Over Spring Break, 34 Wharton students and partners traveled to Kenya. They traversed the country, spending several days in Nairobi enjoying the urban sprawl and business atmosphere, several days on a world-class safari in the Maasai Mara, and finally, several days in Diani, a white sand beach on the Indian Ocean.
Here are a few stories from our trek members:
A few days into our trip, we flew from Nairobi to Maasai Mara, a 600 square mile game reserve on the Kenyan side of the Serengeti. We got to bed early that night, so we could wake up at 4am the next day, hop into rugged 1980s Land Cruisers to drive an hour out to the absolute middle of nowhere, and get into hot air balloons about fifteen minutes before the sun broke over the horizon. For the next couple hours, we floated over the plains and watched hundreds of animals go about their day as if we were invisible.
As the pictures will attest, the view from the balloon was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen. Our pilot, who lived in the area and assisted scientists with ecological research, told us how he’d seen the number of ivory tusked animals plummet over the past couple decades. He estimated that in the whole reserve, there were only a fraction of the elephants there once were and maybe a dozen rhinos.
You should go see this place, ideally as quickly as possible. The people are incredibly welcoming, the wildlife is amazing, and the landscape is breathtaking. Whether this summer or next spring break, get to Kenya!
After a few days on safari, Wharton invaded Diani Beach, a slice of tropical paradise a little south of Mombasa. Diani was easily the highlight of my Kenya trip. Not only did the resort feature probably the warmest ocean (75°F / 24°C) I have ever been able to swim in, but the town offered a fabulous Wharton vacation with a uniquely Kenyan twist. Think pizza and Indian food by an infinity pool, running along the beach at sunrise, snorkeling with a guy who introduced himself as “Captain Morris,” monkeys in the dining hall, and lots of drinking and talking about life (and Big Data) with my fellow trekkers.
More than that, our two days in Diani—and, really, the rest of the trip—underscored for me Kenya’s geographic and cultural breadth. It’s pretty amazing to travel around a country roughly the size of Texas and get to see, within a 72-hour time period, a Masai village in a grassy savannah, a restaurant in a cave next to the Indian Ocean, and a business school in a modern city with facilities that rival (read: far surpass) Huntsman Hall. And, mosquitoes aside, I would love the opportunity to go back and do a bit more exploring.
Was it the golden brown of the Maasai Mara Safari or the glittering blue of the Indian Ocean that made one of this most cherished memory at Wharton?
Both. But it was more than that!
Who would choose to go to Kenya over all other destinations? Curious and adventurous souls. Who would appreciate it wholeheartedly the entire time? Beautiful minds. Who would be the best company to appreciate such a gem of this world? Loving hearts.
Yes, that’s what made this trip so precious – the friends you can keep for life.
I love coloring a memory, as such life becomes more colorful. For the Kenya trek, that color would be gold. A crystal amber champagne over a breakfast in the middle of the savannah with my favorite people at Wharton! Also, gold stars to the inspiring trek leaders – Lauren & Ben – for such a priceless trip!