Masai Mara to Nairobi and home 😕 – 10-11th November 2018

Another 5.30 am alarm call with coffee to our tent/room in time for a 6am start. The plan today was to find the black rhino.

We headed south as the sun came up. It was another chilly morning and it took a while to warm up as the sun rose. As yesterday, we could see the balloon safaris beginning to rise as the sun came up.

We drove for almost an hour, spotting some of the more common animals as we went. As we approached the border with Tanzania, we came across another huge congregation of zebra and wildebeest, stretching as far as the eye could see.

We moved on towards the boarder and saw the Sandy River which serves as an informal border between the countries. The actual border is a straight line, no doubt conceived by some British colonist years ago and is marked by a line of trig points spaced out along the length of the border. This meant that we spent some time driving in Tanzania as the Google map shows!

In Tanzania and Kenya

We stopped at one of the trig points and had the obligatory photograph with a leg in each country. No border guards or officials to stamp our passport here. We turned back north towards the camp and continued to look out for rhino as we went. We saw some more animals that we hadn’t seen before along with some more of the usual suspects. However, despite Samson’s best efforts, we didn’t actually see any black rhino.

Sausage tree
Jackal

Leopard kill… Dragged into the trees

We arrived back at camp at around 9 am in tone for a final breakfast in Mara along with Steve and Debbie. After finishing our packing we checked out and were driven the very short distance to the airstrip. We waited in the land rover until our aircraft arrived at 11am. Just before some arrivals landed, the runway guard got rid of the wildebeest on the runway!

The flight back to Nairobi was on a much larger aircraft with 4 rather than one engine. However, we still made two more stops at airstrips in the Mara before finally turning towards Nairobi.

  • Buffalo
  • Zebra
  • Wart hog
  • Elephant
  • Giraffe
  • Sausage tree
  • Eland
  • Banded mongoose
  • Lions
  • Ostrich
  • Black backed jackal

We were met at the domestic airport and taken to a hotel where we had a day room ahead of our flight just after midnight.

Not much to say about the rest of the day. Spent it relaxing at the hotel before being collected at 8.30 for our flight just after midnight. Nairobi airport has nothing to recommend it really… No cafe, bar or restaurant.

We waited in departures for a couple of hours and our flight took off and arrived on time. We were home by 9.30am!

Another fantastic holiday with some amazing sights. Time to start planning the next one! 😁

Masai Mara national park – 9th November 2018

Alarm call at 5.30 am and coffee delivered to our room ready for a 6am Safari so that we would be out and about for sun rise at 6.25. The temperature really dropped last night and it was a bit chilly when we woke. The noises in the night didn’t help us get a good night’s sleep and some of the screeching and bellowing sounded like it was right outside our tent, including the hippos!

We met Samson and the couple sharing our vehicle (Steven and Debbie) at 6am and spent the next 6 hours driving around animal spotting.

Wildebeest migration

It was pretty chilly to start with but by about 9.30am, it was warm enough to remove my light jacket and by midday when we got back it was very warm!

Secretary bird

A different pride of lions

Some of the highlights this morning included impala fighting, a large pride of lions, vultures and hyenas picking over a carcass and the breakfast that we had in the open air halfway through the morning!

Topi

In order of appearance:

  • Thomson’s gazelle
  • Leopard faced vulture
  • Wart hog
  • Wildebeest
  • Hyena
  • Marino stalks
  • Topi
  • Tawny eagle
  • Impala
  • Secretary bird
  • Pride of 12 lions
  • Oribi
  • Masai ostrich
  • Egyptian goose and chicks
  • Buffalo
  • Impala fighting
  • Wooded vulture
  • Masai Giraffe with baby less than a week old
  • Baboons
  • Zebra
  • Eland
  • Leopard
  • Elephants
  • Hippo
  • Crocodile
  • Superb starling

After a long morning animal spotting we arrived back at about midday. We spent the next few hours relaxing, eating lunch and reviewing our haul of pictures.

