Honeymooning In Kenya, Part I: Samburu

Date: October 20, 2015 at 7:45 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 45

After a whirlwind 10 months of planning culminating in a whirlwind week and an even whirlwindier wedding (recaps forthcoming — gotta wait for the quality pics), Brian and I skipped town for our honeymoon.

The hats were HIS idea. I swear!

The hats were HIS idea. I swear!

I never dreamed about what my wedding would look like or envisioned my “dream gown” or my favorite flowers (which made making all those decisions along the way exceptionally more difficult), but I did dream about a honeymoon.

I’ve always wanted to go on an African safari. Brian, never one to say no to a little adventure (and a few malaria pills), was into it. So while I planned our wedding, he (with the help of a travel agent, because Google overwhelmed us) planned our honeymoon.

Married life!

Married life!

We went on safaris in Samburu and Masai Mara, and then spent five nights on the coast chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all sunburned on the equator. We were blissfully unplugged for the duration of the trip, without phones, internet, or hashtags.

We fully immersed ourselves (wow that sounds cheesy and kind of gross) in the experience and learned as much as we could about everything we saw. But, as I always do when I travel, I kept very detailed notes about our trip because I wanted to remember absolutely everything.

Our jeep! Super safe if an animal decides to try and eat you...

Our jeep! Super safe if an animal decides to jump up and eat you…

And now, because I consider internet strangers to essentially be family (which will come in handy should I ever need a spare organ), I will share with you my Africa Diary Notes. Buckle up: It’s gonna be a long ride.

Here we go!

Here we go!

Spoiler: Yes, I got to see giraffes. This is how I very calmly and casually reacted during our first giraffe sighting…

1. Disbelief. Is that really a live giraffe?

1. Disbelief. Is that really a live giraffe?

2. BRIAN, DO YOU SEE IT???

2. BRIAN, DO YOU SEE IT???

3. Here come the tears.

3. Here come the tears.

4. I THINK I SEE A SECOND ONE!!!

4. I THINK I SEE A SECOND ONE!!!

5. Yup.

5. More tears.

6. Sheer joy.

6. Sheer joy.

OCTOBER 1

Brian and I are officially on our honeymoon! We are wearing matching Bride and Groom hats so you know we’re legit.

We left NYC on Wednesday, September 30, on a 6 PM flight to Amsterdam. They wouldn’t upgrade us to First Class because marriage doesn’t mean shit to airlines. My Bride hat didn’t impress them. Neither did my onesie which, BTW, is awesome except that I keep dropping it on the bathroom floor every time I go pee.

Champagne + Ambien. Don't try this at home. Or on a plane.

Champagne + Ambien. Don’t try this at home. Or on a plane.

My stomach sure is killing me.

The first flight was around seven hours, which sounds long but it went by fast. I watched the Entourage movie, which is the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and I ate some sad tortellini for lunch. Then I took an Ambien. Bye bye, Ali.

I passed out watching Pitch Perfect 2 (for the fifth time), and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in Amsterdam. I don’t remember deplaning or anything after that. I remember life feeling difficult, and walking was hard, and Brian had to do everything for me.

Posing with...powdered sugar? Also, Brian, why did you let me order so many breakfasts? That wasn't necessary.

Posing with…powdered sugar? Brian, why did you let me order so many breakfasts? That wasn’t necessary.

Ambien, man. Why does it make me sleepy while also making me half-dead and semi-drunk?

Looking great, Feller. Good call on wearing the hat backwards. That really helps.

Looking great, Feller. Good call on wearing the hat backward. That helps.

We got breakfast at the airport apparently, and I slothed my way around and somehow got my sloppy onesie ass onto the next plane.

Perfect.

Perfect.

I was sound asleep before we took off, and I woke up several hours later somewhere over Moscow. No, I made that Moscow part up. But wouldn’t that be cool if I were right? I guess we’ll never know. (Edited to add: We do know. It definitely wasn’t Moscow at all.)

I watched Pitch Perfect 2 (yes, again), and now here I am, going on hour 28 in my onesie. I’m eager to brush my teeth and see some giraffes. I’m gonna watch 50 Shades of Grey. I heard it was good!

Is this movie for real? What is “laters baby?” No. Terrible. Still 3+ hours to go. Time to kick this flight up a notch. Magic Mike XXL!

GET ME OFF THIS PLANE. I got on a plane Wednesday night and now it’s Thursday night. My stomach hurts. We have 45 minutes to go. That’s one SoulCycle class. I’m going to invent a plane with spin bikes and yoga mats instead of seats. PATENTED! It will be called Namaste Air.

