Events of the Deaf Safari Tour 2014

Traci with new friend at the Masai Mara Village

Traci with new friend at the Masai Mara Village

This past August, D-Travel offered it’s first group tour, which brought us on an African adventure to Kenya.  Our tour group of nine, including Japanese and American travelers, explored the natural and diverse parks in safari fashion.  From the dry, desolate land of Samburu, to the vast Serengeti in Massai Mara, we witnessed the beauty of the varied landscapes, and the majestic animals that freely roam Kenya’s national parks.  The weeklong tour was an awe-inspiring experience that left us with memories that will last a lifetime.

Activities during our game drives often involve shooting the animals with our camera

Activities during our game drives often involved photographing the animals with our cameras.

Our journey began as we drove to Samburu National Reserve, located several hours outside of Nairobi.  Personally, I found this area to be the picturesque vision of the African desert that I had imagined.  In this dry, hot place with limited water, only a unique breed of animals can survive in these harsh conditions, including the Grevy Zebra and Reticulated Giraffe. These types of animals are quite different than the zebras and giraffes that live in other reserves of Kenya.  They can be distinguished by their intricate stripes and patterns.

A leopard spotted in a tree at Samburu Reserves, North of Kenya.  Leopards are often hard to find during a game drive.

A leopard spotted in a tree at Samburu Reserves, North of Kenya. Leopards are often hard to find during a game drive.

During our safari drives, we also observed animals such as lions, elephants, ostriches, guinea fowls, dik diks, and we even were lucky enough to get a rare glimpse of a leopard relaxing in a tree.  Our native tour drivers provided us with fascinating information regarding the amazing animals that call Kenya home.  We were all mesmerized as we admired the majestic wildlife from only a few feet away in our safari van.

Picnic lunch in the open watching the Wildebeest migrate in line across Kenya.

Picnic in the open watching the Wildebeest migrate in line across Kenya.

The itinerary also included day safari game drives exploring Sweetwaters and Lake Naivasha, but I thought the starkest contrast to Samburu was Massai Mara National Park.  Massai Mara is a great expanse of protected land, with green, rolling hills.  Until visiting this park, I did not realize that Kenya had such beautiful landscapes that were so diverse from the dry desert of Samburu.

The Big Five of Africa.  We saw them all.  (photo by Tohyama)

The Big Five of Africa. We saw them all. (photo by Tohyama)

Not only was there a contrast in landscape, but also in the type of animals that occupy this area.  With more moisture in this area a wide range of animals live here, and is also an area famous for the great wildebeest migration.  We were fortunate to witness the wildebeest marching in straight lines as they made their way across the Serengeti between Tanzania and Kenya.  I found our trip to be a thrilling experience as we not only managed to see all of Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo, and rhino), but also had exposure to local culture.

Group Photo with new friends at a village in Masai Mara.

Group Photo with new friends at Masai Mara.

Masahiro and Mitsuko Tohyama went to visit inside a Masai home.

Masahiro and Mitsuko Tohyama went inside a Masai home

A very memorable part of the trip was our visit to the Massai Mara village.  It was during this visit that we were able to watch and participate in traditional dances, learn about their lifestyles, and tour their houses.  The Massai people were so inviting and allowed us to try on their traditional clothes and jewelry and take pictures with them.  I was fascinated to learn that the Massai people live off of a diet of meat, milk, and blood.  Additionally, these natives are polygamists and the women are actually responsible for building their homes, which are made from mud and dung.  I was amazed to learn about their traditional culture and how committed they are to preserving Massai Mara National Park.

On our final evening in Africa, we were bid farewell with a beautiful sunset.  It was bittersweet watching the sunset during our last game drive as we reflected on the past week we had spent in Kenya.  We had all bonded with the other travelers and had become attached to the beautiful scenery and wildlife.  All of us were reluctant to leave such an amazing country, but we all had pictures and memories that we could bring home and treasure. This D-Travel trip was the journey of a lifetime!

Last sunset on Masai Mara.

Last sunset on the Masai Mara.