Catching 40 winks!

We met Samson again at 3.30pm for the afternoon game drive. As usual he asked us what we wanted to see and we all agreed that a cheetah would be good! We drove South towards the border with Tanzania and the heavens opened and we had to zip the roof and sides to the land rover on!

After about 30 minutes driving we arrived at an area known as the lookout. Here you could see zebra and wildebeest as far as the eye can see. There must have been tens of thousands of wildebeest all taking part in the migration between Kenya and Tanzania. These animals are the stragglers as the main migration has already happened. Despite this the numbers were huge.

Sampson spent some time searching for a cheetah and soon enough he found one along with 3 cubs!

We began the journey back and saw some other animals en route. We stopped for a picture en route and to help another vehicle change a tyre!

By the time we arrived back at camp at 6.40pm it was dark.

Hippos

Bat eared fox

A quick shower and we followed the now usual routine of a the of the photos with a beer and then tea, before a reasonably early night as we’re up again at 5.30am for a final, and bonus, game drive before catching the flight back to Nairobi.

This place is another that leaves you a hot water bottle warming your bed after you return from food!

Afternoon spots…

  • Ostriches
  • Cheetah (and 3 cubs)
  • Dik Dik
  • Water buck
  • Bar eared fox
  • Serval cat

Samburu to Masai Mara – 8th November 2018

A slightly later start this morning with breakfast at 7.15. We met James half an hour later for the journey to the airport for our 10.10 flight. In the way we stopped to see an Oryx and another large herd of elephants.

  • Oryx
  • Elephants
  • Ostriches

We were almost at the gate to the park when James had a phone call to say that the flight time had changed and we needed to be at the airport! The speed increased and we faced along the unmade road for the next 10 minutes. We arrived at the Main road and sped song until we arrived at another conservancy. Here we turned off onto more unmade roads and travelled for another 5 minutes until we arrived at the airport. However, it wasn’t an airport in any sense of the usual description. There were no check in desks and the only aircraft was parked not far away.

We were asked our names and loaded our own cases into the plane. (No need to worry about the strict 15kg weight limit.) We climbed on board and the pilot have a short briefing about our flight which would have 5 stops. And then we were off!

T

The plane stopped 3 times in the North with about 15 minutes in between each stop. The was there an hour long flight to the Mara where we stopped at an airstrip to drop some passengers off. As we coming into land there were wildebeest running across the runway in front of us! He we were advised of a change of plan with another stop before our destination.

From the air it was easy to see the change in landscape with far less trees or scrub. The heat rising from the ground made the last two hops quite bumpy.

We were treated at the airport by our guide, Samson and took a short (2 minute) rude to the resort. After the usual check in procedures, where almost everyone introduced themselves, we were shown to our room. It’s got a great view!

The bedroom

Deer outside the room

  • Baboon
  • Buffalo
  • Thomson’s gazelle
  • Wildebeest
  • Common zebra
  • Common sandpiper
  • Nile crocodile
  • Hippo
  • Topi
  • Elephant
  • Lions
  • Hyena
  • Wart hog
  • Tawny eagle
  • Masai giraffe

After food, we met Samson, our new guide for an afternoon Safari. We’ve swapped our Toyota Landcruiser for a Land Rover defender with open sides and roof.

We left at 3.30 pm and didn’t get back until 3 hours later. The sights included wildebeest on their migration, a pride of lions who had clearly eaten very recently, hippos, buffalo and elephants.

Buffalo
Wildebeest crossing a river
Hippo tracks
Wildebeest
Elephants (and Ed)
Male lion
Close encounter

African Savannah
Well fed lions!

We drove on back to the camp, passing a nursing hyena on the way.

We came back to the camp as it was getting late and so we had a quick shower before he rooms of the day don’t count. We headed to the bar fit a sundowner and sort our pics.

