The fever dream started when we landed in Nairobi. Day 1-2 resulted in me realizing that Nairobi is huge. It's crowded and so fast-paced, crammed and so many people live in the centre. People waking up in the early hours to typically walk kilometres to get to their workplace, locals that prepare their street shops that sit on top of each other on the side of massive roads. As bad as it sounds, it was the first time in my life that I felt like the odd one out, I finally had the chance to experience a different culture, a different “normal” in a different continent.
On day 3 we loaded the car and started the 4-hour journey to the Masai Mara National Park, where we would experience 3 days of safari. The Mara is famous around the world for its important wildlife conservation and wilderness. We were hoping that we would get to see all sorts of animals, big and small. Staying in the middle of the park, in tents that were protected by an electric fence, standing there and seeing giraffes walk by wasn’t what I had in mind. It was all so casual, people there live with them, learn how to co-exist and how to behave in order to stay safe.
The safari experience was like no other and a “strong stomach” is a must. The drive was definitely a funny highlight of the trip, having to constantly hold onto things to not fall out of the car, having mud getting all over my clothes and face all whilst experiencing the tropical rain and travelling off-road through the park. No matter where you looked, you could see animals: the most common ones were zebras, giraffes and elephants, they were everywhere. Completely unbothered by the cars, they continued to eat and enjoy their days. What shocked me the most is that I never realized how big animals are until the moment I saw them right next to me. Being used to dogs and cats meant seeing anything that big 2 meters away from you is quite a big deal. Elephants, giraffes and hippos are massive and made me realize how tiny humans are in comparison. Giraffes casually even almost bending down in order to be able to eat from trees was a crazy watch.
Spending 3 days at the Mara we went on 4 drives, 2 sunset and 2 sunrise ones. The Africa sunset and sunrises are definitely a spectacle, beating every other you might have experienced. Waking up before the sun goes up, to hopefully see a lion or a cheetah hunt and kill for breakfast, you get to see from close, really close, how animals behave in their natural habitat. Around 8:00 am we would stop, get out of the car and have breakfast, using the front of the car as a table, drinking coffee and trying to capture this crazy experience while watching elephants walk by. On day 5 we got to see 22 lions, all together, lying down. I was amazed by how close to them we could be, wondering what stops them from attacking us. The answer is nothing, but they still wouldn’t move, only later to find out that they are so used to humans in cars that if we don’t get out of them we are safe to be as close to them as we can.
On day 6 we flew to Watamu, a town by the beach, that was smaller, and very different from the crowded Nairobi or the animal filled Mara. Watamu had amazing beaches, with clear water and white sand. We stayed at a house by the beach, that was surrounded by trees and monkeys jumping from one tree to another just above my head, something I have never seen in Europe. Hiring a boat and jumping on top of it into the Indian Ocean was unforgettable, at that point the already filled with new experiences trip continued getting better and better. I was finally embracing that I was there, with my friends, doing things I hadn't even considered a possibility.
One month later and I still haven’t processed my trip to Africa, a trip I never thought I would have the chance to experience. Growing up in Cyprus, Africa was beyond imagination, something I only got to see through the TV and hear through other people’s stories. I tried to let everything sink in, capture everything either through my eyes or pictures. I now have core memories that I’m hoping I will be able to remember for years to come. This trip made me appreciate the planet I live in more, it was eye-opening, and I hope everyone gets a chance to experience what I have at least once in their lives.