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Posted (edited)

Let’s get straight to the main point here. Bibi vs the Invaders was of course a “no contest”.

“Right then. We’ll have no more of this invading. Naughty, naughty  boys.”

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Note for Kenyans: Yes, we know ‘bibi’ means “wife” in Swahili but it is also “grandmother” in some areas of Tanzania and it is difficult to drop its use, even though using it in Kenya would have created all kinds of misunderstandings – like was my wife our adopted daughter or was I a bigamist with two wives (something that would not have raised an eyebrow in much of Samburu County)? One funny thing our guide Zarek told me was that he had assumed in past reports that Bibi was my wife, making Bibi’s comments and adventures hers, and creating a very confusing narrative! So I will probably more frequently use Mum or Mama this time around, with Bibi saved for “Bibi-like events”. We discussed the option of using the proper Swahili word “Nyanya”, but it also means “tomato” so that seemed likely to create even more misunderstandings, given that she was not grandmother to anyone on this trip. We stuck with “Mama” when discussing her with staff and guides and being a junior was just fine with my wife, who had a shocking “first” experience when she revealed her age to one of our young Samburu moran hosts at Sabache Camp.

“How old are you?”

“47”

(Surprised) “Oh… Mama!”

Actually the young moran nearly had a nasty experience too, but my wife was too shocked to get the slapping reflex going for days afterwards.

 

Itinerary

June 17               Boulevard Hotel, Nairobi (unscheduled)

June18-19           Fishing Lodge, Aberdares National Park

June 20-22          Sabache Camp, Namunyak Conservancy, Samburu County

June 23-26          Saruni Samburu, Kalama Conservancy, Samburu County

June 27- July 1   Kicheche Bush Camp, Olare Motorogi Conservancy

July 2                     Day room at Ololo Safari Lodge, Nairobi National Park

 

So, a real Kenyan conservancy safari, without forgetting to pay our respects to the Daddy of them all, the Kenya Wildlife Service. Spending another small fortune may as well be virtuous. Of course the amount of love given to the NRT conservancies and the Samburu in particular was based on decisions made prior to the escalation of the Laikipia land invasions by the Samburu, and I probably wouldn’t have had quite the same itinerary if I had booked in May 2017. However, I checked out the security situation as thoroughly as I could and decided there was no reason to change things up, especially as Mum hadn’t read about the armed robbery in Samburu National Reserve and carelessly assumed that her son and daughter-in-law would never go anywhere that wasn’t completely safe anyway. And it did seem completely safe. While you can never say more than “seem” both Sabache and Saruni have good security and intelligence networks (although Saruni may need to review their protocols as the genet breached them a number of times) and our experience was very positive.

The first 6 nights was a road safari with Zarek Cockar and team.

The last 9 nights were genteel fly-in safari, coordinated by Chameleon Tours.

The parts were knitted together with care by Chalo Africa.

 

Main characters

pault  - Your narrator and most careful planner. What could go wrong?

Mrs pault aka Mrs K aka wife  - The only person I know who cried when arriving at a camp

Bibi aka Mama aka Mrs. Tomato  - The one and only Bibi, Queen of Adventure

Zarek Cockar  A fine guide and a very good man to have an adventure with, but would he be able to answer all of Bibi’s questions?

Job the moran  - Driver and assistant guide for Zarek and occasional Samburu warrior

Vincent - Our excellent cook brought by Zarek to Fishing Lodge

Lepayon Lekotip & James Leitore  - Our guide and spotter at Saruni Samburu - a great team but could they find the proverbial needle in a bone-dry haystack?      

Nelson Kasoe - Our guide at Kicheche Bush Camp – a recurring character in our adventures, and no bit player either. Could he do it again?            

 

I don’t think you’ll find this one as dull as the last one, although of course I would never expect to please everyone.

 

Some highlights - with some surprises saved to make sure you don’t skip the full report ^_^

Servals (yes, there is an s or two)

Singing wells

Bibi vs the camels

Sleeping on top of Mt. Ololokwe (and getting up there!)

