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Welcome to Safaritalk where we have been talking Safaris and wildlife conservation since 2006. As a guest you're welcome to read through certain areas of the forum, but to access all the facilities and to contribute your experience, ask questions and get involved, you'll need to be a member - so register here: it's quick, free and easy and I look forward to having you as a Safaritalker soon. Matt.


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#176728 Mana Magic and Hwange Highlights

Posted by michael-ibk on 04 November 2015 - 07:39 PM

Curse you, Safaritalk! Without you I would never even have heard of these funny places down there South of the equator. Would have had no idea that these places would be a total gamechanger for me. That I would never be able to look at Safari the same way again. That walking with a Zim pro guide is the best! thing! ever! That nothing is as wonderful, as satisfying, and as awesome as getting close to wildlife, small and big, peaceful and trusting, or menacing and dangerous, on foot. That Zimbabwe is just wonderful beyond words. And the place where all safari dreams come true.

Artistic Elephants

 

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Life begins gently here:
 
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Only to come to a harsh and brutal end.
 
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Well, little predators need food, too - but sometimes they go a bit over the top:
 
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Others just wanna have fun:
 
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Others have less fun - this cat´s bath was very involuntary indeed.
 
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No Safari would be complete without the ghost in the darkness:
 
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This was the Safari of gettin´ down and dirty - rewarded withsome more unusual angles:
 
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Birds come in radiating red here:
 
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A dry country:
 
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But every trickle of water means life:
 
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And every drop of water arrives here - in the mighty Zambezi:
 
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And nourish the Mana Pools flood plains:
 
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And yes - finally! My two "wishlist" antelopes:
 
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A new kind of Safari bug has got me now - the ZimManawalkingDoug-bug. How to get this out of my system now? :)

 

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#175178 Another bloody safari - Mara and Ol Pejeta October 2015

Posted by pault on 21 October 2015 - 09:28 AM

You can't miss this one, even if  it's another of the "boring ones".

 

Strange, new creatures there were!  Giant caterpillar cats.

 

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The rare Eastern Black Lion

 

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And I am not swearing in the topic title... honest! You'll see. :)

 

I regretfully announce I am going to start this report about a third of the way through the trip. I would like to give you a better reason but the simple truth is that my wife wants the photos from the Mara quickish, and I live to please. So Ol Pejeta will have to wait. However, the expedition to find Safaritalk the rhino goes in the Safaritalk thread, not here. It doesn't have to wait as long.

 

Nevertheless the actual itinerary was (dates being nights in camp so our last day was 10 October).

 

September 26 - 30  Pelican House*  Ol Pejeta Conservancy October

 

1-3. Kicheche Bush Camp     Olare Motorogi Conservancy

 

October 4-5  Serian Nkorombo     Maasai Mara Reserve

 

October 6-9  Ngare Serian.    Mara North Conservancy

 

Chalo Africa did the legwork, deal-spotting and negotiations for me and Gamewatchers did the bookings and transfers on their behalf, as well as providing guide and vehicle for Ol Pejeta. My wife did the spoiling and checking for “interesting things”. These were purged.

 

* Pelcian House was technically on a salf-catering basis, but as someone fairly pointed out, since we had a maid, cook and private guide that description isn't quite accurate. Colonial style self-catering perhaps? About all we had to do different from normal was push the shopping trolley for our cook and pay the bill... and ensure our guide got enough chapatis and ugali to keep driving - he weakened noticeably when faced with two days of potatoes, pasta, rice and fluffy bread. Anyway, it is not to be confused with Ol Pejeta Hiouse owned by Serena Hotels.

 

Just so you won't suspect an "agenda" is behind this - that I am lying through my teeth and just putting off a damning expose of Ol Pejeta long enough for the blackmail cash to be transferred to my Swiss bank account, at Ol Pejeta this time around we saw more rhino that I could be bothered counting, including small calves and everything else we could have expected except for the dogs, who we couldn’t find and who everone said were not denning in Ol Pejeta this year (then just after I got back Ol Pejeta proudly post a picture of denning wild dogs on Facebook – damn! Where were they?) Just as important, Mount Kenya was nicely visible quite frequently. It was good - very good.

 

Anyway, do remember not to expect much excitement this time around. We're back to a boring trip again. Well-run conservancy to well-run conservancy. efficient transfers, lots of wildlife, no vehicle mates (except for one day at Kicheche), no visits to the locals, nothing new at all. It was so boring that crossing the rope bridge to Ngare Serian was a notable experience. Pah! We did meet up with @Paolo and @Anita, accompanied by a rather striking "Italian Stallion" who our guide had to protect from my wife, who just thought he was insanely handsome. That was different.  Otherwise, it was just bumpabumpabumpaclickclick click bumpaclick bumpabumpa where?there!clickclick bumpabumpaclickclickclick.

 

In fact if it wasn't for the camps, wildlife, scenery and guides this trip would barely have been worthwhile at all.

 

Oh, excitement… I did get sick! First-time-ever-on-safari. Not a tummy thing though – if any camp ever gives my rusty iron pot of a stomach trouble, they don’t need to improve hygiene, they need to quarantine the kitchen staff, burn the kitchen tent and possibly relocate the camp.

 

 

Ironically, we begin our trip report with some actually unwelcome excitement at Nanyukii airstrip, where we arrived more than an hour early to find our Safaritalk flight on the runway and two pilots pointing at their watches. Record time goodbyes to Francis (you'll meet him later) a trot across the runway to impress everybody waiting we were considerate, and off we go -  leaving an hour early for the Mara.

 

 

 

Sitting on the right hand side of the 12-seater plane I have a beautiful view of Mount Kenya..... wonderful! I wonder why I didn't appreciate this on the last flight to the Mara from here. Then I look at my hands. The right one is closer to Mount Kenya, which means left one is west. So my nose is north! Why are we following my nose? Did someone move the Mara? Are we going to take a shortcut by flying over a pole? Nobody else has noticed yet and the pilots hadn't mentioned it, so I guess we are going to pop in a pick up a passenger from Sosian....or Laikipia Wildnerness Camp...... or maybe it is Borana.... Lewa? Must be Lewa as we've been going  20 minutes now.

 

 

 

But this doesn't look like Lewa in pictures I've seen. I know it's a dry year but....

 

 

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"We're going to Samburu." I tell my wife.

 

"I thought something was strange" she replied. She was right, despite having her eyes closed and headphones, trying to ignore the terror of the take-off.

 

 

 

Being on their first trip to Kenya the family in front were unconcerned by this conversation. I decided that the effect on fellow travelers of asking the pilot why he was flying us in the opposite direction to that expected, toward the Somali border, would be unpredictable and so ignore-ance was the best policy. Instead of worrying I sat forward to enjoy the free scenic flight over Laikipia and Samburu districts that Safarilink had added to our itinerary for free. Good for them. Enjoy!

 

 

House with a view

 

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3D Strata

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The Wild North

 

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An hour or more and two stops later the last of the arid, vacant space turned into fields and heavily logged forest and it was starting to get a bit boring? More importantly, tingly-buttock time was arriving. Mr Right Bun was beginning to doze. We'd actually been beyond Samburu to Saruni before turning around and heading for the Mara. Now we were on the familiar route to the Mara and the scenery is a  lot less interesting now. It's nice enough the first time, but I think this is fourth or fifth. I just wanted to get there. Eventually there is the Mara River and then, ooh hippos, wildebeest, giraffe, and the mighty river. The hearts of my fellow sufferers rose. Mine did too, but sinks a bit at the same time as this is Mara North and for some reason we have to get off at Naboisho to transfer to Olare Motorogi. God and the pilots only knows how many stops there will be in between.

