|Anderson, standing at the marker for the border between Kenya and Tanzania.|
Yesterday morning, I discovered an email in my inbox from Anderson, our guide while on safari in the Masai Mara. The email in his words:
“Jambo from masai-mara,Kenya.
Hi Jessica and Tom, how are you doing my friends?.long time since we meet at Maasai-mara at Sanctuary OLonana camp,where are you now?..since you told me that, you were traveling all over the world!..am sorry that i did not have time to visit you at Mombasa-Ukunda.
Concerning my employment, I resigned from Olonana a few months ago, and I bought a new safari land-cruiser to start my own safari business within Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. So please if happen that you want to do a safari, am always there for you,..and please recommend me to your friends for me. Thanks my friends, Best regards from Anderson ole Pemba.”
In October 2013, over 18 months ago, we went on safari in the Maasai Mara (aka Maasai Mara), situated in southwest Kenya as one of Africa’s most magnificent wildlife reserve. Connected to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania it is the world’s most popular safari game viewing environment.
We stress the fact that our expedition was game viewing, not hunting. We would never engage in the self serving slaughter of exquisite animals in the wild as their numbers dwindle based on the intervention of humans.
How we got so lucky to have Anderson as our guide falls into the same “safari luck” category that seeing the Big 5 in our first 10 hours on safari seemed to fall into, all accomplished only due to Anderson‘s expert skills and keen eye. No one on the planet can drive across rough terrain with his expertise nor can spot a lion sleeping in a tree all the way across the plains.
|Tom and Anderson really hit it off. This was within moments of arrival at the dirt runway airport in the Maasai Mara.|
Not only was his warm, thoughtful and engaging personal a factor but his sense of adventure, willingness to literally “go the extra mile (kilometer) and his vast knowledge left us with a memory that will truly last a lifetime.
An amateur photographer such as I with a less than ideal camera was able to take photos that will always stay in our hearts and minds and into infinity, located here on the Internet for generations to come.
Anderson‘s efforts made this lifelong dream of mine become a reality. As a child I dreamed of Africa, the Africa we experienced in the Maasai Mara, and Anderson helped make it a reality we’ll both always treasure.
When the short three day period as guests at Camp Olonana by Sanctuary Retreats came to a close my heart ached over having to say goodbye. Would we ever return to the Maasai Mara in Kenya with so much political unrest in the country and when there’s still so much world to see?
|I knew we were in good hands the moment we met Anderson.|
Yes, someday we’ll return to Africa to see Victoria Falls in both Zambia and Zimbabwe and to see the gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, although there are other locations where they are to be found. Plus, my heart longs to return to Marloth Park for a period of time as well. Someday.
Although we spent only three days with Anderson, for as much as eight hours each day, the time was never enough. Realistically, three days in the Maasai Mara is enough time during which with a great guide, one can see and take photos of many of the treasures in this extraordinary location.
Not only did he ensure we could see all that we longed to see, he left an indelible mark on our hearts not only with his skills but, with his delightful demeanor, sense of humor and passion to please regardless of the size of the group in his vehicle, at most six tourists.
When we arrived at the dirt runway airport in the Maasai Mara, Anderson was waiting for us immediately taking me into the circle of his strong arms for a bear hug. At that moment, I knew we were in good hands. He’d take good care of us, ensure our safety and equally ensure we had the time of our lives.
|Anderson had arranged a breakfast in the bush with the chefs preparing foods I could eat along with standards for the others.|
At the airport we had to wait for another couple’s plane arriving in an hour and a half. Instead of standing around waiting in the hot sun, Anderson suggested he take us out to see what we could find in that short period of time.
And find, we did, as shown in the many photos in this post which we uploaded that first evening when we were exhausted after a quick meal having arrived too late from an sunset safari to shower and change for dinner.
With dust all over our clothes and with no Internet access in our tent, after dinner we sat on the sofa in the lodge with a wifi poor connection attempting to upload multiple photos and story, knowing our readers were waiting to hear from us.
|With wild animals all around us, we dined on a perfect breakfast without a moment of fear. We always felt safe with him even if we were only 15 feet from a hungry lion.|
The posts were a mess with poor formatting and typos but, we knew once we returned to Diani Beach, Kenya, we’d have plenty of time to go back and make any necessary edits.
At 7 am the next morning we were ready to go again although the gurgling sound of the hippos in the Mara River outside of our tent awoke us at 4:00 am. I fell back to sleep with a smile on my face relishing every aspect of this amazing experience.
Our first day out, Anderson explained that if we needed to pee to simple say, “I need to check the tire pressure.” Within a matter of minutes, he’d find a rock or a bush appropriate for providing a modicum of privacy.
That’s not to say that the trek to the rock or bush wasn’t fraught with a bit of trepidation for what may be lurking in the tall grass. Those breaks were vital to our experience as the daytime heat kept us sipping on bottles of beverages he kept on ice in a cooler in the front seat.
|I took this photo of our group on safari that morning. Its cool in the Masai Mara in the mornings, heating up considerably as the day worn on. That large rock to the right was the spot where we’d “check the tire pressure.”|
I could go on and on. Instead, I’ll let our interested readers click back to the posts to read the remainder that continued over a period of over two weeks. The stories and photos seemed never ending, as did the memories with Anderson.
Yesterday, when we received the above email we were thrilled to hear from him. At the time, we’d given him our card knowing it was unlikely we’d hear back with lack of Internet access in the area. We’d invited him to stay with us in Ukunda (Diani Beach) when he’d hoped to make a trip to Mombasa although he was unable to come.
If any of our readers knows of anyone interested in a safari in Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda, feel free to contact Anderson here at this link. We noticed that he’s working in Uganda. We only hope by the time we’re ready to see the gorillas, that we can be with him once again.
|Notice my BugsAway hat wrapped around my lower face while we were in Tanzania in an effort to keep the flies out of my mouth.|
Speaking of Tanzania, when Anderson was concerned that I was greatly disappointed that we’d missed the Great Migration by one week, on the last day, he drove us over some mighty rough terrain to the border of Tanzania.
There, we were able to see the tail end of the migration while batting off zillions of flies as a result of the dung from 2,000,000 wildebeest and other animals crossing the Mara River numerous times as it winds through the Serengeti, on this annual trek. Only he would try to please to that degree for which we’re eternally grateful.
Thank you, Anderson, for an experience of a lifetime, that in many ways changed our lives and in many ways enhanced our desire to experience more of the wild and its treasures that we’ve yet to behold.
Photo from one year ago today, April 25, 2014:
|A huge pile of yarn was lying on the ground in the souk, ready to be woven into an article to be sold. Notice the black cat cuddled up on the yard. At this point one year ago, we were three weeks from departing Marrakech, Morocco and we were ready to go. For details please click here.|