I’m a wild dog magnet :rolleyes:

The fearsome genet that grew to the size of a leopard

The Grevy’s megaherd

Six hunts - arguably many more but half-hearted ones don’t count

Four kills as a result of the hunts (but not always quite what you’d expect - including my most shocking safari moment ever)

Zorilla (sorry @Tom Kellie – yes, again)

Aardwolf and Striped Hyena? Oe were they one and the same?

The beginning of the great rut

 

Of course, as part of the ceasefire deal  Bibi struck, my wife does now have to adapt to life as #3 wife of a Samburu elder....... apparently she's doing as well as could be expected.

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Edited by pault
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@pault - this sounds like yet another Epic Kenya adventure ......... Can hardly wait to read all about it!

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Hmm.. I note the font is showing up a bit strange on my iPhone. I used Calibri. Anyone know what a good font for pasting in from Microsoft Word is? Tahoma maybe? Arial?

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Oh @pault I'm sure you had a big adventure with Zarek + Vincent. Nice to read a new report. Thanks for getting started.   

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A bit like a movie trailer. Great title and super cast, @pault , now you only need a cool soundtrack - I suggest you redo the Beastie Boys "Sabotage". :)

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Enjoying this already @pault . Your TR's are always entertaining as well as imformative. :)

 

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Preamble

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Don't worry - we're heading for the top of the world... patience!

 

One June morning in 2016 my wife and I were having breakfast in the house of my sister’s neighbor in Spain (he was kindly hosting us while we attended the First Communion of my youngest nephew) when she asked “Yesterday, at the party, after they opened the bottle of wine the size of a child, did I invite your Mum to join us in Kenya next year?”  “Yes, you did.” I confirmed. And so it was set. A party of three it would be.

Fast forward one year of waiting and looking at calendars and we’re waiting even longer – in Bangkok, for a Kenya Airways flight to get out of Guangzhou, where storms had grounded all flights. First it was a four hour delay, then an eight hour delay, and before it got to the ten hour mark they had stopped sending text messages and simply changed the time on the departures board. We’d had 3 hours’ sleep. Meanwhile Bibi was en route to Nairobi, knowing we were delayed but not by how much.

Fortunately, Zarek was on Whatsapp with me already, and so we kind of worked out a Plan B and then a Plan C. In the end we had to abandon any idea of driving to the Aberdares that day and Zarek took Mum to the museum and botanic gardens, where I believe he impressively answered nearly all of her questions, and then checked her in to the Boulevard Hotel to have a rest.

The last message from Zarek had been “Look for the beard.” and it had been sent after I had switched off my phone in Bangkok, but that didn’t matter as we had met before (even if Zarek didn’t remember it until he saw us) and I knew about the beard anyway – and the height.

Safari tip #1: If you don’t want to look short and –ahem – “stocky” in photos on safari with Zarek, get him to take them all and pose with his driver, Job. In fact you may want to ensure that Zarek is bringing Job just for this purpose. You will note me using this technique throughout this report.

The Boulevard Hotel is “retro”, “gently run down” or “a bit shabby” depending on your point of view – we went for “retro” and loved the open plan, low-rise design and casual atmosphere. At Eka Hotel last year we had to go through gate security, bomb detection, a metal detector and bag scanner every time we entered and left, and swipe our room cards just to get onto our floors, never mind into the rooms. The security detail was impressive! At the Boulevard security is a guy in a worn uniform napping on the sofa in the lobby (he was literally “caught napping” by my habit of getting up at 5 am on safari but I just smiled and wished him a good morning) and a guy dozing off in reception - although to his credit he was able to appear bright-eyed and open for business at 5.30 am. Neither had given us the requested 5.30 wake-up knock (the phones were out of order) but I am sure the security guard was just about to jump to it when I appeared.  Seriously, we liked it very much. Nice gardens too – full of birds (including roosting herons) although the birdsong and your sleep can sometimes be interrupted by the noise of the nearby bypass if you have a room at the front. Of course Bibi had a room at the front and we had the birdsong. The restaurant and bar are decent and reasonably priced too - a place where locals go mostly. Retro African luxury for sure. Good choice Zarek!

