Honeymoon Safari to Kenya, July 1984

By Henry Doenlen

It's been over 30 years since Liz and I were married on July 14, 1984. We initially thought of a honeymoon with driving from Switzerland through Austria to Vienna, staying at bed and breakfasts along the way. But while leafing through a Pan American tour booklet, we saw the Kenya safari page and dared each other to do it. This web page is a combination blog of the safari from our memories and photo album. All of the photos are clickable and hyperlink to a larger image.

Prior to leaving, we were immunized for typhoid and yellow fever. We also were prescribed medication to prevent malaria.

7/18/84  Flight to Africa

We boarded Pan American 747 Clipper Empress of the Seas for our flight to Nairobi. The flight left in the evening, and during the next day, we stopped in Monrovia, Liberia and Lagos, Nigeria, before arriving in Nairobi, Kenya. 


7/19/84 Nirobi Hilton Hotel

After spending the night at the Hilton International Hotel. We spent a day in Nirobi, exploring a little of the downtown. That evening, we attended a meeting and learned about where we would be going on safari. We were told that we would be meeting the Maasai, who have kept the same lifestyle, customs, and traditions for a thousand years. Although the Maasai tribe had become accustomed to tourists traveling through their lands, they did not take too kindly to being photographed. The Samburu tribe also did not want to be photographed. An unwanted photograph could result in a spear in our tire.  A visit to the Maasi village was not recommended for hygienic reasons, as they did not bathe often and there were flies buzzing around.

   A: Nairobi Hilton Hotel

   B:  Salt Lick Game Lodge -- Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary

   C:  Kilaguni Lodge -- Tsavo West National Park

   D:   Amboseli Serena Lodge -- Amboseli National Park

   E:   Serena Mountain Lodge -- Mount Kenya Forest

   F:   Mount Kenya Safari Lodge -- Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservatory

   G:   Samburu Lodge -- Samburu National Reserve

   H:   Lake Naivasha Resourt -- Lake Vaivasha National Park

   I:   Mara Serena Safari Lodge -- Maasi Mara National Reserve

   J:   Keekorok Lodge -- Maasi Mara National Reserve



7/21/84  Taita Hills Lodge

After an early morning start, our driver and guide, Ngari Wahome, took us on the long drive from Nairobi to Tsavo.  It was chilly and cloudy. We drove out of Nairobi on paved roads which eventually gave way to dirt roads. We passed by a Hindu temple and learned that this was the predominate religion of the area. We were told to say "jambo" which is Swahili for both hello and goodbye. At gas stations, natives would sell bead jewelry and wood carvings. I bought a nice wood carving of a mother and child elephant. We stopped for 2 hours at the Taita Hills Lodge, ate a nice lunch and saw a traditional native dance with drums and whistles. We were excited to start seeing animals including a lioness in the bushes eating an antalope.


7/21/84  Salt Lick Lodge

We spent the night at Salt Lick lodge, which was elevated by poles. They had a tunnel leading to a bunker near the salt lick so that the animals could be seen close up. From the lodge, groups of animals including impala, water bucks, elephants, and zebra could be seen going to the water hole. The next day, we began our exploration of the vast Tsavo National Park.


7/22/84  Kiliguni Lodge

On a cloudy day, we  continued our drive though Tsavo National Park and stayed the night at Kiliguni Lodge. While on game drive in the Tsavo West National Park, we saw oryx, giraffe, monkeys, zebra, wart hogs, mongoose, and various birds,   A water hole at the Kiliguni Lodge attracted animals which could be seen from our room. The man with the video camera taped 6 hours of clips throughout the safari, which he shared with us.


7/23/84  Maasai

During the safari, we visited 2 Maasai villages. The first was on the way to the Amboseli Serena Lodge and the second was on the way to Mara Serena Lodge  The photos here are from both villages.  We were told that each year, the 3 poorest villages were permitted to be open to tourists in order to earn money. Our guide told us that because they were paid, we would be permitted to photograph them. They were colorfully dressed, friendly, and frequently laughed. They very talkative in their native language with a few English phrases, such as, "this one!" The natives sold beadwork and other small items that they had made. We bought some of the bead jewelry, an animal skin shield, and a spear which could be taken apart.


