July 2019

Kitumo Mara found us! ‍

July 2019- Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals, this is why we have used the cast names from the Lion King

Was this a coincidence or one big plain scam?

That was the question

Scar picks us up and tells us that he might have someone who has land near the Masai Mara and only about 10 mins from where we were staying. We thought, since we are here, we might as well check it out. The driver brought us to the hotel he was staying in which also had a small family run restaurant. We had a drink while we waited and we were then greeted by the hotel owner, who happens to also own the land and was also a Massai, we will call him, Rafiki. We spoke briefly and Rafiki asked if we would like to see the land?

"The king approaches! This is not a drill. His Majesty has requested an audience. Upon his entrance, you will rise and genuflect". (Zazu)

This is still a dream..

Land of dreams

We drove only a short while and we were pleasantly surprised as we arrived at this vast picturesque land with mountain views. We were very excited, adrenaline rushing through our veins, questions being asked, is this happening, could this happen?? We stayed composed and professional and continued the conversation back at his restaurant. Rafiki, suggested we check out other camps nearby, to see what their selling point was. We visited a couple of camps and started making notes.

The next day we had to continue with our holiday travelling to different places and during the long car drive, we researched names, tents, lawyers, whatever came into our heads to make this into reality. Throughout our drive, every camp we stayed in wasn't about relaxing. It was making notes on what they are doing right, what could be done better? Along the way, Scar took us to various top end camps and people welcomed us with open arms. Everybody wanted to show off their style, their business and their achievements. The rest of trip was pretty much the same lots of wildlife, long drives and frantic phone calls trying to make this dream a reality. We knew the only way we could go home and carry on with this was to confirm that the land belonged to Rafiki.

More places we visited

·       Amboseli

·       Tsavo East National Park

·       Tsavo West National Park

·       Voi

·       Watamu

·       Mombasa

·       Nairobi

·       Maasai Mara (day trip!)

·       Nairobi

We once again paid for the entrance fee to the parks by card as Scar's card wasn't working. This became a concern now as we have heard a lot of excuses, false promises and he hadn't returned a penny back to us. We witnessed him visit different ATM's only for his card to get rejected. We decide we are going to hold our tongues as we needed him for rest of the holiday.

"Everything the light touches... is our kingdom" (Mufasa)

Confrontation

Time to tally up

We were so caught up on the holiday and doing our due diligence on Kitumo Mara, we knew we had paid for a lot of things twice as Scars' card wasn't working. We just hadn't realised how much it had added up to.  We voice our concern to Scar and he was not fazed, he responded, “let us not worry about it now, we will work it when we get to Nairobi”. Knowing that he was going to be with us for the next 13 days, there was not much we could do. We weighed our options; carry on having transport and a guide for the next 13 days and try and get the money back, or start an argument, loose our ride and any chance of recovering the cash.

"I answer to no one" (Scar)

The saga begins

Last week of our holiday

We were told that our designated driver Ed had another job in a few days, but Scar had found a replacement. We drove to Watamu, ready to relax on the beach. As with everything on this trip, nothing went to plan. We arrived at our rainy destination and our hotel was a construction site. We were baffled that booking.com would allow us to book accommodation at a building site! We drove around and thankfully found another hotel with availability and with its own private beach. We decided to give Scar and Ed a few days off as we needed to be alone to figure out if we are going ahead with the plans for Kitumo. We enjoyed the beach, even though we had some rainy days, we had some sunlight. This is how our holiday felt right now but we were still very hopeful.

We then drove to Mombasa and visited the primary school and the area where Simba's Dad grew up. We also said our goodbye to our driver, Ed. Scar asked to borrow some money to pay Ed as his card was not working and he will sort us out when we get to Nairobi. We were hesitant but decided to give it to him.

To our surprise, we were told the night before that we will be taking a train to Nairobi, this was not our plan especially with our all luggage. The tickets were paid for by Scar, but he had booked us into an economy class, usually we don't mind but as we have paid to be driven and had all our luggage with us, the journey was not pleasant at all.

