Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Back to the beginning. . . . . . . . . . .

We're home again. 
Another long journey for the return. Left Nairobi at 11 PM, arriving at Heathrow, 
London 8 hours later just at sunrise. A layover of several hours prior to the
 almost 9 hour flight to Raleigh, arriving here at 2 pm.
Unpacked  and did a ton of laundry and odds and ends.

Now want to get going with posts and share so much more about this
 fabulous trip. . . . . . . . . . so I'll start at the beginning again, leaving Nairobi
in a small 12 seater prop plane, crossing the escarpment of the Rift Valley
and the flat bush plains, heading west.

Nairobi, the capital and largest city in Kenya, is famous for having the world's
 only game reserve - Nairobi National Park - found within a major city. 
The name Nairobi comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, meaning
"cool water".  Situated at 5,889 ft above sea level, it is 87 miles south of the equator.
 This city with a population of approx. 4 million, has changed so much since its
 founding in 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa as a rail depot
 on the Uganda Railway. During Kenya's colonial period, the city became a center
 for the colony's coffee, tea and sisal industry.

After the fun visit to the Giraffe Center and Karen Blixen House
both just outside the city, we were driven to the small Wilson Airport for the
 hour long flight to the Maasai Mara and our camp named Mara Plains.

This was the airstrip for our camp - just a flat area of bush on the top of a plateau. (This
 plane was actually ours landing to pick us up when we left).  Pilot, co-pilot, 12 passengers
 and a stack of duffel bags and back packs, with several flights coming and going daily 
back and forth to Nairobi.

Our friend Paula, and guide Tirian, met us for the drive to camp, Paula having arrived
 earlier in the day from her side trip to the Mt. Kilimanjaro region. I thought I had
 ridden over some pretty rough roads in my life, especially on former trips to Africa,
 but the road to the camp was even rougher. 
That big safari modified Toyota Land Cruiser really took a beating on the
 ride. . . . . . . . and all the others in the days ahead!
All I can say is, someone was looking out for me and my back, Bob's too, and we
 survived the rocks, gullies, boulders, river crossings (not a bridge to be seen!) hills,
 valleys etc., with dear Tirian calling out H.O.T. - hang on tight - so we were prepared
 when the roller coaster rides became unbelievably tough.
On the ride to camp that late afternoon we were thrilled to see animals immediately.
The fighting pair of Hartebeest (above) was amazing, it was over territory - and
 thankfully it was not 'to the death'. Eventually they ran off, a little bloody and very tired.

Paula and Tirian tricked us by saying they knew we were hoping to see
 the Great Wildebeest Migration, which this year has been unusually late
 due to the grassy areas remaining green because of rain.  Before cresting a hill
 they said we may just see a few, but suddenly the plains surrounding us came
 into view and there were hundreds of thousands of those odd looking animals
 (also known as the Gnu) everywhere, it was amazing.
  Did we see one of those long-awaited river crossings?  I'll keep you guessing for
 a little while!

 Wildebeest and Hartebeest - living in harmony.

As we reached camp the sun was low in the sky and our beautiful accommodation was
awaiting us - more on this with pics later.

. . . . . . . . and the sunset was perfect over the bush with a visiting lion to liven up
 the scene. What an amazing evening to get settled in, meet the staff, kick off
 the dusty boots and relax.
Daytime on safari is full and exceptionally busy, a lot of energy is required.
 The evenings are all about what was viewed during the daylight hours, sipping
 drinks and enjoying a tasty dinner.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Here's looking at you. . . . . . . . .

It's 5:30am, another cool Kenya morning. 
My game drive leaves at 6:15am and I'll be bundled up, BUT by around 11am
 the sun will be hot as we go in pursuit of more beautiful animals.
I love to capture the faces of animals, and birds, when they seem to be looking
 directly at you, or at least in your direction. Here are some photos from the current 
safari trip which I was able to add last evening - hope you enjoy!
Thanks for all your lovely comments on the lions in the last post. They really are
abundant and breathtaking in this area.
Must run now - have a great weekend - we leave the camp tomorrow and return
to Nairobi.

Burchell's zebra
Lioness with kill
Ring-tailed mongoose
Hippo with Oxpecker birds
Wildebeest - one of the million plus we viewed!
Yellow-billed stork
Dik dik
Bull elephants

Don't be scared!

Mara lions from sunrise to sunset. . . . . . . . .

Up early this morning for another spectacular day in Kenya.
It's hard to show you here just how amazing the Maasai Mara landscape is.
Very different from the other African countries I've visited on wildlife safaris. 
Much more open, with fewer trees and vegetation therefore game drives become
hours of animal viewing. The most incredible lion sightings have been nonstop,
starting before dawn - we are out of camp by
6:15 am each day - and lasting until sunset just before 7 pm.

Internet continues to be sporadic and slow, takes a while to load photos,
 so for this post I'll just share some of my shots of the Mara lions and
 lionesses. . . . . . . .and some adorable cubs.


This is how close lions often come
to the vehicle - that's the guide's
seatbelt in front of me!

Dear old Mohawk - more about him later.

Sunset - on our arrival evening - with a few of
the thousands of wildebeest we've seen.

Enjoy these beautiful big cats - and there will be more!

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