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Kenya, Jungle Junction, Nairobi, Thursday 17 September,Week 21, day 157.

 

 

"may I come home as a smooth round stone

as small as a world and as large as a stone".

 

It was with great sadness that we left the Masai Mara this morning. If I had my way we would have spent a further night at Sand River, but perhaps reason prevailed. If whilst in the reserve you decide to extend your visit it is a simple matter to report this later at the departure gate and pay in what is owing. I felt that only one night in the Reserve was not enough and would have enjoyed a full day exploring it, but then my appetite for these reserves is insatiable.

The drive to Sekanani Gate was a simple matter although the roads are a little more corrugated than in the Triangle. We travelled via Keekorok and reached the gate after 26km and 50min. We now knew that we had a bad section of road ahead of us to reach Narok, apparently this is especially so with any rain. One travels through true Masai country here, flat, dry and with Masai in their red blankets tending to their flocks. We both felt that their dress was less traditional than what we had seen in Tanzania. We had time to compare what we had experienced in the Triangle compared to the Reserve and felt grateful for the advice from a couple of authoritative sources to spend more of our time in the Triangle. It was better organized and maintained and at this time of the year most of the herds were here.

We were a little surprised how few predators we had seen compared to Serengeti but it would be difficult to favour one above the other provided both are visited at an optimal time of the year. However there was nothing in the Mara to compare with the game densities in the Seronera area and this was without the wildebeest being present. The sight of myriads of Thomsons and Grants Gazelles will remain am abiding memory. However I do think the crossings as seen from the Triangle are the single most outstanding feature of this reserve stretching across the 2 countries. Serengeti has some disadvantages. The terrible entrance road and the behavior of the guides and drivers. The roads within the reserve are worse as well. The public campsites in Serengeti are crowded and poorly looked after. We preferred the public campsites in the Mara but the private campsites are great and easier to book in Serengeti. The Mara was generally less crowded but this may have been a function of the severe downturn in tourists.

The long road from Sekanani Gate to Narok is an unmitigated disgrace. There is minimal maintanence of this road for obscure reasons. The road is very corrugated and bumpy and the disgrace lies in the fact that this road is a major tourist route and the slackness regarding the condition of the road will not help an already bleeding tourist industry. My criticism is based on my belief that conservation is dependant on sufficient money being generated by tourism. When tourism suffers conservation is at risk.

To my relief tar was reached after 58km and 2hr from the gate. Narok was reached a further 27km and 30min later. One then was directed by T4A onto the old Naivasha road and the climb up the escarpment was agonizingly slow with all the slow trucks. We were then directed onto the Limuru road into Nairobi and braved the very busy roads. The traffic police seemed very efficient at directing the traffic. T4A brought us straight to Jungle Junction in the residential suburb of Hardy/Longata/Karen depending on how snobbish you would like to be. Sand River camp to JJs had taken us 7hr 30 min for the 270km. Here at JJs we have to do plenty of admin including Sudanese and Ethiopian visas.

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