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Old 07-25-2013   #1 (permalink)
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Africa! Trip to the Maasai Mara, Kenya- July 2013

JAMBO!!

This won't be too long, and mostly pictures.

This was definitely a bucket list trip for me. A lifechanging, eye-opening, emotionally draining and yet uplifting trip- a once in a lifetime experience that blew away every other vacation I have ever been on.

Free the Children/Me to We is a Toronto-based charitable organization that does amazing work in many developing countries. Haiti, China, India, Kenya, Ecuador, Honduras, etc.

It was started by Craig Keilburger when he was only 12 and read a story of another 12 year old boy in Pakistan, who had been speaking out against child labour, and had been murdered.

Today they use the 'adopt a village' model in many countries to give 'hands up, not hand-outs' to people in need. The programs are based on five pillars- education, healthcare, easy access to clean water, sustainable income streams, and the fifth and most recent came about as a result of my own company, PotashCorp- agriculture.

Since my company is a main sponsor now, they decided to send 25 employees from all our different sites globally to see what FTC is doing, this year's trip was to Kenya. Of course when I heard about this I applied right away with my 500 word application- and when I was accepted I was so pumped!

It was 'free' in terms of the time in Africa other than tips, but we still had to pay airfare and for drugs and vaccinations (which totalled over $600-yikes!). Spouses and kids were also welcome to come along but had to pay their full expenses. Our group had 25 employees and with spouses and one woman's 12 year old son we totalled 37.

BBL. Still have to upload pics...just wanted to get started on this!
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Old 07-25-2013   #2 (permalink)
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Looking forward to this one Maggie, didn't see much on FB.
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Old 07-25-2013   #3 (permalink)
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I was so hoping you would come back from this trip a better person



we will see......we will see
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Old 07-25-2013   #4 (permalink)
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I've been looking forward to this trip report!
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Old 07-25-2013   #5 (permalink)
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Can't wait to see the pics!
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Old 07-25-2013   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogley View Post
I was so hoping you would come back from this trip a better person



we will see......we will see
ha!

Staying off the politics and religion thread on here has already done that.


Pics are selected and currently uploading to Photobucket.

More to come soon- and I will also post them on FB too, Marj!
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Old 07-25-2013   #7 (permalink)
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Been waiting for this!
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Old 07-25-2013   #8 (permalink)
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Great anticipation!
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Old 07-25-2013   #9 (permalink)
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Can't wait!
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Old 07-26-2013   #10 (permalink)
aņejo
 
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WHOOO HOOO - checked in to PI just to see this ! Looking forward to it.
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Old 07-26-2013   #11 (permalink)
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Posting so I don't miss this TR!
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Old 07-26-2013   #12 (permalink)
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Is it just me or does anyone else think this trip report sucks big green donkey dongs so far
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Old 07-26-2013   #13 (permalink)
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hold onto your zebras! I am super busy!

Ok.

I have never flown first class before and WOW was it nice. WE ended up somehow only having to pay an extra $300 total for first class all three flights for the way there....much better for sleeping on overseas flights.

great service, unlimited drinks, good food, etc. Care packages with socks and creams and toothbrushes/paste....awesome! We were on Air Canada from Saskatoon to Toronto, got to hang in the first class lounge over our 6 hour stop in TO, then AC to Zurich (7.5 hours) we had the sleeping pods, which were great as I can never sleep on a plane.



From Zurich to Nairobi (7.5 hours) we were in executive business class, even nicer, wider seats that fully reclined, on Swiss Air.

We had excellent luck with flights our entire trip- no delays, nothing. We did have to run in Zurich to catch our flight to Frankfurt on the way home...I mean RUN...we had one hour and had to go through Customs and passport control and even change terminals...our bags did not make it but they showed up at our Munich hotel that evening and we didn't have to schlep them around and on the train- so it was actually a bonus.

