Truly, our safari to Kenya was the trip of a lifetime.
Not only was it a major bucket list item for Chuck, but it was a trip that regardless of how many images, blog posts and stories we share, needs to be experienced in person.
It is truly more magnificent in person and interacting with people who are so happy and friendly while getting by on a bare minimum.
Whether we are traveling in Kenya or anywhere else in the world we look to meet and experience locals and to give back wherever we can.
Gate 1 Travel typically does a wonderful job with this.
This trip we visited the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Kazuri Bead Factory supporting single mothers and local Maasai Villages.
Chuck and I also supported a local Maasai family by spending a day with them, purchasing local handcrafts, all booked through a local nonprofit organization that helps Maasai families.
Not only do you help local people but you get so much back in return and can be done anywhere you travel.
This was our first experience with a Gate 1 Travel Discovery Small Group. These tours are no more than 22 guests, and in this case with the seating in safari vehicle there were only 17.
We have made friends we still keep in touch with from our trips to Thailand and China where our tour groups were about 35 people; and we know we have made lifelong friends on this tour as well.
Several people have asked us about how safe we felt.
Nairobi in general is not a ‘walkable city’ and because of past issues with bomb threats they take security very seriously. While security checks at the hotel and the mall we went to were inconvenient we understood why they did them. This included metal detectors and wands.
The times we left the hotel on our own prior to our travel package, we always felt safe.
We took a car from the hotel to a local mall to check out a traveling Maasai market. We were dropped off in the parking lot, went through a quick security check and entered the mall. The market was like shopping in Mexico, everyone was our best friend and had the best price.
We were part of a small handful of Caucasian tourists in the mall and always felt comfortable, people greeted us shook our hands, asked where were from and one vendor gave me a small gift.
The second journey was dinner at Carnivore; we were picked up at the hotel, brought to the restaurant the driver waited and brought us back.
Homosexuality is still against the law in Kenya; the laws are written in Victorian language from when they were a British colony and have yet to be overturned by the Supreme Court. They actually tried again in May just before our vacation but were unsuccessful.
In general PDA’s are not our thing, but it only takes talking to us for about five minutes before you know we are a couple.
We chose, for several reasons, to leave our wedding rings home. We have both had them fall off in a swimming pool so leaving them home when we travel is not just a Kenya thing.
We request double bed accommodations when we travel, some places had the beds together and others had twin accommodations. It seemed to be more a function of the beds available than a gay issue, as it was really random.
Surprisingly, at one of the locations where we stayed there was an East African LGBTQ+ Conference. Attendees we met were from all over East Africa, UK and the US. We heard they were flown in not knowing where the conference was being held and then they were transported to the property to ensure everyone’s safety.
Kenya seems to be making headway as our church, Metropolitan Community Church, has a church in Kenya.
As with a lot of other things it seems to be more about the politics and less about how people there feel about gay people.
After a long drive back to Nairobi we stopped for a farewell lunch with our fellow travelers, ironically we had lunch at Carnivore. Had we known we would get to experience the restaurant as part of our group we might have ventured off and tried another restaurant when we arrived.
Our group took a few photos with our awesome tour manager and drivers and went our separate ways with two people heading over to Zanzibar for some beach time, three heading off for another Gate 1 tour in Tanzania and one person heading to Uganda for a Gate 1 trek to see gorillas.
We headed off on our long journey home, with a layover at London’s Heathrow airport to break up our long flights.
Thanks for coming along with us on this amazing journey!