 

 

 

Actually it wasn't too many and we arrived only 25 minutes late after a 2 hour 40 minute flight. We were met by a transfer driver rather than our guide and got to ride in what I am pretty sure was the same vehicle we had when we first visited Kicheche Bush Camp back in 2008. Happy memories! Further reminiscences as we passed through Naboisho (there's the turn off for the guiding school!; look at all the giraffes)

 

 

 

We arrived at camp 45 minutes after setting out, and were greeted not by Darren and Emma and their dog, all of whom were on leave while Darren got a dodgy knee fixed, but by Aki the relief manager, who is lovely.... and great company.... but can't be Darren, Emma and dog.

 

 

 

So nothing had been as expected so far. Wrong way, wrong time, wrong airstrip, wrong person picking us up, wrong vehicle, wrong manager. Had everything changed? But Aki told us we had "our" tent and that we'd be with Nelson as requested, and there was the huge frame of James making sure everything was fine with the catering (and who would dare say it was not to a guy built like Victor Matfield, carrying a billy club? Especially when everything always was decidedly all right). Even better, from the next afternoon we'd have Nelson all to ourselves, although after a couple of game drives with our companion we were genuinely sorry to see her leave. You do seem to get the best of vehicle mates at Kicheche Bush Camp (touch wood).

 

 

 

Tent was the same - couple of small changes for the better to better reflect the price range now, but still just the basics done well and with a few touches for the softy in us all. Still the only tents I have seen with a covered and (at night) closeable ante-room where you can sit separate from your partner at night (if you want to do so, which of course I didn't) relax sort of half-way outside during the day, or even have meals served if you wish (although the communal dinner table conversation is usually decent at Kicheche with lots of photographers and wildlife travel junkies - of course a few of such people can be real wazoos too, just like any other group; but at least they are wazoos with interesting stories).

 

 

 

Actually the first day is a little atypical. We find ourselves the relative youngsters at the lunch table. Perhaps Kicheche is moving further upmarket than would be good for it, I pondered, but judging by our experiences over the next three days nothing has changed except that things they always did well have got perhaps even a little better, and since the kindly folks at the lunch table seemed to be having a great time, maybe I am simply becoming a worse instant judge of character. It wouldn't surprise me.

 

 

But I am not here to tell you about this. Let's fast forward past the unpacking and straight out to meet Nelson, who delivered that "most remarkable day on safari ever” back in 2011 and has since been added to the permanent guiding staff at Kicheche Bush. All the guides at Kicheche have their fan clubs, and the others have been there longer than Nelson, but I am not sure any of them can be much better than Nelson is now. Lovely and generous man too. No question who we'll request next time. You'll see.

 

And off we go. Cheetahs for my wife; wild dogs frolicking with lion cubs for me (or bar that anything the day brings, thanks). Like a maitre d'hôtel, before setting off Nelson suggests we might start with a search for lion cubs, and if we don't find them we will probably at least find some of the Moniko pride instead. Then maybe we'll follow that with a look for leopards. Or should we start with the leopard? Lion appetiser sounds good we all agree, especially as they may be getting active and there are plenty of wildebeest around.

 

Only one other Kicheche vehicle out today, guided by Patrick, and we head in the same direction, but at different paces - our pace very slow as we are chatting a lot - our vehicle mate is a very interesting woman and very experienced traveler, and has some excellent gossip to share and a sharp tongue to share it with. Oh, the zesty feeling of fishwife superiority......  "Oooh,er – he didn’t did he? What was he thinking?"

 

 

But back to the lions.... drive, stop, get the binos out, look for signs, follow the signs, binos again... find  a lion, and then there are two ....and where might the cubs be? Not here.... Too dangerous,  Let's have a look at that lugga.... Oh, there they are, just coming out of it. And they are absolutely filthy!  Since I don’t have a scrubbing brush and hosepipe I got my camera out.

 

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Mother’s a bit nervy because the sub-adults are getting a bit too close and the cubs haven’t been properly initiated into the pride yet.

 

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Warning the sub-adults that they better not come any closer

 

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 Yeah, yeah, auntie!! Scary!

 

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The cubs were dirty with mud from playing in mud in the lugga rather than from the ground. While it was raining a bit, it was only a mild drizzle really, about to stop.

 

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After some play they calmed down and joined their mother for some licking and milk.

 

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While watching the cubs we were also (at more distance) able to watch some of the other lions around – spread over quite a wide area. With the light rain Nelson reckoned it was good hunting weather and predicted one or more would have a go if we stuck around. He was right and one lion did make an effort to stalk some wildebeest, but she was spotted and the hunt aborted at a jog. No harm done… food was in plentiful supply at the moment, with Olare Motorogi starting to heave with wildebeest again despite the return of the majority of the herds to Tanzania a couple of weeks before.

 

The sub-adults on our side of the valley we were in already had a carcass to chew on, and Nelson had pointed out that they had killed another wildebeest the night before and hadn’t even touched it yet. It just lay by the side of the track, 100 meters from the cubs, with no hyenas or jackals reckless enough in this time of plenty to come close enough to the cubs (and more importantly the mother and sub-adults) to make a start on it.

 

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With the sun now below the horizon (although we would make it come up again simply by coming up out of the valley) and the wildebeest now keeping a greater distance, the lions started to nod off a bit. Nelson suggested we leave as he thought Patrick might have found the main course by now and it would be dark very soon.

 

The lions meanwhile appeared to be deciding which one would be their main course that night.

 

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Not too long after... our main course. Was there ever any doubt?

 

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And then time for drinks…….

 

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Looking at the beautiful sunset after the wildebeest had passed by, I joked how all it needed for a classic picture was a leaping Maasai warrior. Nelson agreed, and to my complete surprise he made it happen (more for our vehicle mate than me I think, but what a sport anyway!). He received a warm round of applause from his fans on his return to the sundowners.

 

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#190012 Serengeti, ten out of ten !

Posted by africawild on 08 March 2016 - 07:26 PM

For some reason I am unaware , this trip has somehow revolve around the number TEN.

 

We  spent TEN nights on safari in the Serengeti and those TEN nights were the last TEN  days of  October , the month number TEN of the year ???

 

And ten out of ten is the perception of the National Park that we have , after our two trips (  seven years apart from one another) and after visiting some of its most emblematic  areas like Ndutu, Moru kopjes, Seronera, Eastern plains and the northern Mara)

 

The Serengeti has some of the most recurrent topics of African nature but perhaps that makes It unique and unrepeatable!

It has the endless plains dotted with acacias, the savannah with its rock formations, wild rivers full of crocs and hippos, the largest land mammals on the planet, countless antelopes and cats chasing them and of course one of the most epic migrations on earth.

 

Because of this curious alignment of elements around number TEN, I thought I'll upload 10 photos for each of the ten days we spent in the Serengeti (with some comments of course) and every day I will give a simple tip that may result interesting for some ( that would be TEN tips at the end of the report )

 

 

So Let's start !!

 

 

Day one

 

 

For the first four nights of this trip we decided to visit a more secluded area of the Park, something that makes it quieter in terms of number of visitors.

