“If there were one more thing I could do, it would be to go on safari once again.” – Karen Blixen (Danish author best known for “Out of Africa“, her account of living in Kenya)
Romantic at heart
In 1937 Karen Blixen wrote the book, “Out of Africa” about 17 years of her life after having bought farmland below the Ngong Hills about ten miles (16 km) southwest of Nairobi, Kenya. She moved there in 1913 at age 28 after she had married the Swedish Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke. This is where they started a coffee plantation. Fast forward to 1985, Sydney Pollack directed a film adaptation, starring Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer. I think anyone who was at least in their early 20’s during 1985 saw this film. Such a beautifully shot film, sweeping views of Kenya and the open lands around Nairobi. It also didn’t hurt to have that amazing music score backing up the stunning imagery of Africa.
Not many people do this sort of thing
The travel bug was back in full force for us, we had already been to Peru and was itching for our next big trip. Through all the new travel blogs and websites I had been following I found this one blog post that sparked my interest. I’m unable to locate the actual post but on it they mentioned this online auction website, Luxury Travel Diary. I hadn’t heard about this before and was curious how it worked. I clicked on their link and started to look at their auctions. I had always wanted to visit Africa after seeing the above mentioned movie as well as a couple friends had gone and shared pictures and stories about their trips.
I did find a few mentions on TripAdvisor.com but nothing that would say anything about it potentially being a scam. However, by the time I went back to check on the auction for Victoria Falls it had already lapsed. Window shut. Instead of letting that get me down I checked out other auctions. Turns out they had this one that looked so dreamy and surreal that I couldn’t stop looking at their pictures. The bidding had started on a 3 day 3 night safari at Cottar’s Safaris, 1920’s Camp. The bids had been in British Pounds and after having lived in London for a few years I sorta new the US dollar conversion. I set my self a limit of $500 max. I didn’t think that amount would be too hard of a loss if it was a scam. With that I dove in.
I’m clearly out of my element when it comes to haggling at flea markets or yard sales. I mean I don’t even go because I’m terrible at it. That and I don’t really think buying someone else’s old stuff they don’t want any more isn’t that appealing to me. Thankfully this website is all left on the website. You post your bid and wait. If someone out bids you then you have the option to stop or go back and bid higher. The game is played for nearly 30 days and I went along for the ride.
The day the bidding was due to close I had reached about $400US and I setup a reminder to check 1 hour and again 30 minutes before the bidding closed. As expected the bids did go up and at about 10 minutes left it was near $500US. I decided to do it. I waited until the 2 minute mark and posted my final bid, $500US. It didn’t take but about 2 more minutes after the bidding closed that an email popped up in my mailbox! I WON!! Now what? I hadn’t planned on the next steps. I didn’t even tell my partner about all this. No idea what it would take to get to Africa much less the cost!
Spilling the beans and making plans
Now I had to let my partner know about this new adventure. I figured that if I didn’t tell him before hand and we didn’t get it he wouldn’t be disappointed. I called him asking “How would you like to go on an African safari?”. To which he replied, “Huh?”. I explained what I had done and sent him, via email, the website of the location. He sounded excited and skeptical at the same time. I went further with how I found this site and did some research and how it seemed legit. I still had some convincing to do.
I still needed to figure out how to get us there and back and deal with all the stuff before and after. Also, I needed to understand how to actually enter Kenya as a tourist. It’s not like you can just show up and expect to just walk in, right? Well, actually it’s not that difficult to get into Kenya. They have a Tourist Visa system that you pick up your entry right at the airport after you land and go through passport control. The other stuff was how to get us there and where to stay. This required some extra effort.
Here’s the breakdown of the trip.
- Airfare from Los Angeles to Dubai
- Hotel while in Dubai
- Airfare to Nairobi
- Hotel in Nairobi
- Fly from Nairobi to Cottar’s Camp and back
- Hotel in Nairobi
- Airfare from Nairobi to Abu Dhabi
- Hotel while in Abu Dhabi
- Airfare from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles
Check out the next post, Africa part 2 for the trip details. Also, check out the photo-log from the trip!