7/23/84  Amboseli Serena Lodge

During game drives in the Amboseli National Park and at the lodge, we saw wildebeests, ostrich, bush elephants, cape buffalo, gnu, waterbuck, Grant's gazelles, lions, Bushell's zebra, velvet monkeys, and rhinoceros. Our guide told us that the cape buffalo is the most dangerous animals. An egret sits on top of many of the buffalos, looking for insects that appear in the grass when the buffalo moves. The lions usually hunt the zebra. We saw Elephants clean themselves with dust.


7/24/84  The Mountain Lodge

On the drive to the mountain lodge, we stopped at a large outdoor market where various food items were sold. We were followed by women selling baskets that they had woven, and we bought several of them. The wanted 5 shillings for a basket, which was equivalent to U.S. $0.33.  We watched baskets being woven.  The Mountain Lodge was located at the foot of Mount Kenya about 200 miles north of Nairobi. The lodge surrounded a large water hold on three sides. At the lodge and in the Mount Kenya Forest, we saw wart hogs, monkeys,oryx, and other animals. We passed over the equator while drive north away the the lodge on the next morning.


7/25/84  Mount Kenya Safari Club

The Mount Kenya Safari Club was a very British, luxurious, cultured place to stay, located on the equator. There grounds included a pool and various lawn games. There was all manner of flowering plants and numerous birds on the grounds, including stork, duck, and geese. Dining was formal.

7/26/84  Mount Kenya Safari Club

We rode horses thought the Mount Kenya Safari Club grounds. It was my first horse back ride.


7/27/84  Samburu Lodge

We drove through the Samburu Game Reserve  We saw orangutans, oryx, dik-dik (who stay as a male and female couple), Grant gazelle, yellow baboon, and giraffe. Dik-dik is a small and fast antelope. Gravy's zebra have more narrow stripes and live north of the equator in the Samburu land. Grant's zebra are smaller and have fewer wider stripes.


7/28/84  Lake Naivasha Hotel

Liz and I rowed a boat unto the lake. We then ate lunch outside, but I believe it made me sick. Around the lake, saw dik-dik, water buck, zebra, wildebeest, and water buffalo.


7/29/84 Mara Serena Lodge

We made a brief stop at a second Maasi village on the way to the Mara Serena Lodge. There, children were grouped and singing for use. Photos taken her are mixed in with the photos of the Maasi taken before the Amboseli Serena Lodge. We entered the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and viewed a wide variety of animals, including ostrich, buzzards, olive baboons, waterbuck, and spotted hyena. Our guide said that the cheetah was the fastest animal.  We saw a pride of lions in the bushes. There were  herds of wildebeests and Thompson gazelles. The wildebeests were migrating, thousands were visible, and they often ran into the road in front of the van.  The lodge had a swimming pool, and the rooms looked over the plain where the herds of animals could be seen.


7/30/84  Keekorok Lodge

We drove further into the Maasai Mara to the Keekorok Lodge, often seeing vast herd of wildebeests on their migration. There were giraffes, elephants, zebra, cape buffalo, baboons, topi, cheetah, and antelopes of varies kinds. We saw a group of hippopotamus' in a river. We drove up to a lioness and her 4 cubs, and watched the lioness pick up each cub by her mouth and move them further into the bush. All were under the watch by the lions. The lodge was near a salt bed that attracted animals.


7/31/84  Balloon Ride

Our honeymoon safari ended with a balloon ride over Masai Mara, where we could see herds of wildebeests and gazelles, as well as giraffes and zebras from about 500 feet above the ground.  After a 40 minute flight, we landed with the balloon dragging the basket until if toppled over. This caused a sprained wrist for one of the guests and damaged the air heating mechanism.  We hen enjoyed a Champagne breakfast. This was an extra cost of $200 each, as there were 2 balloons carrying 5 passengers each. The Safari World van then took us back to Nairobi, stopping once to see a cheetah drinking water.

8/1/84  Return to the States

After spending a last night in Nairobi, we had an opportunity to do some last minute gift shopping before being taken to the airport. We then boarded a Pan American 747 for a non-stop flight back to JFK Airport in New York.

Our honeymoon was an unforgettable experience. 32 years later, we returned to Africa for a flying safari to Namibia during May, 2016.