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A very mzuri tour... (AKI 1501)

Saturday, October 3, 2015 | Thomas Ritt | Africa

... is coming to an end today, here in Diani Beach, Kenya. Two weeks of riding and game driving, a small group, but big fun. Thank you for coming on this final tour of East Africa, asante sana!

50 km east of Arusha we were able to catch one last glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro, its peak, still snow clad, peeping through the clouds.
Our lunch restaurant in Same was pretty basic. Ali, Steve and Roberto, checking what's on the menu.
And guess what? It's chicken time again!
Later we arrived at our lodge, high up in the Usambara Mountains, one thousand meters above the valley, perched on a cliff.
View from the room
This location is famous for its amazing sunsets. So we gathered up, beer in hand...
... and watched it set.
Close to the equator sunsets happen very fast. Quick reaction produced this lovely picture.
Hector almost missed it...
Johnny the chameleon had one eye firmly on the sunset, the other one... well, we don't really know.
Then he had his picture taken with everybody
Didn't even bother to change his color, which means he felt quite safe.
Hector the barkeeper
Early morning at Irente Cliff
Our last day took us back to Kenya. At our lush beach resort we were greeted like this...
boot beer in the lobby
Looks like a rest day coming up...
Stevie "Mzuri" Gonzalez packed up and headed back to South Africa, while the group headed for the beach.

A short ride brought us from the Tanzanian highlands back to Arusha. We had a sumptuous lunch and several coffees at the Coffee Lodge, then headed across the city to a tropical retreat for a lazy afternoon and a comfortable night. Only two riding days left...

At Lake Manyara lookout the guys were "molested" (...) by locals trying to sell junk, I mean souvenirs.Not sure if somebody bought something...
The Coffee Lodge sells coffee under our name. We take it as a compliment!
Another gorgeous lodge, this time at Lake Duluti, outside Arusha
View from the room
Tropical colors

Crossing the border to Tanzania took us only an hour and a half, thanks to ample experience and our "border agent". We rode to Ngorongoro Crater, the huge caldera of an extinct volcano, up in the highlands of western Tanzania. At this amazing place we spent our third rest day.

Game driving in Ngorongoro
Friendly Maasai
Filling in visa applications for Tanzania
Enrique, taking a break at the sports pub in the middle of nowhere
We cover the bikes to protect them from the monkeys. It was all done in a hurry...
Celebrating arrival in Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge
Hector the drummer
Leaving Amboseli

Our rest day in Amboseli was pure relaxation. A leisurly game drive in the morning, a couple of interesting MotoGP races during the day and another game drive in the afternoon, all interlaced by meals, massages, pool sessions and naps. All of that while being surrounded by wildlife. What a place!

Roberto at a lookout high above Amboseli plains
A buffalo herd under the full moon
A towelephant
Enrique, making some local friends
"End of built-up road"
... a comic based on real events...
Hector on the way to Amboseli
Plenty of wildlife around the lodge in Amboseli
The full moon and Mount Kilimanjaro on one picture - just amazing!
The presence of three photographers got this elephant bull a little excited. Luckily, there's an electric fence around the lodge...

From Lake Naivasha we climbed up to the escarpment of the Rift Valley and reached the hightest point of this tour, 2700 m (9000 ft) above sea level. The views were great from there, but our visit to the Giraffe Centre was the true highlight of the day. Where else can you get this close to wild animals?

 New pics by Hector and Enrique were added, scroll down!

A great place to stop for the modern traveler...
Spectacular panorama from the escarpment of the Rift Valley
"Excuse me, can you tell me where the toilets are...?"
Steve, stocking up on cold-weather gear for the winter in South Africa
Karen Blixen's cottage. Very unfriendly parking lot staff made us leave in a hurry. We won't be back.

Next stop: the Giraffe Centre, located in Karen, a wealthy suburb of Nairobi. Rothschild giraffe are bred here and later released to the wild. Here we could meet and greet (and feed) the gentle giants.

Hector, feeding two at a time
Enrique, focussing on one.
A giraffe's tongue is up to 45 cm (1,5 ft) long!
Ali, enjoying his giraffe encounter
Steve is not so sure yet...
"Can I have some more...???"
Shinbone of a fully grown male giraffe. Compare the size!

Today's destination was Amboseli National Park, home of countless elephants. The terrace of the Ol Tukai Lodge provides excellent views of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Africa's tallest mountain, a sight to behold.
Elephants are grazing all around the lodge
Full moon (almost) over Amboseli

Here in East Africa a game drive is only one way to see wild animals. Another one is to pick the right lodge. Here at Lake Naivasha the wildlife roams free through the estate.

The lodge
Terrace and garden
One of many ibises
The trees are full of egrets and cormorants
Lake Naivasha's rising water level has swamped and killed many trees along the shoreline
Pied Kingfisher
After dark even more animals show up. Here a zebra...
... another waterbuck...
... and a hippo! Several of them came out to grase. These pics were taken from the room. Look closely, it's really a hippo!
Girl power!

Our first rest day on this tour, inside the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, started very early. Pick-up for the balloon ride was at 5 am sharp. But it was worth it, what a great experience. Later everybody was lounging at the pool, taking naps, drinking coffee and heading out for another game drive. A rest day that truly deserves its name.