Of course we were all very, very disappointed that we’d have to cut a night off the Aberdares portion of the trip, but that’s how it goes sometimes (said through gritted teeth). Storms closing airports in China are not something anyone can do much about. A knock-on effect of it though was that we always felt a little bit rushed for the next few days – kind of subconsciously trying to make up for the lost time I guess – and we probably wore Bibi out a bit more than we intended.

So we haven’t even got out into the bush yet. Now you too have a little taste of what it’s like to be held up on the edge of a safari – so near but so far.

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And eventually..........

Okay, so here goes: pack your bags and let me take you for an almost exclusively factual ride through Kenya. I may exaggerate a bit here, tailor a quote an teeny bit there for artistic effect, and even not wholly respect the order in which things happened – although I assure you I will never be far off. But this wasn’t a crime and I am not writing a police report, so who really cares? I certainly won’t invent things, or have random celebrities like Angelina Jolie or Richard Branson turning up during the story just to increase the interest. No, I won’t do that.

So... are you coming along?

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Follow us.....

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I am coming along for the journey - and looking forward to it!

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Posted (edited)

Since we had pre-ordered all the food and drink with Zarek (most now 50% more than we needed since only the Aberdares part was self-catered) we were able to drive straight from the hotel to Fishing Lodge in the Aberdares. Six of us in the vehicle (see list of characters above) with a pile of stuff, so we were snug, but not crowded as Zarek had a roomy vehicle for the occasion. We had a choice of two routes into the park - shorter via Naivasha or longer but more wildlife-likely via Nyeri, and due to the missed day chose the latter. This made the drive rather longer than it could have been and as it happened we didn’t really see that much on the way up. “Not that much” included B&W colobus monkeys, buffaloes and bushbucks (very common in Aberdare NP, as mentioned elsewhere).

Obscured views of the Black Colobus

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A male buffalo with tiny horns.

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Fishing Lodge

Panoramic view of the two identifcal houses at dawn

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Fishing Lodge is at over 9000 feet and quite exposed, so in mid-June (the coolest months are July and August) it is pretty chilly. However, I am not a reptile – I am able to regulate my own body temperature to some extent – so with a bit of movement and the aid of a nice fire and Vincent’s catering I found it very comfortable – no more bracing than a visit to Scotland.  Bibi, who lives in Scotland, was freezing and let us know at every opportunity that she had decided not to bring an extra sweater because it was a waste of space for three days and I had told her that it would be like Spring in the Scottish highlands (it was), but that she had had to fill up extra space in her bag with packing materials so that things didn’t roll around and get damaged. We all thought that made tremendous sense and never once asked her why she didn’t just bring the extra clothes since she had space. Apparently the advice about spring in the Highlands didn’t count as “I would have the central heating on if it was cold.” Fortunately I had asked Zarek to being extra blankets, and one of these was used.

So…. if you are “reaching the mature years” and feel the cold more than you used to, when traveling to over 3000 meters, even on the equator, do pack that extra layer if you have space. (This one is too obvious to get “Safari Tip” billing).

 

Location, location.... look center, then left and up a little

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Back (or front? I am nor sure) verandah

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Front (or back?) lawn

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Fishing Lodge is probably the best equipped and most luxurious of the Kenya Wildlife Service accommodations – although I haven’t stayed at many so you can take that with a pinch of salt. It is considerably more expensive than any of the others, but well maintained and good value overall. Super retro (probably a bit retro when it was built in the 1970s or 80s!) but everything was more than adequate – including bedding. The two bedrooms are both en suite and seemingly unlimited hot water is available in the evening (well. Zarek or Job may tell you it was not unlimited, but we found it to be so). Water seemed warm at best in the morning, but it is way too cold to be taking two showers a day up there. There is a cook’s room (super retro concept, but very practical for wildlife tourists) and Zarek and Job slept there. Vincent was going to sleep in a tent and then in that room, but it was clear we wouldn’t be using our living room at night and by the time we got up he’d already have coffee on the stove (or he would be doing so 5 minutes later) so we told him to please sleep in the living room.

