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Found 23 results

  1. Hubby and I, along with along with two of our favorite travelling friends, will be doing our first safari this June. We have 3 weeks and have contacted several tour operators for quotes through KATO. Not sure if we are being over-ambitious because we do enjoy road trips and can't see spending so much more for private flights. However, if the roads are really bad, then that takes the fun out of seeing the countryside and nobody likes 10-12 hrs driving days. We are looking to see the big 5, along with all the other critters and birds that East Africa has to offer, especially monkeys and cats.. I'm the photog of the group and hubby is the birder. Sue keeps the party going and Dave is our lightning rod (if anything goes wrong, it happens to him). We're celebrating my membership to the fifth decade as I'm the last one to join! We also want to experience the varying landscapes, culture, and food. We camp every year at home, so will enjoy a mix of both lodge and camp experiences (although the camp pictures I've seen are quite a bit nicer than the camping we usually do!) Our favorite (thus far) has an itinerary as follows: 1) June 3 arrive Nairobi - Best Western or Intercontinental (I have free nights at both but not sure if the CBD is a great area to stay?) 2) Drive to Ol Pejeta - Porini Rhino Camp 3) Ol Pejeta - Porini Rhino Camp 4) Drive to Lake Nakuru - Sopa Lodge 5) Drive to Maasi Mara - Entim Camp 6) Maasi Mara - Entim Camp 7) Maasi Mara - Entim Camp 8) Drive to Serengeti - Kubu Kubu Camp 9) Serengeti - Kubu Kubu Camp 10) Drive to Ngorongoro - Sopa Lodge 11) Ngorongoro - Sopa Lodge 12) Drive to Tarangire - Mawe Ninga 13) Tarangire - Mawe Ninga 14) Drive to Amboseli - Kibo Camp 15) Amboseli -Kibo Camp 16) Drive to Mombasa- Voyager Beach Hotel (we're also avid divers and hope to do some dive/snorkle trips from here) 17- 20) Mombasa - Voyager Beach 21) June 24 - Head home Trip is inclusive of all meals, game park and conservation fees, airport and border transfers, services of experienced driver/ guide. Some questions that I have are: - Will the drive days be ok? 6-8 hrs is pretty much max we'd want to do. I have specifically requested a 4x4 Landcruiser for the entire trip as I'm on the small (ok: short) side and am afraid the minibus won't do. - Can anyone give first hand experience on the accomodations listed? Most of my research shows these are good choices, but its hard with the overwhelming amount of questionable reviews on other websites. - Do the lodges offer laundry service? We'd like to pack just 7 days of clothes and do laundry as needed. This was really easy and cheap when we were in SE Asia, so hoping its similar in Africa. - Can anyone recommend the Olduvai museum? I did my undergrad in anthropology/archaeology and am interested whether or not its worth the stop. That's all I can think of at the moment. There will be more, so thanks in advance!
  2. Our remaining days were spent covering as much of Ol Pejeta’s 90,000 acres as was possible, but we soon came to realise it would not be possible to see it all, the remainder would have to wait until next time. The area east of the river is normally the most productive and with the most amount of game, but on this trip the west side of the river was proving to be much more productive. We constantly found small herds of Elephant, many with young and in all sorts of terrain. On one occasion as we worked our way through the bush near to the Chimp sanctuary we were surprised by a magnificent bull Elephant which suddenly materialised from out of nowhere. He was in musth with the glands on the sides of his head distinctly marked by the oily secretion produced when his testosterone levels rise. We could also detect the scent of urine as the light breeze wafted the aroma in our direction, and we could see the stains on the inside of his back legs. Sam our driver became hyper alert when this big guy appeared ahead of us. Watching & waiting to see where he was going so as not to obstruct him. He momentarily gave us “that look” that big bulls give as a distinct warning, and after a shake of his head he turned 180 degrees and moved off having first to cross a small stream. It was amazing to watch this enormous animal tackle this small but tricky obstacle. The stream was about a meter or so deep so he had to be careful, first placing his front legs in the stream, his back legs were now bent so as to be on his knees, he slowly pulled one back leg forward, then the other and in one movement pushed up on his front legs was soon on the other bank. A little further along the stream we found several Buffalo standing up to their stomach’s in the stream feeding on the rich vegetation.The Buffalo are doing very well and on one morning drive we were seeing large herds everywhere. Approaching the Ol Pejeta dam it was like watching an exodus. Buffalo were coming from all directions and there were so many calves among the herds which was a good sign for the future. The herds were all converging on the dam and in the early morning light it was a magical scene which lay before us. With the rains coming much of the game had young and there is nothing more endearing than a young Giraffe. We came across one such endearing creature with its mother, whom we had seen from a distance earlier, and we were amazed at the distance they had covered to where we had now found them. The youngster was about 10ft tall so we took it to be about a year old. This area was also where we had seen the two lionesses’s so mum was very alert and wary as they moved through the low whistling thorn bush. We were seeing black/silver back Jackal on most game drives; constantly on the move they always seemed to be going somewhere. Occasionally they would rest, but something in their psyche seemed to prompt them in to action and they were off again. The large amount of Jackal is probably the result of the immense amount of young we saw in March. The Eland is without doubt my favourite antelope and I will photograph them at every opportunity if possible. This is fine when I travel alone but on this trip my family & friends were not impressed when I asked Sam to stop for a photo opportunity while we were heading to where we were told there were two male lions. But they were very generous knowing my love of Eland, and we did find the lions, and they were the two comatose lions we had seen before. Overall, I think you will agree, it had been a successful safari, and an amazing one for my first time visitors, I mean “wild dog” on their first visit. They were very happy, especially with the Elephant sightings, and assure me they will return. Apart from Leopard they had seen just about everything Ol Pejeta has to offer. Roll on next year.
