Pamshelton3932

Kenya June 2017-Full of surprises

32 posts in this topic

 

A friend of mine requested to be included in my next safari so when I stumbled upon a really inexpensive international flight from Atlanta, an unplanned trip was born.  I was excited to show someone else how life changing a safari can be, but we were budget constrained, so proper planning was imperative.  It was also a challenge to find new locations for me while still getting a great experience for a newbie.  I came up with the following itinerary:

 

6/18-6/19 Nairobi-Wildebeest Eco Camp

6/20-6/22 Porini Rhino Camp in Ol Pejeta (following closely behind Amy T)

6/23-6/24 Rhino River Camp in Meru

6/25-6/27 Porini Mara Camp in OL Keynei

6/28 back to Nairobi and home

 

Wildebeest Eco Lodge was a good choice for its location near tourist activities and its lush gardens and comfy tents.

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We were up early ready to visit the giraffe center, DSWT, Kazuri bead factory, and Mamba Village.  All typical tourist stops, but enjoyable.  The giraffe center is best visited early, just as it opens, for less crowds.  A ranger gave an informative presentation about their efforts to save the Rothschild giraffe.  After a quick shopping stop where I'm sure we overpaid for everything, DSWT was our next stop.  It's crowded for the 11:00 public visit, but fit the bill nicely for my friend, and can resist those cute babies?DSC00840.thumb.JPG.a7f2d1b25e98196075f87493e7428b9e.JPGDSC00914.thumb.JPG.58e9b5e7f613129473f48d1b06ede4a2.JPGDSC00959.thumb.JPG.3366a547105481cb6a1f0f750f3f5f9a.JPGDSC00885.thumb.JPG.c22f6c2cea3cda7b12cd0f2036c08676.JPG  

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All sites were very informative and at Kazuri Beads and Mamba Village we given individual tours.  We late lunch at Mamba Village where we decided to be adventurous and try goat meat.  We were NOT impressed.  Our driver ate with us here and I feel certain that was why he suggested it, but we were happy to have his company as we had wonderful conversation.  Arrived back at the lodge at around 5:30, which was good since we were suffering from a touch of jet lag.  Tomorrow the journey really begins!

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Seriously.  June 2017!!!!!  Any way to fix this?

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LOL :)   I didn't even notice it- was too busy looking at the pictures.

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@Pamshelton3932 Fix what? ;) Now a time travelling safari, that would have been a surprise. Cut all that time from booking to arriving :)

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Looks like you hit most of the highlights of Nairobi, though I admit, I'm horrified by the over 2 hour drive late on a Sunday night for what should have been 30 minutes....my stress levels would have been through the roof after a long flight and just wanting to be settled for the night. I am impressed with your schedule the following day considering how late you got in :)

 

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I'm horrified by that drive as well!  I thought there was a new bypass road?

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Oh no we get in with KLM late so two hours transfer is going to be a nightmare but thanks for the warning! 

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It was on Mombasa Rd.  Maybe an accident.  Traffic was at a total stop for at least 30 minutes.  We finally did a u-turn and eventually crossed the median and went the wrong way down the other side of the road.  It was interesting how no one seemed too disturbed by it, like it was a regular occurance.

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I do seem to be having difficulties with this report.  I have no idea how I managed duplicate posts of pictures.  Hopefully I will improve!

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The drive to Wilson Airport was uneventful and easy.  Flight to Ol Pejeta was a breeze as well.  

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We were met by Nicholas and Little John who wound up being my favorites of the trip.  A game drive en route to camp gave us some wonderful sightings.

 

First,DSC01068.thumb.JPG.ecccf3132133dc4b58aef2b959facebb.JPG

 

followed by,DSC01077.thumb.JPG.dc365af28a7ea236ec89ce6f2f0cc602.JPG

 

Then,

 

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And finally!DSC01097.thumb.JPG.7e78cb9609db6110714bfd1914f56fcb.JPG

 

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All before even arriving at camp!  A great beginning.  My first sighting of reticulated giraffe and my friend Lois was beside herself.  Giraffes are her favorite and this conservancy certainly delivered.  

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David, the camp manager at Porini Rhino was excellent and the staff there was equally superb.  Our first day we had the jeep to ourselves and enjoyed it immensely.  We made our wishes known that we preferred departures early and they obliged with bush breakfast each morning.  Normally, we'd arrive back in camp just in time for lunch, which suited us perfectly.  Each day brought new and exciting experiences.  One of the best parts of safari is never knowing exactly what you will see. There is nothing quite like being out in  open air jeeps all morning and feeling the chill in the air and wind blowing on your face while searching for an elusive leopard or even a shy water buck.  That first day we had our evening drive but experienced a cloud downer rather than a sundowner.  It wasn't a downer for us as some photos from that game drive will show.DSC01171.thumb.JPG.0657b958dabd25f0550019aa178eb29e.JPG 

 

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After a cloudy and windy sundowner, we headed back to camp happily recounting a successful first day on safari.DSC01221.thumb.JPG.b47a2e5e08268dd9ef6a61aee918b01d.JPG

 

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Cheetahs! A great start to any trip. Cloudy and windy sundowners all wrapped up are far from unusual at Ol Pejeta.You wouldn't want to be guiding in a Maasai blanket there! :mellow:.