It is the area of the eastern plains where the Namiri camp is located, a camp from which we have already heard references in other Safaritalk reports.

 

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After some birding before catching our plane we had an uneventful flight from Arusha to Central Serengeti and from the air we could clearly recognice Lake Manyara , Ngorongoro Crater , the Gold Kopjes and finally the Seronera River Valley.

 

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It was midday when we landed in Seronera , very bad and strong light for photography , but nothing could beat that amazing feeling of joy when you find yourself back in the African plains and better yet if in a matter of 30 minutes you past herds of zebras , topis , Thomson and grant´s gazelles , huge herd of buffalo, mating lions and a nice family of elephants ¡

 

 

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The Seronera area is always a very rich area for wildlife and specially for predators but it is also the area that holds more visitors and you know the good sights are usually crowded. We started to drive towards the easter plains and soon we came across a family of 4 cheetahs , mother and 3 sub adults but there were also a few vehicles and the cats were far from the road , so we decided to proceed.

 

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A few kilometers further and , this time just us , we came across another 3 cheetah , a coalition in hunting mood.  We followed them for about half an hour until they disappeared  behind a hill with no roads near.

 

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Then we drove for quite a few km over open plains that had basically gazelles . Namiri is quite a drive from Seronera area , but that is good to get away from the crowds. But be aware that in this huge open plains you can drive a lot without seeing  much.

Then suddenly we stop the vehicle because there were 3 big male lions sleeping beside the road, 2 in one side and 1 at the other.

 

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A bit further we could see a group of Kopjes , later we learned that this were the Sametu Kopkes and the 3 males were from the Sametu Pride .

When we arrive at the kopjes we were going to discover something that was going to mark our 4 day stay in Namiri. On top of one of the big rocks there was part of the rest of the pride ,

in particular there were two adult females and 3 small cubs.

 

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The pride was composed of 18 individuals, with the three adult males, three adult females, five young ones  from last year, five little  cubs and finally 2 cubs born the previous week.

 

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It was fantastic to spent more than one hour there while the cubs were nursing , playing , fighting and finally resting, all the time  with no other vehicle around , a experience not to forget.

 

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When the light was fading we decided to say goodnight to the lions and started to drive to camp ( remember we still had our luggage in the car and we had already seen 7 cheetah , a family of lions , elephants , buffalos )

It had been and incredible start but the best part was that we still had 9 full days ahead of us to enjoy the unique  and incredible Serengeti show.

At his time we were already  prepare to take a shower , have a glass of wine by the fire , eat dinner and go to bed.

 

 

Another memorable day was waiting for us early the next morning  !!

 

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TIP:

 

"The first tip is about the boring subject of the weight of our luggage, something that everyone, especially those who carry heavy photographic equipments, are concerned before starting every trip.

There are always tricks to save some weight and this year I discovered that , instead of carrying my beloved and widely used Birds of East Africa bird guide, i could go an buy the Eguide to Birds of East Africa for a very modest amount and save around one kilogram in my bag.

I am sure that many of you already know about it but for the ones that don´t , you just can google for the e-guide , it is very nice for your smartphone and you can easily make a list with the bird, the date and the place you see every specie."

 

 

Paco


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#165467 Remembering Nancy (@Graceland)

Posted by Game Warden on 20 July 2015 - 08:16 PM

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Gotta love this photo. Come on peeps, give it some likes :)

 

(Taken from her Zim trip report which can be found here.)


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#215692 Sketches of Our Safari Year - 2016

Posted by Paolo on 15 January 2017 - 11:13 AM

Sketches of Tswalu-July 2016

 

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#200727 Blue Cape, White Waters & Red Dunes

Posted by michael-ibk on 06 June 2016 - 05:16 PM

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Hi everybody, and welcome to yet another Kgalagadi & Co. report from South Africa! What to expect from this one? Well, what the title says:
 
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It´s the Kalahari, so of course these two species will show up a lot:
 
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Apologies in advance - I´m afraid there will be lots of birds in this one.
 
Common ones:
 
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Little Ones:
 
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Big Ones:
 
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And birds on the hunt:
 
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Of course there will be Cats. What would a TR be without Cats?
 
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And there will be some "specials". Like ...
 
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So, ready to get on the road?
 
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#214091 A Thousand Hills, A Million Smiles & Gentle Giants - a Rwanda and Kenya S...

Posted by michael-ibk on 29 December 2016 - 06:36 PM

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This was a special safari for three reasons:
 
It was my tenth (if I can count India and the Pantanal).
It was the way I had decided to celebrate my 40th birthday.
And my mother had agreed to stop being just a @screentraveller and joined us (@AndMic and me) for the last week of this trip.
 
So, what did we do?
 
Enjoy Akagera National Park in the East of Rwanda, a rarely-visited jewel with so much potential.
 
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We wanted to do something special for this trip, and what can be more special than seeing our closest kin? Gorillas of course - Volcanoes National Park.
 
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The Mara was where we hoped to get our "Big Cat " fix.
 
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Kakamega, the last part of Congo jungle in Kenya. And home to some very special birds.
 
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Some leisure time at Lake Baringo.
 
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Flamingos! Flamingos! Flamingos! (Lake Bogoria of course)
 
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Rhino h(e)aven in Solio.
 
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And of course return to my favourite place, the Aberdares.
 
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So - how difficult were those Gorilla treks? How much rain in November/December? How many birds did we see? Who was hit by a Gorilla? Which baby animals from last time did we see all grown-up, and their nephews/nieces as well? How did Jesus feature in this trip? How many punctures did we have? What do you do when angry young men block the road with burning brushwood? In how many colours do Bee-Eaters come? How c-c-co-cold are the Aberdares at night? Which unexpected guests made walking around Sandai Farm much more of a challenge?
 
And most important:
 
Would Mum like it?
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#194907 Ndutu + Namiri Plains-Where the Cheetah Cubs Romp. Plus Cattle Markets, Suni

Posted by Atravelynn on 07 April 2016 - 01:34 AM

Where the cheetah cubs romp is a take-off on the Namiri Plains slogan, “Where the Big Cats Roam.”

 

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Romping in Makao Plains, Ndutu.  Mother and a pair of 3-ish month old cubs.

 

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Romping in Namiri Plains. 

Three cubs about 8 weeks old.  But the Namiri romps were often viewed at a great distance because off-roading has been suspended

in the Namiri Plains area and only one road through the middle of the area can be used.  My visit was March 1-4, 2016.

 

 

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Sometimes they romped in trees. Ndutu.

 

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Sometimes the romped with Mom. Ndutu.

 

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Sometimes their romps included not only with, but on their food.  Ndutu.

 

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After romping, the focus was on nyama nourishment.  Ndutu.

 

 

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Then  some nursing.  Ndutu.

 

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And finally nap time.  Ndutu.

 

 

 

 

 


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#175197 Another bloody safari - Mara and Ol Pejeta October 2015

Posted by pault on 21 October 2015 - 01:52 PM

So that was a pretty impressive reintroduction to Olare Motorogi. Still it couldn't carry on like this could it? It was like Dial-a-Predator. Well, we didn't do any dialing (or not that I noticed, although Nelson definitely got a couple of text messages - possibly "don't forget the cornmeal" but also possibly "leopard at lugga 6 north side of Moniko Hill". Seriously though, while Nelson and the other Kicheche guides share their sightings with each other and do sometimes seem to coordinate their drives to cover 2-3 areas they have together decided are promising.... assuming we the guests agree of course - they are more than capable completely on their own, as we found out that afternoon and the next morning when we were the only vehicle out. Even Kicheche Bush has been hit by the slump a bit and was quiet, although they were apparently pretty full again as usual from the following week. The day started with two surprises. First an aardwolf, caught short of her burrow by our 6 am pre-dawn start. It was still dark so the first three shots were blurs, but I managed to get the camera and lens down on the bean-bag rest for the last shot and she fortunately took a look at us before heading underground. Good wake-up call.