  3. Introduction: This was our first safari ever, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Easily the best vacation we've ever had. I will try to keep this trip report as short as possible and mostly let the photographs speak for themselves. We are in our late 40's. We chose All Seasons Safari to organize our trip. Our trip involved both flying and driving between camps. It also involved lodges and tents, Mara reserve and the conservancy. This allowed us to experience different options and I will give my opinion on how they compared. Itinerary: 1N Nairobi 2N Amboseli 2N Ol Pejeta 1N Naivasha 4N Masai Mara Warning: This is not necessarily a safari report, but rather a report of our entire trip. Although it was purely a safari trip, we witnessed a lot more than animals and I will be posting a variety of photographs. I prefer landscapes, still life, people more than close up of animals. However, there is plenty of the latter too. The report is primarily catered to the beginners, but I will try to keep it entertaining for the regulars as well. But, I can guarantee even the hardened safari goers, an image I will post will be very interesting to even them. In fact I'd like to know whether anyone has ever witnessed it was an image taken at ISO 16,000 at f4 and a shutter speed of just 1/30 at, its beauty is not in its image quality but rather what it depicts...but, alas it happened on day 9 and everyone will have to wait to see it. It is worth the wait Camera gear: I wanted it to be a compact package, all fitting inside my Lowpro Fastpack 200. We only took two backpacks for our other things. Pentax K5, K7 Pentax 60-250/4, Sigma 50-500/4.5-6.3 Pentax 12-24/4, Pentax 21/3.2, Pentax 43/1.9, Volna 9 50/2.8 1:2 macro
  4. After a few days relaxing and a couple of productive game drives, Lion and Rhino, it was my big day. It was an early start, and I came to realise very quickly this was not my sister-in-law’s favourite time of day. It was a beautiful start to the day, Mt Kenya was clear apart from a bit of cloud which soon dispersed as the sun rose from behind the mountain, up to then it had been covered in low cloud, and the bird song was a joy to awake to. The drive was very pleasant, though the game this morning was not abundant, but as always there were those magic moments, like when we came across a small breeding herd of Elephants, and later five white Rhino out on the plain. The birdlife again made up for the lack of game on this drive with two African fish Eagles setting up home in a large yellow fever tree near the marsh. Not too far from them on the other side of the marsh was a magnificent Martial Eagle. As we drove along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River we saw Grey headed Kingfisher’s flying from bank to bank, and unintentionally disturbed a pair of Little Bee-eaters. A little further on we came out into a small glade where a table had been set up, with numerous amounts of Birthday paraphernalia, the chef was busy preparing breakfast and we were greeted by friends from Sweetwater’s who were to see to our every need. After freshening up we tucked into a sumptuous full English breakfast, washed down by copious amounts of tea. I did say tea was to play a large part in our safari. After numerous photo’s had been taken we headed off back to Sweetwater’s. The birthday celebrations were not over. After resting up through the remainder of the day we set out on an afternoon drive. It had been raining on and off throughout the afternoon but it was beginning to stop now and we noticed there was more game around than in the morning. The cats though were proving to be elusive. Around 5.30pm we were driving along the road which runs along the back of the marsh and as we approached we could see there were 30-40 Buffalo in the marsh and a large flock of about 15 Grey crowned Cranes. As we turned the corner to drive down to marsh we were surprised by our friends from the morning who had set up a bar with some very tasty hot bites. The rain was holding off and we settled down to enjoy a sundowner, even if we would not get to see the sun go down. The low cloud cover caused the light to be less than it would have been at this time. Our driver brought our vehicle closer and turned on the headlights. We thought this was a very good idea until one of the staff informed us that the rangers think we should leave. “Leave” I said a little confused, “yes, leave now”. We had not even had a sundowner, but the rangers had raised their rifles and were looking quite concerned. We got into the vehicle and as we drove away we saw in the head lights scores of Buffalo coming through the bushes heading towards the marsh. A few minutes later the heavens opened. After a quick wash and change of clothing we finished the celebrations in the dining room telling anyone who would listen about our encounter with Africa’s most dangerous animal. The evening finished with the traditional birthday cake, which was brought out amid much singing and joviality by the staff. The end to an absolutely lovely day. Happy birthday to me.
