Amboseli National Park : Animals

Steven, Rob, Sal, Thiemo, Deb ( our hosts and guides) Antony, Bev, Clancy, Jan, Trish and Wayne excited to start in front of the Castle.

215 km from the Castle on Champagne Ridge to Ambesoli KWD Public Camp. Some tar but mostly dirt, dust, potholes and corrugations, so 5 hours later we arrived in time for lunch at the lookout in the middle of the park.

The hyena showed us the way to go and was not very happy to have his siesta disturbed. A very fat belly, not sure if it was from a recent meal, pregnant or was not well, but opened his eye when we stopped so figured we had better let it sleep.

This hyena was one of three standing on a culvert on the road. One ducked into the drain, one went over to the bush area close by and this one stayed close enough to touch, and gave us a grin…I think it was a “go away, we are trying to hunt” look.

These hyena were skulking past the Gnu and Zebras with their sights set on some small deer off shot to the left. There were three of them and they were determined.

The elephants love the abandoned resort in the middle of the park. It has great scratching trees and buildings and lots of shelter, but is close to the wetlands. Why was the resort abandoned in 2014? No idea, but there is another resort/lodge built nearby.

Amboseli national Park is a known elephant rehabilitation area. They are bought here from all over Africa for various relocation reasons, including getting in the way of farming or starvation.

We were busy watching the elephants out of the drivers side window eating and just doing in the wetlands. There are thousands of them. Then Gail looks out the passenger window and this Hippopotamus had his nose just about at the door. Could have ticlked his nose we were so close. When he opened his eye and winked at us, I thought it was time to move….fast…..

A hippo from the look out giving you an idea of the extensive wetland and variety of bird and animal life.

This guy had just been for a bath and we were in his way as he was heading back to the resort. We did not stay long because he was not happy.

Just hanging out in the waterhole and on the plain.

View from the campsite with Kiliminjaro in the background. Not a lot of snow this year and the snow is decreasing every year. The water from the mountain flows down into the Amboseli wetlands making it the mazing place that it is.

Sunrise from the campsite

Masaai Mara – so much to see

Lots of giraffes. they are complacent about us being around unless trying to cross the road. Note the wilderbeest on the hill behind and the antelopes before the bush line.
The horn like growths on a giraffes head are called ossicones. Funnily enough, their nearest relative is the okapi. I will try and get a pic of one of those…
Grandma, Mum, Dad and the rest of the family out foraging
This young male was not terribly happy. Did you know elephants have shock absorbing pads on their feet that allow them to walk quietly?
Male wildebeest are known as the clown of the savanna because of their weird behaviour, especially during mating season. this one is a little weirder. Looks like he managed to survive an attack or head collision with another male but came off second best
This male impala ram can run up to 60km/hour and leap up to 10m. Males have a scent gland on their foreheads to advertise their status to other males and scent glands on their heels which are released when they do a high kick in the air when being chased.. Impala is a zulu word, meaning gazelle.
This mother leopard was very shy, she had a couple of cubs hidden under a large tree trunk on this island. We caught a glimpse of one cub.
A pack of spotted hyena under a tree. Most of what they eat is hunted animal. They rarely eat leftovers. A pack of hyena can eat a whole zebra, not even leaving bones, in under half an hour, if they can stop fighting with each other long enough in the process.
White backed Vulture waiting in a tree with his buddies. They are monogamous. you cannot see the ears because they are covered by fine skin to stop food getting in while they are eating. They urinate on their feet and legs to keep cool in the heat and kill the bacteria and parasites they pick up from the carcass of their meal.
if you look closely you will see two hippopotamus and one crocodile in this pic. The hippos were playing the hungry hippo game and one one or two came up at any one time. Did you know male hippo will fling their dung with their propeller tail to impress a female? The further they fling the better chance of scoring!
Here is looking at you looking at me…This adult female Cheetah can run up to 100km/hour but only for about 250 metres. They are usually by themselves unless they have mated or have cubs.
The black backed jackal was hard to get a picture of as they don’t stay still! They are monogamous and work in groups to harass cornered prey, usually weaker animals, but also eats insects, lizards and smaller animals.

