Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Jambo! It’s the Swahili greeting I heard and repeated regularly throughout my 2-week journey in the Motherland to experience the beauty of nature in its purest and most divine form. The 6th Nomadic Journey brought me to the lands of Africa to spend time with the wild in their natural habitat within the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Southwest Kenya. These journeys are where I venture solo like a rover to rediscover life, disconnect from addictive American culture, and explore deeper consciousness and spiritual freedom.
aspirations. I began the long excursion from Washington, DC, and traveled on United Airlines to Frankfurt and then Lufthansa to Nairobi. As a frequent traveler, I always fly with the same airline alliance to earn miles, upgrades, respectable customer services, etc. After traveling almost 3-million miles with the Star Alliance, I’ve received exceptional treatment. Arrival to Nairobi took place on Jamhuri Day, which is a national holiday celebrated on December 12th to commemorate Kenya’s independence. As you can imagine, people were rejoicing across the country.
Maasai safaris can be quite expensive, depending on the company you choose. During the research, I came across $5,000 expeditions for a few days and $600 trips for one day. Of course, I went with the latter since Nomadic Journeys are strategically focused on budget circumstances. From Nairobi, you can either fly or enjoy a 5-hour scenic drive to witness more of Kenyan culture such a little youth selling fresh plums on the side of the road.
Further inquiries led me to the virtuous Shaban with his Toyota SUV, guiding services, all meals (vegan), the $80 park fee, and accommodations at the Keekorak Lodge situated directly in the path of the fantastic animal migration that occurs annually from July to October. One of the coolest features is the resident hippo viewing from the observation bar. A short 800-meters away is the Elephant Deck to study the daily life of the massive herbivores. Furthermore, guests can visit a Maasai village to cultivate their character while learning about the indigenous traits of the tribal peoples.
It’s survival of the fittest in Maasai Mara, where wild animals live cohesively in one ecosystem. I surveyed crown birds, zebras, elephants, giraffes, hippos, impalas, vultures, gazelles, jackals, wildebeests, baboons, hyenas, buffalos, cheetahs, and mongoose who move in large numbers. However, the most prolific scene was an encounter with you know who. Perched under a tree in the National Reserve, I located “The Conquering Lion, The Lion of Judah, The Lion from Zion, The King of the Jungle, and of course, The Lion King!” Since these mighty cats move mostly at night and early mornings, midday is their time to recoup energy for the next hunt. Up the road a zebra eyed me with precision. I kept telling him that I’m a vegan cyborg and not a poacher or carnivore, so we remained cool.
The goal for preyed upon animals during a pursuit is to flow in a pack without being separated. In one sequence, I watched five cheetahs unsuccessfully attempt to outwit a clan of zebras who were warned by an overhead group of birds. In this instance, the Zs held the line and won that particular chess move. Though, I do wonder what happened at sunset when the predators had the advantage.
After two days of animal watching, I headed back to Nairobi to appreciate the city for a bit. There are other meaningful expeditions in Kenya besides Maasai, including a visit to Lake Nakuru in The Rift Valley (home of the flamingo), an outing to Amboseli National Park, or a day trip to Mount Kenya which is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa behind Kilimanjaro. If you wish to stay, local choose a half-day at the Nairobi National Park for quality time with the wild.
My travel formula consists of exercise on global missions. Even when vacationing, the body needs physical execution, and the most efficient method of exploring a city is on foot. Therefore, I created a Nairobi running tour to various sites, including Uhuru Park, LMS Adventist Guest House for a Kenyan vegan meal, Nairobi National Museum, and the stately bronze statue of Kenyan national hero Dedan Kimathi Wachiuri. Born in 1920, Kimathi was a soldier, military strategist, and Mau Mau Freedom Fighter who fought for liberation from the British and led an oppression-freeing revolution in the 1950s. Kimathi touchingly stated to his wife Mukami on the eve of his execution that his blood will water the tree of independence. “It is better to die on our feet than live on our knees for fear of colonial rule.”
In terms of keeping up with my plant-based lifestyle, there was never an issue finding grub. The staple food for mostly every indigenous culture around the world is a legume (bean) or grain. The Kenyan natives include fresh fruits and veggies as an important part of daily life. Typical choices include kale, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, avocados, rice, and millet. My favorite dishes were Sukuma Wiki and Chapati. Kenyans are also avid tea drinkers. I consistently frequented LMS Adventist Guest House for their magnificent $2.70 medley. Likewise, locals tend to walk more and use their hands for physical activities; thus, they stay fit naturally. Rarely did I see any obesity while exploring Kenya. So, continue to strive towards healthier aspirations for life extension.
Once finished with the hustle of the city, catch an hour flight to the coast of Mombasa where serenity collaborates with nature’s elements. I spent countless hours swimming in the warm Indian Ocean and reading, running, and meditating on Serena Beach. Looking back, I intimately recall the illuminating experiences inhaling life in Africa and witnessing the mighty animal kingdom and all its compelling habits and rituals.
Live the life you love, love the life you live!