We ate breakfast and met Charles at 7:15 am for one last game drive before heading back to Nairobi and the airport. I had given Charles my favorite shorebird t-shirt, but it was a little small on him. So I made sure to give him my Biggest Week in American Birding t-shirt, which is larger and will fit him better. I also left him my Kennedy Guides to the Animals and Birds of the Masai Mara, since we both found them so useful - he'll be able to use them for future client outings. I also paid him Ksh 3000 for all of the birds and animals I was able to see this trip (I promised him Ksh 10 for each bird I could ID). He has become my Kenyan Brother on this trip and I will truly miss him.
The 20 Km drive on the washboard road has me worried. The road vibration rattles the van and our teeth to the breaking point, and with the van troubles we've had on this trip I'm afraid we will break down again before getting back to Nairobi. But the van holds and we reach the gates to Amboselli National Park for our last game drive. Each of us had to buy new day passes (24 hrs for $80 US), but since half of the party renewed their passes yesterday afternoon, there was great confusion when Charles tried to get us through the gates. But once cleared up we were in the park.
While we drove on smooth road (finally) toward Nairobi we passed a Giraffe on the shoulder of the Mombasa Highway! But luckily everyone was keeping an eye on it.
We arrived at Nerisa's and spent the afternoon relaxing and drinking coffee. It was great to get a shower, pack our suitcases and relax until 7 pm. Since Charles was needing to get back to Nairobi to swap cars for the next couple of days (Guy, Andrew, Deb and Sandi would be heading to Kisii and to Tsavo for the next week), he couldn't drive us to the airport; we hated to see him leave.
Nerisa, Guy and Andrew drove us to the airport just after dark. The normal, ten-minute drive turned into a harrowing 30-minute drive as we fought traffic, missed exits, and had to battle hundreds of lories jamming the service drives as they were quitting for the night. But Nerisa got to the airport, we had our fond farewells w/ Guy and Andrew, we were able to find our way to our gate, and were able to relax for the 17+ hour trip home and 3 day of jet lag.
What a trip.
WHAT AN AMAZING TRIP!!!!