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Found 10 results

  1. You can't get much better than this, folks. Enjoy. If you want me to share any stories regarding any of these sightings, comment below and I'll respond as quickly as I can.
  2. This trip report covers a safari I took to Kenya with my friend Tommy Graham. Tommy is a good naturalist who also knows his birds, though he is not a lister or twitcher by any means. Mammals are his primary natural history interest. Tommy went to school with my father and has been a friend of the family since before I was born. This was the first trip to Africa for both of us. Prologue By rights I should do acknowledgements first - because this exceptional safari would have been a much poorer experience without the safaritalk community at large, as well as several individual members who were extremely generous and helpful with their advice for this Safari newby. For key advice I am particularly indebted to @@Safaridude, @@armchair bushman, @@pault, @@Tom Kellie, @@madaboutcheetah, and @@Geoff. For inspiration - too many to list but particularly @@Safaridude, @@Game Warden, @@madaboutcheetah, @@twaffle, @@Paolo, @@Bush dog, @@michael-ibk, @@pault, @@COSMIC RHINO, and @@AKR1. And for outstanding guiding, agent services, and "riding to the rescue" to overcome the unexpected loss of a private guide in the Mara at the last minute - Ben Mugambi of Ben's Ecological Safaris. I am so glad to count Ben as a friend and field companion - he is a "birder's birder", a fabulous field man and safari guide, and a scholar and a gentleman who is rock-solid dependable. The theme of this safari was "good luck". And baby animals I suppose. Time and again the guides or camp managers said "We have never seen X before". Or "we have only seen Y two or three times in our lives." I suspect some camps say things like that fairly often to set the hook with their guests - but in our case, I believed the statements to be true! Itinerary: January 7 - Arrive Nairobi late pm. Overnight at Purdy Arms. January 8 - Recovery day (birding the 20-acre grounds) + shopping in Nairobi. Overnight at Purdy Arms January 9 - Day trip to Ngong Hills + Magadi Road w/ Ben's. Overnight at Purdy Arms. January 10 - Day trip to Nairobi NP w/ Ben's. Overnight at Purdy Arms. January 11 - Drive to Mt. Kenya NP with Ben's. Overnight at Castle Forest Lodge. January 12 - Mt. Kenya National Park with Ben's. Overnight at Castle Forest Lodge. January 13 - Drive to Samburu + Buffalo Springs. Overnight at Samburu Simba Lodge January 14 - Full day in Samburu + Buffalo Springs. Overnight at Samburu Simba Lodge. January 15 - Full day in Samburu + Buffalo Springs. Overnight at Samburu Simba Lodge. January 16 - Short game drive in Samburu, drive to Naro Meru River Lodge. Overnight Naro Meru. January 17 - Bush flight from Nanyuki to Mara Naboisho. Overnight Encounter Mara. January 18 - All day in Mara Naboisho. Overnight Encounter Mara. January 19 - Morning game drive then vehicle transfer to Offbeat Mara in Mara North Conservancy. Overnight Offbeat Mara. January 20 - All day in Mara North, overnight Offbeat Mara. January 21 - Masai Mara National Reserve 7am-4pm, game drive in Mara North, overnight Offbeat Mara. January 22 - All day in Mara North, overnight Offbeat Mara. January 23 - Morning game drive, lunch, then 4pm flight to Wilson Airport, transfer to the Boma. January 24 - Depart JKIA for USA We flew Jetblue from Charleston to New York City, then Emirates to Dubai and another Emirates flight to Nairobi. It was a 26 hour trip and I was not able to sleep a wink. My carryon was a Think Tank Photo camera backpack - Airport Essentials. I loved it - but next time I might get the model that is one size larger. It held my camera, lens, a Swarovski spotting scope, Swarovski binoculars, laptop, iPad, memory cards, batteries, a La Cie portable hard drive, cables, camera cleaning kit, and 1 day's clothing. I checked two bags, including a large duffel bag (Patagonia Black Hole Bag). This was to take my tripod, beanbag, and other bulky gear. Next time I will travel lighter - did not need sweater, long underwear and various other ballast it turns out. Upon arriving at JKIA, there were not different queues for eVisa and Visa-on-arrival. But the lines moved quickly. The immigration agent asked for my eVisa and I said we needed Visa on arrival. She scowled slightly but then took $50 from each of us, gave us