Kenya has been one of the places I’ve wanted to visit for a long time, and thanks to the #CelebrateAfrica campaign, I had the chance to do so… and in great style!!!
#CelebrateAfrica is a Canon campaign that kicked off on February 7 across Africa, encouraging Africans to share unique, beautiful and amazing pictures from their countries in celebration our great continent. As part of this campaign, I was selected alongside other media influencers and photographers to experience an array of Canon’s latest cameras at the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
Although the 2-day excursion took me outside Nairobi, thus I couldn’t explore the city as much as I would have loved, the experience and thrills of Maasai Mara wil not be forgotten in a rush!
I left Ghana for Kenya few hours after arriving from covering the African Cup of Nations in Gabon. I had a not so restful flight throughout the day being seated in exit zones, on seats that couldn’t be reclined! So when I arrived in Nairobi, I was absolutely tuckered out.
After checking into my room around 7 am Kenya Time, I had my breakfast and went immediately to my room to get some rest before a Canon press conference at 9am – well, not before I could share some photos of the stunning view from my Intercontinental Hotel room, on social media.
After the press conference, I went back to bed to get some much needed sleep again! When I woke up, I had a shower and then went downstairs for dinner before casually walking to around town to explore the beauty of Nairobi. I didn’t stroll away for too long as we had and early morning the following day.
In the morning I finally met the rest of the guests from Kenya, Tunisia, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania. We were put into groups and allocated buses for our trip to Maasai Mara. We picked breakfast packs and hit the road, the long road to see the Maasai tribesmen.
On our way, we made a stopover at the Rift Valley Point kick-start our photography experience. The idea was to have us try the different ranges of Canon cameras; we were given a memory card each so we could switch cameras and experience Canon from the simple point and shoot cameras to the more professional DSLRs. However, I found out that I would be stuck with one of the basic ones for the entire day…ha-ha!
A stop at the Longonot Earth Satellites
As we proceeded with our journey, we took in all the spectacular sceneries along the Rift Valley floor, from Mt. Suswa to the Longonot Earth Satellites, and through Narok. The journey got longer and bumpier as we approached Maasai Mara. But after some four hours, we arrived at Jambo Mara Safari Lodge, where we were welcomed by a rather elaborate routine of dancing and singing by the Maasai people.
After enjoying the warm welcome, we checked into our rooms and had lunch before going on a cultural tour. Maasai Mara is home to the legendary Maasai tribesmen and we visited one of their Village, Manyatta to learn more about their culture and lifestyles. Sadly I left the Canon Camera in my room and so I could not attempt to switch with anyone; I ended up using my phone for photos and videos for the rest of day.
After the cultural tour, we departed for an afternoon game drives in the park. The game drive was over 2 hours of scenic pleasure in the wild. Mara offers breath-taking views with an extraordinary density of animals. Apart from the seasonal migration, game viewing is excellent year round as the reserve is home to the “Big Five” with the largest population of black-manned marsh lions, the elusive leopard, aggressive buffaloes, herds of elephants, rhino with many varieties of plains game and birds.
During the safari, we saw various animals including buffalos, antelopes, zebras, cheetahs, elephants, and possibly any wild animal we could think of. But nothing seemed to have captivated us more then when we finally spotted the kings of the jungle.
In fact when we saw the lions I got so excited and anxious to capture them so much that I ended up hitting my head in the car and injuring myself. But after a quick detour to get me some first aid, I was back in my explorer mode, although in slight pain!
We continued to enjoy spectacular sunset and more views, before heading back to the lodge for dinner and rest for another early morning.
In the morning, we were picked up at 5 am and transferred to a site for a hot air balloon safari The Balloon safari lasted for about an hour but it passed by so quickly as it was accompanied by beautiful and captivating scenes of animals in the wild, and the natural breeze that came with just being in the bare great outdoors. And well, who can forget Captain Mike and his sharp sense of humour? I totally enjoyed my first hot air balloon ride.
The balloon safari was followed by champagne breakfast in the bush and after that, Capt. Mike handed out certificates to us. We were then driven back to the lodge with more game viewing en route! When we got back to the lodge, we checked out just in time to announce winners for the photo competition amongst guests.
Since I didn’t have a professional camera the previous day, I knew the photo I submitted didn’t have any chances of winning but I was proud of the fact that I was able to capture an exciting photo of two animated people, with a camera that did not have a fantastic shutter speed. Yes, excuses, excuses!!!
We then headed back to Nairobi on another long and bumpy expedition. And when I got back to citylife, there was finally Internet in my hotel room and I could start sharing my wonderful experience at Maasai Mara on social media.
So there you have it, my fun experience of Kenya for the first time. But remember that the #CelebrateAfrica competition is on and open to residents of any African country from now till April 15. Photos should be submitted under three categories namely; people of Africa, Africa’s Citylife and Africa’s landscape and wildlife. Winners will receive an array of Canon prizes, from holidays to DSLR cameras to expert workshops. The competition is for people from all walks of life who have a story to tell and can tell it in photos. More details can be found at www.Picfair.com/CelebrateAfrica.
And now filling in the missing adventure….photos from my phone