Familiar to Michael... House #2

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We would definitely stay here again, although you should note that this is not the most wildlife rich area and for purely wildlife-focused tours being based down near to Nyeri is probably more practical. We wouldn’t have stayed here if we had known in advance that we were only going to have two nights (and this one full day). We probably made the mistake of trying to pack three days into two as well. It would have been nice to spend a little more time there probably. One more thing to note is that (in June to August at least) Fishing Lodge isn’t somewhere to relax on the verandah with a beer in the evening. There is a lovely verandah for beers but only usable when the sun is on that side. Out of direct sunlight, anytime, it is whisky and/or mulled wine weather. I wonder now if Vincent has a mulled wine recipe.

Regretably the only picture I have of Vincent (and I cannot be absolutely sure it is not Job) is this enigmatic one of him capparently calling Zarek and Job to lunch .... he was always in the kitchen!

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Soon after arriving and getting settled, Mum joined Zarek on a walk down to a stream behind the lodges. Nothing special here, but something to do and Mum could get some close up looks at plants she had seen on the drive up. Walking down was easy as there were very nice steps, but getting back up was more tiring (not very!) than expected and reminded us that we were at altitude.

Zarek earning his bread.

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I thought it was a nice spot for a photo and asked Bibi to pose – I think this is how the models do it in Bibi’s mind, although I am not sure. Definitely it is “hip” and I am calling this pose “The Cool Bibi”. You’ll see “the Wild Bibi” later.

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Since this is a wildlife-mad forum I better get on to the interesting bits. After the drive up the first day was mainly different sightings of bushbucks and buffaloes.

There were bushbucks by bridges

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Bushbucks among the hillside tussock grassland

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Bushbucks sneaking around the houses to feed on the short, soft, cropped grass there.

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Bushbuck at Magura Falls (singular because this one always seems to be there while 9 years ago a female  was there – perhaps his mother?) He is so habituated you can stand at almost touching distance, but if you appear to be approaching him, he will retreat and even run off.

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Through the vehicle window.

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And of course the falls themselves are very pretty and a very short walk from the road – so ideal for those who don’t have enough time left for their original itinerary!

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Spot the lead characters....

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And a Black-headed Heron (my ID, as Zarek’s is now forgotten) was happy to let us watch it hunt from fairly close.

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Vincent cooked an excellent dinner but we were all so tired at the end of the first real day that we honestly have forgotten what it was - just remember it was tasty and warming.

Edited by pault
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Posted (edited)

You may note that there are a lot more photos of people and landscapes this trip. This is not accidental or due to an absence of wildlife - although there may incidentally be an absence of visible wildlfe. The first week of this trip was never really about the wildlife, although wildlife would surely be welcome!  Looking through the shots I have for days 4-6 the only wildlife I have is one shot of a dik-dik. We saw more - just not the best circumstances for shos compared to later in the trip. Hopefully this will make it all the more exciting when it does appear.- and don't worry it is coming. :mellow:

 

More importantly, I carried three cameras this trip and the Sony A7RII with wider andgle (or a 55/1.8 at longest) attached was often one of the two cameras ready for use - in fact sometimes the only camera in my hands.

 

All the better for shooting Bibi in winter fashion

 

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Or her blanket

 

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I even took a tripod, although you will hear about my experience with that in more detail later as it is definitely part of the story..The last time I took a tripod on safari I used it so little I could not even begin to guess where I might have lost it. In fact, I didn;t even notice that I had lost it until some weeks after returning. Sometimes, I am not even 100% sure if I actually ever took theat tripod on safari. :(

 

 

Edited by pault
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You have intrigued me with this tripod story.  I'm interested to read about it since I asked about bringing one in another thread.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The first night Zarek had been oout and about with a torch - not for long as it was freezing - and noted a fair bit of movement - some identifiable as bushbucks or waterbucks and some less identifiable. The next day we awoke to a fairly busy scene around the lodge as a chilly dawn came. There was a buffalo about 20 - 30 meters away that we had to keep an eye on, waterbucks that we had seen last night had clearly been around the lodge all night, and at least a couple of bushbucks of course. Best of all there were two or more elephants feeding up the hill in front of the lodge. Quite a scene and Zarek and I were enjoying it peacefully when there was suddenly a massive racket from inside the fence enclosing the wood-stoked boiler that supplies the hot water. A waterbuck had gone in there to sleep and, surprised by our appearance outside had tried (unsuccessfully) to leap over the wooden fence to escape. As the buffalo had disappeared while we were working out what the racket was, I decided to retreat to the warmth inside until it got light. Zarek was clearly freezing and keeping me company anyway.

