Galdessa Camp, Lugards Falls and our final day on safari
We had experienced a half day on safari and a morning of driving through open expanses away from the Kenyan Coast to our final destination, Galdessa Camp. Our first morning on safari in Kenya left me wanting more. We had seen a lioness to kickstart our morning, had run across a herd of elephants guarding a little one, and driven through swarms of white butterflies. We were finally arriving at a place that would be our home base for the night, Galdessa, a luxury eco-lodge in the middle of Tsavo East.
Galdessa rather epitomizes the notion of glamping, a rustic accommodation comprised of a series of thatched huts, outfitted with comfy beds, mosquito nets and upscale amenities. The touches had safari chic written all over them, but we were still acutely aware of where we were (read: more or less in the middle of no where): our bathroom was home to a bucket shower and there was no electricity on the property. Galdessa’s literature is quick to address safety. The property isn’t fenced in at all, the boundaries of Galdessa are outlined by invisible lines where elephants, hippos and crocodiles roam freely (sometimes into the camp). When leaving our rooms after dark, we were to be escorted by a Masaai warrior from our tent to the main dining room. This was probably 35% for safety and 65% for effect. Either way, I was eating it up.
The Hike at Lugards Falls
After checking in and having lunch at Galdessa, a staff member chatted with us about a walking tour offered by the camp, allowing us to tour Lugards Falls with a guide. Our alternative was to do an evening safari in our van but after spending hours in a confined space, we were ready to get a bit of exercise and some fresh air. The five of us hopped in our safari van and drove twenty or so minutes to the starting point of the hike where we linked up with the rest of the group, mostly Italians. As an aside on the Italian note, I was surprised to hear our Kenyan tour guides speak to us in English and then whip around and repeat themselves in Italian without pause. Just another reminder/inspiration to continue to build language skills, even as an adult.
The hike wasn’t overly strenuous, but does ideally require tennis shoes. Had I been in my sandals it would have been much more difficult to navigate the rock formations and loose stones along the tour. We didn’t bring water which was a serious lack of forethought on our part. The walk may not be that strenuous, but that Kenyan heat will take a toll on you. We watched the sun begin to set during our hike, watched hippos play in the water and spotted a number of crocodiles from a distance. We returned to the camp in time for dinner and a bit of stargazing before heading to bed. Looking back on that night, the sky was one of the highlights. We see a fair number of stars in the Caribbean but it wasn’t the same as that night in Tsavo East. There were no lights around to dull the stars and it was as if a layer of fog and pollution was pulled away from the earth. I sat outside for a good ten minutes before going to bed with my glasses on just staring in amazement. Incredible.
Day 2 // Tsavo East
We woke up on day two with the intention of leaving at around 7:30AM to head out on our final drive and then back to Takaungu to our house on the coast. After an early morning breakfast we were off to the races, heading out through a different entrance than we entered in hopes that we would see a different set of animals and a different landscape. Both of those things proved true.
As we begun our journey out, the landscape was much less lush; more of a traditional savannah picture. The mountains in the background with the simple landscape that surrounded us was pretty stunning actually. For our last brush with the national park, we ran across another herd of elephants, stopped to watch a group of water buffalo lead a baby across the road, and watched a pack of zebras run across the road with little guys in tow.
Below is some video footage for a brief minute of our drive across the savannah. This was taken with my iPhone so it’s not the highest quality in the world, but it gives a good glance into some of the landscape. If your volume is up, turn it down a few notches. The sound of the wind is pretty intense:
The entire safari experience was wonderful. Most people were stunned that the safari piece of our experience was so short (as I mentioned in a previous post, there are many safari experiences that are 10 days or 2 weeks of all safari). If we were to do it again, we could easily have done a longer safari trip, exploring different parks and different lodges. Still, the two days/one night we had here was the perfect taste of life on safari. We saw a lot in the short time we were out there and were able to see different landscapes across Kenya during our drive.
All in all, the entire experience was brilliant. We headed back to Takaungu, this time taking a touch over four hours to reach our doorstep. The pool and a sunset over the Indian Ocean was the perfect end to a wonderful experience. Stay tuned as we continue our Kenyan journey with a day of deep sea fishing in Mtwapa (my first time!) and snorkeling near Malindi.
Have you done a safari in East Africa? What was your trip like? Any tips for an exceptional safari experience?