We had been planning a safari trip for a number of years and finally made the decision to book a safari to Kenya with Somak Holidays.
Day 1 –Nairobi
A visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Rescue Centre on the edge of Nairobi National Park. The Centre rescues orphaned elephants – as a consequence of poaching, drought or accidents – and rears them until they are old enough to be returned to the wild and re-integrated into a herd.
We are captivated by the stories of their rescue and ‘adopt’ a young male of 5 months old who had suffered from bullet wounds in the knee when his mother was killed by poachers.
The work of the Centre is invaluable in helping the species who are still hunted ruthlessly for their tusks.
Day 2 –Aberdares National Park
From the hotel where we are staying, we walk a short way across the golf course – wherethe baboons are playing on the Greens.
After about a 10 minute walk we are in the national park surrounded by Giraffes, Warthogs, Eland, Impala and a shy Bushbuck.
The Eland is the largest of the African antelope. The Oxpecker helps the Eland by removing ticks and other blood sucking insects that they pluck from the animal’s hide.
The Warthogs live in family groups and often live in burrows excavated originally by Aardvarks. To defend themselves against predators they will enter the burrows backwards which allow them to use their formidable tusks if threatened. Sometimes they will find the burrow is already occupied by a Hyena and have to move quickly to avoid being attacked from the rear!
The grounds of the hotel have an abundance of local birdlife including the well named Red-Cheeked Cordon-Bleu.
Day 3 & 4
Samburu National Park
This reserve is located in a deep valley north of Mount Kenya. When we visited, the reserve had suffered 9 months of drought. The animals were struggling to find sufficient grazing and as a result were malnourished.
This of course helps the predators tobe able to catch their weakened prey.
Towards the end of the day we hear that a leopard has been spotted in the bush and we drive towards the location in the hope of getting a rare sighting. After 40 minutes of silently waiting, as darkness descended, we caught a glimpse of the leopard who started to walk towards us. To our delight he leisurely sat, posing on the track about 20 metres from our vehicle!
The next morning at the hotel a troupe of around 50 baboons ran through the grounds. Many of the females carried their young on their backs.
Just outside the perimeter fence of ourhotel was this basking crocodile.
Travelling around the reserve we see this proud lioness basking in the sun on the banks of the Ewasi Nyiro river. Her serene posture changed radically when later she attacks and brings down an Oryx single handed.
An antelope of this size would normally be able to handle a lone lion attack but with the lack of food it would have been weakened by the drought.
Day 5 – Serena Mountain Lodge, Mount Kenya
At 6000 feet the air is fresh and cool compared to the heat of the Samburu. The lodge overlooks a water hole which is visited at night by Water Buffalo, Leopard and Water Buck.
During a guidedwalk through the forest, we spot this Colobus monkey with baby high up in the tree canopy.
In the evening a Water Buffalo visits the water hole accompanied by the inevitable Oxpecker.
As darkness descends a leopard visits the water hole on the lookoutfor young water buck.
Day 6 –Lake Naivasha & Nakuru National Park
Located in Africa’s Great Rift Valley these freshwater lakes are home to an abundance of bird life and a large herd of Hippopotami.
These giant animals who look so docile when wallowing in the water, are the most feared animal by the local Africans - when encountered on land. In the evening when the hippos graze by the lake we were given armed escorts when walking from the hotel restaurant back to our lodges.
From L -R : Spoonbill, Pied Kingfisher, Saddle Billed Stork catches lunch
Day 7 & 8 –Masai Mara Reserve
Located in south west Kenya this is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves. Together with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania it forms the most diverse and spectacular eco-system and probably the world’s most important big game reserve.
The Wildebeest gather in enormous herds in search of fresh grazing. The circular seasonal migration from the southern Serengeti to the Masai Mara and back covers a distance in excess of 500 miles.
We waited by the banks of the Masai river in the hope that the Wildebeest herd would move across the river on its migration. A herd of zebra that gathered on the river bank waited – cautious of entering the water as a group of Crocodiles were waiting on the far bank for the first foolhardy animal to make the crossing!
However –while waiting for any signs of crossing the river we were able to watch this beautiful Bee Eater on a nearby bush –along with the aptly named Superb Starlings.
The Cheetah is a stalking machine! Muscular and lean it is perfectly suited to stalk its prey for hours – usually in tandem - and then move at lightning speed to catch its prey.
After watching the spectacle of the Cheetah kill we come across a herd of slumbering lions. Though the leader of the pride didn’t seem too pleased to be disturbed!
Not satisfied with Cheetahs and lions we encountered a female elephant protecting her young and a fine elderly bull elephant.
On our final day at the Masai we took a dawn balloon flight across the plains. Spectacular!!