The group went for a balloon ride on our rest day in the Mara. Here you see the preparations for take-off.
Almost ready for take-off
After the balloon ride it was time for breakfast. Champagne breakfast out in the bush, what an experience!
The drive back to the lodge turned into a game drive as we spotted a group of lions, very, very close!
This male was not more than 10 ft away from our vehicle!
After returning to the lodge we rewarded ourselves with a fresh, cold Tusker!
... served by Pippo, the assistant barkeeper...
After dinner tour guide Thomas was surprised to receive a birthday cake, for it was not his birthday. Infact it was his 7th stay at Sarova Mara Game Camp, so management offered this treat to the group, along with music and singing. Very nice!
Ali, driving the group back to the bikes from the National Park. The entire group fits in one Landcruiser. Very convenient...
Mandatory group pic before departure. The man in charge at the park gate is quite short, so you can't really see him behind the big bike
Numerous spectators, as usual

Day 4 led us from Lake Vic across the fertile highlands to Narok, a small town in the desert, where we parked the bikes and the trailer. Only Hector wanted to torture his GS on the 50+ km of rough and rocky track to Maasai Mara Game Reserve. His reward: an extra-cold Tusker...

Wherever we stop we're surrounded by locals. How big, how fast, how much, can I take a picture, those are the most frequent questions
Hector: "now look at MY chicken!"
Roberto: "I'm not quite sure if it's a chicken at all...."
Enrique in the desert
Roberto on the road
Typical scenery in the Kenyan highlands
When the guys were done buying souvenirs and gifts for their folks at home the shop was left completely empty!
The road to Maasai Mara Game Reserve is very rough. Only Hector felt like he wanted to ride it, the rest took the Landcruiser. By the time we arrived at the gate...
... Hector was fast asleep...

Third day in Kenya. We ride through extensive tea plantations to the heart of the continent, to Lake Victoria.

The historic Tea Hotel, where we had lunch. And tea, of course!
Panoramic view of the tea plantations
A storm is brewing over Lake Victoria
Hector, Roberto, Steve, Thomas, Ali and Enrique at the Equator
Another spectacular view of Mount Kenya
At the equator Rufus performed his famous Coriolis-Show. Water drains counter-clockwise north and clockwise south of the equator, and right on it the water drains straight through the hole. It didn't quite work today, Rufus said it was the wind...
The group at Subukia viewpoint, overlooking the Rift Valley
Game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park. We saw numerous baboons and also some lions, giraffe, buffalo, zebras, gazelles, warthogs and so on, but unfortunately no rhinos.
The game drive started with some technical problems on the Landcruiser. So we listened closely...
... took the wheel off...
... and found a little pebble stuck in the front brake.
Amazing view of the lake from Out of Africa lookout

The first riding day of the Kilimanjaro Adventure is quite short, because problems of any kind could occur and slow us down. But everything went smoothly and we made it to Nyeri, a town at the foot of Mount Kenya, in time for lunch.

At 5,300 m (17,400 ft) Mount Kenya is Africa's second-tallest mountain. Very often the rocky peak is hidden in the clouds, but today we could see it, in full splendor, right in front of us. Simply spectacular!
Hector and Enrique, checking out Thika Falls
Roberto, playing golf in Kenya. Unbelievable.

Edelweiss started doing tours in East Africa back in 2009. Now, six years and eight tours later, we're here for our final ride through this amazing region.

Tour guide Thomas with his exclusive group: Enrique and Hector from Guatemala and Roberto from Brazil.
The "Carnivore" is a meat lover's paradise and - supposedly - one of the best restaurants in the world.
It's an all-you-can-eat feast!
The grill is a giant pit surrounded by skewers full of meat
What a great dinner!
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Fernando Estrada
Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 22:51

What a great experience!! Very nice pictures..
Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 02:52

Thomas, another great blog on your adventure. A great tour which will sorely be missed on the Edelweiss selection. This was a tour was a highlight in my life experiences. Ali and Steve allowed us to ride without worries and were greatly appreciated. Good luck to all.
Monday, October 19, 2015 at 14:42

Thanks Todd, I'm glad the blog brought back some fond (and some not so fond...) memories. Please give my best to the boys. Hope to see you out on the road, somewhere, sometime.
Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 08:53

waaaaaaaw enjoy guys
Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 16:59

Thomas did Ali cut his hair or is that his younger brother??? My picks this weekend; Kent, Lowes, Marquez.
Ali Omar
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 08:17

Hi Todd,
Ali here, I still have dread locks.
Good to know i still look young as I am growing old
You can check me out on fb
How is the other guy doing? ( the one who had an accident)
My regards to him.
Thomas Ritt
Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 08:47

Hi Todd,
no, it's Ali himself. Going on tour with us is like a fountain of youth for him, that's why...
Todd Berg
Monday, September 21, 2015 at 21:58

I looked at the new Edelwiess tour catalog and seen that this tour was being offered . What a great experience and I think about it daily. I will be following the ride daily. Please feed Steve a bottle of Hennessy as my ride last year was cut short and I was unable to do so. Wish I was riding with you guys.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 20:36

Hi Todd,
great to hear from you!!! How have you been, how's Ron doing? Hope I get to see you guys on another tour sometimes. And if you'll watch the race next Sunday, we'll do the same, in Amboseli, like last year...
Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 03:43

Hello Thomas. Ron is doing well and is about 60% healed, he may only get to 70-75% given his age and injuries but still pretty good. He is still interested in a private trip to Japan but we will see. I saw the picture of fellow rider Hector after that smooth road to Masai Mara, I know his pain. It's funny because I was thinking the same of the race this weekend. Do you plan this trip around the GP schedule? Those guys must think this a private tour with only three of them there. Ride safe. I will be following your blog.


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