Southern Africa and a Graduation in Kenya – 2023-11-09 to 12 -05

Our Travels

We left home for Tampa International Airport at 9am on Thursday, November 9th. After 28 hours and three flights, we arrived in Cape Town, South Africa. The easiest part was the drive to Tampa and the flight to Atlanta. The fight to Johannesburg, SA was delayed by an hour because of a variety of issues. That flight, of 15 hours, is one of the longest non-stop flights in the world. The delay reduced our time for the flight to Cape Town to less than an hour. When we checked in for the flights, we were told that luggage was going to be transferred through to Cape Town. And then the fun began…

In Johannesburg, we were told that we had to go through immigration and customs. That would have made us arrive at the gate as the boarding procedure for our Cape Town flight was closing. While I was waiting for our luggage, Susie was talking to a pair of women who were at the luggage carousel with wheelchairs and arranged for them to take us through to immigration. Once through immigration, we found another two women with wheelchairs to take us to the gate. Neither one of us could walk fast enough to make the journey from the baggage claim area to the gate. The gate agent notified the gate personnel that we were coming but could not guarantee that our luggage would make it. In Cape Town we approached the baggage carousel with minimum expectations that our bags were going be arriving… they were among the first to arrive. We were supposed to be met by a driver to take us to the Southern Sun-The Cullinan Hotel. He was late in arriving, but called Susie to let her know that he was coming. Exhausted from the travel, we only took a few things out of our luggage and went to sleep.

Today, Saturday November 11, is going to be quiet. We got up later than usual and had our breakfast. While the room was being cleaned, we walked around the area of the hotel a bit and headed back to the room. Not planning to do anything other than recuperate from our flight.

The tour officially starts in Cape Town. Rather than give you a lot of additional text, I took the detailed itinerary provided Globus and inserted an edited version of it below.

Our primary reason for us going to Africa was to attend the graduation of Joel Kiuntei Sakimpa, the young man we met on our 2019 trip to Kenya and Tanzania. We sponsored his education at the Kenya Wildlife Research and Training Institute and wanted to celebrate his successful completion of this phase of his education.

After the end of the Globus tour, we flew from Johannesburg to Nairobi, Kenya. Our flight was delayed by five hours, which put our arrival time around midnight. We had rented a car for our use in Kenya and were supposed to meet Tom, a representative of the rental agency. Tom waited out the five-hour delay at the airport. Due to the lateness of our arrival, we decided that he would drive us to the Radisson Blu Hotel, Upper Hill, and we would take care of the paperwork in the morning. The drive from the airport to the hotel convinced us that we would be better off having a driver and asked Tom if he would do that. It was a great decision that made us more comfortable and gained us a good friend. His driving duties would begin when we drive to Naivasha (70 miles to the north). While in Nairobi we had a day-long tour of Nairobi which took us to an elephant orphanage, a Giraffe sanctuary and a craft village. We also decided on one more game drive in Nairobi National Park.

After four days in Nairobi, it was time to head to Naivasha for Joel’s graduation. Tom picked us at mid-morning for the two-hour drive to the Lake Naivasha Resort Hotel. He picked us up the next morning and we drove to the Kenya Wildlife Research and Training Institute. Joel’s family and several other members of their village hired a large van to attend festivities.

Village members drove to Naivasha to attend the graduation. We greeted them before the Ceremony. Joel’s Mother is between Susie and me. Our Driver, Tom is on the left.
Villagers sitting in the shade after the graduation
After the graduation

The following morning Tom picked up Joel and then came to the hotel to get us for the seven-hour ride to Amboseli National Park and his village. We stayed at the same Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge that we stayed at five years earlier. The next day Joel met us at the lodge and guided us to this village where a whole day celebration took place. On our final day in Kenya, Joel came to the lodge and traveled with us to the Nairobi airport. He had to go back to the school in Naivasha to return his Cap and Gown. Tom, our wonderful driver, stayed with us until it was time for us to go through security. Our flight to Paris was delayed but we had no problem with the connection to the Atlanta flight and from there to Tampa.


Click on picture to enlarge

African Wild Dogs


The walkway at the Ilala Lodge is the way we had to get to our room from the main building. The area below the is open to the wildlife. This baboon made the leap from the railing to a nearby tree right after I took this picture. The picture was taken with my iPhone.
Birds (Click on Captions for more Information)

Cape Buffalo


Nile Crocodile



The giraffes in the upper right are Rothschild Giraffes, an endangered species. The pictures were taken in a giraffe sanctuary in Nairobi.


The picture in the top, center, shows some of its battle scars. The picture on the lower right was taken by Susie using her iPhone. We were on the way back from Joel’s village and got very close to this hippo. One of the things that we were told by several guides was that you never want to be between a hippo and the water… we weren’t. Still, hippos move quickly and are not limited to the water.

Greater Kudu


Leopards are reclusive animals. In our first trip to Africa, I managed to get one picture. On this trip we spotted two leopards mating (top center). The first animal we photographed on the next day was the leopard moving through the tall grass (top left).

We got fairly close to the lions in these pictures. The picture in the second row, right, shows just how close we got.


Sable Antelope




Miscellaneous Animals (Click on caption for more information)

African Sunsets

Scenery (some captions have links-click to view_

Joel’s Graduation

Joel’s Village
Joel, Susie and I were driven by Tom to the village for the festivities. I’m fairly certain that Joel had an idea what was to come… we didn’t. As we arrived at the village, we saw that most of the population was there to greet us and escort us through the village to the field where the festivities were held.

In the field, we could see what looked like several hundred people from the village and nearby Maasai villages were in attendance. The ceremony went on for hours with a break for lunch. We learned later that the ceremony was similar to a revival meeting. Three preachers led most of the activities and the songs, sung in Maa, were similar to gospel songs. It was the experience of a lifetime…

We left the village as the sun was beginning to set. Joel was not with us to guide us back to the Serena Safari Lodge. On the way to the village all the turns were left turns to get to the village. Joel told us to make right turns going home. We missed one of turns so I turned to Google Maps to guide us to our destination. Unfortunately, road problems are not shown on the map and we wound up at a washed out stream crossing. We turned back and, with the aid of Google, finally got back to the lodge in the dark.

None of these pictures were taken by me. Two young men relieved me of the camera at the beginning of the ceremony. Their rationale was that I was one of the guests of honor and therefore I should sit with the VIPs. I was little concerned about this, but I shouldn’t have been. They took several hundred pictures during the day long celebration. I selected a few of them to show here. (click on pictures to enlarge)

Videos (May take some time to load depending on network conditions)

Teen Girls Dancing

One of many women’s groups singing

Tom, Thank you for your friendship and great ride.

Susie has converted the GoFundMe page used to support Joel’s education to support the children of the village and their education. To learn more about the village and contribute, follow this link,

One thought on “Southern Africa and a Graduation in Kenya – 2023-11-09 to 12 -05”

  1. Thank you, Sam and Sue, for providing us, once again, the opportunity to travel along with you – especially for the privilege of accompanying you to Joel’s village (where you clearly now are “extended family”).

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