After a second coffee and as the light came, I went out again with my camera – keeping an eye open for the reappearance of the now invisible buffalo (so bushy and the grass is so long in places, anything could be there, but probably isn’t).

 

Elpehant in the morning murk.

 

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Our plan for the day was to drive down to the Salient and back to Fishing Lodge via a roughly circular route that would take us up before we came down and would give us a view of the alpine vegetation as well as a good overview of the park. Hopefully we’d see some interesting animals along the way, although actually anything short of an elephant could be hiding in the grass by the side of the road (but probably wasn’t) and you wouldn’t see it. We took a packed lunch but Vincent prepared us a very good breakfast at the lodge first.

The day got off to a very good start with a fairly distant but very clear view of a serval.

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We then passed through what I would call the “magical woods” – you may know that I mean a stretch of mossy woodland that is fairly open on the ground and processes the light in a very interesting way. The waterbucj above is near there. I was always hoping for animals in here in sunlight, but didn’t have much luck in the most “magical” areas. A bushbuck on the fringes though….

 

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We passed through moorland where bushbucks, waterbucks and buffaloes could be observed at a distance – miniature specks in a massive landscape; dwarfed even by the grasses and slightly obscured by the lifting fog.

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A sighting of a reedbuck

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And before you think "oh he's even suing the wide angle for wildlife, no these are details of the landscape picked out at 400mm!

Even the buffaloes could disappear

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Morning seemed to be the best time to catch wildlife stepping out of the forest to warm up on the road. A waterbuck and a duiker (is it common @michael-ibk,?) both coming out behind our vehicle but spotted by Zarek or me (nearly always Zarek of course) despite the cold and condensation on the windows - he would stand with his head out of the top most of the drive.

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I don’t know how high we actually got, but we started to see the Giant Lobelia regularly just before we started descending, and we found the fog that had lifted from below some hours before – or rather we found the bottom of the clouds, I suppose. There is very little wildlife up here that is visible, but it is fascinating scenery, changing all the time. The bamboo zone is quite interesting the first time, but you quickly learn it is the most boring zone, where very little is likely to be seen and the bamboo –  at least at this time of year – is pretty scrappy, although impressive in a few places.

 

Back into the clouds

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Augur Buzzard in flight

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Most of the above is shot in pretty murky light of course - ISO 800 is often as low as you can go and ISO 1600 ++ was usually needed for morning or evening wildlife.  

 

Down below the bamboo and the skies cleared, giving us a beautiful day as we reached some of the small mountain lakes – the highest peaks of the Aberdares range in the background. Once here, any wildlife becomes a nice bonus and you can just enjoy the beautiful views.

 

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Colours come with the sun.

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Not always wide-angle for the landscapes though - this is at 300mm.

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And we'll finish with another heron (Black-headed too unless my prior ID was wrong), this time successful in catching a lizard.

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We're still only at 11 am here and not yet in the Salient.... the rest of the day to come.

Edited by pault
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what an excellent report this is going to be @pault and indeed already is!

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Posted (edited)

Wow - what an unexpected surprise - an @pault  trip report from off-the-beaten track areas including Northern Rangeland Trust conservancies!

 

And you are blazing out of the gate - rapid fire posts, and your short time between safari and TR is exemplary!   

 

Neat vehicle that @Zarek Cockar  provided - looks very handy for game drives.  

 

@pault - you sure have some alluring critters in your teaser post!   I am very much looking forward to following this TR and thanks again for all the rich detail and accommodations info.    Cracking photography as always.

Edited by offshorebirder
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Hooked already - can't wait for more.  Great pictures so far.

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Posted (edited)

@pault I have to say that your trip reports are right at the top of my favourites list. Not only are your photos of a high standard but you write so wonderfully. Where most of us (well me) just put sown the facts, you have the ability to turn your TR into a delightful travelogue. 