the slips of paper and we were on our way. The baggage claim was chaotic, crowded bedlam. After following our flight number as it moved from carousel to carousel, we watched an endless succession of luggage parading around and around. After close to an hour, we finally started seeing our bags. Huge relief! When we got outside and saw the guy holding the sign with my name on it, a wave of relief washed over us. We were home free now and on our way to our lodging. We were the only guests for our entire stay at Samburu Simba, and the only guests in camp for the first part of our stay at Encounter Mara. There were only a couple of other parties staying at Castle Forest Lodge while we were there. We had private vehicles the entire safari. I cannot say enough good things about Offbeat Mara camp and Encounter Mara camp - we loved them both immensely. And I loved the Purdy Arms in Karen - a nice laid-back place, green + leafy + good birds, very affordable, good food and drink, convenient to Magadi Road + Ngong Hills and Nairobi National Park, as well as the Galleria mall (for beer, Forex, and a SIM card). Many thanks to @@armchair bushman and @@pault for suggesting Purdy! There are those who scoff at the notion of a photo safari in Kenya during the green season, particularly one this green - high grass everywhere, etc. Let me tell you - things worked out very well. The green season is a double-edged sword for sure but the good edge far outdid the bad edge on our trip. We were still able to find extensive short/cropped grassland areas, and even in tallgrass areas we could usually pop out the top of the roof and shoot down on targets to overcome the tall grass. The Vehicles: Offbeat Mara won the "most functional safari vehicle" contest - closely followed by Ben's Ecological Safaris. But the vehicles at Encounter Mara were very good and completely satisfactory as well. Ben's Ecological Safaris vehicle: Encounter Mara vehicle (David on the left and our guide Wilson on the right): Offbeat Mara vehicle (the short wheel base was invaluable for not getting stuck): Interior shot of Offbeat Mara vehicle, showing the very handy storage shelf behind the cabin: The companions: For our first week we were guided by a sharp young birding and safari guide named Francis Rutich, from Ben's Ecological Safaris. And our driver John was a fine driver and very good spotter. Francis has some of the sharpest eyes I have encountered in my field travels. I run with guys like Steve NG Howell and Todd McGrath - and Francis would give them a run for their money at sea. He might take them on land... I am no slouch at spotting birds + wildlife, even in heavy cover but it was spooky how good Francis is. Francis on the job: We had a Maasai gentleman named Wilson for a guide at Encounter Mara - he is one sharp safari guide! Good driver, good at route planning and very attuned to our wants and needs. No complaints whatsoever. A young man named David from Koyaki Guiding School was attached to Encounter Mara during their semester break - he was very sharp as well. * See the above Encounter Mara vehicle photo to see Wilson and David. During our time at Offbeat Mara, we were fortunate to have a Maasai gentleman named Josphat for a driver/spotter/guide. Josphat is superb! Though we had intended to have the legendary James Sengeny for a private guide at Offbeat, a foulup that we learned of 5 days before our arrival in the Mara meant James was unable to guide us. This is a somewhat sensitive matter, and I won't mention the agency involved, but suffice it to say I am 100% convinced that James was in no way at fault either for the foulup or for us not getting notified very far in advance. When I learned the bad news, I was sitting in the bar at Samburu Simba at 3pm on January 14. By 4pm Ben Mugambi had agreed to fly to Mara North and guide us during our time there. Ben handled the Safarilink tickets and other details, and he knows the crew at Offbeat well. What a relief! Ben saved the day and I am so glad to have spent time in the field with him - great learning experience and lots of fun all around. Here is a photo of Josphat, Tommy, and Ben at our first sundowner together: The next post will cover our first day afield - a day trip visiting the Ngong Hills, a long stop at 'Corner Baridi' (cold corner), and various stops on the way down to Oltepesi and beyond. Lots of birds and birding, but also a very unexpected mammal find!
