My wife and I took a trip to Kenya. It has always been her dream and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I got to tag along. Kenya is an amazing country. And if you’re looking for an agency to book with, we can’t sing the praises of Deeper Africa enough. Rather than give you the blow by blow, I figured I’d take you through what we saw and learned by category.
The Wildlife and Scenery are Majestic
The first thing you notice when you are out of the cities is how green the country is. It is winter there now so they have received some seasonal rain, though it has become more irregular (more on that below).
The real treat though was seeing the wildlife in its natural habitat. One thing we learned was that so many of the animals co-exist in close proximity to one another.
We could learn a little something from watching all sorts of species mingle, eat, and yes, even nap together.
Of course, there is the circle of life vis-a-vis predators and prey and that is also a sight to behold. Every animal knows its role and the lion reigns supreme as you well know. But seeing these predators in person . . . just amazing.
Climate Change Has Impacted the Migration
It used to be that you could predict the migration like clockwork. The way the migration works is that the wildebeests follow the seasonal rains; however, due to climate change, the rains have become more sporadic and thus the migration more unpredictable. At times the wildebeests have to be artificially prodded by controlled fires to force their migration toward where the rain is predicted to eventually be.
There’s Poverty and Then There’s Poverty
The divide between the haves and have nots in Kenya is quite significant. We ate one day at a nice restaurant and we asked our guide (who was tremendous by the way) who eats there. His response: “White people, diplomats, and politicians.” He was right. Compare that with the Kenyan cities we drove through filled with people lining the streets on weekdays, stone homes without electricity, and one town that prompted our guide to say, “it would be best if you closed your window.” There are far too many Kenyans living on meager or no wages.
Surprisingly, Kenyans and Other Foreigners Don’t Hate Trump
That doesn’t mean that they like him though. Instead they just look at Trump’s Presidency as a reason to laugh at us. Trump is a embarrassment for us worldwide, not that you needed me to confirm that for you.
“And then Trump called the U.S. the laughingstock of the world and he didn’t even get the irony!” pic.twitter.com/2D30ahYwX5
— Rudin Writes (@RudinWrites) July 31, 2018
Politics Are Politics No Matter Where You Are In the World
The Kenyans have 42 tribes and mostly vote along tribal lines (something we’ve become more familiar with here in the U.S. with our political parties unfortunately). That leads to significant political gridlock.
More than the gridlock is the problem of corruption. Government contracts, outright bribes and the like are commonplace in Kenya. Things are slowly getting better, but changing a political culture takes years if not decades and they’re a ways away. Oh, and don’t forget the crooked cops who pull people over to extort them for fine money.
Kenyans Have A Rich Culture
With so many tribes come so many traditions. It would be impossible to do them justice in this space. Just know that when you go to Kenya you will get the honor of being introduced to people whose culture and traditions go back centuries.
There Is Very Little Entitlement Syndrome, Especially Among Children
Just going to school is a chore for children. They don’t have carpool like we do here and most do not have cars. Many children have to walk 90 minutes each way to go to school. Then, when they are home, they are expected to help with the family chores. For many children that means herding animals and milking them. After that, there’s homework, and without light or furniture, let’s just say a tough task is made that much tougher. It really makes you think when you hear a 9 year old here in the U.S. complain about not getting the newest iPhone. Kenyans work for everything they have and even for those who don’t have much, there is a culture of responsibility and accomplishment.
Elephants Are Awesome
Not only are they smart, but they’re really fun to watch too. There’s always something going on with elephants. We saw something great at one point too.
When you’re around the animals, the etiquette is to be quiet and not block their paths. Three vans we saw nearby didn’t seem to get the memo or they didn’t care. What did the mama elephant do? It roared and then charged the vans, chasing them away. Natural selection y’all!
Side note: While lions are the kings of the jungle, even they won’t mess with elephants. Pretty interesting.
Baby Animals Are Really Cute
I mean, doesn’t this just melt your heart?
The Animals In the Wild Are At Peace
Thankfully, the Kenyans do a great job preserving their nature. We need to keep these animals free from poachers and trophy hunters. There are plenty of charities that help and if you can spare a few dollars, it will go a long way.
Remember, when we travel to animals’ natural habitats we’re on their turf and should be respectful of that fact. Let these amazing creatures rest easy and be thankful that you to see them as they exist in the wild.