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Second, back in 2011, Nelson had been pretty good with vehicle placement for photography but he didn't really have a clue about cameras. However, I'd noticed him taking some shots (with a pretty decent DSLR set up) for our vehicle mate the day before - especially when it was getting dark with the leopard (the shot above is high ISO - it was very murky in reality) and she couldn't really see it very well. And this morning he was in full-on photographic tour leader mode. Let's get low down in that valley and see if we can get some shots of those lions against the rising sun, he suggested. Sounded good to me! Would have suggested the same myself but for some reason not many people see the excitement of sitting parked in a dark,cold valley staring at a blinding sun while the animals you want to see frolic in the warm morning sun 50 or so meters above you - and you can't actually see them because the sun is so bright. But the plan sounded good to my wife too, when he added "and then we'll look for a cheetah." Great save, Nelson.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention we had found the lions within 15 minutes of leaving the brief aardwolf sighting. They'd obviously called Nelson to set up a rendezvous as they weren't in the same place as the previous night. Or maybe it was just that reading the signs stuff again, combined with a bit of good guesswork. And there are a lot of lions about.

We couldn't quite get lions in the right place at the right time. Have to say they were very poor models. Still got some interesting stuff in the end, although not quite when the first rays of sun were hitting the horizon as hoped. And Nelson was distracting us by looking in a particular direction a lot. What was he seeing? We had active lions. What could be more interesting than that? We needed to know.

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And his binoculars confirmed it. Cheetah coming. So that was it with our uncooperative lions- time to get down to where the cheetah would likely be arriving soon, even further down in the valley below us.

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Still in 'backlit' mode under instruction from our photo tour leader. Vary the light guys - work the subject!  (He wasn't really saying that - just placing the vehicle suggestively.)

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But front-lit was working for me.

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This turned out to be the last of the Oloololo boys, whose remaining brother had died the previous day. I am not a naming person (although hard to avoid in the Mara these days) but simply by matching stories and the look (these boys had a look) I am sure we have followed them from when they were three brothers. I could compare the spots but I am sure enough not to do so. We met them for the first time, fat and barely able to move after consuming an adult male impala, in 2008 and it's sad there is now only one, but at the same time (putting on my tough realist hat) maybe the Mara has enough of their progeny now. 

Anyway, he hadn't accepted his brother was gone and at this time he was not interested in anything but relocating him. He was doing a long tour of their territory, chirping and then listening for a response 5 times or so every couple of minutes. It was so, so sad but he's a fine figure of a cheetah and providing he recovers from his illness he'll be good. In fact we met him four days later in Mara North (we think) and he was no longer calling and looked well.

Looking for the lost brother

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So a mixed emotion sort of sighting. Magical to see such a magnificent cheetah, so interesting to see how hard he was trying to locate his brother, and very sad to see he was feeling such loss (to be fair I have to point out that there is a picture of him checking out his dead brother on the day of his death on Mara Cheetah Project Facebbok page, but we don't admire cheetahs for their ability to solve complex math problems, do we?).

The Mara Cheetah Project people had been monitoring him since the death of his brother and another male cheetah in Lemek, fearing a virus that might decimate the cheetah population, and sure enough they showed up soon after us. Not sure if Nelson texted them or if their vehicle was one of the signs that Nelson spotted to make him think there might be a cheetah a mile away. Nelson promised to keep an eye open and report in any sightings of this guy or any other cheetahs with a swollen neck. However, we left them soon after, since he wasn't doing much except wandering a bit and calling and it was our vehicle mate's last drive - we had to find something special for her if we could.

 

And of course we did. Something special for her but very special for us, as we'd never seen such a young one and this was the same leopard we had seen treed by hyenas when she was a half-grown cub back in 2011. I have since learnt her name but I'll resist the urge to tell you.

 

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They were in good cover (the photographs lie - how many angles did we have to try?) the light was pretty unhelpful, and the cub kept on frustrating us by playing behind a bush and then running down into the lugga, which we couldn't approach without  causing disturbance. Finally she gave us a look - not a perfect look but it'll do for me. 

 

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Learning that necks have no milk. Don;t laugh - you used to do this and worse yourself.

 

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After over an hour and with mother sleeping and the cub in the lugga, we decided to try our luck on the other side - a bit of a drive but it got us at least a very quick glimpse of cub in the open, playing with grass stalks and whatever else moved. Unfortunately on spying us up on the lugga banks she scarpered back to her mother. We decided to call it a day - or rather a first part of the morning.

 

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Again there was a sad side to this sighting. One cub meant it was two days since anyone Nelson knew had seen two cubs, and it wasn't hard to work out what that meant. That wouldn't be the last bad news about the iconic animals of the Mara either. Disney-cute it isn't.

 

But this was wonderful. What a start. The vultures thought all these kills was wonderful too. I felt like joining him up there.

 

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For vultures time to bask and cool. For us, time for breakfast. Best meal of the day and they seem to remain intent on ensuring they have the best packed breakfasts in Kenya, despite some much tougher competition now. Even more adventurous ways of serving the morning eggs than ever - a "bush pie' today, which is a homemade pork pie with an egg on top instead of a top crust.

 

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And after breakfast we returned to see if the leopard cub was out again, but the signs of the bush (more specifically the impalas grazing) said they had moved on, and they weren't wrong. We moved on to a hippo pool next to the Kempinski (yes, you read that right if you don't know about Olare Motorogi). Unfortunately for the hippos and I imagine (when the wind blows the wrong way) for some Kempinski guests, this river had ceased flowing some time ago and the pool was like... well, you can see. 

 

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We met a hippo out of water who didn't seem too keen to get back in - possibly as a consequence of the cause of the wound, or just because there was grazing to be done, 

 

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At last after breakfast we get a little break. We were all more or less asking Nelson for no more big cats, so we caught up with some of the other residents. It was a glorious sunny day and horrible for photography by this time. I wouldn't let that stop me posting normally, but since these are pictures i am preparing to wife's orders, herbivores doing nothing in harsh light are missing the cut. There will be plenty of herbivores later though, and I can tell you that there were a lot of wildebeest (compared to very, very few in the reserve), endless topis, plentiful giraffe, hundreds of eland and buffalo, many impalas, plentiful zebras,  non-stop gazelles and even a few elephants. Lots of bushbuck and dik-diks too, but they were staying hidden. Dik-dik country is tsetse country, and there were plenty of them with the migration here. Nelson knew how to avoid the hotspots, but we met them from time to time and it wasn't one or two, I don't mind, but it will be part of the story later.

 

Eventually, back for a very short rest before lunch. Totally happy.And we've only just started...

 

 

 

A singing cheetah shot (really off-key but he tries hard) to end with - it just wasn't right to post it with the others above.

 

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Not sure what is wrong with the font above the first photo ... can't change it either.  Reminds me of the early days of word processing.


