Mombasa and Tsavo National Park - 2004

15th March 2004 - London to Mombasa

Flight with East African Airways, Heathrow to Mombasa. Arrived at Mombasa Airport and was thankful for the Kuoni airport transfer. After an overnight flight I never look forward to the hassle of finding your own way to the hotel. Driving to the hotel was an eye-opener. My first trip to Africa and the ride gave an insight into life in Mombasa. The majority of people appear to live in tin shacks that litter the area and the roadsides are one big open air market. Food, clothes, iron mongers etc. But also a lot of people looking like they were selling anything they could find to scrap together enough money to eat. As we got closer to the hotel we entered a richer area. Big houses hidden behind security fences with armed guards on the gates. A staggering divide between the rich and poor. On arriving at Voyager the first thing to strike me were the gardens outside the hotel beautifully manicured. We were welcomed with lots of smiles, lots of 'Jambos' and cold drinks. The gardens throughout the hotel complex are beautiful and all around are lush palm trees and immaculate flower beds. They are tended every day by an army of gardeners. And the monkeys. Running around the gardens, jumping along the roof tops. And during High Tea stealing any unguarded slices of cakes. A fantastic start to the holiday.

16th March 2004 - Mombasa

17th March 2004 - Tsavo East

Mini-bus from Mombasa inland to Tsavo East National Park. A long bumpy ride along roads of varying quality. Amazing to see the villages and towns. How basic the houses are and how they take the idea of recycling to a whole new level! We entered Tsavo East and drove to the Voi Lodge. This took nearly an hour and was a game drive in itself. Our first sighting of elephants, they were way off in the distance but the 6 of us in the minibus were excited. Little did we know that within 3 days any elephants more than 10 yards away would be referred to as 'just some more elephants'. Giraffes, zebra, monkeys and birds of all sizes, shapes and colours. I never thought that we would get so close to so many wild animals.

The park, in fact the whole area, was surprisingly lush. Trees and bushes looking green and healthy especially when set against the bright red soil. And the red soil gets everywhere. Everything is given a reddish tinge, in fact we really were seeing Pink Elephants. Voi lodge is amazing - our room, in fact all rooms, overlook the watering hole where many animals come and go. Elephants, zebras, etc etc. In the evening they put bait into a tree and a Genet cat came and had tea with us!! In the evening we heard some lions but never saw them, this was in fact the closest we came to seeing lions on the whole trip.

18th March 2004 - Tsavo West

Game drive from Voi Lodge to Ngulia Lodge. Our second night on safari was spent at Ngulia lodge. Another great view. Sitting in the restaurant and in the rooms. Vultures in the trees. Buffalo crossing the horizon. The highlight was a bit staged but it didn't diminish the spectical tical. A wild leopard eating meat from the tree apparatus! Another highlight was the porcupines who came to be fed by the restaurant. Those things are bigger, spikier and more far more impressive than I could ever believe. I thought the Voi Lodge was good, but Ngulia Lodge was better.

19th March 2004 - Tsavo West

Highlight of this journey was a sighting of a leopard in the wild. Disappointment was that once again we did not see any lions. Kilaguni is stunning the best of the 3 lodges by a distance - on arrival we were met by the usual JAMBO and cold towels to refresh ourselves. A 5* hotel in the middle of the bush. Sat for hours watching the waterhole. All sorts of animals came and went. The highlight was a fight between two elephants. Locking tusks pushing each other forward and back. So much power, so much force, whoa. At breakfast some food was put out on the wall surrounding the restaurant. Within minutes birds were flying in. It was like being inside a most spectacular aviary.

20th March 2004 - Mombasa

The long bumpy journey back. Stopped on the way at a Masai craft village. Very tourist orientated but still an wonderful experience.

21st and 22nd March 2004 - Mombasa

2 days at the all-inclusive resort. 1/2 day boat trip, lazing in the sun, drinks by the pool. Marvellous.