"Well, look who's come to mingle with the commoners" (Scar)

Nairobi where the saga continues

"If we are going to this, we are going to it right" (that was the motto)

We were picked up by our new driver, lets call him Timon. Timon was very professional and friendly. We did our quick hellos and headed to our hotel for a well needed sleep as the next day was going to be a long one.

We rearranged our the plans for Nairobi. During our trip, we managed to hire a lawyer, who then arranged a surveyor for us. Our main concern was that the land may not belong to Rafiki and our lawyer was very skeptical and told us that this was probably a scam. We knew that was a possibility especially with everything happening around us but we thought lets role the dice and see where we land. We then travelled back the next day to Maasai Mara with the surveyor. The surveyor mapped out the land we wanted to lease. He would use this information to check it against the land registry to make sure it was all legit. We drove back to Nairobi that same day. It was a very long long day and we had spent almost 12 hours on the road, but it was definitely worth it.

"What's a motto?" (Simba)

"Nothing! What's a motto with you?" (Timon) :-)

White water rafting

Taking the plunge

We had planned to go white water rafting a few days after. Nala had chickened out and it was a minimum of 2 people per raft, so Scar agreed to go in her place. Scar had assured us that it had already been paid for in advance, off course by now we knew better. The usual problem occurred of his card not working. Knowing this was going to happen we paid once again. Over the past few days we had totalled up everything he owed us and we were ready to confront him with this information once the day was over. After this day, we were planning on taking an Uber throughout Nairobi.

The whitewater rafting experience was amazing, Your heart beat so fast as you navigate through rocks and see others coming right at you. As you try to keep afloat the cold water hits you, throwing you off balance, and as you recover from one drop another comes right out of nowhere. Just when you think this experience couldn't be more exciting, you see the monkeys swing through the trees next to you

Nala was left waiting with Timon. He confided in her and told her that he doesn't trust Scar. Nala told him about all the duplicate card payments and that is when we found out that he has been conning us both. Scar blamed us for not being able to pay Timon. Nala also found out that Scar doesn't own a van.

"Busted!" (Nala)

The confession

Are you ready for this?

Once both Simba and Scar came back from the white rafting, all three of us confronted Scar. He finally admitted that he spent the money we gave him on something else and he was relaying on another family to pay their deposit and he was going to use that money to give it back to us. But nothing worked the way he wanted. He lied to us all this time, promising us the money is stuck at the bank. After about 30 minutes of going back and fourth we decided this was going nowhere and it was time to leave.

"A wise decision! you are no match for His Royalness." (Zazu)

The silent journey

Maybe it was for the best

The drive back to Nairobi was a long one, where Scar was very silent with his head down and Timon continued to shout at him, telling him he was embarrassed to call him a fellow Kenyan.

We sat in silence at back of the van and experienced the infamous Nairobi traffic.

When we got back to the hotel we informed Timon and Scar that we wouldn't need them for the next few days. Scar continued promising us that he will return the money to us with compensation (his words not ours!). We just wanted to unwind and forgot about this mess and enjoy the rest of our holiday. We arranged for them to pick us up and take us to the airport on the last day. That is the last we ever saw of Scar.

"Could you guys … excuse us for a few minutes?." (Nala)

Time to head home

Is the end or the beginning of a new adventure?

On our departure date, Timon came to pick us up alone. He hadn't heard from Scar and he was not answering his phone or responding to messages. We agreed to put this behind us for now and deal with this when we come back to Kenya next time.

"Ha-ku-na Ma-ta-ta. It means no worries (Pumbaa)"

Our holiday of a lifetime may have ended sour but we are both strong believers of everything happens for a reason. We have made mistakes but we have learnt from them and are welling to continue learning to make Kitumo Mara a success.

We have come back with the possibility of leasing land, we have learnt not to trust everyone so easily and we have met Timon & Rafiki and a few other people that we haven't mentioned. The Kitumo Mara Family was forming.

" Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it... or … learn from it.(Rafiki)

We went to Kenya for a holiday and came home with a business