Kenya Migration and Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Trek trip report, Aug. 2005
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Following in the footprints of Karen Blixen and Dian Fossey.........
A small very fun group of us met in Nairobi to begin our beautiful sojourn through the wilds of Africa. This trip to East Africa was very special as I did not know how I would like it compared to Southern Africa. The scenery is superb with
stunning diversity; arid flat plains to mountains and river valley's.
We visited three national parks in Kenya. Finch Hatton luxury tented camp in West Tsavo was the first of our many wonderful camps. A gorgeous setting on the river awarded us with our own large hippo family, several very large crocks whom enjoyed sunning themselves on the river bank very near to us. This setting was very lush and green here. Our luxury tents were very spacious sitting on the edge of the river, with the sound of rushing water. The multitude of kingfishers and various monkeys; with the sound of snorting hippo's while laying on the outside daybed is sinfully pleasant. I love Africa!
Our game drives here were beautiful with lovely wild landscape. The warthogs which our group nicknamed 'African Express' were always a delight. The graceful Giraffe are always a gift to behold. Hippo's out of the water, Water buck, Bushbuck, delicate Dik Dik are some of the antelope we encountered.
Dinners here are lavish, based on the famous legend of Denys Finch-Hatton the great hunter, special friend of Karen Blixen. He enjoyed drinking wine with fine crystal while Mozart played on the gramophone, and so did we. We celebrated a special birthday in our group with champagne and cake, the food and setting were outstanding here.
An early morning game drive treated us with a beautiful family of ochre colored Elephant, they all lined up for us in the soft light. We went for a game walk, and visited Zini spring, a very large natural spring in a stunning setting with freshwater fish, hippo and crock's.
At the end of day in soft light we found a lion family (Simba) two small cubs and two lioness playing and frolicking with mom's cleaning the little ones, a very special sight to behold! Gin and tonics to celebrate back at the camps' lovely deck ,in fine crystal of course!
Flight north to Samburu and Buffalo Springs over gorgeous country to Larsens tented Camp on the banks of another river. Lots of elephant here, herds of eight or nine with suckling
young. Lovely riverine forest, young male lion sleeping under a tree. Leopard laying in a tree, however could not see him well, reticulated Giraffe here; they are a different species with well outlined spots in white also they have the Greve zebra, they are bigger in stature with different coloring, gray stripes in between the black stripes which do go all around the belly. We also saw the great Oryx antelope with long beautiful horns on a pale gray and cream colored body, very statuesque! We sighted two cheetah brothers in the bush, very exciting for our first sighting.
This is a relatively small game reserve, with a good number of accommodation, it is really noticeable when there is a special sighting of leopard or lion. This is where I notice the big difference between East Africa and Southern Africa where camps are much smaller with very few other game vehicles. We enjoyed this camp with hundreds of black faced vervet monkeys. The highlight for me here on our last game drive, in the late afternoon with beautiful light along a dry red dirt riverbed in amongst green tall trees were a heard of 16 reticulated giraffe of all sizes, babies to large adult males and females. This was a grand sight to behold, after taking copious amounts of images in perfect light, we put down our cameras, sat on top of the land rover and digested the wonder before us. This was my vision of a perfect utopia, peace and serenity, the animal kingdom of a beautiful Africa. I go to sleep now with this scene in my heart.
Next we were on our way to the famous Masai Mara for four nights at Governors camp to witness the wonder of the hundreds of thousands Wildebeast and zebra crossing the Mara river during their annual migration. Starting in August and through September is when they arrive in Kenya, from the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Governors camp is a classic tented camp which sits facing the river with resident hippos and crocodile. They offer excellent service all the way around. We loved the staff, which got to know us well, you are assigned the same waiters and tables outside for breakfast and lunch, dinner is in a large covered tent. There is no electricity in the tents, only at reception and the bar. You can bring your batteries to be charged there, it all works well. The tents are large, with private ensuite bathrooms like all the rest of the camps. The cabin boys bring you lighted lanterns in the evenings, and your preference of coffee and tea in the early am before your game drive. This is the life.
Governors main camp where we stayed is the most centrally located in the Mara, it is close to all the best game and not far from where one of the main Wildbeast crossing is. We were blessed with our guide named Stanley. He has been a guide in the Mara for 18 year's and is one with the animals, his instinct was spot on. He knew how to position the vehicle best for us photographers, then again for a different angle. Stanley was our man. We had a great time starting with our first afternoon game drive at 3:30 pm, a hyena greeted us after the resident male and female waterbuck as we leave our camp.
In a lovely water hole, with pretty green water hyacinth near the airstrip was a large family of hippo. This was especially fun as they would pick up their heads and have a pretty green flower hat on! They would yawn and we could get fabulous shots of big open mouths wearing green flower hats. We even witnessed interesting behavior, they were mating. Very close by we came across a pride of eleven Lion! This was the most I have ever seen together, while out walking out in the open plain. There was a big male, six young cubs, the rest were the moms. They were on the move, playing and frolicking and trying to go on a wildbeast hunt. We decided we all were lucky charms and had great karma between us, little did we know just how lucky.