After doing this we went to the restaurant and had a three course meal. By now it was late and we have an alarm call for 5.30 am.

Gecko on the table

Samburu National Park

Early alarm call today for a game drive. We were in the vehicle by 6.20am and headed out into the park. The sun was just coming up and the sky was clear blue.

The first thing that we saw was a small group of giraffes reading a thorny bush. We moved on as James had heard a rumour about a cheetah. We didn’t the next hour or so scouring the landscape for signs of it. Eventually James turned off the track and headed towards a bush. There, led in the shade, was a pregnant cheetah. We took some quick shots and then moved away.

Next, we drive over a bridge into the Buffalo Springs area. We climbed the hill from the river and spotted a herd of elephants. While we stopped, more and more came into view until we could see a herd of at least 100 animals. It was an amazing sight. They were headed to the river and we spent some time watching them, including a massive adult.

We eventually moved on and almost immediately saw a large number of giraffes, at least 15 in total. After a little while we moved, and see some Gravy’s zebra. We were just watching these animals when another large group of at least 20 giraffes came into view. James said that it is rare to see so many close together. We also saw some ostriches in the area.

By now it was time to head back to the lodge for breakfast. We re-crossed the bridge and started the journey back. However we soon darted off the track. When we arrived at the river we saw the same group of lions that we’d seen yesterday, only this time they were a bit closer. Also, in the background, we could see some elephants cruising the river. It was amazing to see! We spent some time just watching and then it was time to leave.

During the final run in, we again veered towards the river to get sight of a much larger group of elephants also cruising the river. Reluctantly we moved off and got back to the camp at about 9am where we had breakfast. It was a pretty incredible morning!

  • Giraffes
  • Impala
  • Cheetah
  • Herd 100+ elephants
  • Grevys zebra
  • Monitor lizard
  • Long necked antelope
  • Herd giraffes
  • Ostriches

It’s a lot hotter in Samburu than Nakuru and by 10 am it was getting pretty warm. After a shower we spent some time in the veranda sorting through this morning’s photos. I had booked a massage which was very relaxing. By then it was lunchtime so we retired to the bar for a drink and some food.

At 2pm we met James again and headed back to the exit of the park.

Just after the exit we stopped at a Samburu village. Here, for a ‘small’ fee, we were guided stone the village, had some songs sung to us, had to join in the dancing, see inside one of the houses and saw the crafts that they made.

We entered Buffalo Springs park and after a short while stopped at the spring. We were told that they were made by two bombs dropped by a British aircraft in world war 2 by a pilot who looked down and thought he saw African soldiers. They were buffalo, but now the holes are constantly supplied by spring water.

James had word that there was a big cat spotted. We moved quickly to a place, underneath a large tree where there was a leopard lazing on a branch. We stopped and took some photos. At this point there seemed to be a problem with the vehicle as James could not start it! He thought that there was a problem with the battery which had come loose! Fortunately there were plenty of other vehicles around and one of the other drivers moved their vehicle in between us and the cheetah so that James could get out and sort it! It wasn’t really as dramatic as it sounds and the leopard didn’t even move at all during the whole incident.

The rest of the drive was incident free and we saw another incredible sunset as we were coming back into the camp just after 6pm.

After a shower and freshen up we headed to the bar for a Tusker and to view the photos. Dinner tonight was a buffet affair and we had another relatively early night. Tomorrow we fly to Masai mara.

  • Grant’s gazelle
  • Oryx
  • Lion
  • Secretary bird
  • Long necked antelope
  • Wart hog
  • Leopard
  • Common water buck
  • Ostriches

Nakuru to Samburu – 6th November 2018

Alarm camera at 5.30 am for an early breakfast and departure to Samburu. The journey today is, apparently, a long one. After breakfast we checked out and climbed aboard.
The first part of the journey was retracing the route back towards Nakuru. The sun was low in the sky, there was a heavy dew and a low mist, but not a cloud in the sky.