FINALLY LANDED IN NAIROBI AND OMG we saw a bunny rabbit on the runway!!! Africa is ripe with wildlife!

MADE IT.

MADE IT.

After an hour waiting to get our bags (mine was the very last one off the thingy!), we were transported to the Eka Hotel. Then we got four hours of sleep!

OCTOBER 2

I appear to be constipated. My stomach hurts but I simply cannot make. Off to the airport!

We are flying to Samburu today on a tiny little 11-passenger plane to our camp.

Seems safe enough. Sure.

Seems safe enough. Sure.

I SAW AN ELEPHANT FROM THE PLANE!!! However it may have been a tree or possibly a large bush.

Joseph, our guide from Saruni Samburu, picked us up from the airstrip and the drive to the camp was insane. We saw warthogs (like Pumba from The Lion King), dik-diks, which are so cute, a gazelle, lots of birds, goats, and then guess what?

"Where is Customs, Joseph?"

“Where is Customs, Joseph?”

We pull up to the camp and BAM, there is an elephant waiting for us, I shit you not. It was the most incredible thing I have ever seen. We also saw giraffe tracks — not an actual giraffe, just footprints — on the drive and I almost cried.

Safari expert basically.

Safari expert basically.

From our room you can see camels and zebras down below!

From our room you can see camels and zebras down below!

We had lunch with the camp manager and a couple from the UK. They told us it’s OK if you have to pop a squat behind the vehicle while you’re out on a game drive.

Our "camp!" Not exactly roughing it, I realize.

Our “camp!” Not exactly roughing it, I realize.

Then we met Joseph for our first afternoon drive!

WhatToWearOnSafari.com

WhatToWearOnSafari.com

We saw…

  • Baboons and baby baboons
  • Gazelles
  • Tons of guineafowl, which are pretty blue birds
  • Zebra!
They call them ZEBB-rah here, not ZEE-bra, so now I will call them ZEBB-rahs, too.

They call them ZEBB-rah here, not ZEE-bra, so now I will call them ZEBB-rahs, too.

  • Warthogs!
I freaked out because I thought it was a lion. I was wrong.

I freaked out because I thought it was a lion. I was wrong.

  • GIRAFFES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The happiest I have ever been.

The happiest I have ever been.

This guy!!!

This guy!!!

  • Monkeys in trees
  • Oryx and impalas hangin’ out
  • A lion family!
Downward-facing lion.

Downward-facing lion.

Strutting.

Strutting.

Sleepy gal!

Sleepy guy!

  • Elephants! Two babies!
OMG.

OMG.

  • Baby impalas!
  • A leopard! This is rare.
Leopard! I can now tell the difference between a leopard and a cheetah!

I can now tell the difference between a leopard and a cheetah!

The drive home was long and dark and bumpy. I fell asleep. Then we had drinks under the stars by the fire and I proclaimed this the best day of my life. But thanks to everyone who came to the wedding. That was a decent day, too.

This is a real photo. That is the Milky Way. Holy. Crap.

This is a real photo. That is the Milky Way.

OCTOBER 3

What a weird night of “sleeping!” We slept in a bug net and my stomach hurt all night and I woke up to a gnarly calf cramp. Still constipated.

We started our day with a 6 AM drive. On my way to pee I saw two dik-diks!

The sunrise was incredible and we could see Mount Kenya in the distance. Joseph says this is rare!

...but my NYC sunrise photos are cool, too.

…but my NYC sunrise photos are cool, too.

The morning drive consisted of…

  • Lots of dik-diks everywhere
  • Eagles
  • Impala
  • Lots of elephant poops, which I did not like because they seem spiteful while I am still constipated
  • A male and female ostrich! They remind me of Kimmie Gibler!
  • Elephants! A one-month-old baby ellie!
Well look at you!

Well look at you!

HELLO PRECIOUS!

HELLO PRECIOUS!

  • GIRAFFES!
Hi.

Hi.

  • A “Lesser Kudu,” which is sad because he was really cool and shouldn’t have to be named “Lesser”
  • Lots of warthogs!
  • A BABY GIRAFFE! Two months old according to Joseph!
  • Baby zebras!
  • Another leopard!
Sup?

Sup?

We ate breakfast overlooking the dried-up river while baboons and zebra and impala walked around and a raven stared at me like an evil demon.

Hey, what's up, hello.

Hey, what’s up, hello.

Then came the best moment of the entire trip: We stumbled upon an entire landscape of giraffes.

OMG WHAT???

OMG WHAT???

I named each giraffe after a member of Taylor Swift's "squad!"

I named each giraffe after a member of Taylor Swift’s “squad!”

