*The photos placed were actually taken by me! Maybe I'm a budding photographer!
Just last week, my wife and I embarked on an unforgettable trip to Kenya. The main goal? To witness one of the most incredible wildlife spectacles on Earth: the Great Migration. We had been planning this adventure for months to celebrate our 15th anniversary, a little ahead of time.
Our journey began with a flight on Qatar Airlines. We’re huge fans of this airline, in addition to its competitors; Etihad and Emirates. Qatar’s comfy business seats within its Q-suites are ideal for long-haul flights, and the flight attendants, super friendly. The food on the plane, delicious, and the journey, although quite long (around 22 hours), was totally worth it, making a stop in Doha then on to Nairobi.
Nairobi was our first stop, and we spent a night there to rest up for the exciting days ahead. The next morning, we hopped on SafariAir, which took us on a series of quick flights, lasting less than an hour, to reach our final destination: the Masai Mara.
As soon as we landed in the Masai Mara, we were warmly greeted by a staff member from the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge. He welcomed us with local treats and champagne, which instantly put our minds at ease and amped up our excitement.
Our journey to the lodge was a real adventure. We jumped into our safari vehicle, and the moment we hit the road, we couldn't believe our eyes. Picture this: herds of elephants strolling around, zebras running in the distance as the vehicle approached, giraffes grazing on tall trees, wildebeests, and a colorful array of birds, all in their natural habitat. It was like being part of a National Geographic documentary!
The lodge was a dream come true. When we arrived, we were greeted by a group of Masai Warriors, singing a heartfelt welcome song in their native language. Upon exiting the vehicle, they draped me in a traditional cloth, making us instantly feel like part of their community. "Welcome to your home for the next few days," the host said.
To get to the lodge, we crossed a sturdy bridge over a tranquil river, which was a truly magical experience - it reminded me of the Three Billy Goats Gruff from my childhood - wobbly bridge. The lodge itself was nothing short of stunning. Our private tent-house felt like a luxury hotel in a big city, but right there in the middle of the wilderness. It was a bit on the pricey side at $2,000 a night, but the experience was priceless.
Our daily safaris were the highlight of the trip. We saw a whole pride of lions with cubs, a heart-pounding zebra chase by a pack of hyenas - ultimately getting the prey, a lounging cheetah, a submerged family of hippos, and even had an up-close encounter with a leopard. But the real stars of the show were the countless family herds of elephants. Conservation efforts have worked - we lost count of dozens of elephants.
The lodge's staff treated us to sunset dinners by the river and delightful breakfasts on the savanna. The food, prepared by chefs, was delicious, and the setting was simply breathtaking.
Our daily guide, Nick, a friendly Kenyan and Masai Warrior, knew the land like the back of his hand. He took us to visit a local indigenous community, a unique experience. The community welcomed us with open arms and sang warm, traditional songs. They showed us their homes, which were surprisingly comfy, made from cow dung and well-suited for the hot weather. The cows; serving many purposes as mentioned, were kept safe in the center of the community with fencing made from prickly bushes to keep out lions and hyenas.
The tour lasted about two hours, and we got to see their school, their homes, how they make fire, and handmade crafts for sale that support their community.
Our trip to the Masai Mara in Kenya was eye-opening and truly inspiring. It was amazing to witness the beauty of nature and understand how different cultures live harmoniously with their environment. This adventure is something anyone can appreciate, and it's an experience that will stay with us forever.
Hotel: JW Masai Mara - www.instagram.com/jwmasaimara