Airports Are For Looking

Linda Lou Burton posting from Keekorok Airstrip, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya–– Which would you choose? Nine hours in a 4×4 across the rugged Rift Valley roads? Or two hours in a plane offering a whole new perspective of Kenya’s magnificent landscape? Globus knew the answer to that; small planes were waiting at Keekorok Airstrip to whisk us nearly 300 miles from the Maasai Mara in western Kenya to Amboseli National Park in the east, within staring distance of Mt Kilimanjaro. Our itinerary allowed for game drives in two parks today, beginning with the Bush Breakfast Extravaganza that already had us pumped. But we were also very sad. It was time to say goodbye to our drivers Daniel and Frank, two of the sweetest guys ever! Abdi would be flying with us, continuing to guide the Kenyan portion of our safari. Daniel and Frank would be driving our vehicles back to Nairobi, readying for a new tour, and new faces, beginning tomorrow.

Rick and I had become attached to Daniel in these last seven days; he was so much more than a good driver, he had become our friend – funny, knowledgeable, and always kind. I never asked a question he wasn’t able to answer — animals, birds, people, places, he just knew! He greeted me every morning with a smile, the ladder-step ready for my ascent into the 4×4; patient as I descended (always last one out) allowing me time to decide which knee would be strongest before I put a foot on the ground. “Knee is thinking,” I’d say, to which he’d reply, “pole, pole, slowly, slowly,” and offer a supporting arm. The Coke he bought for me that first day on the drive from Nairobi north (while everyone else was shopping) had long gone flat (kind of a running joke), but it was still in the 4×4 this morning as Daniel pulled into the melee of confusion surrounding Keekorok Airstrip. “You stay seated in here till the plane arrives,” Daniel said, as everyone else jumped out in a frenzy of activity. “Just look around and enjoy the day.” And so I did.


Note: I have been unable to determine the number of lodges and camps in the Maasai Mara and its surrounding conservancies – one source listed the “top 55” so the answer is at least a number higher than that and includes everything from exclusive luxury lodges to the most basic tent camping . There are about ten airstrips serving the lodges and villages in the area. Nairobi is an hour away by plane, a favorite option for tourists, school children, and locals rather than a 6-hour road journey.

Keekorok Airstrip has one unpaved runway measuring 4,200 feet in length and is situated 5,801 feet above sea level at latitude 1° 35′ 9.00″S. The airstrip mainly serves Keekorok Lodge, Sarova Mara Game Lodge, Sekenani Camp, Mara Sopa Lodge, Mara Topi Safari Lodge, Ashnil Camp and Cottars Camp. Our group stopped at Keekorok Lodge and at Ashnil Camp for rest stops during game drives, both were lovely.

Keep this in mind when you visit the Maasai Mara!

Keekorok Airstrip

Sarova Mara Game Camp

Keekorok Lodge

Ashnil Mara Camp