We arrived to Kigali Airport for our flight to Kenya in the mid day. The airport has some interesting security technology employed prior to entry. There are multiple airport entry points, one of which has a giant X-ray machine. The car pulls up, passengers get out, and the car goes through like an automatic car wash. Meanwhile, passengers pass through metal detectors, and eventually collect their car on the other side.

Kigali International Airport
Kigali International Airport

Once through, you enter the airport and go through more checkpoints before being able to relax. We headed to the Dream Lounge, and waited for our flight to be called. Again, business class boards last.

This time we had to take a bus to the plane. It was by far the nicest bus ever. It is a bus reserved for business class passengers and looks amazing.

Our flight left on time, served a decent chicken meal with an excellent chocolate dessert, and landed two hours later in Kenya.

We had the Nairobi Serena hotel pick us up from the airport and take us to the hotel for the night. Nairobi was noticeably different than Kigali. It had electronic billboards everywhere with many shopping stores along the road. It was not nearly as clean and safe feeling. Later on our trip, our guide would tell us that it is not safe to be out at night in Nairobi. We checked into the hotel and again went straight to bed.

The next morning after our buffet breakfast (not as good as Kigali), we had the Serena hotel car service take us to Wilson Airport, Kenya’s domestic airport, for our flight to the Mara.

A few dirt runway stops later, we landed at Olare Orok airstrip where our guide, James, was waiting for us. James is a Maasai Warrior from a nearby local village. He had us quickly look over some paperwork, and then we were on our way to Mahali Mzuri, which is a Richard Branson Virgin Unlimited property. It is located on 35,000 acres of private conservancy land shared with only three other lodges. It borders Mara National Park. It took about 30 minutes to reach the lodge, where we were greeted with drinks and shown to our room, or should I say tent.

After we had some lunch, it was time for our first game drive.

We hired a private guide for our stay, so James said we will have flexibility in what we search for. James wore his traditional Maasai colors every day for our drives and told us much about their culture. James speaks four languages; Swahili, English, Ma, and French. When asked about the dangers of the vast open area, James told us various stories. His dog was killed by a crocodile in front of him during a river crossing. He had a pet Dik-dik, which was killed by a leopard. His neighbor was recently killed by a Buffalo, which is the most dangerous animal in Kenya. He continued to tell us about Kenya as we drove through the 35,000 acre conservancy spotting Warthogs, Zebra, and Topi.

He also talked about the Maasai culture and how to become a man, you would have to kill a lion with a spear. At 14 years old, it was his turn to go out with 11 tribe members. They would surround the lion and make it angry, at which point James would spear the lion. But James missed with the spear, and the lion charged. James ran and tried to use a tree to shield the attack, but the lions paw ripped into his side and threw him to the ground. The lion pounced on top of him and he didn’t remember anything after that. Luckily for him, his tribe was able to intervene and kill the lion, keeping James alive. Two years later, James would successfully kill a lion, completing the ceremony. As times have changed, this ritual is no longer being practiced. Conservation efforts have demanded a change, which the Maasai has recognized. In order for the Maasai, and Kenya, to make money for tourism, they can’t kill off species of animals.

After our exciting first evening game drive, it was time for some dinner and then to get some sleep for tomorrow’s early game drive. We would start at 6:00am.

Photos from my Safari in Kenya, 2022
Videos from our trip to Mahali Mzuri in Kenya

Take a look below for our next post on our trip to Rwanda and Kenya.