You've obviously got too much free time. :P

Edited by Soukous
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I'm hooked...great way to start the day with a cup of coffee!  Great photos too!

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Indeed, a very captivating start...and I'm enjoying the writing style and of course the photos. Those frames look familiar! ;)

 

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Thoroughly enjoying this so far :)  And imagine my surprise when I see hanging over the fireplace in your cabin, almost exactly the same wall hanging I have in my bedroom that I bought on my very first trip to Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) back in 2000. The only difference is some of the shades of the sunset. Everything else is the same...wow. Was not expecting that.

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@pault Bibi is becoming a Safaritalk legend...

 

Matt

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Looks like a great time with a fun crew. Looking forward to more.

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Posted (edited)

What a great teaser (I haven't read past the first post yet)!

 

Looking forward to the wild Bibi photos!

Edited by Patty
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Thank you and it's not the amount of your free time @Soukous it's what you do with it.  And there was a long weekend just after I got back so I was able to get off to a flying start for once. I may run out of steam soon. :mellow:

 

There are quite a few other comments I should respond to but it is not going to end well if I try to do that on my phone so for now just thanks to everyone. 

 

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I've been off line for a while and so this is a lovely surprise to find on my return.  I'll be in the Aberdares soon so my appetite is wetted by your landscapes which are just beautiful  

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Posted (edited)

You'll love the landscapes @twaffle  There are some beatiful spots up in the highlands for sure.

 

 

Looking at the map we had been driving northwest most of the time we were ascending, and we then turned east as we descended, eventually reaching what I think was Wanderi Gate, where Zarek expected to find a road running roughly along the fence line that would take us into the Salient. To Bibi’s disquiet, since Zarek had been ultra-reliable up to this point (obviously the issue with not having enough warm clothes was my fault for not factoring in that she would turn on the central heating if it was cold) there was no road. We were all surprised. There was a set of tyre tracks overgrown with grass, but that was not the kind of road Bibi approved of – especially when both guide and driver were looking quizzically at the map. She was swiftly assured that if that was the road then we would exit the park, drive around and reenter by another gate, although the map was quite clear there was a road somewhere.

Unfortunately, the ranger on gate duty had no personal knowledge of a road from here to the Salient. Hmmm. However, she had seen a car coming out of the bush a few days before and so she supposed there must indeed be a road there. Since Zarek and Job had discussed this in Swahili there was really no need to repeat the whole story in English. Of course Mum’s face made this clear, and she was quickly hearing from me, Job and Zarek together that there was definitely a road and of course it was probably a good road and not far anyway, while driving outside the park was really, really far. I think for a few minutes she even believed she had been consulted and was the one who made the final decision to take the shortcut.

I know you are shaking your head now, saying to yourself “Well, I wouldn’t have been that reckless.” But you probably would. It was a lovely morning and after following the tyre tracks it did turn into a proper-ish road  – the one built to patrol and maintain the fence. There was clearly not going to be any wildlife as the other side of the fence and right up to the fence was cultivated by smallholders.

 

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The rural life on the other side of the fence proved a nice distraction which I wish Zarek had rammed home with some long and very distracting stories about the rural Kenyan economy… because the road was getting very, very steep and well, it wasn't what some people in the vehicle would call a road. Take into account the following picture doesn't really do the steepness full justice - especially the bit where the road disappears.

 

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The only thing Mum was listening to now was the sound of the engine and the brakes protesting and she started to make comments and stare pointedly through the front window, perhaps suggesting to Job that he really better know what he was doing or she would know and both he and Zarek would be off to bed with no supper. Her grimace tightened more as the gradients rose and the tension in the car rose so high that finally either Zarek or Job or I could stand it no longer and recklessly blurted out “This is the last one I think. It’ll be fine after this.” And (relief) it was. The road was a bit more cross country (at one point Zarek had to briefly get out to make sure we were actually still on it) but it was much less steep. There were nice views at one point.

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The relief lasted only a short while and then another really steep section plummeted down and just disappeared around a bend, giving no clue as to how steep it might eventually get before we reached the bottom. We stopped. Of course I quickly offered that we could go back, causing some alarm with Job until he realized what I was doing. “No way” said Bibi.