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#189168 Kgalagadi 2016: A Lion A Day Keeps A Doctor Awake

Posted by xelas on 01 March 2016 - 06:39 PM

(continued)

 

This morning highlight happened half way between Bedinkt and Langklaas waterholes. A lonely car was parked along the roadside. We stopped to ask why. There was a cheetah lying in the riverbed about 200 m away. Nice!

 

Cheetah in the grass

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The cheetah was enjoying the time, raising its head on several occasions. As experts have told us, never leave the sight too quickly. So after about 15 min (only later we realised that was as quick as it gets) a herd of wildebeests approached the position of the cheetah.

 

Wildebeests approaching

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As in the front only adult bulls were visible, the cheetah did not show any interest.

 

Adults only?! Not my day

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But as soon the 3 calfs emerged, it was obvious that the mood changed.

 

Ahhh, there is my meal

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Suddenly the attack exploded! The cheetah run was incredibly fast. The wildebeests did not even noticed the attacker until the last moment. From distance it was obvious that the cheetah has targeted on of the youngsters, and that, after initial panic, the adults returned to protect it. Here is the whole sequence captured:

 

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Was the hunt successful or not we have not been able to decide immediately as the huge cloud of dust obscured the scene of crime. When the dust settled down, cheetah was not visible anymore, and the wildebeest were running in the distance. Zvezda counted all three calfs so it must have been an unsuccessful hunt.

 

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Not only the cheetah sighting was closer than the one from last year, we have also witnessed the hunt from start to end! Life is good!!

 

​This event showed us why Kgalagadi is rightfully famous as one of the best places to photograph cheetah hunting. Both riverbeds are flat with minimal obstacles that might obscure the line of view in the critical moment. There was dust, of course, yet IMO it only adds to the overall drama of the event.

 

(to be continued)

 

 

 


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#188975 Kgalagadi 2016: A Lion A Day Keeps A Doctor Awake

Posted by xelas on 29 February 2016 - 04:29 PM

2 February – The Cheetah Hunt

 

The nature has its ways to redeem those that are not complaining against her (the weather is not good, the sightings are poor, etc). This day was as good as it gets, the Kgalagadi way. We have had several great sightings, each would be a highlight of a day, on a normal day! At the end of the day we have taken 1000+ photos, almost the double of our average on a "normal" day.

 

We woke up into a heavily overcasted day yet the light was soft and almost perfect for photography. There are several huge trees in Nossob Camp but unfortunately none in front of our cabin.

 

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We headed northbound and were surprised again by how lush and green the Nossob riverbed was. The grazers enjoyed this as much as we did.

 

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At Cubitje Quap the sun came out and it was time for birding.

 

Cape Turtle Doves Trio

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Yellow Canary

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Next stop was Kwang waterhole and there it was, our first grand moment of this day. A lovely brown hyena was quenching her thirst at the waterhole.

 

Arriving at the waterhole

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Brown Hyena looks surprisingly nice!

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Is there any danger in that direction?

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One more portrait

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That's it, folks!

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Is it time for breakfast already?

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Seeing the Brown Hyena was high on my personal list of sightings. Just below the leopard. They are cute with their long fur, although based on other photos I have expected to be more brownish in colour.

 

(to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#189627 Kgalagadi 2016: A Lion A Day Keeps A Doctor Awake

Posted by xelas on 05 March 2016 - 08:57 AM

(continued)

 

As there was a break in the activity as young lions have moved away from the waterhole, and adults didn't showed yet, we have quickly entered the camp gates, and parked the car next to the hide. And when I say quickly I really meant quickly as in 2-3 minutes.

 

Luckily for us the word that the lions are at the waterhole didn't get out yet so we have been able to secure our seats in the first row. Well, there is only one row of benches. I would say about 12 persons can sit in front of the window. As for those planning to use support in this hide: the shelf below the window is very narrow. A bean bag or a molar bag would be the most efficient supports for this hide. And monopod.

 

As soon as we have taken our position, and prepared the cameras, the big males decided to walk on the scene!

 

Bad boys, bad boys 
What'cha gonna do?
What'cha gonna do when they come for you? (*)

 

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(*) Bob Marley - Bad boys

 

The moment I have opened this photo on my computer his song started to fill my ears!! I remember it from the movie but original is even better! Do find it on YouTube it really complements this post nicely.

 

 

The Kalahari lions are renowned for its black mane ... and this two males were perfect representatives.

 

There was an obvious hierarchy between the two; I assume that the dominant one is the one that gets the right to drink first.

 

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Passing by the youngsters he received an enthusiast welcome from them; no doubts that they were all his offsprings.

 

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I should ask one of my UK friends to help me in describing the raw beauty and elegance of this animal as my vocabulary is just too limited.

 

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More of the same lion, this time drinking:

 

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I know, too many photos of lion(s) already  :blink: yet please bear with me as there are more to come. Like this study of a perfect top tier predator!

 

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So, no more moaning about other Safaritalker's lion sightings! That was just as good as it gets, in our book!! The playful youngsters, the lions at the waterhole, the perfect black mane adult ... can it get any better??!!

 

Yes, it can! Remember the "golden light"?!

 

(to be continued)

 

 

 

 


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#154805 Stripes of Wild India

Posted by michael-ibk on 24 April 2015 - 06:32 PM

Aap Ne Baagh Dekha?

Definitely the most important phrase we learned on this trip. The answer, btw, is yes, 17/16/15. Hint: Could have something to do with:

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The Tiger definitely is my most favourite animal, and so it was quite a logical decision to do a return trip to India. Africa may have "wilder" parks, may have more diversity of larger mammals. But it doesn´t have the tiger. Simple as that. For that reason alone India will always be a fantastic destination for any animal lover, and certainly one I will return to time and time again. Especially since there´s so much more to see than just the king of the jungle.

A unique culture and timeless monuments:

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Splendiferous birdlife:

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Abundant "regular" animals like deer and monkeys:

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Very rare and elusive creatures:
 
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Impressive giants:

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All three from Kaziranga, a most special and wonderful place in Eastern India´s Assam.

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And the place which was the reason for this trip to be a very "Safaritalky" one. A team-up of "Mrs. Trip Report" @Atravelynn , secret lurker @AndMic and my humble self. (And yes, Lynn and me will be sharing trip report duties on this one.) Our interest in seeing this extraordinary stronghold of the Indian Rhino brought us together.

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Andrew, Lynn and yours truly on the banks of the Brahmaputra.

All started here, btw:

http://safaritalk.ne...-2015/?p=118051

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That´s what they try to tell you in Central India´s parks, Kanha, Pench and Tadoba in our case. But no need to worry ... let´s just say good things happen to those who travel with Lynn. :)

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#191051 Of Old Friends and New: Kenya Revisited - February 2016

Posted by Safaridude on 15 March 2016 - 12:26 PM

More photos from Samburu...

 

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Reticulated giraffe

 

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Giant eagle-owl

 

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A huge-horned gerenuk

 

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Dwarf mongoose

 

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White-throated bee-eater

 

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A breeding herd of beisa oryx

 

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A lunch time visitor

 

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Tusker!