  5. There are many Cheetah on Ol Pejeta but they are not easy to find due to the terrain and the conservancy rules which ban off road driving. Fortunately our driver Sam has a friend who is a ranger on Ol Pejeta. John would phone Sam if he saw any of the cats while he was out on patrol and give us a rough location. This obviously gave us a head start knowing where to look, but we still had to find them, and in the time it took us to get there they would have move quite some distance. John phoned Sam three times. Twice for Lions, & once for Cheetah. The lions were relatively easy to find as they were resting not too far from the road. The Cheetah was another proposition. It was a mother & two sub adult cubs and they were moving through the whistling thorn bush. When we finally found them mother was on the hunt, with cubs in tow. She appeared to be focusing on some Thompson Gazelles a little way down in a shallow depression. It was amazing to watch her weave her way through the thorn bush, not ideal terrain for a Cheetah, with the cubs instinctively copying her. The track we were on did not go in the direction of the Gazelles so all we could do was to watch them as they slowly disappeared down into the depression. As far as we could see the Tommie’s had not seen her but not much happened, so we can only assume she had been spotted and moved on to find other prey. On another evening we found two large male Lions near to Murera donga, they were doing what lions do best, sleeping. I say sleeping, but they were more comatose. Lions do not move much but there is usually a twitch of an ear or a momentary look up on hearing a noise, but these two never moved as much as a whisker all the time we were there, so much so as to cause us for a moment to think, “are they alive?”. We came across them several days later and amazingly the exact same scenario. We were told there was a lot of commotion behind the Chimpanzee sanctuary and that it was a Cheetah. On arrival, literally outside the back gates, the Chimps inside their secure quarters were screaming. We don’t think they could see the Cheetah, but may have earlier when she caught a young Impala. Their natural instincts must have told them this animal is a predator as they would never have had any encounter with a wild cat before. She was resting under a bush, not far from the sanctuary. We could not see any kill, then After a while she got up, sauntered a few meters and settled down to finish her meal. John made one more call on our penultimate day. It was around 5 O-clock and it was to inform us of a wild dog over on the Ol Pejeta house side of the conservancy. We headed off, crossing the bridge that has a sign which says.........and on to the Lodru plains. It was not long before we picked up on a lone figure lying a little way off from the road. In my mind when I hear “wild dog” I immediately think of a pack or maybe 4/5,I was surprised to see just the one. It was a male and we have been told he was born on the conservancy a few years ago. Why was he back? And alone?? He did not stay long and eventually trotted off into the distance where we could not follow. We made our way back passing through a small valley north of Kicheche camp. The sky was starting to clear and the sunlight lit the valley revealing a large herd of Reticulated Giraffe spread throughout the valley. At first we thought there was only 5/6 Giraffe, then the sunlight revealed 15 more as we scanned the full length of the valley. It was such a beautiful & peaceful scene, one which will stay with me for a long time to come.
  6. My goodness, where does the time go? I have been back from Ol Pejeta in Kenya almost three weeks and have only just about found time to share my latest experiences with you. As some of you will know, I am a great admirer of the Ol Pejeta conservancies work. The last five years has seen great advancements /improvements on the infrastructure & the continued success with their livestock – wildlife programme. Ol Pejeta integrates cattle with wildlife, and use livestock as a means to manage the rangelands more effectively. By day they graze out on the plains and at night are corralled in predator proof enclosures. There are over 100 herders, one for every 60 head of cattle, and there are now 7,000 head of pure Boran cattle on the conservancy, the largest herd in the world. There are also the amazing and most beautiful Ankole cattle which originate from Uganda. Much to the conservancy’s credit there has never been any conflict between the cattle & the wildlife, and No infections either. The threat of attack by predators is thwarted in the traditional way. The herders carry their traditional rungu’s, wooden clubs, and like all pastoralists they are very dedicated & protective towards the cattle. Ol Pejeta’s 90,000 acres are a paradise for the wildlife that lives there and their numbers are also on the increase. The dedicated work with the Black Rhino especially has gone a long way towards Ol Pejeta having the largest number of Black Rhino in Kenya. The Southern white Rhino is also doing very well, not to mention the valiant efforts being made to save the Northern white Rhino of which only three remain. Elephant & Buffalo numbers are up as are the numbers for the Reticulated Giraffe. There are now 5 large prides of lion on the conservancy and Cheetah numbers are stable. Leopards numbers are much harder to assess because of their elusiveness, but spotted Hyena always seem to have cubs so that is a good sign, and the stripped Hyena is also stable. Jackson's hartebeest are holding there own. Wild dogs, as a pack, have not been seen for a while, though there is one lone male on the conservancy at the moment. When I visit Ol Pejeta I always stay at Sweetwaters tented camp, Primarily for the excellent service & food, and for the very active waterhole, Though the waterhole in sept/Oct is never very busy, but night time makes up for that. But this time it was a special trip, my 70th Birthday, and I had come out with family & friends, who have never been to Africa before, to celebrate it. We flew out with BA, not overly impressed & I had arranged Transport/driver with Real Africa Safari in Nairobi. We drove up to Sweetwaters the morning after our arrival having spent the night at the Boma hotel, which I would recommend, and we arrived in time for lunch. On our way to Sweetwater’s we stopped at the blue post Inn to see the Chania falls and enjoy a refreshing cup of Kenyan tea & a toilet break. My family & friends were fascinated by the towns we passed through with all their variously coloured buildings. There were small markets creating an air of hustle & bustle but the largest market in Kenya at Karantina was not on that day. We crossed the equator, and then again when we turned off at Nanyuki. After lunch we unpacked and settled in with a relaxing afternoon watching for game at the waterhole, sadly it was very quiet, apart for a small herd of Zebra that paid a visit and three old bull Buffalo, but the bird life made up for the inactivity at the waterhole. In about two hours, with no effort on our part, save making a cup of tea, and tea would play a large part in our stay, we saw 34 species of bird, including three of the four species of Woodpecker to be found here. As I was getting ready for the evening I heard my name being called quite frantically. As I was in the shower I could only reply verbally. Chris wanted me to come and see the Black Rhino that had arrived at the waterhole. It was something of a dilemma, but having been blessed over my many years of coming to Kenya with more Rhino sightings than you can shake a Rungu at, the shower held a greater attraction for me. I told Chris to sit quietly, take it all in, and above all, enjoy the moment.
