My Cronan Family Safari began on a brilliantly beautiful Sunday in Nairobi.
Father John (Cronan) had called my wife, Kathleen, while I was on the Great Migration Safari in March, and the vagaries of my own schedules, his as a very active scientist, and his children and sigoths meant that we had to “Do It!” right now.
I’m really looking forward to a spectacular trip! For one thing we’ll once again debunk one of the Great Myths of Safari Travel that the best time to go is the dry season. East Africa has just come through a torrential rainy season, and every third of fourth day it’s still raining.
That’s good! I’ve spent 30 years of my career trying to explain this, fighting with institutionalized myths about when to go created not from facts, but to assuage client potential. That’s a fancy way of saying that “high season” and “best season” almost everywhere in the world (except for the Arctic and Antarctic) correspond not with the optimum travel opportunities at that time, but strictly when it’s convenient for people to travel. So inevitably the highest season for travel everywhere in the world is the December holiday season.
That’s true even in places like Botswana, where it’s an awful time to go! (Middle of its terribly hot, humid torrential rains.) December is absolutely NOT the time to visit Botswana.
John had been a part of a Great Migration Safari group I guided in 2007. Then we began in Kenya’s south, so this time we’ll tackle Kenya’s north, and as a perfect increment to his safari travel (which has also included Botswana), we’ll end the trip with a gorilla trek in Rwanda!
But today right after their arrival it was lovely in Nairobi! Bright, crisp, cool, and frangipani, bougainvillea and flame trees were brilliant! As we drove out of the airport beside the lush Nairobi National Park we saw giraffe in the distance! Amazing, it isn’t? Wild animals just outside an airport for a metropolis of 6 million people!
We walked through the city center learning something of the history of the area, had tea at the Thorntree Café and then went to the National Museum.
This was a real treat for me. As always, my passion for paleontology draws me like an iron filing to the incredible early man exhibit of the museum. But today was extra special, because John and both his sons are geneticists. We all marveled as I always do inside the special room where the originals of Zinj, Turkana Boy, the Black Skull and several other hominins are displayed.
The originals! What other museum in the world would put its priceless national treasures on display like that?
Early to bed for early to rise. Tomorrow, on to the Aberdare!