  3. It's been about a week since my return and I'm fighting off the nostalgia along with the jetlag. I'll start this now but will likely have to wait for photos until the weekend. There's only so much I can get away with at work nowadays. My itinerary: BOS -- LHR -- NBO via British Airways. Overall a fairly good experience but for freezing cold plane between NBO and LHR both ways, and too long layover at LHR (4 and 6 hours, respectively). I paid to pre-book seats in economy class, choosing to sit where the configuration goes from 3-4-3 to 2-4-2, so that being in that second "2" on the window allowed me additional legroom along the wall. Worked out well. 1 night Nairobi -- Eka Hotel 3 nights Amboseli -- Tawi Lodge 5 nights Mara -- Encounter Mara 1 night Nairobi -- Emakoko @ Nairobi National Park (arrived mid-day Wednesday, left at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, so in essence a full day and a half there, part spent at Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Many thanks to @@Sangeeta for finding me Tawi and Emakoko. Tawi was the perfect place to decompress from the real world and really get into the safari mindset. Emakoko is where I want to retire, I think. Both were heavenly in their own ways, and I often wondered to myself "what did I do to deserve this?" Then I remembered that I work to be able to do this, and it all seemed justified! On my first trip to Kenya, I sort of ignored Amboseli. My focus was cats and more cats. This time I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My guide Julius said "you come to Amboseli to see the elephants and the mountain (Kilimanjaro)". I was not disappointed on either front, but throw in an unexpected lioness sighting and that made it all the more tasty. For me, the Mara was tough this time. The high grass made it a challenge for me photography-wise. Too many times I lost a decent shot because the focus was on the grass and not the cat behind it. Newbie curse, I suppose. All I could think about was how many cats we must be passing by because we can't see under bushes/trees like we used to. I had one trip into the Reserve itself and I am not exaggerating when I say grass is as high as a giraffe's knee and herds of elephant appear to be swimming in the fields of gold. I have photos to prove it. That's not to say I had a completely dry season in spotting cats, just lighter than last time. Two attempted kills and one intra-pride fight were pretty stunning. I'd heard from many on here how fruitful trips to NNP have been so figured it was worth at least a night (a couple game rides, right?) In retrospect I'd spend at least 2 if not 3 nights here. I felt I only scratched the surface. I'll spoil the whole trip report for you right now and just say (because I can't hold it in any longer) that in my last 20 hours in Kenya there, a dozen rhino and an enormous, gorgeous male leopard were my highlights. What on earth more could I possibly ask for, other than another couple days there? I can only imagine what more I'd have seen! Probably the highlight of the trip outside the game rides (and maybe even including the game rides) was my time spent at Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage. I had 5 fosters there before I left and was easily persuaded by one to foster him as well while I was there. I did the morning public visit, the evening foster parent visit and at the last minute, at the behest of @girlinstilettos who was there the week before I left, the 3:00 private visit, which was just me, my guide Peter and 24 elephants with their keepers in the nursery. Heaven!! My biggest life achievement thusfar (and I say this only partially sarcastically) was to travel carry-on only. I used the Lipault bag that the lovely ladies @@SafariChick, @@graceland and @safarikit used last year, and it was hugely successful. Not having to wait for bags in NBO or BOS was such a plus. With Global Entry at home now, I went from deplaning to my awaiting vehicle in 6 minutes! Having eVisa meant absolutely nothing. Other eVisa holders and I were herded into the "Visa" line, which seemed odd, and indeed when we reached the front were chastised by the immigration officer who was "only collecting money". He tried to force us to wait in another line, but after 70 minutes in line at that point, I refused. He stamped the passport and off I went.