We headed north and, like when we left Nairobi, it was mainly climbing into the hills. We passed through a number of small towns in the way, but in the main the area was more rural, with farthing communities.
After a couple of hours we arrived at Nyahururu, which used to be called Thomson’s Falls. It was named after the waterfall just in the outskirts of the town by the explorer Thomson, in the late 19th century. We stopped at the falls due a quick photo before driving on.

Thomson Falls

About 15 minutes drive later we stopped to commemorate posing over the equator. It seems we’d already crossed it once on the drive from Nakuru heading north and this time we were heading south.

At the equator there were a couple of signs erected and we were shown a demonstration of the coriolis effect which means that the water spins out of a bowl clockwise in one hemisphere and anti clockwise in the other. The effect might be real on a large scale, but there was definitely some fiddling in the experiment to show the effect! We bought the compulsory certificates to mark the occasion and had some photos taken! We’ll cross the equator once more today before we arrive at Samburu.

From this point we could also see Mount Kenya in the distance, although the view want great as it was very hazy.

About 90 minutes later we turned sharply left onto an unmade dusty road with lots of potholes. It seems that this is a short cut! We faced along with a conservancy on our left. After about 20 minutes we reached tarmac again and headed north with Mount Kenya on our right, but now with cloud obscuring the summits.

We eventually arrived at the entrance to the Samburu national park at 2pm after a long hot journey. On the way to the accommodation we saw a reticulated giraffe and an ostrich family.

We arrived at our camp which is right on the river. After filling in the usual forms we went straight to lunch in the restaurant which looks over the river. Three courses later we headed to find our room.

Bird near our table

The rooms here are actually permanent tents and despite this are pretty luxurious with ensuite, electricity and a fan over the bed!

Woodpecker room

Woodpecker room
View from the room
Swimming pool

We met James at 4pm for the evening game drive. We didn’t see lots of different animals but we did manage to see both an individual male lion anda family group. Finally, just as we were about to head back, we heard about a leopard that had been spotted and we were lucky enough to see her too! We arrived back at the camp just add the sun was setting.

Male lion

Monitor lizard in a termite mound
Dik Dik

Elephant on the opposite bank

Marshall’s eagle
Leopard

  • Reticulated giraffe
  • Somali ostrich
  • Lion
  • Dik dik
  • Martial eagle (with a kill)
  • Leopard
  • Impala

We had a shower and then took some time at the bar to review the photos. The bar man took us to a veranda overlooking the river and just below is, no more than 6 feet away, was a huge crocodile.

We had a beer and then another three course meal before heading to bed by 10pm for an early start in the morning!

Lake Nakuru National Park – 5th November 2018

At about 8am, after a simple breakfast of omelette, coffee and juice we met up with James for the start of our day at Lake Nakuru.

We retraced our journey the 5km back to the main road, seeing some wart hogs, impala and zebra on the way.

About halfway along we passed a small girl walking on her own. We stopped and James offered her a lift. It turns out that she was just 7 years old and was walking to the gate; she didn’t speak English but seemed happy enough. James explained to us that it is quite dangerous as there are buffalo in the area and they are quite aggressive. We carried on and dropped her at the gate.

We drove around 15 minutes back along the tarmaced road and entered via Lanet Gate.

We spent the next couple of hours driving around the park spotting animals. We saw lots of buffalo and zebra but the highlight in the morning was seeing the White rhino from afar.

Lake Nakuru NP is mainly scrub land and acacia trees and so we were constantly on the lookout for animals in the low bushes.

We stopped a little bit away from the shoreline and were able to get out of the vehicle and walk to the shoreline, accompanied by an armed ranger. The flamingoes there were pretty impressive, song with some other wading birds.

We drove on, eventually stopping at Makalai falls.

After a quick stop we moved off and drove for about 20 minutes, climbing high over the lake to the Out of Africa view point which was, apparently, used in the film. We stopped here and had a picnic lunch prepared by the hotel consisting of rice, salad, chicken and fruit.

