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Travel preparations for Kenya

Brown-throated, three-toed sloth, courtesy of photographer Stefan Laube and WikipediaSince the days of Wildlife on One - when broadcasting legend David Attenborough appeared regularly on our screens exploring everything from the predatory antics of the Siberian tiger to the more diverse and farcical mating rituals of the three-toed sloth - a wildlife safari was a dream I was determined to one day make a reality. My newfound interest in photography also set the scene for a trip and this, coupled with a love of wildlife, made Africa the natural choice. So the engines of impetus were already revving when my friend Emma asked if I'd like to join her and her friend Marianne on a trip to Kenya. Their friend (getting complicated?) Tanya - head teacher of a primary school on the coast - had invited them to stay during the school holidays and was happy for me to join them too.

Certainly, a beach vacation didn't interest me - especially living in the Canaries - and if that was the sole purpose for their visit then I would skip it. However, everyone was up for a Kenya safari wildlife adventure as well, so I booked the flight, applied for a visa, got my jabs, insurance etc and checked out some safari options. The itinerary was largely out of my hands; I could hardly start throwing my weight around at this stage or I might be 'un'invited! Nonetheless, I did some research to familiarise myself with the country and its customs... and soon came to regret it. According to many of the websites I visited, IF I was lucky enough to escape being robbed and raped at machete-point, then it was highly likely I'd return three-stone-one-kidney lighter, HIV Positive, with a touch of malaria and a very sore arse. I wasn't going to take this lying down...though it could prove safer.

The chemist peered at my prescription: "Oh, off to Africa are you?"
I blinked at her, unsmiling. One eye suddenly developed a tick and I left the shop clutching my bag of chemical and biological weapons. Now all I had to fear was being apprehended at Gatwick as a terror suspect. I could have easily taken out an entire jumbo jet with my Diocalm prescription alone. 20 minutes before we were due to board our flight, an alarm went off - seriously - and the entire airport was evacuated. I knew it! My re-hydration and nuclear-strength anti-botty-crises capsules had been intercepted! Sniffer-dogs were lying on their backs convulsing, legs in the air, twitching, foaming at the mouth... and then I remembered; it was less than a month since the tube attacks in London. It was probably only a bomb. I felt reassured. Shortly, word came that it was just a small fire in the kitchen and they ushered us back inside. We weren't even delayed and the outbound journey went smoothly with plenty of entertainment to while away the nine hour flight. I watched 'Hitch' for the seventh time, which was great because by now I could mimic, entirely, the big, fat guy's dance sequence and embarrass myself and all around me on the disco floors of Diani Beach - yeah baby yeah:D

Mombasa Airport was more civilised than I'd imagined. It didn't smell of chicken droppings and there wasn't a single goat in sight. Even Passport Control smiled and made a joke none of us understood; we laughed though, just in case, and spilled onto the pavement outside to await our pre-arranged mini-bus. It was humid but not over-bearing. Tanya had warned us to keep hold of our bags. I assumed she meant thieves were rife so I had my suitcase close beside me, tripod between my legs, and kept a tight grip on my camera bag. Suddenly, out of nowhere a stray, black hand - quick as a flash - took hold of my case and... dislocated his shoulder. Who said it was better to travel light?
Read on.....

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Have you been to Kenya? Is there a wildlife park or lodge that you would recommend? Write a review here about your 'big five' safari holiday and tell others about your experience - good or bad. Perhaps you know of an excellent budget campsite - or a luxury lodge that should be avoided! Otherwise, feel free to post a question. Let's share our Kenya safari wildlife experiences...

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