  7. A: Everyone! My daughter has been the punniest person around while on safari. Who knew became who gnu? Likewise, the lions laying under a bush were waiting to AMbush.... Many thanks to the SafariTalk community for endless recommendations. Our two week trip was beyond measure.
  8. 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. 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. 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: Had wonderful safari in Ol Pejeta: And explored the fascinating diversity of the Aberdares again. 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.
  9. Well, it has been several weeks since I got back from my favourite place in Kenya, Ol Pejeta, and with what will be months of sorting & editing, and finally putting a film together of my latest trip, I thought I would ease myself in by sharing some of memories with you. So. Let me take you back four months. I arranged my twelve nights accommodation directly with Sweetwaters tented camp, that sorted I scoured the internet for a cheap flight from London to Nairobi, I finally found a possibility with KLM, flying Kenyan airways. KLM own 25% of Kenyan airways so often use their partners Nairobi flights. The return would be via Amsterdam, no problem, but it's arrival in Nairobi would be at 05.00. Not a problem if you are staying over, but I would be flying from Wilson airport to Nanyuki that morning, and that flight was not until 09.20 and that is a long wait in an airport(?) with very little to occupy oneself. So, after some thought, and a change of plan, I decided to go by road, but still fly back . I use Real Africa safari for all my transport, transfers & my overnight hotel on my return journey, and Sam, my driver, was there waiting for me as I came out of Arrivals. There was an advantage to driving to Nanyuki, apart from the numb bottom I would acquire from the four hour journey, the road going out of Nairobi would be relatively quite as most of the traffic would be coming into Nairobi. This was a good plan, and was confirmed as such when the flight came in half an hour early at 04.30. I was off the plane & through passport control quickly, my bag arrived shortly after I reached the carousel and we were on the road by 05.20, Wow! The day was getting better & better. We were passing through Thika by the time it got light, sadly no stop this time at the Blue post Inn to see Chania falls, and we reached Karantina by 07.45. My driver enquired if I needed a toilet stop? "hapana, asante" I replied, practising my kiswahili, and we drove on. We were in Nanyuki by 08.50 and turning left off the main road we headed on to Ol Pejeta conservancy. We arrived at the gate by 09.15, paid the conservancy fees and I was walking into Sweetwaters reception by 09.30. The staff were quite surprised to see me, expecting me around noon as I was coming by road. After a brief explanation and a cool juice, I was asked if I would like breakfast?. "Breakfast" I replied lamely. I was not expecting that, so as I say, the morning was getting better & better, and was about to get even better. As I made my way to the dining room a friend greeted me & said there are some friends of mine at the waterhole. My table was next to the large glass doors looking out onto the waterhole, and WOW! there were fourteen reticulated Giraffe. I have now totally forgotten how tired I am from a rather sleepless overnight flight & four hours on the road, and almost in one movement I removed my jacket and retrieved my cameras from my hand luggage and slipped out through the glass doors to capture my first photo's & footage of my stay at Sweetwaters. It took me a little time to refocus on breakfast, but I did, and once refuelled & after reacquainting myself with the many friends I have made here, it was a leisurely unpack to the sound of bird song, and the occasional distraction of Zebra coming to the waterhole(snap,snap). After completing my bathroom rituals & a very welcoming shower I decided to have a walk around the camps grounds before it got too hot. The camps grounds are quite large with a nice variety of habitats, which of course makes birding here a great joy. The waterhole throws up many waders, storks & herons, the wooded areas are abundant with Barbets, Tinkerbirds, Shrikes and much more,while the garden areas are full of Sunbirds, Starlings, Cuckoos & Woodpeckers, and the skies are full of Swallows & Swifts. My first walk was most rewarding, and with no great effort I saw my first 38 species of birds, and then relaxing after lunch outside my tent brought many more. Of course march is migration time as the European/Northern species head home, so I was a very happy camper with my first day being so rewarding. Watch this space................