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Lovely start to your stay!  I agree Porini Rhino is excellently managed and run!  Sounds like it already delivered for you on day one!

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I don't get what is wrong with June 2017.  Young cheetah and favorite giraffes before getting to camp, no wonder Lois was thrilled.  I'm sure you were too.  You made good use of your Nairobi time too.

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Day two dawned cool and windy.  We were off at 6:15, just the two of us with our guide and a bush breakfast.  I knew Lois would be in for a treat as she had no idea what to expect.  Barely settled in, we came across our first rhino.DSC01266.thumb.JPG.58ccd3aafb6a6171d0b721c8a2a7c021.JPG

 

Shortly after that we drove up upon a bull elephant who didn't seem very pleased to see us.DSC01279.thumb.JPG.6973e636b6b349cbf31ebf0bfc6dd600.JPG

 

The next sighting was a bit gruesome.  Two jackels devouring a Thompson Gazelle kill.  They had already torn it in half with each carefully guarding their portion.

 

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Then we watched several giraffe browsing.DSC01309.thumb.JPG.b06bec75466a4761c0956be99726e936.JPG

 

 

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A quick stop at a hyena den.

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That was all before breakfast! 

 

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@Atravelynn, I originally put 2018 in the title-I think a friendly @Game Warden corrected it for me.  Now if I could just figure out how I'm getting duplicate pictures in there at random times.....

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Bush breakfast stops are one of my favorite activities on safari.  Enjoying the sunshine and soaking up the sights and smells of new and beautiful locations in total solitude from the rest of the world.  The breakfast part is an added bonus.DSC01386.thumb.JPG.61ed1ac504a41ae29891b8b9df7c1d50.JPG

 

Back in the jeep for more wildlife!  We saw the usual suspects during our drive and enjoyed every second.DSC01376.thumb.JPG.0c8ed045f8831b4b69833c995896edb6.JPG

 

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The landscape is gorgeous.  No picture I take can do it justice, but I have indelible prints in my mind.

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Surprising us as we rounded a corner was a tower of giraffe.  DSC01462.thumb.JPG.86d4c19ef2f058c594828907b9dc8687.JPG

 

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We spent quite some time admiring these creatures and wondering what they were thinking as they looked at us so inquisitively.  

 

Heading back to to camp for lunch we encountered these guys headed somewhere too.DSC01470.thumb.JPG.2fbf5dba0d2b512e3e58214b13df5f7f.JPG

 

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We we really enjoyed that Nicholas never rushed is back to camp and was happy to let us stop for one more picture or to ask one more question,  We never managed to get back to camp much before 1:00, just in time for lunch.

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We started our afternoon drive with a short nature walk joined by an armed ranger and a group of Masai warriors.  Most of them seemed a bit uncomfortable, with the exception of Ben who was also on staff at Porini Rhino.  It was a little touristy but they threw spears for us and did their jumping dance before we headed off for our early evening drive.  DSC01538.thumb.JPG.3c71117acc38e37975a8c5d504d223d9.JPG

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We had a short period of time before the clouds and rain rolled in.IMG_3757.thumb.JPG.2bdb25f59616c2bacd7ba53f534926da.JPG

 

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That drive we had raindowners rather than sundowners.  We had to roll down the sides because the wind was blowing so hard.  We enjoyed our drinks inside the vehicle and had nice conversation while biding our time.  Once the rain let up we got a sunset of sorts and had a short drive back to camp.DSC01576.thumb.JPG.510d17d6459c5c8298c5c7ff373e896f.JPG

 

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Our last morning at Rhino Camp was spent visiting Baraka, the blind Rhino, and going to,the chimp sanctuary.  But first, came our first lion sighting!  I knew we would see them in the Mara, but Lois was getting itchy so it was major excitement when Nicholas spotted a young female.DSC01740.thumb.JPG.c5a33823815988499c1649099e44d7ad.JPG

 

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 Moses (I think) is one of Baraka's caretakers who went in search of Baraka for us.  We wandered around the grounds seeking bird pictures and asking about the various succulents in the area while waiting for them.  Baraka has over 100 acres to roam in freedom and safety, so I felt very good about the state of his life.  

 

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The chimp sanctuary was not as happy a place for me.  There are 36 chimps there at 

present with room for many more, but these poor animals have been so mistreated most of them don't trust humans.  It was difficult seeing them behind fences, even though it was certainly a much improved environment for them.