 

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Red-and-yellow barbet

 

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Elephant march

 

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Leopard at sunset

 

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Moonrise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#188536 Kgalagadi 2016: A Lion A Day Keeps A Doctor Awake

Posted by xelas on 25 February 2016 - 05:09 PM

30 January - Ouverture

 

We have arrived as planned to JNB airport. The immigration line was not too long but we were directed to one officer who had all complicated cases and we finished last of all from our airplane. Our two suitcases were the last one on the carousel, and we arrived just in time to prevent them being taken by the airport staff. 45 minutes from airplane to exit does not sound as much, but if outside someone is waiting for you, minutes does run very quickly! To our great relief, @Peter Connan was still there, with our names on the card. Not that we would otherwise missed him, as I have printed out the photo of him taken on the occasion of @Tom Kellie visit.

 

Our host for this, and last night, was Peter’s friend Marnus. He was a truck driver in Europe at one stage of his oh so interesting life, crossing through Slovenia a couple of times. He, his wife and two kids were fantastic hosts! Oh, they do have also two huskies. Very cute dogs.

 

After catching the breath (and rehydrating with a cold Windhoek) Peter drove us to nearby provincial park Rietvlei, where Zvezda and him were enjoying the birding, and me, I was enjoying the park.

 

Here they are, fully immersed in action

 

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Birding was the main reason to visit this park. Below is the selection of best photos; birds ID courtesy of @Peter Connan

 

Southern Red Bishop

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Southern Masked Weaver

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Ant-Eating Chat

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Blacksmith Lapwing

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Pied Starling

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Cape Wagtail

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African Stonechat

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My favourite was the Malachite Kingfisher. There are many better photos of this gem of a bird already posted on Safaritalk yet, another one cannot hurt, yes ?!

 

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And to all you birders out there, here is a homework for you. ID below bird

 

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However prolific the birdlife was, also the mammals did show up in numbers. And on top of this, there were almost all "lifers" for us, and as @Peter Connan showed us in his post, also one very rare animal!

 

OK, zebra is not a rare animal nor a lifer. This one was close and thus this portrait shot

 

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Our lifers / first time sightings were:

 

​Waterbucks hiding in the patch of flowers

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A family of White Rhinos

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A Blesbuck

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And the most neglected one (by myself, the uneducated safarista apprentice)

 

​Bush pig mother with piglets

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We have stayed in the park right till the closing time. On our drive back, I did catch a quick nap, a trick learned by my ex-boss. It was a wise thing to do as the day did not end yet, as Marnus has prepared a braai evening! Peter came with his family, and there was one more family friends, and me, I was in charge of the fire (one has to start with basics). I have learned a couple of braai tricks:

How long does the fire burn? As long as there is wine (beer, …) in the fridge

How many steaks to braai? As many as the charcoal can handle

What kind of food can you braai? Any kind you have at hand

 

There were more but after a couple of specialty drinks Marnus has prepared for us (I do remember the “steenbok” was the name of one), I forgot the others.

It was already past midnight when we hit the bed; I have slept like a hardwood.


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#175394 Another bloody safari - Mara and Ol Pejeta October 2015

Posted by pault on 22 October 2015 - 04:58 PM

@madaboutcheetah I have one shot of the top of a male's head. Not what you were hoping for I am sure. Incredibly, we just didn't have time to see the males. We spent quite a long time with the animals we tracked down if worthwhile, and they all were, so we only had a few sightings each day. 

 

@Kitsafari... You know how to hurt. Still no honey badger. :wacko: The animal that avoids us. First and last was in the dark in April 2006.  Something more unusual though.

 

Hari's question was timely because I was looking at my photos and thinking of all the things we didn't see, or even look for. We spent so long with particular sightings - generally no feeling to move on because we found what we were looking for and stayed, and whenever we did have some spare time, up popped something else to take away most of the rest of our afternoon/morning. In retrospect it was the quickest three night stay ever. We barely seemed to scratch the surface. And we never felt the desire to stay out all day, because we saw so much between 6 and 12, we needed a couple of hours off to process it (and download the photos). Up at 5.15, coffee, armpits and teeth,  pack gear, out at 6, breakfast at 9, back at 11.30-12 ONE HOUR OFF, lunch, coffee and chat, TWO HOURS OFF (well not really, download and culling photos took most of that), out at 4, sundowner at nearly 7, then back to camp after dark, shower, one drink (well half a one), dinner, one drink with a chat and then bed...zzzzzzz and repeat. Olare Motorogi boot camp. That two hours off makes me feel guilty though - seeing it in print.  :( Slackers!

 

Anyway, after a pretty notable morning, notable sightings from our ante-tent that afternoon were a mouse (mongooses the day before) and a Silverbird. Apparently (according to relief manager Aki) this gets twitchers-a-twitching with excitement. One came to our tent every day and sort of hung around, along with a pair of woodpeckers and the usual superb starlings. I thought it was just my poor bird ID skills that I couldn't place it. It's a flycatcher and apparently very attractive if you twitch. I did take a couple of photos from my comfy chair with my feet up. Not seen to best advantage here, but I was only at the tent in the after lunch hours.

 

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That evening we decided to go and see if we could find the lion cubs first -  to see them clean - and then see what the rest of the pride was up to. Lion day, except it didn't really quite turn out like that. 

 

First surprise (I don't say sighting because of course we saw lots - even without the numerous herbivores I am  skipping the occasional lion, not to mention dozens of hyenas and jackals, and even some mongooses) of the evening was an African Rock Python, out in the open. Wow again!

 

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Something over two meters long we thought, although Nelson wouldn't lie down to confirm it, so a small one. Just moving across the plains - actually to take up residence in an aardvark burrow we found out soon enough. We had about 5 minutes with it - enough to look from a couple of different angles and admire its relative speed. It wasn't pleased by our presence, but also did not appear too alarmed. Well, to be honest I don't know what an alarmed python does, but after initially stopping it carried on its way and held its course. 

 

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And I posted this in the Show us your reptiles and amphibians thread, but will repost it here because it's interesting to see the difference between cameras and lenses with the same subject in similar light. Which is a Sony enthusiast camera with an old Minolta prime lens and which is all Canon semi-pro? 

 

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That's today's first quiz question and a more than a bit geeky. Even photographers may yawn. The next two are crackers.

 

Who wins the fight? On the ground, Serious fights with significant stakes..

 

 

Tawny Eagle versus Maribou Stork

 

Ground Hornbill versus African Puff Adder

 

 

Answers later  :mellow:

 

 

The lions had moved barely 100 meters from the previous evening, with the mother with cubs deciding that she would take care of that dead wildebeest going spare - good news for Nelson as otherwise it would have been stinking up the cub sightings something rotten in a couple of days. Now full of slightly rancid meat they were a lot less active.Looked like we would be in for a long wait to see anything much happen. At least they were relatively lion-coloured.

 

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However, one little male was alert as the ever-present flies were annoying him a bit. There weren't a lot of them but they were biting.His photographer was finding it hard to concentrate too.The positive side to this is that although a few vehicles came along to see what we were seeing, none stayed very long at all.

 

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Annoyed, he decided to climb a small tree to escape them.But it wasn't easy to get comfortable.

 

Nowhere for the head to rest and not enough grip for the front paws....

 

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This kind of worked for a while, although it didn't look very comfortable...

 

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And as he slid down and but more pressure on his hindquarters, the location of those thorns gave him an uncomfortable feeling not much better than the flies - he was a boy after all....

 

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And after 20 minutes of edge-up-the-branch, try-to-sleep, slide-down, ouch! edge-up-the-branch again, etc. he gave up and decided to face the flies with his siblings. 

