Maybe someone can explain why Andrea gets to give me two challenges?
1) Take a picture of the big 5 animals in Africa
2) Take a picture with a tribe, preferably doing a tribal dance
You may notice that I don’t get quite as high as my Maasai pals!
Nairobi – March 19
I am thrilled to announce that we are the proud foster parents of a beautiful baby female elephant, Ishanga, for one year. Her story like many of the others here may bring tears to your eyes, but that is why the work of the Elephant orphanage is so important. We will receive monthly email updates on the progress of Ishanga as she is prepared to be released into the wild. Here is her story.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an amazing group doing very important animal conservation work in Kenya. Unfortunately, poaching is still a very serious problem in many parts of Africa and far too often the victims are the innocent babies left behind. Without, the care of The Trust most will die.
Visiting the orphanage is an incredible experience. The keepers explain the work they do and you get to witness the interaction between the elephants and their keepers. Seeing the young elephants run into camp behind their keepers and head directly for their own stall is very cool. The keepers must stay with the young ones 24/7 and actually sleep in their pens with them to ensure they are warm by covering them with blankets. There is a high risk they will die of pneumonia. They are fed special baby formula, very similar to human baby formula.
After seeing the babies you can choose which one you would like to adopt. The cost is only $50. As the cost of caring for these babies is high, each elephant has multiple foster parents.
Welcome to our family Ishanga.
While you are in Kenya, have a picture taken of yourself under a Baobab Tree (Upside Down Tree)….. bonus points if you are eating baobab fruit at the time….. just make sure you don’t pick the trees flowers…. legend say if you do, you will be eaten by a lion.
I searched high and low for a Baobab Tree before realizing that they do not exist in this part of Kenya – thanks Steve! In keeping with the sprit of the adventure; I did the next best thing and stood upside down beside a different tree. This Maasai warrior will never be the same. Even the hippo in the river were laughing.
My wake up call was for 6 15 am not 3 am!
The Mara – Nairbor
My last morning game drive on safari started off with my usual coffee and biscuits being brought to my tent at 6 am. Not sure how this is going to work when I get home! I headed out at 6 30am with my guide Matthew, our mission today was to find a Olive, a leopard and her cubs.
Another guide in a different vehicle told Matthew that Olive had been seen crossing the river. After searching for almost two hours we found her under a tree. Olive is about eight years old and is well know in the area. She has two cubs which she had left somewhere close by for safety.
We stayed and watched her for almost two hours and soon we were joined by other vehicles from different camps. Pretty soon there were nine safari vehicles in a semi circle watching an taking pictures. One jeep had a bunch of guys with very large lenses and very fast motor drives. It sounded like machine guns firing. Size does matter!
At a time like this setting up for a full bush breakfast was just not a priority so we we had our breakfast and coffee in the land cruiser.
Olive soon became aware of a herd of Impala close by and we observed in awe as she stalked them for about one hour. Finally, the impala noticed her, sounded the alarm and it was game over. You will notice in the picture below that the impala are alert and watching the bush very closely. A tell tale sign that a predator may be close.
Mathew then suggested that we head to the area where she may be hiding her cubs and wait for her to appear – a brilliant idea! We beat the other vehicles there and had a primary viewing spot for a cave where the cubs had been seen a few days earlier.
Unfortunately, Olive was smarter than us and had moved the cubs about 100 meters away. By the time we were aware another jeep has scared them back into hiding. Maybe we will get lucky this afternoon.
One the way back to camp we saw two jackals in the process of taking down a baby Thompson Gazelle. Not the prettiest of sights as the baby Thompson are very cute. I will post more pictures under the Mara gallery, but again be warned, some are graphic.
March 13th – 14th
Lewa Downs is located in northern Kenya, 250km north east of Nairobi. It is a wildlife sanctuary incorporating the Ngare Ndare Forest and covering over 62,000 acres (250 km2).
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, in addition to the big 5, is also a sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife. It supports a myriad of plains game species all perfectly adapted for the semi desert environment and Grevy’s Zebra and the Reticulated Giraffe are common. Additionally, the lance-like horned Beisa Oryx and the rare Greater Kudu are seasonal visitors and the Guenther’s Dikdik, the giraffe-necked Gerenuk and the beautiful blue-legged Somali Ostrich are resident all year round.