There were at least 18 of them! That’s more than the entire cast of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video!!! We followed them for a long time and I cried because it was just so beautiful and overwhelming.

See them?!

See them?!

And then even more ellies!

Come on, man, just get in our jeep.

Come on, man, just get in our jeep.

Good selfie, Brian!

Good selfie, Brian!

After our drive, we ate lunch and went in the pool, and then I got a massage (I slept the whole time, oops). Then I showered and napped some more. Life is hard in the bush.

Next, Joseph took us for a walk! He was like, “This guy is coming along just in case,” and NBD it was a guard with a rifle. Just in case. I spent the duration of the exploratory walk thinking we were going to get eaten by lions. But we didn’t. We just learned a lot about the trees and plants and caves and Masai traditions, and we saw some baboons sleeping on a cliff.

Note the man with the gun.

Note the man with the gun.

Then we walked back to the camp and had drinks at sunset by the fire before dinner.

OCTOBER 4

I am still not successfully pooping, but off we go into the bush.

Brian really wants to see a cheetah today. I mostly just keep spotting dinosaurs. Half an Ambien last night and some malaria pills and I am officially off the rails.

Today’s highlights included being surrounded in a cul-de-sac of elephants (“ellies”) and seeing some day-old warthogs. So tiny!!! Joseph said no, I could not go “scoop one up and put him in my bag for safe-keeping.”

GIMME THOSE BABIES!

GIMME THOSE BABIES!

Look at his little mouth!!!

Look at his little mouth!!!

OMG.

OMG.

We spent the afternoon visiting a Masai village. It was undoubtedly the most humbling experience of my life.

<3

<3

The people in the villages essentially have nothing. Their homes are made of sticks and cow manure, and they have no electricity and very little food — but they were so kind and gracious, and everyone waved and smiled and welcomed us.

The Masai village.

The Masai village.

My new friend.

My new friend.

They taught us their traditional dances and showed us how to make fire, and they loved taking pictures with us and showing us the crafts they had made. It was all very moving.

<3

<3

Meanwhile, back at the camp, our room has been infested by termites thanks to last night’s rain. I already have two gnarly bug bites on each wrist plus an especially cute one on my face. Hopefully not malaria. YOLO!

OCTOBER 5

I have no concept of time or day or month, but today we leave Saruni Samburu to head to Masai Mara. Sad! But exciting!

Posing like a fourth grader.

Posing like a fourth grader.

Also exciting: I am no longer constipated!!! Hooray! ZEBB-rahs for everyone!

We had our last breakfast at the camp and then Joseph drove us to the air strip. No security lines here! You don’t even need to show ID!

I was very sad to leave Joseph, but I impressed him by spotting a hard-to-see baboon on the drive. He was like, “Ali, wow, great spot, you can have my job,” and I was like, “Yes, yay, cool, let me drive the jeep then,” and he was like, “No.”

Joseph is a Masai warrior!

Joseph is a Masai warrior!

Off to the Mara!

45 Responses to "Honeymooning In Kenya, Part I: Samburu"

Zebbrahhs for everyone. Oh my gosh. Dying laughing! So glad you got unconstipated.

Unreal photos. Such an amazing way to honeymoon. Brian and giraffes and baby Ellie’s.

Note to self: no ambien for me.

Ali!! What a great write up!! I will be asking you about this at NP just so you know. I would like to see all and i mean all of your pictures!! Glad to have you back and cant wait to hug you Mrs!

GORGEOUS photos. Looks like an incredible start to the trip. I went on a safari in Tanzania and it was AMAZING so I’m glad to see you had an incredible trip too (PS we do all the same kinds of trips!)

VACATION TWINSIES!

ahhhh this was so amazing to read!! so glad you’re having the time of your life. and you write hilariously, i’m dying over here!

In college I went to Kenya and Tanzania to visit relatives who were there for work, still one of the most mind blowing trips ever. Now that you’re back you should read Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s book Love, Life, and Elephants.

Your commentary is my absolute favorite. And these pictures are AMAZING. Basically you just made me want to go on an African safari.

SO much fun! Love how your writing puts me there and always makes me lol (do people still say lol or just type it out?!?!).

I STILL SAY LOL.

That’s an incredible start!!! The photos are unreal!!! Absolutely beautiful!!

OMG your pictures are AMAZING! Seriously…. what an experience and to be able to bring back beautiful photos to match…. awesome!

WOW! What an amazing trip! Your pictures are incredible!