  4. Reports www.swara.co.ke To read the full article click here.
  5. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) The Emakoko, Nairobi National Park, Nairobi, Kenya 2) Website address if known: http://www.emakoko.com/ 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). February 2016 4) Length of stay: 1 night plus day-room 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Recommended to me by safari planner. I wanted to visit NNP, no idea where I wanted to say. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Safari planner did all the work 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was my third 8) To which countries? Tanzania and Kenya, one time each prior 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Ngorongoro Farmhouse, Maramboi Tented Camp in TZ. Nothing comparable on my last Kenya visit (all Porini camps) 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Not that I could tell 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 10 rooms that are more like little houses set into the hillside 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Room 3 was on the main level, five more are built into the hill higher up. All overlook a riverbed where there is constant activity. Hyraxes, waterbuck and vervet monkeys spotted right near rooms during the day 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very comfortable: overstuffed chairs in front of fireplace, enormous bed, soaker tub, waterfall shower, toilet, double-sinks in bathroom, balcony with chairs and table. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Extremely good food. Creative and plentiful, very tasty. Both dinners, lunch and breakfast that I had were something I'd go back for! 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes, they catered to vegetarian, unsure of other diets. I requested this in advance through my safari planner. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables. Manager was around most of the time, socializing with guests. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Did not have any meals out on game drives. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Typical Land-Rovers, open sides, sunroof top, three rows of seats 19) How many guests per row? 2 in the first 2 rows behind driver, 3 in the last row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? From the airport you have to drive through NNP to get to the Emakoko, so you're always on a game drive. Officially, I went out from 4-7ish on my first day there, and did game drives to/from the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage my second day there. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? I'm unsure what standard hours are, as I wasn't there long enough. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Not private that I'm aware of. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Passed several self-drive vehicles which were not meant to be safari vehicles (personal-use cars instead). Don't recall seeing other camp/lodge vehicles. Any sightings we had were alone. 24) Are you able to off-road? No 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. It never came up, unsure. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Surprising number of rhinos (12, 6 each black and white) during my stay. Excellent sighting on the black rhino. Superb sighting of male leopard at sunset. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very good 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? None 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Peter knows photography and the park well, also seems to know where to find particular animals in their usual places. Set me up well for photos. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Extremely so. Anthony was very excited by my leopard sighting, which was an indicator that he cares about the guest experience. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Participates in "lion lighting scheme" which deters lions from attacking community bomas. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/15901-my-safari-3-kenya-again-and-again/ 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Anthony and Emma run a great business here. The rooms are comfortable, the food great, the wildlife sightings are extraordinary (surprisingly so, given that it's technically right in the city of Nairobi!) I loved the time here and jokingly daydream about retiring here. I aspire to be like the old ladies in Fawlty Towers coming to meals every day… There is very healthy wifi. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Main level rooms: Dining area: Bedroom from balcony: Balcony:
