Suzy on safari

Suzanne Barney on 10 September 1992
Looking at the date of this journal you are probably thinking that my experience was a long time ago. But it was the best time of my life and so I wanted to share this with you.

I worked in Kenya as a rep for 10 months in 1992. I had never been anywhere quite like it and the experience was amazing. When I arrived in Mombasa I was allocated to work in the south of Mombasa in the area of Diani Beach. Those of you that haven't been to Mombasa before, let me explain that when you land on Mombasa Island it is surrounded by reefs and a creek. The south is connected by ferry, the north by bridge. I was put on a coach and then had to go on the ferry - a bit daunting as it is a glorified raft and you can’t stay on the bus but you have to leave your valuables behind on it. Diani Beach is lovely - although you are a bit cut off it is so relaxing. There aren't so many hawkers on the beach as you find in the north. The first things you need to get used to are the monkeys; baboons are regular visitors, as are Ververt monkeys. My balcony was above the restaurant so mother-and-toddler monkey groups often frequented my balcony. The monkeys are very clever and they know when tea and cakes were served by the pool so they were always there stealing people’s cakes! The birds liked sugar and you would often see them flying off with a sachet in their mouth at breakfast time. On safari the monkey’s associated food with plastic bags so were after grabbing them off people.

I was allocated the car in Mombasa; this was something I wasn't happy about as there are no street lights and as well as vehicles there are chickens goats, bicycles, carts and pedestrians. I tried to avoid driving at night, but I got used to it eventually. My first safari was amazing, I was broken in gently and did a one day trip at Tsavo, which you can do by road from the coast. Seeing your first lion close up is an amazing experience, they are so docile (unless they are hungry). Over the ten months I was in Kenya I did all the main parks staying in tented camps, lodges and even did the hot air balloon over the Masai Mara. There are two types of safari - road and air. The road safaris allow you to see more of local life as you travelling from one national park to another. The air safaris are where you fly from camp to camp. I did an air safari direct from the airstrip in the south which flew directly over snow-capped Kilimanjaro. When we landed in the Masai Mara just below us were a herd of elephants - wow. I lived for 6 months in the north of Mombasa at Kikambala Sun 'n' Sand hotel, which was a little remote, a car was essential and we were able to sample the nightlife which was really good. In Mombasa there are some excellent restaurants such as the Hard Rock Cafe and the Tamarind restaurant plus Mamba, a cave disco, which was a great Friday night out. We were also able to go shopping in Moi Avenue for soapstone and wood carvings.

I was so sad when I left Kenya, I wanted to stay forever. It is an amazing experience. The people, the places, safaris are all still fresh in my mind.