 

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Many of the pride were just 50 meters away (so maybe today had been introduction day - seemed like ti should be time) but they were as flat as flat cats could be.

 

One female started to roar. A very impressive sound as always at close quarters, but she couldn't even be bothered to sit up so it loses some of its power in the photographing.

 

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We'd wondered where the males were, and after a few roars a tousle haired king emerged from a big croton bush (guess who got to sleep in the fly-repelling croton bush then?)  to see what the fuss was all about, but the grass was long over there and so we only really saw the top of his head and his big mane. In any case, after seeing it was just a girl, he returned to his bush.

 

They were all probably as full as they wanted to be, and apart from the flies couldn't have been happier where they were - all flat. So we decided to leave them to it and go see what else we could find. We'd head for the open plains and scan them for something interesting. It was getting towards 6 anyway.

 

On the way, puttering along, Nelson suddenly stopped and pointed at a Tawny Eagle on the ground (I suppose there is a chance it could be a Steppe Eagle but I don't think so). Something wasn't normal but he had to look a while to work out what it was. We had to look a while too, but we drove over to have a closer look and between us (well I don't think Nelson really needed our help) we worked out what was going on. The very murky light by this time wasn't best for bird action, but the photos are okay and they certainly help tell the story. 

 

The eagle was perched precariously on a bush with wings out. Our eyes made out something dark and nasty underneath (the camera sees much better than the eyes in this light).

 

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Every now and again he would flap his wings to take off, rise a few inches and then flop back down again.

 

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But he couldn't get airborne.

 

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The slab of meat he had was too heavy to fly with.

 

So why didn't he just eat it there? Well, because he was a thief trying to escape the scene of the crime, and the victim was no shrinking violet weakling.

 

As the bloody-beaked victim approached, in that languid and circuitous way they do, the eagle tried to gobble down some more of the meat. Perhaps to reduce the weightt, perhaps expecting imminent loss.

 

 

 

Excuse me, but I think that is mine... and I would rather like to have it back.

 

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The eagle's reaction completely foxed my camera settings and reaction times, but I'll show you the photo just to answer the question above, quite conclusively, I think. The response was clear.

 

 

#*%*#& OFF!!

 

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The eagle struck instantly, in a flurry, and the stork went down like a deck of cards. Never even got a shot in. Game over.

 

And after about eight more hilarious, crashing bumping hopping attempts to fly, the eagle finally got his meal to the other side of a lugga and up onto a dead tree. It wasn't very high, but he obviously felt he wanted to eat his meal from a wooden table.

 

 

I have to say, for all the things we saw, that dust-up between the eagle and the stork was the most unexpected and possibly most memorable of all. I'll be asking that question for years.  :rolleyes: Dinner table bore warning!

 

 

Well after that, we were pretty "full" and said we could do anything - even  just go for an early sundowner. Nelson asked whether we could help the Mara Cheetah project by looking for the Oloololo boy as KWS were coming up to dart either him or another cheetah with symptoms the next day and they hadn't been able to locate him yet. No problem with that - look for cheetahs and feel virtuous! Win-win

 

And we found him. Not long before dark, but well done Nelson. Amazing bit of tracking. He's really good with cheetahs and (especially) leopards - like they were his kin. There the boy was, wandering across a hillside, still calling for his brother and freaking out the wildlife.

 

He had an escort of 5 zebras and about 50 wildebeest to escort him safely from the premises. All he wanted to do was call for his brother, but he was being surrounded by animals that, once they realised he wasn't interested in hunting, wanted to bully him away as quickly as possible, just in case he changed his mind. It was like a kind of karma. He'd probably eaten some of their relatives in his day. The tables turned. But he didn't even seem bothered. the zebras and wildebeest mobbed him but he just completely ignored them, never changing his pace.

 

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Two jackals joined in the mobbing when he came too close to their den. Oloololo boy still don't care. Just carried on with them yapping at his heels and then flopped down to rest - never ceasing the calling.

 

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The jackals started to circle him, growling and yapping and I began to fear for his safety a bit. The jackals were becoming very bold. But he wasn't interested, Seen it all before I suppose.

 

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The jackals circled in closer and closer and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, stopped and trotted off back towards their den.

 

Of course Nelson had long since called Dr Broekhuis and she arrived just after the jackals. She was very grateful to Nelson, and they and sometimes we chatted about the plans to dart a cheetah for blood tests tomorrow. She had originally planned to spend the night with him to make sure she din't lose him as KWS could only come down from Nairobi for that one day, but both she and Nelson thought it was unlikely he would leave Olare Orok that night, so they could catch him in the morning. 

 

It was too late for a sundowner now, so we headed back to camp in the dark, spotting hundreds of wildebeest and a hyena. We said goodnight to Nelson and hi and chat to Aki, who excused herself a moment and then came running back to say Nelson had radioed in that he had seen an aardvark, and would we like to go and try to find it. We would! So we got in a vehicle, driven by one of the kitchen staff and found a wildcat! But it was "just" the feral cat- wildcat that was occupying Aki's office and even Darren and Emma's tent in the absence of the dog (that dog is going to be pissed when he gets back). Rather far away from camp for a not-quite wildcat, but if you remember the photo I posted in 2011 (yeah, like you would...ha ha... but you might!) she has plenty of wildcat blood..........anyway, we found Nelson, who was trying to find the aardvark again, and transferred to his vehicle, along with Aki, so the staff could get back to his work.We drove around in the dark for 20 minutes but had no luck. 

 

Ha... that surprised you didn't it? A great day, but no aardvark to cap it.

 

After a quick shower, we had dinner in our tent that night as we were the only guests in camp - more would be arriving tomorrow. It would have been romantic, but we were knackered!


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#204949 The Hundred Acre Wood and The Search for Heffalumps and Woozles

Posted by twaffle on 10 August 2016 - 09:03 AM

Matusadona National Park – where we are introduced to Doug, Peter & Jenny and the heffalumps make their first appearance.

 

Doug is just as I imagined and with so many Safaritalkers having been guided by him over the years there is no end to the information about him on the forum.  Jenny & Peter, co-owners of Rhino Camp, are there to welcome us and the 4 nights we spend there are filled with laughter and Peter’s stories of amazing adventures.

 

The elephants are the stars of the show but the impalas also put on a fine performance.  With smaller horns and less red in their coats than their East African cousins, they are in fine condition and are truly beautiful and photogenetic.

 

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Many hours spent boating on Lake Kariba, watching and waiting for elephants to swim is finally rewarded.  The Umi river is magnificent, with red cliffs above the blue water, crocodiles, elephants, bushbuck and birds, birds, birds.

 

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“The sun has warmed us all now although the shadows are still long across the ground.  We are situated on a spit of land that has been exposed by the falling lake levels.  It’s an area rarely visited due to the distance from camp but we are on a specific mission and Doug thinks this might be the place to deliver.  The dead mopane shines like silvery grey stalks above the blue water in the channel.  Bats can be heard from inside the dead trees, and there is a constant sound of fish eagles.”

 

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“Hallo!” said Piglet, “what are you doing?”

“Hunting,” said Pooh.

“Hunting something” said Winnie the Pooh very mysteriously.

“Now, look there.” Pooh pointed to the ground in front of him. “What do you see there?”