  6. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Nairobi Tented Camp Nairobi, Kenya 2) Website address if known: Check Gamewatchers website 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). January 11 and 12, 2016 They only charged half board for the first night of our stay since we arrived so late from our flight. They did have a meal for us at 11 PM but we had to decline since all we wanted to do was take a shower and go to bed. 4) Length of stay: Two nights. 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? We were looking for a place to stay after the long flight from the US to Nairobi where we could be out of the city and start seeing wildlife. We built an extra day at the start of our safari to make sure we had some cushion if we had bad weather at our airports in the center of the US. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Through our TO Ellie at Expert Africa. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was our sixth safari to Africa also in India, Sri Lanka and South America. 8) To which countries? SA, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Similar properties in other countries. We stayed at Offbeat Meru and Mara and Sosian on this trip. Many of our last safaris in Africa have been in mobile camps. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Camp was not fenced. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 or 7 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Number 3. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very nice and large tent. Flush toilet and bucket shower. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was excellent. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes, there were many choices. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? The guides and managers were not in attendance. The seating is single tables. We were the only ones in camp at lunch and in the evening. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? We ate all our meals in camp. They brought us requested food to our tent for an early departure to Wilson airport. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Toyota Landcruisers. 19) How many guests per row? 3 rows with two seats, open top with canvass rolled back. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? 6 AM until 9, then a visit to Sheldricks Elephant Orphanage then an evening safari. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Not sure about that with our one day stay. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? No this is a national park. There was very little other traffic with a few personal vehicles visiting. We never had more than one other vehicle at a sighting. This is the only camp in the park. There are others on the edge. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? You are right outside of the city of Nairobi. You can see the city skyline from the park but it does not affect the quality of game sighting. It actually adds to the uniqueness of the experience in our opinion. 24) Are you able to off-road? No off roading. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Don’t know. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? They have nice populations of both black and white rhino. We had quality views of both. Spent a lot of time with a lion pride. We saw two suni, and I guess they can be seen fairly frequently. There are no elephants in the park. 27) How was the standard of guiding? The guiding was excellent. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? NA 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: We really liked our guide, Andrew. He is a Masai and is proud of his culture. He spent quite a bit of time explaining the Masai way of life. Andrew has a great personality and has great skills in both birds and mammals. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff was very attentive. The manager was not very evident but it did not matter. The camp was run very efficiently. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. You have the opportunity to visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Manor if you wish. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: This park deserves more attendance. There is a large amount of game and some species not always seen other places. The Tented Camp is well run and handy to both the International airport and Wilson. This is a good place to stay for a night or two either at the end or beginning of a Kenyan safari. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  7. The Lipault Ladies go to the Mara It was meant to be my second solo trip to Africa. Singapore had a short working week in February and I wanted to make use of it to have a longer trip. But feb is packed end to end with projects for my husband so that meant I would go alone again. As I narrowed my short list to kenya (thanks to much advice and input by the ST-ers in this thread: http://safaritalk.net/topic/13027-february-where-to-go-kenyazambia-safrica/ ), @@SafariChick jumped on board. I had originally wanted to see wild dogs in Laikipia but in the end, Laikipia didn't work out so we were happy to settle for a Masai Mara-focused trip that minimized travel to land transits between neighboring areas, and sealed a what turned out to be 9-night trip. The schedule was finalized - Feb 8 - Emakoko in Nairobi National Park for @kitsafari Feb 9 - meet @@SafariChick at Eka Hotel, Nairobi Feb 10-13 Serian Mara camp, Mara North conservancy Feb 13-16 Serian Nkorombo mobile camp, Masai Mara Reseve Feb 16-18 Mara Plains, Olare Motorogi conservancy Feb 19 - Emakoko for @@SafariChick Once we had the schedule pinned up, @@graceland jumped in, eager to relive her happy memories at Serian in Mara. So it became a threesome and it worked out marvellously as with the power of three we could command a PV at MP. Serian provides PV and guide for each tent, one of 2 big draws in clinching the deal, the other being a stay 6 and pay 4 deal. How we ended up being the Lipault ladies is something of a tale that @@graceland has to tell since she was the catalyst!
