Sunday, November 29, 2009

More safari & animals

I'm sitting in the departure lounge waiting for VS672 back to London. That has got to be the easiest & quickest international (economy) check-in I've ever done - even Nairobi airport is better than Heathrow! The security in triplicate did seem to be a bit of overkill though. After the excitement & all the travel of going to Uganda last weekend, this week has been pretty lazy really - sitting around resting my shoulder (which is much better, thank-you) & slowly ploughing through "The State of Africa" by Martin Meredith. It is a pretty dry & long history book about Africa since most countries were granted independence around fifty years. The words dog and show go a long way to summing it all up - it was all pretty depressing; the detailed explanations of what happened in Rwanda and then Liberia & Sierra Leone in the nineties were particularly grueling reading. I eventually finished it - so the challenge is still there, Carmen.

Friday afternoon, Adrian knocked off early & the three of us (Kimberley included) jammed the Suzuki full of camping gear & food & headed off to Nakuru National Park for the night. The great advantage of Nakuru is that is only a relatively easy two-hour drive from home (not that I did any driving, thanks Adrian). I was also assured that I would see plenty of rhino - the only of the Big Five that I did not see in the Mara. Lake Nakuru was disturbingly low, but it did mean we got to walk over the salt flats to try & see the flamingo - apparently, there weren't all that many, but still more than I had ever seen at once. Shortly after, we did see my first rhino in Africa (this one had a young one with it) & then we found three more making there way across the dry part of the lake bed.We managed to get to the campsite & pitch the tents & get the fire going before it got too dark. It was so great camping out & when the clouds cleared quickly, there was of course a great sky to look at. As we were chowing down on some quite wonderful steaks & the rest of our dinners a very large herd of buffalo made their way down the ridge next to our camp for a drink. Later on at about 10.30 well after the rest of the herd had made their way back past; alone buffalo, who was pretty damn big, wandered over a lot closer - thankfully he was just curious & not the slightest bit shirty. After a fitful sleep (for me at least) we were up before six to go on what turned out to be a fantastic game drive.

I'm not so good at describing game drives - but as always it started off slow & then we saw a whole heap more of rhino (they are frigging massive - in both senses of the word; but no great surprises there), including this rather cute pair. Down at a water hole there were a lot more buffalo & as we were next driving aimlessly around (or so it seems when you are looking for game), Adrian was very interested in what had a herd of impala rather spooked. Eventually he & Kimberley spotted a leopard slinking through the bush - I was in the back, so couldn't see it as much as I tried. After waiting around for quite a while wondering where it had gone, it eventually crossed the road right in front of us - what a beautiful animal. We tried to find it on the other side of the bush it was walking through, but had no luck there - we traded sightings with another van (they found our leopard & we found their group of seven lions later on). The said lions were happily resting near the road & we quite easily watched them for ten or fifteen minutes. By this time it was going on for four hours of driving & no breakfast, so we started heading back to cook brunch & decamp. On the way back it was quite neat to see a small group of giraffes near the road & then cross right in front of us.Upon our return, we discovered that the pesky baboons had gone through our fire lighting material & decided a bottle of kerosene was the only thing worth taking. Needless to say, that made lighting the charcoal a bit harder; but with a lot of fanning of flames, bacon & scrambled eggs & toast was finally cooked & devoured before we decamped & hit the gravel roads for another few hours. Exploring some different areas of the park, we didn't see a whole heap (except some more magnificent giraffes) before we headed up to Baboon Cliff for a great panorama of the lake. The resident baboon up there must have been fed previously as he was mighty bold, jumping on the car as soon as we stopped & tried to get in the window. A swift punch in the face & much throwing of rocks from Adrian saw him off; that was until he came back to jump on top of the next van that came up & try & get in the open top - completely freaking out the child inside.On the way out of the park, it was back to the group of lions we had seen earlier - they had moved a whole five metres to the shade of a different tree, so we quite happily watched them while we had lunch. Just before we left the park, we stopped & watched a wonderful black-maned lion & lioness lazing around between attempts at expanding the Nakuru lion population; pleasantly, it started to hose down while we were there - the park definitely needs a lot more rain. So it was back home to pack (for me), eat & sleep. So that is the end of my Kenyan adventure for this time - I sure am looking forward to getting back to London & having a decent sleep without being woken up at all hours by crazy dogs. I'm not looking forward to the winter however - the Kenyan weather has been fantastic. In the air now & just crossed the equator for the fourth time in three weeks - plane is a lot better & less cockroach infested than the Akamba bus. Less than six weeks to Canmore, Alberta! Hope my shoulder is up for skiing.


  1. Have you any pictures of baboons or flamingoes? Is that the place where flamingoes get salt encrustations on their legs, thus preventing them from flying? AJP

  2. A few of each - the flamingoes are in the distance of the lake photos, but we didn't really get close enough to get a good photo as the lake was so low. I hadn't heard of that salt problem, Adrian didn't mention anything.