We also had to run flat out in Toronto on the way home, we only had 45 minutes there too...but both we and our bags made it- yay! Thankfully, after being awake for 27 hours I was ready to be home in my own bed.



We arrived in Nairobi around 7 pm where we were staying the night at the Tribe Hotel....very swanky. A bunch of us who were there already went and had some dinner and were asleep by around 11.




The next morning breakfast at the hotel was at 7:30 and by then the whole group of 37 were there and accounted for. We all got to meet and mingle and were introduced to our three FTC facilitators for the week- and it was off to our first stop- a giraffe conservation park, right outside of Nairobi.







poombas, too



We got to feed them....by holding food pellets in our MOUTHS....uck.



Our luxury tents...very nice. Every evening they would place a hot water bottle in the bed. We were never cold.









some other groups stayed in the cottages, really nice- but less privacy and you had to use the nets to sleep.

__________________
until a week on Isla Mujeres!

until 2 weeks in Huatulco and Puerto Escondido!

Last edited by Rissask; 07-26-2013 at 02:19 PM..
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Old 07-26-2013   #14 (permalink)
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I got a bit ahead of myself there.

After the giraffe sanctuary and a tour around Nairobi, we went to Wilson Airport to catch our plane out to Bogani Tented Village, which was to be our home for the next 8 days. The ten Maasai and Kipsigi (two different local tribes) communities that Free the Children has adopted and is helping are all within about a two hour drive in all directions from the camp.




our tent:



Wilson Airport was funny....never quite saw an airport like this before! talk about lax security.

our plane:



and this was a highlight...flying over the Great Rift Valley...birthplace of mankind, baby!



We arrived at an airstrip that was about an hour's drive from Bogani. During that first day's drive we saw baboons, a river with hippos wallowing, and an ostrich and a few wildebeest. Very cool!


some scenery in the area....









pretty splash of colour



acacia tree....love them!



and bird on a thorn tree





Kipsigi mud -thatch houses (Maasai are flatter roofs)








ubiquitous herds of goats and cattle:




and donkeys



a grader...the roads were awful....but the lorries quite a comfortable ride, still.



Our crew from my mine in one of the lorries which we drove around in all week:



Everywhere we went in the area, kids would spot the two lorries and coming running flat out just to wave and yell "Jambo!!!!" as we drove past. They love FTC, and no wonder, as you will see.






Some other photos from around Bogani...

the dining platform:



the bar.....open for business for lunches and dinner until as long as you wanted to stay up, so long as you were good to go for the next day's 7:30 sharp breakfast time! Tusker beers, red and white wine, and some local drink made with honey, raw sugar and vodka and lime.



The staff were all Kenyans other than the Free the Children facilitators who were mostly white female Canadians in their twenties. One of our three, Liz, was from London England. They were all SO AMAZING....so well spoken, well-organized, fun, boundless energy. Great hosts, all of them!

The camp had no electricity....the whole area does not. Although everyone has cell phones, of course. It is a little jarring to see a Maasai warrior in full shuka whip out one and start talking.

There was a generator and the electricity was on for a couple of hours each morning to get ready and have breakfast and then again in the evenings from 6-10 for showers and dinner. After ten, it was lights out and you had better have your flashlight if you are out partying anywhere!

About 4 am each morning and about 5 pm in the afternoons, a staff member would come light a fire under our water heater behind the tent so we could have hot water for showers. And it was always HOT!

Weather was perfect- got fairly cool at night (average 10C) which made sleeping very comfortable, and got nice and warm to hot during the days- about 25C on average. We were always comfortable. It was a bit dusty on the lorry rides so the hot showers were much appreciated every night.

and no bugs at all! Sure glad I took my Malarone (malaria meds)...not. It was A) not mosquito season in July and B) not a malaria zone anyway. I did get bit once, by the only skeeter I saw the whole time. But better safe than sorry, I guess.
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Old 07-26-2013   #15 (permalink)
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This is awesome. Looking forward to more!
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