  10. After a few days rest it was time to venture out and see what splendours Ol Pejeta had in store for me. Well, those splendours were, an abundance of young. The were Zebra foals and Buffalo calves everywhere. Impala & Defassa Waterbuck were also breeding well, and as a friend at camp said, "this is good news for the Cheetah". Not a thought that sprang readily to mind, but I understood what he meant. That said, I never saw a cheetah during my time here, though I did hear they were being seen. With the dense croton/whistling thorn bush which covers a lot of Ol Pejeta seeing the cats was never going to be easy. That said, my first drive gave me my only sighting of Lions. Two big males, which made up for any other lack of sightings. They were lying out in the open about thirty meters apart enjoying the early morning sun before it became too hot. Night drives were more successful, with lions being seen quite regularly as well as Hyena. One night at camp the call of a Hyena was so loud I instantly thought it must be very close to camp. Curiosity got the better of me and with torch in hand I headed off to the far end of camp where the call came from. As I shone the torch into the bush the waterbuck, which move close to camp at night for safety, were very agitated. They suddenly moved away in that delightful trotting way they do, then suddenly there he was. The Hyena appeared from behind a bush moving across the line of the waterhole and slowly vanished into the darkness. The waterbuck settled down again and calm was restored. Ol Pejeta was very dry, but the rains were due, and with this in mind the Elephants had started to appear in good numbers. Back from their migratory wanderings on Mt Kenya and the Laikipia plateau, they too had many young among them. I was fortunate, no blessed, to see Elephants on every game drive I took. One memorable moment was when a youngster about 3/4 years showed great bravado in threatening us with mock charges. He did this several times then retreated behind a large bush. He would then peer from behind the bush at us, and as we had not taken the hint, he would repeat the scenario again. On the last charge his mother moved from where she was feeding passing behind us to feed on another bush across the road. On seeing his mother move off his bravado melted away as did he into the bush. Back at camp the resident Egyptian Geese had nine very young gosling, and I found myself counting them each day to make sure they were all safe, as there was a rather persistent Pallid Harrier taking an unhealthy interest in them. He appeared regularly through out the day, but after three days I never saw him again. An African Harrier Hawk made a brief appearance one afternoon but was chased off by a mob of starlings. I was becoming a little apprehensive about the survival of all nine goslings, though mum and dad showed great courage in the face of the Pallid Harrier. Every time he appeared, swooping low the goslings instinctively took cover and mum & dad reared up, wings spread out and Honking their contempt at his audacity to think he would be getting an easy meal. The small guy's were showing a lot of courage around the waterhole and on another occasion three Pied crows saw off a Tawney Eagle that had come a little too close to camp for their liking. Watch this space for news on Ol Pejeta's stars & more..................
  11. Our 8 days in Kenya and here are some of the lions we saw:
  12. As you know from my earlier post, Sweetwaters tented camp attracts a lot of Elephant, but the most frequent of the large mammals to visit Sweetwaters water hole is the Rhino, both black & white, both day & night. If you do not get to see a Rhino, even on a two or three night stay, you will have been very unfortunate.
  13. One of the main reason's I stay at Sweetwaters tented camp is it's very busy waterhole. Elephants come and go in small groups, but every now and then big herds arrive. These are probably many small groups arriving at the same time.
  14. Our first trip to Kenya. (MrsQ a.k.a @Thursday’s Child and I) We have visited a number of other African countries but never Kenya. Why? – ignorance based on inaccurate stereotypes of a Kenyan safari. Well, Safaritalk has put us right – many thanks to those of you who have contributed Kenya trip reports. The trip was booked through Expert Africa following long and helpful discussions with Richard Trillo (a Safaritalk member @@richard Trillo) and with Eleanor Dunkels. We had used Expert Africa to book our Zambia trip a couple of years ago and were pleased with them again. Summary of Trip: Wilson Aero Club Nairobi 1 night (January 9th) Offbeat Meru 4 nights Kicheche Laikipia, Ol Pejeta 5 nights Kicheche Bush, Olare Motorogi Conservancy 4 nights The rains had been heavier and longer than is usual. Before the visit we nervously checked the weather forecasts and hoped! All of our previous safaris had been in the dry season. Still, it would be interesting.
