Friday, August 14, 2009

Safari Diaries

Three parks, six days, and LOTS and LOTS of animals. Here are but a few of the highlights.

Saturday, 3pm: Why on earth is the road to the Masai Mara - the most visited place in Kenya – worse than the roads on the way up to Korr? Bump, bump, rattle, rattle, I sure hope this car stays in one piece!

Saturday, 5pm: Giraffe! A whole herd! It’s our first big sighting and we’re not even in the park yet!

Saturday, 10pm: I’m FREEZING – have been cold all day, but now I’m REALLY cold. Desert girl returns to the real world. I’m grateful for two really have blankets in our tented camp, even if the mattress on the floor is pretty much useless.

Sunday, 9am: We've entered the Mara and are driving past herds and herds and herds of impala, zebra, buffalo, and wildebeest.

Sunday, 11:45am: Our fist big sighting of the day – four lionesses enjoying a fresh zebra!

Sunday, 2pm: Watching hippos fighting in the Mara river, and was just told by armed escort to move back from the edge of the river – you never know where the crocodiles are.

Sunday, 2:45pm: I’m surrounded by cheeky monkeys who are trying their best to steal my lunch. One just dropped from the tree above me and landed a foot away from my sandwich!

Monday, 7:15am: We just found a pregnant hyena in her den, and watched her chase off the jackal who was trying to steal her meat.

Monday, 7:45am: We were following a lone bull elephant who apparently wanted to stay lonely – we were just ahead of him when he trumpeted and started charging our car. Good thing our driver’s quick on the acceleration pedal!

Monday, 10am: We’re back on that horrible road from the Mara and are heading to Nakuru.

Monday, 5:30pm: Our safari group was wandering around Nakuru looking for ice cream, only to find an ice cream cart had been following us for the last few blocks! Yummy treats for everyone! I might have had two, but I’m not sure!

Tuesday, 9:15am: I've never seen so many pink flamingoes in my life! The whole of Lake Nakuru is surrounded by a ribbon of pink.

Tuesday, 10am: We’re watching a big troupe of baboons playing in the forest. The babies are so funny looking! One sits on the road beside our car and screeches at us.

Tuesday, 10:20am: We’ve just spotted a rare tree-climbing lion. We watch her amble through the grass and up a tree, settling in for a morning nap.

Tuesday, 12:30pm: We’re now nose-to-nose with a white rhino. It reminds us all of some kind of prehistoric monster!

Tuesday, 3:15pm: I just left the safari group and am on my own now. I’m in a rural matatu (14 person bus) and finally on the way to Nyeri after waiting nearly an hour and a half for it to fill up (could be worse!). They don’t leave unless they’re full, so I got to spend my time warding off hawkers trying to sell me everything under the sun through the window. Wallets? Power adapters? Soda and sweets? Hair clips? An escort to Nyeri? No live chickens in the matutu, though… I’m kinda disappointed!

Wednesday, 9am: I’m sitting in a deck chair on the patio at the beautiful Aberdare Country Club, sipping complimentary coffee, listening to music, watching warthogs graze on the slopes below me, and very much enjoying my 24 hours of luxury!

Wednesday, 10:30am: I hear a familiar cry and think back to walks through Stanley Park – peacocks!

Wednesday, 11:00am: On a guided safari walk, I’ve just spotted an eland, the largest and one of the shyest antelopes, and am now walking through a herd of ten giraffes!

Wednesday, 3:30pm: I’m now boarding the Ark, a hotel deep in the Aberdare forest that’s built to resemble Noah’s Ark. It overlooks a waterhole and salt lick, and the staff ring a buzzer to wake you up throughout the night when interesting things come to the water hole.

Wednesday, 4:00pm: Just in time for our arrival, a whole family of elephants arrived at the waterhole, joining the few buffalo.

Wednesday, all evening long: I’m riveted by the elephants – blowing dust over their bodies, playing with each other, baby elephants bullying the buffalo… I take a quick break to watch the birds being fed on the “gangplank” but am glued to the waterhole most of the night.

Wednesday, 10:15pm: Two bull elephants have been fighting off and on since we got here. One just charged the other with a loud trumpet and knocked the other down. And I’m watching from about fourty feet away!

Thursday, 12:15am: Four hyenas are trying to take down a buffalo on the far side of the water hole. A giant forest hog is grazing just below me, and I can hear him munching away.

Thursday, 12:25am: The hyenas seem to have given up. Lucky buffalo. He’s meandered over to the window and seems content to just stare at us.

Thursday, 1:45am: I’m heading to bed. I’m sure they’ll ring if anything else happens.

Thursday, 7am: Breakfast time! Nothing else through the night. Morning in the Aberdares is misty and cool. Just a few antelopes linger in the mist by the waterhole as the morning sun begins to burn away the fog.

Thusday, 9am: We’re back at the country club and on our way to Nairobi. We saw a few more elephants on the way out, but the leopard has managed to elude me again. It’s the only thing I think I haven’t seen. I’ve been adopted by a group of 15 British Scouts who I think felt sorry for me when they saw I was on my own. They’ve offered me a free ride back to Nairobi with them on their bus. Score!

Thursday, 12:30pm: I’ve arrived back at Mayfield. The only wildlife I’ll see now are the matatu drivers!

For more photos, go to my flickr page or to my album on facebook (coming soon)!


AfricaBleu said...

Incredible, awesome pics, Hillary. Thanks for sharing them.
To my shame, I must admit that though I lived in Kenya for eleven years, I never visited Masai Mara, or stayed at any fancy game parks. It was one of those things my parents always said we'd do "one day," but never did. We always ended up going to Malindi, instead (which I won't complain about).

I'm glad you did it.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Thank you for the tour of a world in which I have never been!