  8. I've been thinking about how to give an interesting and adventurous sounding trip report when it was, in fact, just a quick dip into the Masai Mara to get particular photos for a new collection I'm putting together for exhibition later this year. So I will just upload some photos (not the art ones, they haven't even begun to be worked on) and make some observations and not try to compete with some of the wonderful recent reports. As many of you know, my son spent 5 weeks volunteering at Alex Walker's Serian camp in the Mara thanks to Alex, Adrian and Roisin. I had planned to meet him and take him on safari as he wouldn't get many game drives during his volunteering. Initially I wanted to go to the Amboseli area to get some particular shots I wanted, however, the logistics became too difficult and expensive so that will have to wait. In the end, I took the easy way out and just headed down to Serian where Adrian and Roisin kindly let me take my son out on safari. I flew in at around 1pm and met Newton from Emakoko Lodge, rather late as I had some problems buying a phone from the Safaricom counter. The reason I decided on a night at Emakoko was because of the short duration of the trip, the fewer nights I had in a suburban atmosphere the better, and because I wanted some new black rhino photos and Nairobi National Park was my best chance on this occasion. My one mantra on this trip was to take NO tourist photos. By that I mean not taking a hundred and one photos of everything I saw, whether it was interesting or not. Some of the photos I took were, by themselves not interesting, but they were taken for a long term purpose. Of course, I failed on the first test thrown at me when we entered the East gate of NNP and I took a photo of the first thing I saw … the rear ends of departing guinea fowl. So my initial observations of NNP: It is great value and offers much to the safari visitor. The suburbs and industrial areas are becoming more and more obvious and are a distinct threat. Rains had been generous so the park looked glorious. Very big herds of hartebeest and eland … both species doing extremely well by my sightings. Many young calves. I was the only guest for my night at Emakoko, but I really liked the lodge and the location. Driving towards it you can see the villages on the southern side of the park, and at night you can see the lights from the village where the young boy with the flickering light, anti lion experiment lives. I didn't see them as they hadn't come on in time for my evening drive. So here are a handful of photos I took on the afternoon/evening drive and the following mornings drive to Wilson's. First off, an iphone photo of Emakoko as a reflection in their mirror. Also taken with my iPhone, my little cabin at Emakoko. Water lilies in one of the ponds. I saw several large herds of hartebeest but have chosen to show just one, because she posed so nicely for me. You wouldn't think that there would be any hidden or secret roads in a small, well visited park like Nairobi National Park, but surprisingly there are. Newton drove down one very small track which apparently doesn't lead anywhere but down the valley, consequently most drivers don't bother with it. We did encounter another vehicle on the track, a self driver, but they didn't linger. It was here that we spent quite some time with a rhino cow and calf. A Thomson gazelle. One of my goals was to collect photos of the industrial activity on the southern side of the park and found this very easy to do. A zebra stallion. A different zebra. Sundowners, looking towards the Ngong Hills. The following morning Newton and I left Emakoko for a game drive to Wilson's. I could have stayed longer. A rather handsome rhino bull to finish off All in all, I would highly recommend Emakoko and the Nairobi National Park for a short stay.
  9. Just days previous to my own visit to Nairobi I had been alerted to the fact that KWS were expanding the size of the Nairobi Animal Orphanage, situated at the Main Gate to Nairobi National Park. Speaking with concerned people before my own visit to the park which included Nigel Hunter of the EAWLS, www.eawildlife.org, they were under the assumption that said enlargement was not going to take place. However, the photograph below taken on February 16th clearly shows the newly constructed fenceline, posts and the obvious damage to the forest ecosystem and clearing necessary to sink the fenceposts. It was clear that this new fenceline, (which at the time I visited was obviously not yet finished), extended from the main gate almost all the way to the site of the Ivory burn site, a considerable distance for those of you who know Nairobi National Park. On the opposite side of the fence from the main entry/exit road is a pristine forest ecosystem, which, in this following article for Wildlife Direct, Paula Kahumbu writes, And thus if this new fenceline demarcates the area which the expanded orphanage will occupy, it really must be a concern that this pristine forest habitat will be felled and cleared, (at least certain parts of it), thus for wildlife enclosures to be constructed. Again, Paula in the article I referred to above writes: Returning back to Safaritalk HQ I was forwarded the following series of images from a concerned Nairobi resident who wrote: (My note: in the submitted images above you can clearly see the wiring has now been installed thus blocking wildlife movement) To finish, Paula in her Wildlife Direct article says: From the Orphanage page on the KWS website: So where is the need to extend the orphanage? And for what purpose? Is KWS hoping to "Cash in on" the success and revenue generation of other successful orphanage programmes, (including adoptions etc), for instance as with The Sheldrick's own orphanage, also within the park? If so, my questions then to KWS are: How many animals have you successfully rehabilitated to the wild? How successful has the orphanage been to date working with injured and or orphaned animals? What has happened to those animals unable to be released back into the wild? Who will be in charge of the expanded orphanage and what is their background in wildlife rehabilitation? Who is funding said expansion and future operations? What EIA has been undertaken re the expansion and is this area of the park going to be degazetted? What is being done to protect the wildlife already resident in the forest area? Undoubtedly Nairobi National Park is a very important educational wildlife facility already not only for international tourists but local Nairobi people. In fact, comments I personally heard mentioned whilst there was that how many local people are now visiting the park compared for instance to ten years ago which is a fantastic way to introduce Kenyan's to their national wildlife heritage. So the importance of the park should not be understated. However, one has to wonder if the destruction of this prime forest habitat and construction of a new, improved and enlarged wildlife orphanage is the correct step forward for the park, and KWS. This was in addition to the plan to extend Nairobi's Southern Bypass for 4km through the Park, which however was rejected last year. (You can read more on that decision here.) I have sought clarification from Paula Kahumbu, Chairperson of Friends Of Nairobi National Park but she has not responded. You can read more about the Friends of Nairobi National Park in their website here, or connect with them on Facebook here.
