Saturday, March 16, 2002

We had to hit the road early for the bumpy drive back to Nairobi. Before we took off, we paused for a group photo. Below from left are Thomas, Mark, Marcia, Wendy, Jon, Gary, Donna, Pepe, Paul, Kristi, Carol, Adam, and Zack. We were blessed to have such great travelling companions -- everybody was really friendly, and we all got along very well. That makes a wonderful trip like this just that much better!

The whole Rhino Safaris group
Click on photo for a larger version

We retraced our drive along the dirt roads, finally returning to pavement before reaching the city of Narok. We drove by a roadside market (tires for sale below) and through the city center of this dusty frontier town.

Tires for sale at the roadside market Narok city center

As we continued on, we drove across the Great Rift Valley again. Narok is on the west side of the valley. We drove down the western ridge, and passed through several small villages on the valley floor like the one having a market day below (I didn't get the name). After climbing up the eastern valley wall, we stopped at an overlook.

A small town's market on the Great Rift Valley floor Great Rift Valley overlook

The overlook had a sweeping view west back across the valley floor. Unfortunately, it also had a tourist market. This was about our fifth one, and they all seemed to be selling the exact same items. You also had to bargain over the prices (something I don't enjoy). Oh well, at least the view was nice. The valley is huge -- the faint ridge of mountains in the distance is actually the valley's western wall.

Great Rift Valley overlook Great Rift Valley overlook

By about 1:00pm, we were back at the Nairobi Hilton. Since our flight wasn't leaving until 11:30pm, we were very glad to have the use of a room for the day. We were much higher in the tower this time, giving us better views of the city. In the photo at left, the round building is a part of the Kenyatta Conference Centre. Nairobi is a major diplomatic and banking city for Africa -- both the United Nations and the World Bank have offices here.

Nairobi's modern skyline Nairobi's modern skyline

Mark, Wendy, and I went on one last outing after lunch. Everyone else in the Rhino group (wisely!) opted to nap or just relax this afternoon, so Pepe drove just the three of us to a cultural center called the Bomas of Kenya ("bomas" means villages). This was a nice complex with replicas of traditional homes from Kenya's various tribes. There is also a large indoor stage where traditional dances are performed. The entertaining dances were much more varied than I had thought they would be. There was also a very energetic troop of tumblers and acrobats. Unfortunately, my pictures of the performers didn't turn out well. Wendy got much of it on videotape, though.

The Bomas of Kenya The Bomas of Kenya

We returned to the Hilton and said our final farewell to Pepe. I can't emphasize enough what a great tour guide he was! We just had time to shower and rest a bit before we had to say our goodbyes to our fellow travellers (except for Donna and Marcia, who were on the same flight to Amsterdam). We were taken to the airport rather early and had to spend several hours in a really bad, hot waiting room. Ugh! Not a fun way to kick off another travelling marathon. Since we had to get up so early for the drive back to Nairobi this morning, I was up for 48 hours straight before I was able to collapse in my own bed back in Seattle (I can never really sleep on airplanes).

Looking back, it's hard to believe it all happened in just one week! This amazing adventure had exceeded my expectations in every single way (how many vacations can you say that about?!?) I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity to go. Thanks for turning 50, Wendy.

Asante (thank you) and kwaheri, (goodbye) Africa!



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