The pictures in this gallery were taken on March 13th & 14th.
Maasai Mara – Naibor Camp
6 30 am Game Drive
I was awoken at 6 am with my morning coffee and biscuits. This is the first day since I have been in Kenya that I have had to be woken up! By 6 30 am I was in the rugged Toyota Land Cruiser. These vehicles appear to be indestructible; I am amazed at the terrain we are able to traverse. The mornings here are very cold, approximately nine degrees, so layering is very important. By 9 am it is starting to get very hot and I was able to remove some of the layers of clothing.
My trusty guide, Matthew is very knowledgeable and pointed out the various game along the way. Many of the guides go to school for years to obtain their guide certification at various levels. The game in the Mara is very abundant and there are a high number of predators. Along the way we saw hippos, jackal, gazelles, buffalo, warthogs, a number of beautiful birds, lions and a chetah.
Our bush breakfast, a very important part of a game drive , was great. One the menu was fresh fruit, cereal, hot egg and bacon sandwich and of course coffee.
We came across a pride of eleven lions, three mature females were on the lookout for game, while the cubs of various ages had decided to stay cool under the shade of another vehicle.
I have posted a new gallery of pictures from Naibor – enjoy.
March 15th – 18th
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is in the south west of Kenya. The Maasai Mara is not a National Park, but rather a National Reserve belonging to the Maasai people and administered by the local county councils. It is one of the best known and most popular reserves in Africa.
The reserve is especially famous for the high amount of predators, such as lions and cheetah, and the 1.5 million wildebeest which migrate through the Mara and cross the crocodile infested Mara river each year during the migration.
The pictures in this gallery were taken over my four days at Naibor Camp.
Masai Mara – Naibor Camp
I arrived at Naibor yesterday from Lewa Downs after a fight of approximately ninety minutes. We had landed at various places along the way to offload other passengers. I was met at the airstrip by Mathew who would be my trusted guide for the next few days. We hit it off immediately.
Naibors’s manager Ivan was outside to meet me when I arrived at the camp and he gave me a tour of the property. I don’t possess the writing skills to properly describe this camp but it is amazing. There are twelve tents on the property and it can sleep 26. At the moment I am the only guest in the camp.
Naibor is very natural and extremely tranquil. The camp overlooks the Talek river, where hippos play and laught all day and someties all night long. I have completely lost rack of time.
The tents are large and very comfortable. All electricity is solar generated from panels on the tents and main common areas so conservation is very important. I had my first ever bush shower in the comfort of my tent yesterday after a wonderful massage at the camp spa! Heated water is placed in a canvas bag and raised by a pulley system up a pole outside your tent. Move a couple of levers (gate valve) on your en-suite shower head and with the help of gravity you have hot water. It can last five to seven minutes. Extremely cool!
The game drives here are amazing. It always comes down to your guide ad more your expectations. Please read the post – Last Morning Game Drive.
Breakfast is usually served while on a morning game drive. Lunch is enjoyed overlooking the river and dinner is inside the main lounge and afterwards you can sit beside a roaring fire before turning in. Meals are served family style will all guests eating together. The cuisine is out of this world and the desserts are decadent.
There are no fences here of any kind and there are guards (askari) particularly at night to escort you to your tent. The askari are Maasia warriors with very serious looking spears which they know how to use!
Warning – you may find some of the following pictures are graphic!
At about 5 30 pm my guide and driver, Michael received a call on his radio from a colleague in another Sirikoi Lodge jeep that there had been a kill. A lioness had brought down a baby eland – elands are spiral horned antelopes.
When we arrived, one of the females was having her diner, while the other lioness patiently waited at a respectable distance to be invited for her turn. Their cubs were nowhere to be seen. After the first lioness had her fill she allowed the other lioness to partake while she went to find her cubs. Unfortunately, we were not there when they returned.
By the end of the shoot I was losing light quickly and pushed the ISO (film speed) up to 3200. It appears to add some pleasing noise.