  10. Please read this much more interesting report on Koiyaki first. This one is early - Game Warden isn't even here to chase it up. Here But it's much easier for me to post from home, and I am not sure that I will have the opportunity again this week. So I'll get started, and hope it pushes me to complete the basic travelogue pictures for the rest of the trip. It usually works for me (although it doesn't seem to work as well for Anita ). Anyway, here we go.......... It's time again for the annual ritual of reporting my seemingly ever less interesting and ever less challenging annual pilgrimages to hunt for the leopard; bump around for days on end with wind whistling around my head and dust in my eyes; sleep like an angel; eat like a king; defy the tsetses; develop an alarmingly red nose and sometimes a comically red neck; shower in a minute, rotate clothes without always washing them (not the inner layers though ); never read a page of the book I brought with me just in case; try desperately to be quick enough on the draw to avoid the traditional kudu bum-shot; try even harder to keep my worn out and crooked neck in reasonable order for two weeks; and wait patiently for the very, very special minutes or hours that I will remember until next year and beyond. Same as it ever was, new as it ever is. What's around the corner this time? Will it be a hippo feeding like a croc? Could it be time for a pangolin? Perhaps a lion acting like a leopard? An elusive nocturnal creature seen in the middle of the day? Or just lions behaving like lions and a bird flying in the night? If you don't want to know the answers to those questions, there'll be little new here. You can safely glance through the pictures and move on. No revelations, little of further educational value; just a few stories of familiar places and some familiar faces, with a couple of twists that you couldn't predict even if I gave you a clue....... which of course I already did. This year's "sexy as a Donald Trump-in-string-vest-and-socks selfie" itinerary was 30 November - 5 December Naboisho Conservancy @ Encounter Mara Camp (one familiar face already!) 6 December - 7 December Emakoko @ Nairobi National Park 8 December - 14 December Elsa's Kopje @ Meru National Park 15 December Day room at Purdy Arms, Nairobi We booked through Chalo Africa (another very familiar face, even if you don't know it) and they used Cheli & Peacock as the ground operator. Both took very good care of us and unfortunately there are no hitches, disappointments or crossed lines to amuse you with this year. Damned efficiency! Safaridude and others recently wrote up Emakoko, while Paolo and twaffle revealed most of Meru's secrets, and Naboisho is hardly a new destination any more (and covered by Anita and Stokeygirl at the least). So I'll just have to tell you about it as best I can, roll out the smoke and mirrors, and hope some minor mental disorder will make you forget that you have heard it all before. And if you do forget, I'll lead you over dry hills and through dry valleys. I'll let you peek through the bushes with me. And I can hope at least to give you a different perspective. But in Naboisho and Meru, being "in the bush" can take on a very literal meaning, and so you'll have to take the rough with the smooth.... Picture perfect. All in a row... one, two, damn!

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