Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Indian Ocean ...

After two more days at Keekorok Lodge in the Masai Mara we flew back to Nairobi (again in a little Twin Otter) before transferring to a larger plane for the final leg of our Africa trip … destination Mombasa

I really liked the Twin Otters because you get a spectacular view over the African landscape below and can look down sometimes upon herds of elephants and other animals on the move. Not the most modern means of travel … and a bit “bumpy” sometimes … but great views … and the landings and take-offs are very exciting.

We were lucky enough to be staying at the Voyager Beach Resort in Mombasa … which was absolutely gorgeous … and our rooms (I had to share with Uncle Julian which kinda cramped my style !) faced directly out onto the Indian Ocean. I could have cried, the view was so breathtaking … but I’m not a big ninny so I didn’t.

Not a lot I can say about Mombasa really … as someone forgot to let me out of the bag for two whole days … but I can tell you that the hotel and grounds and views etc. were beautiful. They (the forgetful ones) went into the old town to visit Fort Jesus … which apparently was really nice … and they also went out to dinner with some family friends … which again was apparently really good too. So pleased (not) that I was left out (or rather in) for these two adventures.

Ed and Hatty went Scuba Diving in the Indian Ocean … and Uncle Julian (more of a “bobber” than a “diver”) went snorkeling with them both out near the coral reef. Yet again I was not included in this adventure as (a) I might get wet and (b) there was no mask or snorkel that would fit my face. Pretty feeble excuses if you ask me.

Our time in Mombasa went all too quickly … as indeed it had at Amboseli, Samburu and Masai Mara … and before long we had to fly back to London to resume ‘normal life’ … whatever that might mean for my travelling companions.

Ed has already jetted off again … destination Quebec, Canada … but he didn’t take me … growl growl … or similar Woody Rat noises of disapproval.

Hatty … teenage wild-child with beauty and brains … has returned to her home in Suffolk … yet more snarly noises because she didn’t take me with her either …

So I’m languishing here in Docklands enjoying the views of Canary Wharf … and on the lookout for someone to take me away from all this fine food (joke) and comfort (no joke). Uncle Julian’s flat is very nice but in truth he cannot cook to save his life.

Now that I am fully rested … cleaned-up … and looking bright-eyed and pink-tailed … I am ready for a new adventure. I hope to be on the move again very soon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Woody in Tanzania

The Masai Mara is just so big and so full of animals that it is difficult to comprehend. We thought initially that it lacked some of the character of the other two, smaller wildlife areas that we had visited … but on reflection I think that we would all agree that it offered just another magical dimension to our journey in Kenya.
For a start it has over 500 species of birds including 16 species of birds of prey. The Masai Mara covers about 700 square miles and our lodge at Keekorok was just north of the border with Tanzania and the Serengeti National Park and just east of the Mara River. On one of our safari drives in the Masai Mara we crossed over into Tanzania where I had my photo taken sitting on a log. Nobody can say that I don’t get around … go to Kenya … get photographed border-hopping in Tanzania too !!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

After two glorious days at Samburu … we flew off again in another Twin Otter airplane this time heading for the Masai Mara National Reserve … where we stayed at the Keekorok Lodge … which had its own airstrip ! We were there to witness the start of the migration with over one million wildebeest on the move accompanied by thousand of common zebra (about 200,000) and gazelle (about 550,000) and impala (about 64,0000). This is lion country too … and we were treated to the sight of a very rare black rhino (mum and child) on the move.

Added to this are elephant, buffalo, warthog, giraffe, topi, kongoni, eland, cheetah, spotted hyena, and silver-backed and side-striped jackals. Mix in red-tailed and blue monkeys, banded mongoose, hippo, Defassa waterbuck, impala and bushbuck. 95 species in all. If you name it (excluding leopard) then we probably saw it and my companions (particularly Ed and Hatty) probably photographed it at close range.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Friends for drinks at Samburu Lodge, Samburu National Park, Kenya

Although we didn’t get to see a leopard … as at Amboseli … we were not disappointed by the number of animals and birds that we get to see … most of them close-up. We saw some of Uncle Julian’s favourite animals … the gerenuk, standing on its hind legs eating leaves off a bush … elephants, cheetahs, Grevy’s zebra, beisa oryx and reticulated giraffe … plus buffalo, impala, common waterbuck, Grant’s gazelle, greater and lesser kudu, warthog, dwarf mongoose … and some really cute little creatures called “dik-dik”. Apparently “dik-dik” come in both a Kirk’s and Gunther’s variety but we have no idea which is which. Either way there are a bit like miniature versions of Bambi.Watching the elephants drinking and bathing in the shallow, muddy waters of the river was just a sight to remember for ever.

One afternoon I invited a couple of friends over for a drink by the swimming pool whilst my companions were busy sunbathing. Rather stupidly … perhaps in common with their species … these crazy monkeys thought that I have invited them for a drink “of the pool” rather than “by the pool” ! See photo ! Daft … but cheeky … and necessary to keep a close watch on your camera, wallet, watch etc etc when these little monkeys were around.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bathtime at Samburu Lodge, Samburu National Park, Kenya

Last Saturday, we flew off again in a little Twin Otter airplane heading for the Samburu National Reserve and neighbouring Buffalo Springs where we stay at the Samburu Lodge … completely incredible and located on a bend in the river where elephants come to cross and crocodiles come to feed.
Samburu National Reserve and Buffalo Springs are two relatively small scenic areas which sit either side of the Ewaso Ngiro River (a Samburu word meaning, very appropriately, “river of brown water”). There seemed to be river and trees in the heart of the Samburu Reserve and rising rocky hillsides on the outskirts providing brilliant terrain for the 4x4 jeeps that we were using on our safari drives. The Samburu Hills are apparently home to many leopards … although, sadly, we didn’t get to see one on our trip.

Oh yeah ... today it's September, the 9th !!! Over exactly one year, on 09.09.09 I have to be home ... and there is still so much to see on this planet. So I have to move on.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Uncle Julian ... I presume !

This is our last day here in Amboseli National Park. Tomorrow we are leaving for Samburu National Reserve. Here you see me with Uncle Julian in front of Oltukai Lodge were we stayed. You'll here more from us next week, in the meanwhile ... have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Wild life in Amboseli, Kenya

Amboseli is apparently the best wildlife area in Africa to see elephants up-close and personal … and we certainly weren’t disappointed.

Apart from t
he elephants we got to see buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, Masai giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, lions, hippos, spotted hyena, yellow baboon, fringe-eared oryx, gerenuk, lesser kudu and eland … and birds galore. More animals and birds than I could point a stick at.
Seeing so many lions … and particularly coming across two lions sleeping in the road (dirt track actually) … who simply couldn’t be bothered to move when our jeep came along … incredible.

It was lucky for my travelling companions that I was there to protect them should anything have gone awry … fearless Woody to the rescue in the blink of an eye !!!

Unfortunately they forgot to take a picture of the unsung hero …

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ol Tukai Lodge, Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Since Saturday we stay at the “Ol Tukai Lodge” (184 miles south of the Equator) in the heart of the Amboseli National Park and it is totally awesome. I should perhaps add at this point that my travelling companions took over 1,000 photographs during our time in Africa … but 99.9 per cent of them excluded me because, they say, that some of the other animals were apparently “more wild” and “more interesting” than me !! Little do they know ! Notwithstanding this … tomorrow I’ll show some of these photos … so fear not, mom & dad.