We dropped back down the hill and drove around the head of the lake, passing the old main gate. A new main entrance has had to be built because the old one is now flooded as the lake has risen following the heavy rains of the last few years.

We retraced our route of the morning and came back to the point where he seen the rhino. This time, however, they were much closer. The was a small family group and separately, a rhino with a very impressive horn!

We now headed out of the national park via a different entrance and back to the lodge. We got back at about 3.30 and so had a grab up before having a drink and sorting the photos.

In no particular order we saw:

  • Wart hogs
  • Impala
  • Zebra
  • Thomson’s gazelles
  • Grand gazelles (bigger than Thomson gazelles)
  • Baboon
  • Water buck
  • Buffalo
  • Yellow billed stork
  • Lilac breasted roller
  • Cattle Egret on top of buffalo
  • Ox pecker – pecking on blood of buffalo
  • Spoon billed stalk
  • Greater cattle egret
  • Egyptian geese
  • Cormorants
  • White rhino (named because of their wide mouth not colour!)
  • Crowned cranes
  • Flamingos
  • Pelicans
  • Superb starling
  • Rothschild’s giraffe
  • Black faced vavic monkey
  • Bee eater
  • Jackal
  • Baboons
  • Ogre buzzard
  • Malibu stork
  • Masai ostrich

After playing some cards by the fire it was soon time for dinner, a glass of wine and then, to bed by 9pm!

Nairobi to Nakuru – November 4th 2014

After an early breakfast we checked out of the hotel and met James for the journey to Nakuru. As it was Sunday, the roads were quieter as we drove out of Nairobi. All along the roadside there we people visiting roadside markets and heading to church with kids dressed in their Sunday finest! The houses along the side of the road were a mixture of new buildings with tiles and bricks, and more basic metal ones!

There seems to be lots of construction in greater Nairobi, widening of roads, new buildings and expanding the city in all directions.

We were travelling on the road to Nakuru which heads north and west. The road is all tarmaced but very bumpy. The road climbed steadily.

After just over an hour stopped as were heading downhill where we could see the great rift valley, running over 6000 miles from Jordan to the Indian Ocean.

We could also see some houses and Masai enclosures at the bottom of the hill.

At the bottom of escarpment, the road was much smoother as it crossed the valley floor. Asking the way we saw few dead animals on the side of the road including hyena. We travelled through a number of towns en route. The road was single carriageway and watching some of the overtaking manoeuvres of local drivers around slower lorries was ‘interesting’!

Just before Nakuru, after about 4 hours driving from Nairobi, we turned off the main road and after a further 15 minutes we turned into the Soysambu wildlife conservancy. We travelled 5km along dusty tracks and came and a corner to find, hidden in a load of trees, the Mbwehe lodge, our home for the next two nights.

Odd bath arrangement!

The lodge is a cluster of 10 individual buildings with a central sunken bar and sitting area. We are ok to wander some you in daylight but have to be escorted back to our room once dark.

We had a lovely three course lunch of salad, roast chicken or beef Stroganoff and a dessert. With a few hours to relax we played some cards and had a beer. There was a heavy thunderstorm but no lightening, just as well as the buildings all have thatched a roof.

We met James again just before 4pm and went on a drive around the conservancy. It’s just outside the national park and we drove mainly along the fence seeing a number of animals on the way!

  • Eland
  • Baboons
  • Zebra
  • Cape buffalo
  • Black faced Barbour monkey
  • Rothschild giraffe
  • Hadada Ibis
  • Wart hog
  • Secretary bird
  • Goshawk
  • Impala
  • Common Guinea fowl

Jackel – which the Mbwehe lodge is named after.

We arrived back and ordered our food for dinner…another three course meal!

With time to spare before our meal we went back to the bar to review the photos of the day over a beer.

It was soon time for food, after which we finished our drinks sitting by the open fire. It was definitely needed (the fire that is) as the temperature drops quickly after dark.

