"‚ÄúLive in your dream. Refuse to wake up until it is completely over. Then dream again.‚Äù
‚Äï Bangambiki Habyarimana
, The Great Pearl of Wisdom
""Come to Kenya while I am there.""¬† My friend Rosa Maria, who works in Kenya, encouraged me to visit while she was on holidays in Ottawa in December 2014.¬†I browsed with great interest of her photos with wildlife on FB¬† and wish that I could be a part of it.¬† It seemed almost unreal to see the human beings so close to the wild side of nature.¬† Less than ten months later, I could not believe that I was actually in Nairobi with Rosa Maria!
The idea of going on a Safari¬†became rooted in my mind way¬†back in the 1990's when my friend Aubrey Webson, who is a blind, would tell me of his amazing safari experiences.¬† When I met my partner, Wilson, we both shared that dream to visit Africa and to do a Safari.¬† The dream has been in the subconscious and conscious realm for the last decade.¬† This year, it inched closer towards reality when we actually made the time to visit a travel show and learned more about Africa.¬† The dream continued to expand in my imagination.
As if my magic, a series of events happened quite quickly this summer to inspire us even more to go to Africa.
In August 2015, Wilson and I attended a¬†couple of conferences by Africa House, an organization within the New York University which promotes Africa.¬† It was an eye-opening conference for me.¬† Although the dream of going to Africa was alive in me, I must also say that I had my internal doubts due to the many other negative things which I had heard about Africa.¬† The poverty, the wars... it left a dark image in my mind. Africa was just one BIG place to me. After¬†attending the conference, I had a better understanding¬†of¬† Africa and the countries within Africa.
The speakers at the conferences painted a¬†picture of excitement,¬†hope, confidence, a rising nation, a growth rate of 6%, a youthful population, hospitable people, amazing wild life and a beautiful country.¬†Best of all, we learnt that the 40th Annual Congress of the African Tourism Association was going to be held in Nairobi, Kenya. Wilson and I instantly decided that we were going to attend. One of the women whom I met at that conference, Valentina, ¬†told me that she loved Africa and that her father fell in love with Kenya and went back to Kenya every year until he died.¬† She now goes to Kenya every year too and sometimes twice a year!
Just a few weeks before this, Wilson also met Jane Adam, managing of Expedition Adventures in Kenya, who encouraged him to visit Nairobi.¬† The two started discussions on forming 'Gems of Africa' a similar concept to Gems of Saint Lucia.
The dream started to reel into reality very quickly.¬† We¬†received an invitation from ¬†African Tourism Association to¬†be speakers at the 40th Annual Congress of the ATA - a timely opportunity. ¬†Within a couple of weeks, all the concerns we had about travelling to Africa melted away as every single detail fell in place cover the trip. Read more about the highlights of the ATA Conference.
What I experienced in Kenya far exceeded my expectations and erased many of the ¬†negative perceptions I had about Africa and to be clear... I know now that Kenya is a unique country in Africa, with its own distinct characteristics.
I have always believed in the power of dreams and imagination.¬† When a dream like going to Africa becomes¬†true, I remain speechless about the power of our minds.
e¬†safari¬†trips were amazing. ¬† The wide expanses of lands and lakes were the greatest freedom.¬†I enjoyed the enthusiasm of¬†our colleagues as they clicked away with their camera and¬†uttered expressions of¬†amazement as they¬†saw an animal for the first time.¬†¬† I watched the wild life graze away peacefully and although we were safe in secured land rovers, being so close brought on this feeling of awe!
My favourite moment was watching a giraffe strut¬†down the road.¬† The majestic beauty and elegance of the this¬†tall creature took my breath away.¬† It strutted past our land rover without a flinch for the humans who were all busy trying to photograph it.¬† It owned the land!
The water buffalo at Lake Nukuru
(The orphan elephants from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Orphan Trust, photo credit Andrea Papito, ATA)
The Great¬† Rift Valley below
Hippos in Lake Crescent.
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