Mombasa. After a 2 hour delay and a 1 hour flight, we arrived in the oldest city of Kenya: Mombasa.   Finally, after an hour drive through the crowded and hot/humid city, we checked into our hotel - the Bahari Beach Hotel. 

> Coming up: chillin by the Bahari pool, seeing more animals at Haller Park, and a luxurious dinner cruise

Murakami’s in Kenya, Family Vacation - Day 1

The vacation teeechnically began with me travelling from Kitale to Nairobi, so I could meet my family early at the airport the next morning.

So, I took a typical shuttle that took about 6 hours travel time.

I slept for practically the entire ride, as I got only 3 hours of sleep two nights before (prepping for staff holiday party) and 2 hours the night before (packing for family vacation). I actually was so knocked out that my head kept slamming against the side window as I went in and out of delirium. But I arrived in Nairobi safely, nonetheless

I stayed, for the first time, at what I now consider to be the hidden jem of Nairobi: Wildebeest Camp. It’s an oasis amongst the crazy busyness of the city. They have a main house which holds the two dorm rooms, private budget rooms, the dining/hangout area, the office, and kitchen. And the Australian family who owns and runs this awesome hostel lives on the upstairs floor of the main house. 

Then they have various options of housing out on their garden grounds: tent camping, garden tents (more sturdy), and ensuite deluxe safari tents. I chose tent camping to save money, plus I thought it’d be fun.. which it was! Then you just share the nice bathroom facilities with the other residents, which worked out fine. My option is on the top left and the nicer options are on the bottom left and right: 

The best parts of this place were the people I met and the taxi driver they set me up with. 

Since Wildebeest is a more family friendly place, I still got to meet and talk with cool/interesting people from all over the world without the wild partiers bumping music and drinking at night.

Then, Wildebeest coordinated for a taxi to take me to the airport the next morning to meet my family. The driver’s name was Gina and is THE best taxi driver I’ve met yet. I’ll forever call her whenever taxi services are needed in the city, and will recommend her to all my friends. She doesn’t try to rip you off and gives you the most fair price instead. She’s got a new, spacious Toyota station wagon. AND she’s young, friendly, and very accommodating. 

So lemme know if you ever plan on visiting or passing through Nairobi. I can recommend the best place to stay and taxi driver to take you around.

> Coming up: Murakami clan arrives, explores Nairobi, and departs for Mombasa