Kenya – Day 23 – Safari Day One

July 21st- The safari begins! Today after much waiting and anticipation, we got to go to our safari. The morning started off slowly because we were still hosting the people from the UN, and Ken Okoth and his wife. We had a relaxing breakfast that our wonderful cooks made for us, and then David, Erik, Michael, and I met up with some students from Jomo Kenyatta University who came up for our open house. Melissa and Taylor stayed home to help our cooks prepare food for the safari. We took the students and the UN workers out to the clinic site and Erik and I explained our understanding of the straw bale process and many of the students were very interested in the technology.

20120723-080835.jpgErik with the UN workers who came out for the tour.

Many good questions were asked, and Michael chimed in when Erik or I were unsure of an answer. After seeing both of the duplexes, one almost finished and one just being started, it seemed that they really got to understand the process.

Students inside the second duplex asking questions to Michael.

We then all jumped in the back of the truck and drove everyone out to another straw bale project that Michael had been working on for two brothers, Chris and Nick. The other MSU students and I have been to this site already, but once the students got to the site, it was fun to see their reactions. Not only is the house beautiful, but the view is spectacular. Many of the students asked how they could move out to such an awe inspiring location. During the tour, David and I spoke with Sarah, one of the UN-HABITAT workers, and discussed the possibility for a studio next year involving straw bale but focused on slum upgrading in urban areas. We were both excited to be approached about another possibility for a studio in Kenya since I know that the rest of my classmates and I would love the opportunity to come back!

Michael explaining the sewage system implemented in Chris and Nick’s house.

After the tour at Chris and Nick’s, we jumped back in the truck and went to the original project that got Michael and David involved with WHEAT Foundation, the potato storage buildings. It was exciting for Erik and I to get a tour of the buildings because we had never been inside one before. This concluded our tours, and the UN workers and Jomo Kenyatta University students had to get back to Nairobi. Many of the students still had work to do on a architecture project, and we all know how much work must be put into those! It was great to have the students come up, and hopefully in the next year or so we can get them more involved with the studio and they can get some hands on experience with us at the site!

We all posed for a picture in front of the potato storage buildings.

Finally it was time to get packed up for our adventure! We returned home and packed our overnight bags while Michael found us some camping gear. Tama, a student working on her Masters at Oxford joined us as well as Max, one of Michael’s workers from another site. Max has been training polo ponies in the mornings, and working with Michael on another straw bale project for a friend of his, Jamie Murray. Once we got everything into the car, we set off. The Lewa Conservancy is a very short drive from the farm, and once we were in the gate, we saw both a giraffe and water buffalo extremely close up.


The giraffe that greeted us at the gate.

From there, the trip got so much more exciting. We drove through beautiful grasslands seeing zebras, giraffes, impalas, water bucks, many different birds, and monkeys.


One of the many monkeys we saw in the trees, and below a waterbuck and egrets.

We were trying to get to Rose Dyer’s house who was a friend of Karen Blixen, one of the first white settlers to Kenya. After getting lost multiple times, which wasn’t a big deal since we just got to see more landscape and awesome animals, we found Rose’s house. It was nestled into the countryside next to a stunning river, and was one of the most beautiful places to live that I have ever seen! Rose gave us a guide to take us out to our camping spot, which was further down the river and in a gated area to make sure no elephants, leopards, or lions could get to us. We set up camp quickly and headed off to go on an evening game drive.


After we realized that we weren’t going to find any game, we all posed for a picture with our matching green rain jackets.

Sadly, Michael didn’t really know where he was going and it got dark fairly quickly, so we didn’t see any wild animals. Just as it was getting dark, we returned to camp and Melissa and Tama cooked us an amazing dinner of sirloin steak, one of our favorite dishes, chapati and finished with a delicious chocolate cake that Rose had made for us. Max made a raging fire, and we all sat down, ate, drank wine, and watched the stars come out.


Max’s raging Kenyan Cowboy fire.

Once everyone had eaten, we played some really fun party games and overall had a very fun evening. Everyone retired to their tents, and listened to the sounds of the Kenyan night. The stars were absolutely beautiful, and overall it was ( in my opinion) one of the best nights we have had so far. Life couldn’t get any better.

– Tory

One Response to “Kenya – Day 23 – Safari Day One”
  1. I had never heard of straw bale construction till I stumbled on your site. So at least I’ve learnt something new today (after looking it up on Google, wikipedia, etc).

    What got me here in the first place was the safari report. It’s a shame that you did not see any wild animals on the evening game drive of your first night. Perhaps you should have requested for a professional/experienced guide. But at least you did get to see some amazing animals on your way in. The giraffe that greeted you at the gate is a reticulated giraffe, a species only found in the northern Kenya reserves and conservancies (Lewa conservancy, and Samburu, Shaba, and Buffalo Springs game reserves etc). I also hope you got to see more animals on day 2.

    Kenya is a lovely country. You should explore more whenever your busy schedule allows. Nice reading your report though.

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