Excerpt Article National Geographic Traveler
Article National Geographic Traveler
This is an excerpt from an article that appeared about Oranje Safari in National Geographic Traveler edition 1, 2019.
"The small car rushes through a suburb of Nairobi and in the glare of the headlights I sometimes see some meager houses, mountains of rubbish and groups of men warming themselves around burning oil barrels, and every twenty meters I look back or see the second car, in which the other half of my family is sitting, does follow, and eventually we enter a guarded compound, completely walled in and put down with barbed wire.
A fine start of a journey about which I had long doubted. The fact that Africa fascinates me does not mean that it is the most suitable destination to take your family with you. Certainly not in this way. I am rescued by Daisy, our Kenyan hostess who is standing at her door with open arms: 'Welcome family, had a good trip?'
When we get up at 5:30 the next morning - we have a long drive ahead - the smell of eggs, pancakes and fresh coffee comes to meet us. But instead of Daisy there is a Kenyan in the living room with the powerful body of a cage fighter: Alex, our guide and driver for the coming days. Exactly the type of man you like to have on such an adventure. Bags in the jeep and leave!
In the run-up to the vast plains of Amboseli I see the familiar Kenya: ugly and beautiful, dry and green, poor and hopeful. We come through small villages where the entrepreneurs are not discouraged by the modest dimensions of their cheerfully colored shops. The Gracious New Market, Glorious Chemist, Heavenly Food Hall, Californian City Bar.
The long ride gives me time to introduce our traveling companions: father Hans, mother Claudia, eldest son Thom (24), his girlfriend Femke (21), youngest son Sam (14) and youngest daughter Linn (12). And no, we are not a composite family. Our children all have the same father and mother, although daughter Linn still has a father and mother in her native country China.
Making a travel plan for such a varied group is almost as adventurous as the journey itself. Everyone has their own interests and wishes. But the first game drive makes it clear that I have worried too much in advance. Sometimes you can better let Africa go its way.
The jeep is on the side of the dusty dirt road with the engine. There they are. Elephants. Dozens! Unstoppable they step through the tall grass, their white tusks shining in the last sunlight of the day. They come so close that we feel the ground vibrate beneath us. Be quiet, do not make unexpected movements.
Through the open roof we watch breathlessly how the little ones mischievously dribble through the herd and how the strong females are on their guard. In case of danger they will immediately close the ranks and no predator that can still reach the calves. We hear their breathing, and when they wave their ears we feel the warm dust blowing in our faces. This is it. This is that magical moment when the name is carved into your heart forever: Africa!
When we drive to Satao Elerai Tented Camp, it is quiet on board. Everyone is wondering how we are going to surpass this. I know it will happen. Only not where, when and how. On the last kilometers we are shaken up again on a path full of deep holes and holes. We would like to spend the night in the middle of Kenyan nature, and it does not just win. Somewhere in the advancing darkness must lie the Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.
We eat by the light of storm lamps with fire pits as heating. Then go to bed early. Like Thom and Femke, our youngest children Sam and Linn also have their own tent. There is no fence around the camp that keeps the wild animals out. If we want to go to each other in the dark, we have to flash three times with our flashlight. A Masai warrior then helps to cross the bush. No Linn, even if you run very fast, you can not do that yourself.
The night fills with exciting sounds, the morning with mist. The first-class view of the Kilimanjaro remains hidden. Nature has no message to our wish list, and that is a good thing. A journey without surprises - negative and positive - is not a journey. Especially not in Africa. Here, the circumstances force you not to plan too much. The only thing that is certain? This moment. Here and now.
After a wild ride, we are on unpaved pistes for a closed barrier. And the soldiers of this checkpoint are not going to open it. The reason? Our driver and guide Alex shrugs his shoulders: "There is no reason. Soldiers and policemen sometimes like to show that they have power. "
Half an hour later we are allowed to continue. Even now no one knows why.