What an amazing trip and what a crack up reading your notes. Couple of observations 1) photo #2 – my Brian, what a big lens you have . . . 2) photo #11sh – I think comfort economy is an oxy-moron 3) please post the address for the Masai village so I can send those lovely people a care package! Congrats on the marriage. Now on to the happily ever after ; )

Is that really how the stars look from Africa?!? Everything in this post was beyond amazing but I was especially amazed by that picture! I had no idea how badly I wanted to go to Africa until I read this post!

YES! Brian took that photo on a Canon 7D. It was just unreal. We couldn’t even see constellations because the sky was just completely blanketed in stars. I was obsessed.

And I now need to go on an African safari. Thank you for breath taking photos and even more amazing commentary.

Glad you got unconstipated. That deserves lots of high fives!

Your pictures are unbelievable – did you use a special camera/lense/filter?
I went on a safari in the ngorongoro crater a few years back and had a similar experience!

Brian took all the photos! He’s like a photographic wizard or something. He was shooting on both a Canon 7D and a LUMIX lx100. Not sure about the specific lenses, but I know the 7D lens was very big! (Sometimes I helped carry or hold it! Very helpful!)

WOW. That’s all I can say. Incredible pictures. Incredible scenery. And far more incredible animals! Trip looks great so far. Thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to see more!

You are absolutely one of my favorite people that I have met in New York. I have not also decided that a safari is on my dream list. Those pictures turned out BEAUTIFULLY!

LOVE YOU. MISSED YOU.

Lew Leone says: October 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Ali, great post. You look and sound so happy. No that we were going anyway since thee is no Ritz Carlton but you really sealed it with the termites. Welcome home. See you soon.

Oh come on, Lew! Termites don’t bite!

So super jealous! What an amazing trip! If I ever have another honeymoon – this is it! So glad your issue was finally fixed ha! I would be crying the WHOLE trip!

Is it weird that we’ve never met, yet I was ecstatic when I checked your blog and saw a new post about the Safari Honeymoon?? No? Good, because I was worried there for a minute, lol. Thanks for sharing this awesome part of your new married life with us nutty interweb strangers 🙂

WE ARE FAMILY, remember?! <3

Your pictures are amazing!! What kind of camera did you use?

Brian gets all the credit! He was shooting on a Canon 7D and a LUMIX lx100. (I was too busy crying and being visibly emotional to take photos.)

Thanks, I now need to google those cameras as well as google how to use cameras in general. My iphone is also currently full!

I have to add this to my life list. I’ve never seen anywhere so beautiful and I am SO glad you got to be there for your honeymoon! What an adventure to take together!

This is amazing and I cannot wait till part 2. Also, YAS to the Taylor Swift squad reference. You crack me up.

Ali!!! I’m a long time reader but only comment once in a while but your wedding post and this post just make me smile and I just had to let you know ? You are so funny and the happiness is just radiating out of you. Congrats on an amazing wedding and honeymoon!!

now THAT is a honeymoon!!! so amazing!!! I want to go! I would cry at the giraffes but maybe more at the bunny on the tarmac, praying it wouldn’t get hit 😉 LOVE!!!!

So loving reading about your amazing journey!

the pictures are amazing! Looks like you had an incredible time. I am so glad it was as wonderful as you hoped.

You are seriously the best writer ever. I laugh through all of your posts. It is either flattering or creepy that every time I visit NYC I secretly hope to run into you IRL. You see dinosaurs?! I’m not sure why I laughed so hard but I did. This trip looks amazing. The pictures are outstanding. Thank you for posting them!

WOW! Thanks for sharing Ali! I would have reacted the same way and cried. Love that. Outstanding photos!!!

It’s on my bucket list! And I WILL go. If you can, could you PM me and let me know what tour group you went with? It looks fantastic!

As a lover of elephants who had an imaginary herd in my backyard as a child, I’m really jealous. I also probably would have cried seeing elephants in the wild like that.

Ugh. Zebbras are my FAVORITE and I really want to meet them now. Giraffe’s are right up there as a close second. And all the other wonderful animals are 2.1.

The termites would be pretty far down on the list of extended family though. Maybe super extended. I don’t need to meet them.

I have always wanted to take a safari. I have never wanted the constipation that goes with it so I’ll have one safari please with a side of regularity thank you. What a lovely honeymoon and so nice of your talented husband to take photos of quality. We appreciate him.

I just have to say (as a long time reader but shy commenter), I read this and laughed until I cried. My husband was so confused and when I tried to explain, the magic just wasn’t the same. The image of you in your onsie and “Bride” cap, drunk on ambien, in the Amsterdam airport was just too much. Looks like a magical trip and now I’m super jelly.

Did anyone else hear the intro to Lion King looking at that sunrise photo?!??

Molly Frank says: October 30, 2015 at 11:20 am

Seriously, love the commentary!