“Tracks” said Piglet.  He gave a little squeak of excitement. “Oh, Pooh!  Do you think it’s a – a – a Woozle?“

Winnie the Pooh

 

And so after seeing lion tracks on the sandy road time and time again, we finally were introduced to the art of tracking lions with Doug.  We set off into the bush where Doug figured that they’d located themselves and had a wonderful natural history lesson on all sorts of things.  Not finding the recalcitrant cats but finding fresh buffalo tracks we made our way back to our vehicle.

 

Matusadona provided us with some wonderful safari moments: the freshly killed elephant from a poacher’s bullet, leopards, elephants doing all sorts of things, sunsets, mating snakes, baboons with a fresh greysbok kill, the stark death forests, stories from Doug, Peter and Flip Nicholson.  I’ll just include some photos from the Park and leave it at that.

 

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#176791 Another bloody safari - Mara and Ol Pejeta October 2015

Posted by pault on 05 November 2015 - 06:16 AM

@ZaminOz  The head wound is long healed. The other continues.

 

And @everybody, as I hinted.... that isn't quite the end. It couldn't end on a low note like that, could it? Roisin told us we didn't need to be at the airstrip until 10.30, so we could take out breakfast and actually have a pretty good length final drive the next morning. That was supposed to be depicted in this post, but I haven't had time to process any photos this week and so I'll have to reverse the order of my posts and give you the "postscript" first.

 

Since I have dropped strict chronological order I didn't want to make the lions fight for space with the serval that we saw on the same day as the too-flat--for a-photo third lion encounter - actually the morning of the night drive.

 

We came accross a Kicheche vehicle parked next to some bushes and a lugga. Jonathon looked for a few moments. "Do you know Onesmus?" he asked. No, we didn't - we knew Benjamin from Kicheche Mara Camp.. "Hmmm.... He has found a serval."  

 

And so he had, following where the photographer in Onesmus' vehicle was pointing (and hey, he's waving at us - we'd been at Kicheche Bush Camp with them)  I could see a serval, out in the open. Joy! We spent about an hour with her - mostly waiting for her to do something or to reappear from the lugga, and often with her choosing to put herself between us and hte sun, which was getting higher and higher... but still, fabulous. She was very relaxed. Just went about her business - inspecting for prey, cleaning herself, short nap then more chekcing for prey. She didn't catch anything by the way - and in fact didn't seem very hungry, but she gave us a bit of a show. I'd seen a serval once before but it was hunting in long grass and didn't show us any other behaviour really. Servals are kooky cats.

 

 

Sun behind but a very clear view of the long legs, tiny head, big ears and stubby little tail.

 

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Down in the lugga she went did some pretty thorough grooming. No sun but enough light for a very nice view of her at work.

 

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And I had just enough time for a couple of quick shots when she came out into the light for once - but if I was her I would have stayed in teh shade too as it was a hot day.

 

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A couple of other bits and pieces missed before....

 

Crocodile sunbathing

 

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Our tent from the conservancy side of the river - this drive answered my question about how visible our tent was from this area, which was of passing interest since we had an outside shower. answer - surprisingly, it is not that easy to see. We had to come in quite close before I could get a photo. In any case, nobody really drives in this bit of mara North - it is way off road. But that wasn't why I had traveled there (if somebody were able to take pleasure from the sight of me taking a shower they would be welcome to enjoy). It was for the photo op. My wife is not just sitting on the deck there in a dress by coincidence.

 

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And we wanted a picture of the treehouse from the other bank too. See how well hidden it is, even though it feels so open when you are there in it,

 

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A couple more shots of our neighbours...

 

There were a lot of them...

 

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Next post will be the last from the Mara and a nice way to end. Hyena den, jackal cubs and a tree are the highlights. Will you follow me to the end (and beyond... I still have to tell you about Ol Pejeta!)

 

 

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.


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#170693 First Safari: South Africa

Posted by hannahcat on 13 September 2015 - 04:23 PM

It seems that there has been a rash of first timers contributing their new-found enthusiasm to the South Africa forum, and I am very happy to be contributing my voice to that chorus.

 

Like many people, it has been my dream since childhood to go on safari. Like far fewer of those people, I found out last fall that I would be attending a conference in Cape Town in August, 2015, and the moment I heard that, I knew I had to grab my chance to go on safari. I talked my husband into flying out to Cape Town to join me after the conference (it didn't require too much talking, though he was hesitant about the length of the flight), we spent a couple of days there, and then we flew to Dulini lodge (via Joburg and then Federal Air) for five nights of safari. (I wish it could have been much longer, but neither of us get much vacation time.)

 

I'm a librarian by training, so once I knew I was going on safari, I started my research: I bought a DSLR (Nikon 3300), signed up for classes, bought field guides, and found SafariTalk. I began lurking here, but my lurking was of the fairly normal, garden variety.

 

Then, things took an unexpected turn this spring. I won't go into all the details on a public forum, but suffice it to say that my father, with whom I had always been very close and who all his life had been the picture of health, fell suddenly ill, went into the hospital, and died a few weeks later. It was an absolute crashing shock.

 

While in the hospital, and then in the weeks after, this safari took on some other meaning for me. While in the hospital in those interminable waiting rooms, I was constantly reading trip reports, or on the Trip Advisor forum. I started dreaming about animals. I went on, I think, a sort of safari of the mind -- a pre-safari of a kind, and a bit of a separation from reality.

 

By the time I actually went on safari, I was terrified of it. Could it possibly, in any way, live up to the safari I had been living in my head for months? It seemed impossible, and yet I felt I just couldn't stand another disappointment. 

 

Suffice it to say, with the exception of my wedding day, those were the best d*** five days of my life. Honestly, they breathed the life back into me. We just got back a couple of weeks ago (the safari was from August 24th - August 29th), and I'm already planning to bring my widowed mother back there. 

 

We did get very lucky though. Here are a few shots from the leopard and cub we saw on our first game drive ever -- we were with a lovely British couple who had been on eight or so safaris before, and they couldn't believe this was our first sighting.

Attached Files


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#161465 Majestic Moorlands, Peaks and Falls - a Return to the Aberdares

Posted by michael-ibk on 11 June 2015 - 07:29 PM

Last September we spent a wonderful 16 days in Kenya. On our way "From Meru to Mara" we completely fell in love with one of the country´s least visited parks - the Aberdares.
 
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And felt so much "at home" during our all too short two nights on Sandai Farm that we just knew we had to return. Soon. A few days before our departure to India in March we were joking around that we could always do a long weekend in Kenya, given the cheap flights from Europe. Well, just joking about Africa is certainly not in my nature, and we went serious in a matter of days. Sensibly we decided that it had to be at least a week, and after a few mails we were all booked. And so, last week we were overjoyed to see our friend Petra Allmendinger and her little corner of paradise again.
 
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Not your typical safari with an all predetermined itinerary this time, we were free to do what we liked whatever, wherever and whenever as we pleased. And of course, despite our best intentions to take it slow and also relax a bit more than we normally do on safari we just couldn´t help ourselves. So basically we were of course always "out there" from early morning till well into the evening.
 
Not only the Aberdares, we experienced the perfect Rhino haven in Solio:
 
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Had wonderful safari in Ol Pejeta:
 
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And explored the fascinating diversity of the Aberdares again.
 
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So let´s find out then how many car accidents we had. If we survived hiking Ol Donyo Lesatima through rain and hail. Or putting our hands in hungry Rhino mouths. And if we did find that Giant Forest Hog. :)


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