It's the part you can't see that is the problem.

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Of course most of the issue was simply psychological - Job and the vehicle could actually handle the terrain. Problem was that since the terrain was a bit of an unknown it was hard to confidently reassure Mum that it was fine up ahead. That strategy had backfired already. So with almost no prompting Job and Zarek dutifully set off to walk the road down to the bottom and return with news of whether it met Bibi-specifications of road safety. The news was good but since it hadn’t been that far down Zarek made the wise decision (well wise because it turned out there wasn’t an even steeper, 3 km section later) that Job would drive and the rest of us would walk down and remount at the bottom. It was a lovely walk too.

 

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When we got to the bottom we found a lovely, rushing mountain stream, a proper bridge and an area that couldn’t have been cleared more nicely as a picnic site if it had been done deliberately (perhaps it was, but it would be a rather odd place for it). So we decided to have lunch there and enjoy the sunshine, gurgling stream and birdsong.

The way forward now looked much more respectable and manageable.

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Looking again at the map (which I should can and upload for you, but dread the job my phone under fluorescent lighting is going to do on it) I can’t really imagine where we were – perhaps Zarek can tell us when he comes upon this report later. Anyway, up the road over the hill and we were in what was recognizable the Salient. Unfortunately, having taken all that time to get there the area was very quiet (or the tiny bit we could see was very quiet and our sightings were few and not very impressive.

 

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they're all in the forest, guys - come back this evening.

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So in the end we cut our Salient visit fairly short and headed back up by the same route we had taken the previous day, seeing little on the way up. The plan was to visit the Chania Falls in the afternoon and then return to the Lodge, but Bibi was feeling it had been a long day and wanted to get back to the Lodge earlier. She had had enough driving. We got back around 3 or so.

Zarek, Job and I decided we would go to Chania Falls anyway and make a bit of an evening game drive of it. However, that afternoon a bushbuck and its fawn, the buffalo and a gaggle of red-necked spurfowl were hanging around the Lodge and entertaining us – the male made an appearance too.

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So in the end we left a bit later than planned but with just enough time still to get to the falls before it started to get too dim for good photos. I took my tripod for this falls visit as I thought this one was one that would benefit from a long exposure, especially if we could get all the way to the bottom.

Whenever I pick up my tripod you can be sure something unplanned is going to happen – sometimes good, sometimes bad, but definitely unplanned. The bushbucks had been one instance but there was more to come.

Somewhere on the way – not that far into the relatively short journey – Zarek from his viewpoint spied a duiker.

 

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And then another serval. Job swiftly braked and we reversed, looking to see if we could find it again. We could – well done Zarek! It was hiding from us behind a log but not very effectively in the end.

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We waited for quite a long time to see if it would move. Fortunately, as I had to put myself and camera out of the roof too to get an angle through all the trees, branches, bushes and grass I was able to just place the camera on a beanbag, pre-focused and aimed, rather than trying to hold things in position for endless minutes, which I don’t think I could have done. That’s likely the only reason I got a shot of it standing up to depart – and beyond that tree on the left there were no more shots at all. One second, one click. Unfortunately the camera had sunk into the beanbag a bit, as you can see from the framing, but still, well done.

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However, all my skill and attention and timing was rendered a bit useless because instead of walking off any further the serval sat down, and by rolling the vehicle forward a meter or so we were able to get clear views for a minute or more! 

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The first picture (standing up) is now for the bin as soon as this report is posted! Nobody wants to hear stories about how clever you were in achieving something completely useless. Eventually the serval walked off and we decided to let it be and get on to the falls, even though it was now nearly dusk.

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We sped there (well, within limits) quickly descended the path to the viewpoint and I set up for my shots in very fast fading light. Three shots and it was time to trot back up the steep path (panting a bit) and try to get as close to Fishing Lodge as possible before dark.

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Just as the last of the light was fading away Zarek saw another serval! However, we couldn’t find it again and didn’t look too long as we had had our fill with the first.

Really a bit of a rushed day and it should have been followed by a more relaxed one, rather than a travel day (and doesn’t travel always take longer than you expect?).

Edited by pault
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