Masai Mara – Lions on the prowl

Spot the male lion, pacing and waiting for the Wildebeest crossing
Zebras hang with the Gnu (Wildebeest). they are the intelligent ones that lead them to the crossing and determine when to go. the Gnu continually saying Nah, Nup, nah No (say it in a low voice..just how it sounds)
Blue wildebeest massing at the river crossing
Lioness made her kill. Basically just strolled along the top of the crossing and took her pick, and rolled with it down the hill, hanging on to the neck area for a good 2 minutes until it fell to the ground and she could finish it properly. She was very unimpressed when the vultures came too close.
Congratulating themselves on their kill.. good job sister. I am heading up to feed my cub I have stashed in the bushes. You can have the rest.
Gail with our guide, Edward (Simba), after the first safari. He is a true Maasai warrior as has killed a lion. He only had one eye that could see, but could still spot the lions and other animals way before we did.

Champagne Ridge to Masai Mara

Most important part is  to put the lunch on the head of the landrover motor. By the time we get to where we are going it should be cooked. Today’s meal is cheese sausage rolls!

Grass is a popular item to sell, green or dry, by the side of the road or in the markets. Mostly used for animal feed or bedding. This guy is rich as he has a motor bike. They are not so common and most of the time you see it carried in big baskets on the head or on the many donkey carts or donkeys.

Coming down into the rift valley on a road built by Italian prisoners of war. It is very steep and only just wide enough for two trucks to pass. This one didn’t make it. Possible his brakes failed and the other side is a sheer drop so he drove it into the cliff deliberately. At the bottom of the hill were many examples of other trucks that blew their motors or had been in accidents. Bit of a truck graveyard in the town at the bottom. The Italians had a sense of humour, and built a chapel at the bottom of the hill..Safe journey!

I did not imagine such lush farming land. Beautiful looking wheat, barley, oat, canola and salvia (I think it was). Even the eucalypts dotted around the country side give an Australian vibe.

Lunch is ready in the middle of the Rift Valley. Now the bad road starts, corrugations so bad that we had to check whether we still had teeth when it was finished. Battle to even stay on the road! Along with bulldust aplenty and potholes to swallow you whole!

Taken from the car as we were coming close to the Masai Mara park. This is how the Masai live, simple little huts constructed from sticks joined in a frame and packed with mud to form the walls. Traditionally they had thatch roofs. You can see the washing hanging out, and the yard for the animals to be penned into (with the longer poles in the ground on an angle). It has a tinge of green as this is the end of the wet season.

Lots of female and baby impala in a herd. A group of young impala are called a crèche. They eat bark, leaves, wood and stems. These ones are alert, but when excited can leap as far a 10 metres and as high as 3 metres.

Kenya Safari

The boys with Masai man Simon (except Steven who was obliged to come with me to Tania) about to head over the cliff into the Rift valley to visit a Masai cave. A natural spring there and it is a ceremony place for the men.
Steven with our “home” for the next month. Ready for a practice run into Nairobi from Champagne Ridge at Ilmasin
Weighing watermelons by the side of the road. The grower is selling them to buyers for the market stalls.
A two year old at the David Sheldrick elephant Orphanage with his keeper. He will be released into the wild again when he is about 7 years old and can integrate into a herd. the keeper will stay with him for a year.
The resident wart hog..Pumba…at the ellie orphanage. He got very agitated at a child who had gone through the barrier.
The group with Elisha, our very experienced guide ( he could make a 4 hour tour out of not very much) at the introduction before we went through the Karen Blixen house in Karen the Nairobi suburb. Do you remember this house from “Out of Africa?” It is still pretty authentic. the only think missing is Meryl Streep and Robert Redford..

FremantleWAus Days for Girls

Lovely Christine from Nairobi Days for Girls Enterprise, along with two of her sewers, met us at the airport. They sew everyday and provide training as well as go to as many schools as they can fit in. First they talk to the girls and then to the parents.
Talking to the girls at Tania Integrated about their bodies. The teacher in me came out and we relied on the pictures I photocopied from Perth. I left them with the centre so they can teach the girls that menstruation is a natural thing and why it happens.
We gave out 30 kits to the girls who were above 10 years old. The High School girls in the Centre orphanage were going to receive theirs after they walked the 8km back to the Centre.
Joseph and Jennifer the founders of Tania Integrated, with the School manager. Joseph has a Doctorate in Education specializing in special needs, and between them have dedicated their lives to helping children in the region.

Mauritius to Nairobi

Saddleback tortoise from Mauritius taken at the Seven soils. There were about 8 of them in a tiny enclosure and love lying in the mud. this one was a little one, just over a metre in length
Coloured earths at Chamarel caused by volcanic mineral rich iron oxides and alumina which do not mix, hence the layer and pathways of different colours.
Sugar cane was the only income for locals and people were killed for it years ago. Tourism is now the main revenue for the country. There is still lots of sugar cane grown in the south.