Mountain Mayhem: Out of Africa
When Tara Marolda, of Aspen, was a teenager, her mother moved their family to Kenya and became a documentary filmmaker. Over the years that she lived there, Tara fell in love with the country, and during long expeditions with her mom on her ethnographic documentary productions, she found her own passion for photography and became a professional photographer herself.
It had been a long awaited dream to return to Kenya with her children and “introduce them to that wild and distant world.” Along with her two best friends in Aspen and their families, they started planning a trip over two years ago. Being forced to cancel last March, due to Covid, they were all determined to make it happen this year. With six adults, one teenager (who turned 20 on the trip) and seven kids under the age of ten, they bravely set forth on the journey into the heart of Africa.
After what felt like days of flying, they finally landed in Kenya at nightfall, only to discover that while they were in the air, Nairobi City had gone into a major lockdown due to a sudden rise in Covid cases. No one was allowed to leave the Nairobi district, (including international tourists). She immediately started scrambling for ways to get to their first destination, the Maasai Mara, but every option was looking dismal. With the help of her parents, they managed to find a promising solution. “Through some pretty awesome contacts, we hired a Kenyan Presidential escort to lead our convoy of two enormous safari land cruisers through bustling Nairobi City, military road blocks and police checkpoints, down through the Rift Valley and straight on to Alex Walker’s “Serian” Maasai Mara camp.”
It was worth it and they spent five unforgettable days with her stepfather, a 4th generation Kenyan, and the ultimate safari guide, John Moller. “Being on safari with my dad in an area that has been completely blocked off from the rest of the world, due to the pandemic, was epic. It felt like we were back in time, in the early 1900s, before it was ever a world famous safari hub. The silver lining of last year’s pandemic, being that the wildlife has had a chance to recuperate from the effects of constant tourism and thrive again.”
“As much as I loved the luxury safari life, I have to say my favorite part was bringing our entourage to Shompole, a wild and untouched area of Kenya, where we camped under giant 150-year-old fig trees.”
Tara’s mom, having worked with the Maasai people of this area for many years, brought them to Shompole so that the children would be able to really meet the Maasai people and learn about their culture.
After three exciting weeks, their safari came to an end. With heavy hearts, the only thing that made them feel better about leaving, was a commitment to return in the near future.
“I always say, no matter who you are, you always leave East Africa changed from when you arrived,” Tara noted. “It does something to your soul, and you leave longing to return. I can safely say that we all feel exactly that way.”
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