 

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Our last night at Rhino Camp already?  How did it happen so fast?  It seemed like we'd just settled in and gotten the hang of the camp and gotten to know the staff and gotten into general safari mode.  The afternoon drive was enjoyable-we had a third person in our vehicle this last day, a young man named Edwin who was a delight to have along.  We enjoyed several bird sightings.

 

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Also a very cooperative jackal posed for us.

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and lf of course the ever present giraffe.  WIth bow legs!DSC01845.thumb.JPG.007e4b015974f43bd9b60a5d5b3bd9ec.JPG

 

We stopped for sundowners in a huge open area and watched as a herd of elephant came our way.  They were headed for a nearby water hole, so we loaded up and tried, rather unsuccessfully to get sundown with the elephants.  But, we had fun trying.

 

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We had a great start to our safari with Ol Pejeta as our choice.  It delivered everything we'd hoped for and then some.  It was a constant surprise to Lois that it could be so cool on the equator.  While I had warned her, she simply had no comprehension of how it could be that way.  We appreciated the water bottles in our beds and made use of the lined ponchos in the jeep.  We were never uncomfortable, just pleasantly surprised by the temperatures.

 

 

Next up-Meru!  This area was chosen entirely from tidbits I came across here on ST.  I had to specifically request what I wanted with my TO and he was glad to comply, but I don't think he'd have ever suggested it on his own.  So a big THANK YOU ahead of time to all who post here for us to get great safari ideas.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I'm not normally one to reduce my appreciation of an animal to its "trophy" features, whether that be its horns, tusks, etc. - but that is one wickedly tapered horn on the rhino in post #17. Can't help but comment on that!

 

Nice group of giraffe, as well.

Edited by Marks
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@Marks it was the longest horn I'd ever seen, although I hadn't seen many!  

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Lois who didn't know what to expect would surely not have expected to see jackals ripping Bambi in half!! Very good and varied sightings, even if your lion was a prone one. Definitely agree about bush breakfasts.

Very glad your trip got off to such a great start and looking forward to Meru part - normally June would be very, very lush but this was such a dry year it may not be the case.

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I am glad you enjoyed Ol Pejeta so much. We went last year (and to Meru) and loved it. Your excellent photos bring back many happy memories so I am looking forward to your Meru section.

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Posted (edited)

We were to drive from Ol Pejeta to Mera, a drive I was told would take about 4 1/2 hours.  We said our good byes at Rhino Camp and were picked up by a Gamewatchers enclosed vehicle for this drive.  I didn't appreciate that it was closed at the time, but certainly did once we were under way.  The drive was really quite interesting, but more like 6 hours to  Meru.  We stopped in Nanyuki to try to find cold medicine and batteries, but the mall chemist wasn't open yet.  We drove around town while the driver looked for what he considered a reputable chemist.  I didn't understand what he meant so just trusted his judgement.  We found what we needed quickly and walked to the nearby grocery store.  We seemed to be a curiosity for many and everyone was polite, if not cordial.  One other stop was made along the way-it was more of a tourist stop where they were selling rather expensive souvenirs and snacks.  Then on to Meru.  The road kept getting worse and worse the farther we went.  The potholes were enormous in 

places and the road was a mix of asphalt and dirt, sometimes varying a foot in height.  Finally we made it to the gate and were met by Daniel, our driver and guide for Rhino River Camp.  At first, Meru didn't seem like it was going to offer much, but as we drove, the park began to come alive and show itself.  Driving through the rhino sanctuary we didn't see much, but when we pulled into Rhino River Camp I was immediately in love with the place. DSC01936.thumb.JPG.c6295f669ca440bd1b7ef83c86dae8ac.JPG

 

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This is was our very own private deck where we watched birds come and go and enjoyed the tropical surroundings.  At the end of the deck was the biggest palm I had ever seen.

 

 

 

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Edited by Pamshelton3932
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How did that last picture get in there and how do I get rid of it??????  This new site is much easier to navigate, but I've got a lot to learn....

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Posted (edited)

I'm not sure how to describe Meru.  I absolutely loved it, but when I think about WHY I loved it, I can't come up with a reasonable explanation.  It wasn't the most prolific in terms of game, in fact no cats were seen.  It was the most dense brush we encountered and thus the Wildlife was usually viewed in bits and pieces-a head here or a tail there.  But for some reason, Meru stole my heart.  Was it the vistas?

 

 

 

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Or or that I finally saw my favorite tree for the first time in Kenya?

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Or or maybe because I had a wonderful close up encounter with a monkeys during our bush breakfast.

 

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Maybe it was watching a hippo lumber down the river bank and plop,himself into the river.

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Or or maybe it was the landscape that at times seemed surreal.

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Whatever it was, Meru is one of my all time favorite places to be,  We were only there for two nights but what a great experience.  

 

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Edited by Pamshelton3932
Trying to delete picture
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