  15. My wife & I were staying at Sweetwater's tented camp on Ol Pejeta conservancy near Nanyuki, Kenya. While there we went on a night game drive. We had been on many night drives before, and in many varied terrains which has given us the opportunity to see a wide variety of animals. So as we ventured out into Ol Pejeta' 90,000 acres, we did so with an open mind as to what the African night would reveal to us. It was not long before our guides searchlight picked up on the startled eyes of a herd of Impala. They settled down as we passed them by, and then a few moments later, a small herd of Zebra raced across the road in front of us. The first big spot of the night was a Caracal, which quickly melted into the bush after our headlights had disclosed it's whereabouts. Being 6,000ft up the night air was crisp, and in a cloud free sky the Milky way had dominance over the scene that lay before us. An almost full moon bathed the open grasslands in a soft cool light. Ghostly shapes moved silently through the magical scene that was unfolding before us, Buffalo, Waterbuck & White Rhino among them, seeking safety on the open plains where predators would have little cover if trying to ambush them. As we moved on our guides searchlight revealed a large herd of Thompson's Gazelles. As we slowly moved towards them, the guide picked up on a distinct nervousness about the herd, then suddenly they scattered in all directions. The guides searchlight searched frantically for the cause of the panic. Then as the dust settled, there it was, a Cheetah crouching low in the grass. We moved slowly closer, but keeping a respectful distance, and as we got closer we saw that amid the panic, one of the Thomson's gazelles had run straight into it's ambush. With our engine now turned off, and with the sound of thundering hooves subsiding, all we could hear was the tragic last bleats of the Tommie as the Cheetah delivered the final coup de grate. The Cheetah fed quickly, it knew there would be other predators on the prowl and would soon pick up on the commotion and the scent of blood in the air. It took us some time to gather our thoughts as to what had just happened. Neither the driver or the guide had ever seen a Cheetah kill at night before, and it was a definite first for us. As we made our way back to camp we had a most pleasant surprise when we came across a small family of stripped Hyena. Once again Africa had surprised us, and long may it continue to do so.
  16. BREAKING NEWS. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy ************************************************************************ The fight goes on, but if a sanctuary like Ol Pejeta, which has excellent security, all things considered, what hope for the rest. It is a little worrying that Ol Pejeta has now lost two Rhino in as many months. The poachers of the first were caught quickly, sadly it just shows there are always others to take their place. At the end of the day all that can be done is to tighten security where it can be tightened and soldier on. AJ
  17. After landing at Nanyuki air strip I was swiftly transferred to Sweetwater's tented camp on Ol Pejeta conservancy, a place I have come to call home. Making my way to my tent I noticed a small herd of Eland at the waterhole, my favourite antelope, their peaceful drink was being disturbed by a lone male Buffalo taking a mud bath. There was nothing unusual about this scene, sweetwaters waterhole is nearly always active, it was a nice to be home. Much had changed in the six months since my last visit. The whole area had been transformed by the unusually high rain fall in December & January, usually the driest months. The game then was not in good condition, especially the Buffalo, but this old bull was looking very healthy. I spent the first few days enjoying the what the camp grounds & waterhole had to offer, and that was quite a lot. The waterhole was generally busy through the morning with Rhino several times a day, and the most beautiful of Giraffes, the Reticulated, gracing us with their presence. They would appear on the horizon, standing for long periods just looking in the general direction of the waterhole, then slowly they would move forward with the occasional falter in their step to check all was as it should be. The regular cast would come & go through out the day, Zebra being the most frequent, but they never stay long. The Defassa waterbuck, Grants Gazelle & Impala on the other hand were always around grazing on the bountiful grasses that were available. My first game drive was a pleasant one. It started with the usual plains game and then two Black Rhino, we had not gone far and another black Rhino. It really is very difficult to take a game drive here without seeing Rhino. Giraffe were seen intermittently through out the drive which is always nice. On our way back we saw two Black back Jackal and some Jackson's Hartebeest. The waterhole continued to be busy and two more black Rhino visited. Surprisingly they were quite tolerant of the excited tourist snapping away at them. At one point they came quite close to the ditch which separates the game from the guests, which made for some excellent photo opportunities. my favourite (Eland) came later that day and with Mt Kenya as the back drop my afternoon was complete. Most Evenings around seven pm a big herd of Buffalo would arrive. They did not stay long and after drinking melted into the African night. Not wanting to sound repetitive, we would have Black Rhino on most nights. An unusual experience to be had at Sweetwaters in the evening is watching the Waterbuck. They slowly start lining up close to the ditch around seven thirty and with total suspicion of everything & anything that moves, they gradually pluck up the courage to leap over the ditch, along with a few Impala, and spend the night in the woods at the back of the camp. After a early morning game drive & a late breakfast I fill the mornings with a bird walk within the camp grounds. The grounds are quite large with a variety of habitats giving a wonderful diversity of species. On this trip I spotted over 100 different species within the camp, boosting that to a record for me, of 155 including game drives. When walking along the camps perimeter I often saw Rhino and Elephants along with the plains game. Five days in and things were building up nicely. You don't really want all the big five in one early rush. So with Elephant, Rhino & Buffalo under my belt it was perfect timing when we came across two female Lions. They were resting in an open area with the occasional lifting of the head to check where each other were. After about twenty minutes one of them sat up and looking quite fixedly towards three wart hogs in the distance. Suddenly she was off with her sister following shortly afterwards. There wasn't the commitment one normally sees when Lions are hunting and it was not long before they settled back down in the long grass. Driving back to camp we saw two more black-back Jackals which was to become the norm on each drive and there was a lot of Lesser Kestrels around. On