Kenya invented the wildlife safari a century ago. Today this English-speaking country in East Africa still offers an unsurpassed experience of romance and adventure for couples on a honeymoon.
We caught up with Yuki and Mai on their honeymoon in Kenya at Tortilis Camp. Behind us on the verandah we could see snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro and hear the songs of tropical birds. We were in Amboseli Park along the Tanzania border.
Since I was a schoolboy I dreamed about wild animals, says Yuki. Mai, also a nature lover, had found her favorite animal earlier in the day. Thats not hard in a place noted for its herds of elephants. Amboseli is the elephant research center of Kenya, with more than 400 in the park.
Where the Wild Things Roam
When we had arrived in Amboseli after a half-hour flight from Nairobi and began our ride to our campsite in the open-sided Land Rover. Our driver stopped the Rover and our cameras began clicking. No need for a telephoto lens. The elephants are almost within touching distance.
Tortilis Camp also offers walks in the bush, something that is possible only outside the boundaries of the game parks. Tortilis, named after the acacia umbrella trees that define the African landscape, is on the park boundary, so our first morning out meant a walk on the wild side. With William Kelembu as our guide, we left the campgrounds and headed out.
Look there, William said. There are zebra coming down the path. We waited for them but they stopped when they spotted us. They then diverged on a parallel path as they headed to the watering hole.
William showed us prints in the dust from baboons, hyenas, elephants, gazelles and, yes, lion.
A bit later we saw several elephants headed for the same watering spot. William ordered us to stop and we made a hasty retreat so we would wind up behind the herd. On foot, we were told, you dont want to place yourself in front of an elephant. Even though they were about 100 yards off, it was prudent to give them a wide berth. After being so close to them in the Rover, we knew how big and powerful these animals really are.
Honeymoon Luxuries & Memories in Kenya, Africa
At the end of our two-hour walk, we found a table set for breakfast. It is called a bush breakfast only because it is set outside and you enjoy the quiet, the serenity and the beauty of Africa. Otherwise, the food is the same you get in the lodge: fresh fruit, yogurt, juice, dried cereals, homemade bread and your choice of eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, mushrooms and tomato, all prepared there by the chef.
That afternoon we lounged in our luxury tent. Tortilis has only seventeen tents, so the feeling is peaceful and relaxed. Ours, like all here, faced the mountain and we sat on our deck waiting for the snowy peak to appear at the end of the day. Fortunately, we had seen Kilimanjaro the night before. The haze didnt reveal the 19,000-foot high mountain at all that day.
Amboseli is also noted for its variety of birds with 378 species present here. We kept a list of what we found, marking off crested cranes, lilac breasted rollers, ox peckers and the like. Forty isnt bad and who knows how many more we heard in the trees around our tent at dusk, throughout the night and at dawn, when, if your alarm doesnt work or you forgot to ask for a wake-up call with coffee or tea, the cooing and singing is like a natural chorus.
After another excellent dinner (Hamza Masudi, the head chef, enjoys Italian cooking and keeps a garden behind the lodge), we caught up with Christina and Llewellyn from Colorado, who had been on their honeymoon in Kenya for more than two weeks.
Ive always dreamed of doing a honeymoon in Africa, Christina said. My grandmother made things with animals on them and my mother had a gorgeous photo of a lion with her four cubs hanging on a wall in our home.
Earlier that day, she and Llewellyn had seen two pythons and a one month-old elephant. And a lioness with eight cubs. Llewellyn thought that the photo in Christinas mothers house was taken right here in Amboseli. It could well have been. A lion and its babies, no longer a photo but a reality.
Llewellyn spoke for them both when he said, Very fantastic. They had particularly enjoyed speaking with local people whenever possible and finding out what was going on in the country. And they were not done yet. They were flying the next day to Lamu, the old Arabic town on the Indian Ocean where cars are non-existent and romantic dreams are blessed by tropical waters.
Note: Cheli & Peacock of Nairobi made travel arrangements for the authors.