Three leopards on the first day of safari, can you believe it?! That was Hiroyuki’s experience when he came to Kenya in August 2016. He contacted us because he had seen our commitment to community projects and wanted to spend some time with Amani Kibera in the slums of Nairobi. Here’s the story of his short time in Kenya and how we helped him see both the real life and the safari life of Kenya.
The Kenyan Life(s)
Hiroyuki arrived in the late afternoon and we arranged for Ben to meet him at the airport. Ben is the co-founder of Amani Kibera, a community-based organisation working with youth in the Kibera slum. Hiroyuki was very interested in learning about life in the slum and if possible doing a homestay, so we asked Ben and his wife Mariam to host him. I think Hiroyuki got more than any of us bargained as Ben took him on a drive through Nairobi’s city centre on the way from the airport to Kibera. Hiroyuki then got taken for a night out with the boys, experiencing Kenyan life as authentically as one probably could!
When Francis went to pick him up the next morning, he was very tired and possibly just a little hungover. But he was about to face the five-hour drive to the Maasai Mara – not the hangover cure I would be looking for! He managed to sleep all the way, which would have made the drive less painful. Before getting to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Hiroyuki was to spend a night experiencing another side of “typical Kenyan life”, this time in a rural Maasai community. The contrast was pretty significant to the previous day, but that’s the wonder of travelling – finding these contrasts and realising that a stereotype of “Kenyan” is just not possible, as with all nations.
As I said at the outset, this was a short trip and so his third, and final, night was at last spent in the game reserve. His accommodation was on the Talek River at Aruba Camp which meant traversing the park to get there. It must have been a big night with the Kibera boys, because he was still tired and struggling to keep his eyes open on the game drive. Incredibly, Francis found three leopards that afternoon while Hiroyuki dozed. Francis tried to rouse him and he did wake up to take a photo before going back to sleep. Eventually Francis gave up and took him to the camp early. It seemed a shame that not everyone is lucky to find even one leopard in three days of game driving and here in one afternoon were three leopards and no one to enjoy the sightings.
The next morning was better for everyone and they saw eland, lion, ostrich, hyena, wildebeest, vultures, elephants and a secretary bird. But that was the end of the trip. After the morning game drive they headed back to Nairobi and the airport for the flight out. It seems a long way to come for three days, but he experienced a range of environments giving a real taste of all the facets of Kenyan life.