one occasion we saw 30 in one tree. There were also a lot of Pallid Harriers and Eurasian Bee-eaters, though the best spot was a Carmine Bee-eater. I had seen several around the camp but at a distance, this one obliged with some beautiful photos. The marsh area was quite productive with Saddle bill Stork, Augur Buzzard & Fish Eagle the best spots, and my first sighting of a young Crowned Crane. Back at camp the waterhole was as productive as ever with Black Rhino, Eland & Reticulated giraffe, again in good numbers and a handful of Elephants passed slowly by in the distance. The most difficult animal to see on Ol Pejeta is the Leopard. A week had passed and Leopards had been seen, but I was not holding my breath as I have never seen a Leopard here during my 100+ days staying at sweetwaters, but we live in hope. Another game drive produced more Rhino both black & white and both with calves at different times. A lone Oryx appeared along with some Jackson's Hartebeest and more Black-back Jackals. Several Black-bellied Bustards and a pair of White-bellied Bustards along with a Secretary bird were seen in the long grasses on Oryx plain. While observing the Bustard we heard a very loud yelp from a Jackal, the kind of yelp which can only mean there is a predator around. Checking the bushes ahead where the Jackals warning was coming from and male Defassa waterbuck was starring intently we could not see anything, though the Jackals yelps were getting more agitated. We decided to go back to a track which we had passed which would take us around the back of the bushes. Following the track which took us deeper into the bushes we saw what was disturbing the Jackal, two Spotted Hyena. But something was not right. The Hyena were also agitated. Edging a little further along the track we were stunned when ahead of us a Leopard climbed down from a small tree. He did not run away as we expected, but went a little way ahead and sat staring at us from within a thicket. He stayed for a few minutes before moving to another bush check to see where the Hyena were. We think they thought the Leopard may have a kill and were more interested in that as they never came near the leopard. A few minutes later he was gone. Wow! What a fabulous way to see my first Ol Pejeta Leopard. With so much vegetation around the game was breeding well, especially the Common Zebra. There were Zebra foals everywhere along with young Impala, Thompson Gazelles, Defassa waterbuck, Black-back Jackal and Reticulated Giraffe. Of course a healthy population of game is always a good sign that there will be a healthy population of predators. My final morning game drive gave me the perfect finish to my stay on Ol Pejeta, a male & female Lion. He was a fine example of the savannah's king and carried that air of indifference these beautiful creatures have. As is the norm for cats, they did not do much, Just the occasional glance at each other. But there was an underlying problem we had not picked up on. The male suddenly stood up, walked a few meters and let out the biggest roar I have ever heard. Several more lesser roars followed and then he walked off. The female had sat up and had an expression of complete bewilderment. What ever his problem was, she did not have a clue. Eventually she followed him with an air of resignation that what ever the problem was he would get over it. Once again Africa has not failed to impress. Even after my many years of travelling to Africa I always see something new or different. Something new was an Amur Falcon and something different was seeing young Crowned cranes & very young Helmeted Guinea-fowl. Kwaheri ya kuonana. Good by until next time. PS: check out my photo's of this trip.
  18. What: Kenyan Safari When: 12 days in Feb 2014 Where: Two nights Porini Rhino, two nights Porini Mara, three nights Porini Lion. Much too short, but with spending two nights getting to Rhino (one in flight to NBO, one late night arrival in NBO) and then again coming home, it's the best I could do with my work's limitation on vacation time. How: KLM -- BOS-AMS-NBO-AMS-BOS Airfare for the same timeframe was $800 less than it was for Tanzania last year. Woot! SafariLink for all flights (coordinated by Gamewatchers) Why: My safari in Tanzania (report here) was the single best travel experience of my life. You people didn't warn me how addictive this would become! I wasn't home a month and was already thinking of how and when I could get back. And hungrily reading more and more posts on here only fed the desire to return. I didn't want to re-do last year (indeed, a guide in Russia once told me "you never try to repeat perfection, it will only disappoint") but wanted to focus on what enthralled me most: the big cats, rhinos and the whole living in a tent experience. So I set off to find out what I could do to maximize that experience. I've said it all over Fodors and on Trip Advisor, but with the tented camp experience, your game drive starts as soon as you step out of your tent. Well, actually, some days it can start while you're in your tent: lions roaring in the night, hippos belching behind your headboard, baboons trampolining off your tent during siesta. And that's what I loved about it. That's what made this "I don't do much outdoors that either gets me dirty or makes me slightly uncomfortable" kind of girl taking bucket showers and peeing in the bush. After much discussion, in June 2013 I ended up booking this as a solo trip. I almost had one of my travel-mates repeat the adventure with me, but ultimately the rest of her bucket list called. I had narrowed it down to Masai Mara for its cats and Ol Pejeta for its rhino conservation efforts. Gamewatchers, and Julie at Gamewatchers in particular, put this itinerary together for me. I went back and forth on Amboseli, but the big draw there seemed to be the elephants, and I'd seen 200+ at one watering hole in Tarangire last year, so really didn't feel the pull to go there and spend valuable days there that could be better (for me) spent in the Mara. Ultimately it is a decision I do not regret. I was initially attracted to the conservancy concept more for the "exclusivity" of the game viewing, I'll have to admit. Access to the conservancies is limited and much lighter than in the national parks. And that all bore out. But the more I read and the more I heard from other travelers about the efforts of the conservancies, and then meeting rangers there and talking to the Masai guides and a researcher at one of the camps about the effectiveness of the conservancies, I've really become a strong advocate and hope that the success continues. My trip report won't rival those recently posted here in terms of humor and it'll take some time to get to it, but I've been slow to post it due to life intervening and getting grueling right after my return. I want to celebrate and share those glorious days in Kenya while it's all still fresh! Photos will come...I've 2000 to parse through. Thank you to all who offered advice and continuing to share their stories. I blame you for needing a 12-step program now.