When we got back to the room, the beds had been turned down, the mosquito net put up (although we were told that there are no mosquitos at the moment!) and there were hot water bottles in the bed – very cosy!

Nairobi – 3rd November 2018

After a sound night’s sleep we had breakfast at the hotel, outside overlooking the pool area. They served the usual continental style with self service bacon, sausage etc. We also had a freshly made omelette.

At 10am, we met our driver, James in a large Toyota Landcruiser with just us as the passengers. James is going to be with us for the next few days. The plan today was to first visit the elephant orphanage and then the giraffe sanctuary.

It took us about 35 minutes to get up the Sheldrick elephant orphanage. On the way James pointed out some of the main things in Nairobi, including the independence park. We also spotted a family of wart hogs on the side of the road.

The orphanage is open for an hour a day between 11 and 12 for public viewing and was pretty busy! While we were queuing to get in, we had a very close encounter with another wart hog which choose our point to trot through the queue!

On entry to the site, we walked through the shop and down to an area roped off with ow ropes. We took up position on a step and after a short wait we could see some small elephants coming down the hill towards the roped off area. They came in about 2 or 3 at a time and the keepers fed them, what we learned was, human formula milk. Some f the elephants were pretty cheeky and kept trying to go back to the wheelbarrow with the milk bottles in when the keepers were not watching. Eventually there were 9 elephants in there, some of which got very close to the people stood by the ropes.

One of the keepers then gave a talk about the elephants and the orphanage. All of the elephants have been found, some because their mothers have been killed by poaching and some because their mothers have died. There are 22 elephants in the orphanage and they stay there until they are about 3 years old. At that point they are taken to a separate area in one of the national parks where the process to rehabilitate them into the wild begins. This can take up to 5 years!

After watching the 9 elephants playing together and wallowing in the mud and dust, they were led away for 10 older elephants to come to be fed. We changed places and managed to stand by the rope and actually got close enough to touch one of the elephants. As expected, the skin was rough, but I hadn’t realised that they would also be hairy, with coarse black hairs!

At the end of the hour we met our driver back in the car park for a short journey to the Karen Blixen giraffe sanctuary. Once parked, we walked into the sanctuary and had to wash our hands before we were given some pellets to feed to the giraffes.

The giraffes at the sanctuary are the most endangered ones, the Rothschild giraffe. We were able to feed the giraffes and their long tongues were far softer and less slimy than I had thought.

There was also a raised area where you ended up at head height of the giraffes.

We had a coffee before heading back to the car where we saw these warthogs!

The drive back to the hotel was much slower with very heavy traffic. On the way we saw a family of baboons and some storks perching on the sports stadium.

We eventually arrived back at the hotel and after a quick stop in the room, we headed off to walk about 25 minutes to the Nairobi museum. After negotiating crossing a 8 lane road, we arrived at the museum. By now it was 3pm and so we had some food at the cafe, following which we wandered around the museum grounds before walking back.

We spent some time reviewing our photos with a beer sat around the pool.

After a shower and a short break we went back downstairs to the restaurant and played cards before some food! An early start beckons so we headed to bed!

Travelling day – London to Nairobi – 2nd November 2018

Early start at our hotel to get to the airport for check in!

We arrived in Kenya in time at about 10pm and after the usual immigration faff, were met by our tour company.

The journey to our hotel, the Nairobi Serena hotel, took about 20 minutes as the traffic was light. We checked in and dropped off our stuff at the room.

After dropping our stuff off in the room we and headed for a couple of beers and some samosas. Despite the fact that Kenya is three hours ahead of the UK, we still felt a bit tired so decided to call it a night, ready for our trips tomorrow!

Kenya Safari

We’re about to head off on a safari to Kenya. As usual I’ll be adding some photos of our trip. Feel free to ignore the words which are as much to serve as a reminder for me of what we’ve done than anything else!