  19. I first saw this video on the Ol Pejeta Facebook page It was taken by Sandy Gelderman - staying I think at Kicheche Laikipia A very touching example of elephant behaviour - and why they are such special animals
  20. Anyone who receives the Ol Pejeta newsletter will already be aware of this fundraiser but for those that don't I thought as this doesn’t seem to have come up yet that I should post something and this seemed to be the most appropriate forum although I’m not an NGO. As I’m sure many here will already be aware the northern white rhino Ceratotherium simum cottoni now has a population of just 4 known animals all of these animals are it now seems incapable of breeding naturally and the chances of any unknown animals surviving in the wild is next to nonexistent. Female Nabiré, one of the last five northern white rhinos, died This means that this subspecies or even full species as some scientists have suggested that once roamed across Central Africa in the thousands is now effectively extinct. Doomed by the insatiable demand for rhino horn to make dagger handles in the Yemen and traditional medicines in the Far East combined with the seemingly endless wars that have plagued this region of Africa and that made it ultimately impossible to save these animals. However although it may seem like the fight to save these animals is lost the custodians of 3 of the last surviving animals Dvůr Králové Zoo in Czech Republic which owns them and Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya that looks after them have not given up. Together they have a plan to roll the dice one more time to try before it’s too late to resurrect these animals to use the science of IVF and embryo transfer to as it were make new northern white rhinos. In order to raise this substantial sum of money they have set up Go Fund Me page if anyone wishes to contribute and help try to bring these otherwise doomed animals back to life here is the link. Make a Rhino, Save a Species If they do succeed in creating new northern white calves one has too hope that in the future there will be safe places in the wilds of Central Africa to send them to, places like Zakouma NP perhaps, I am not sure when they died out but these rhinos certainly occured in southern Chad not so long ago, to see them grazing on the plains at Rigueik amongst the tiang and the black crowned cranes would be quite something. Another potential home could be Murchison Falls NP in Uganda just outside their natural range a park that was once home to an introduced population provided the UWA don’t decide they can't wait for some northern whites and introduce southerns to the park instead as there is already a small population of southerns at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda. Since the captive population of northern whites was always small and those captured in the wild all came from the same area in South Sudan I don’t know if they can really hope to create a genetically viable herd or whether they will still have to try and hybridise the animals but even preserving northern white genes in hybrid animals is better than nothing. If they succeed then everything they learn about IVF and embryo transfer in white rhinos could well be used to help save other critically endangered rhino species and be applied to other endangered animals as well.
  21. Ol Peseta lost a rhino last month, now LA zoo has just lost another one. Only 5 remaining. The future of this sub-specie is more doomed than ever.
  22. Inspired by @@madaboutcheetah 's post detailing the places he thinks offer the best prospects for cheetah spotting, we have got together with Gamewatchers safaris/Porini Camps to create a Kenya safari specifically for cheetah lovers. Outline itinerary: DAY 1 – NAIROBI – PORINI RHINO CAMP, Ol Pejeta Conservancy DAYS 2 & 3– PORINI RHINO CAMP, Ol Pejeta Conservancy DAY 4 –PORINI MARA CAMP, Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Masai Mara DAYS 5 – 7 – PORINI MARA CAMP, Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Masai Mara DAY 8 – PORINI LION CAMP, Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara DAYS 9-11 – PORINI LION CAMP, Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara DAY 12 – RETURN TO NAIROBI – DEPART Prices start from US$4,495 / £2,835 and offer decent savings on rack rates; (as much as US$1,080/£680 in peak season) Prices are valid for travel through to December 15 2015. click here to find out more
  23. Double click on the below link and then on the bulls eye in the center of the map of KEnya that is displayed. the detail map is cartoonish but is a good general and detailed layout of the conservancy and relative location of the camps.

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