Monthly Archives: November 2014

Kenya – Nov 10 – Breakfast by the Hippo Pool and back to Nairobi

What an experience that was.  Breakfast on the banks of the river while watching hippos in the river below.  White table cloths, full hot breakfast, champagne and orange juice and a view of the river where hippos and crocs eyed each other carefully… they could make each other breakfast!  IMG_1162

After breakfast a trip to the Masai village to see the history of this proud tribe.  Our housekeeper guy is from the village so it meant even more to us.   Here are some pictures of the villagers selling their crafts, their dances and making a fire. IMG_1206IMG_1197IMG_1196

In the afternoon we headed out again for an exciting game viewing.  We saw a cheeta and her 5 cubs hanging around under a tree.  The cubs thought it would be great to go under the range rover to play.IMG_1228

The lions on ‘honeymoon’ were at it again!  This time there were three other lionessess (is that a word?) to satisfy.   That poor male lion was so tired!

Oh, and another safari vehicle had a flat tire.  They sent out an SOS and three other vehicles were there so quickly. The safari vehicles surrounded each other in a triangle (like the wagons in a old pioneer movie) so the lions wouldn’t see the man who was changing the tire.  I don’t know if they were protecting the lion or the the man but I do know that it was the quickest tire change I’ve ever seen!

And we had a Sundowner.  That’s where we all get out of the safari vehicles (and take our lives into our own hands) and drink wine and watch the sunset.                     A truly awesome experience.IMG_1240

Tomorrow we say Kwaheri – goodbye to our hosts and head back to Nairobi where we will have dinner at the Manji family home.  The Manji family are the owners of Twiga tours who have taken such good care of us throughout this adventure.  And then we’ll take another 24 hours to get back to beautiful Canada.   This has been an awesome and life changing experience thanks to Women’s Travel Network and I have been delighted to share our experiences with you.

Kenya – Nov 8 and 9 The Masai Mara Game Reserve

After breakfast we transferred to the Samburu Airstrip to fly to the Masai Mara Game Reserve.  What a charming airport.  Very different than we are use to.  Here is a picture. Note the duty free shop.  IMG_1030IMG_1024Air Kenya was fabulous and we enjoyed a great view of Kenya from the air.  Mid day we arrived at our destination the Ashnil Mara Camp. The camp sits on 25 million years of pre-historic land.  Masai Mara is the northern most extension of the Serengeti Plains and one of the richest wildlife game reserves and is 1510 square kilometers in size. It is home to the awesome lion, leopard, giraffes, elephants, rhios, zebra, wildebeest and other plains game.    On our game drives we saw two lion couples celebrating their ‘honeymoon’ as our game driver so delicately put it.  Lions mate frequently for 72 hours and viola, three to four month later a baby lion is born.  The female lion seemed to enjoy it and followed the male looking for more.IMG_1060 Yesterday a lion killed a hippo and today everyone was enjoying the meal.  Male lions ate first, then females and once they left it was a free-for-all with the hyenas, vultures and jackels.  Once the lions came back, everyone else scattered.  We also saw a Topi Antelope just after giving birth.  The baby was just standing up for the first time which meant the birth had to have happened only 20 minutes before. IMG_1132IMG_1099Here is a cape buffalo.

IMG_1102  Another day in paradise!

Kenya – Nov 6 and 7 The Nanyuki Spinners and Samburu Game Reserve

Today we reluctantly left the Sweetwater camp and headed for the Samburu Buffalo Springs Game Reserve. Sometimes the journey is as exciting as the destination.
We came up to a police barricade on the road.  A police barricade in Kenya is a pile of rocks in the middle of the road with a hand painted sign that says POLICE – STOP.  A long board with nails sticking out is placed across the road to stop cars from running through the barricade.  While our tour driver was outside telling the police where we were going, our van was visited by many hard-selling street vendors selling very pretty hand-made jewellery.  Some of us said no.  One of us (Dee) bought a few pieces.  As soon as that transaction was complete, a plethora of additional vendors approached her.  We were anticipating a swarming!  Instead they all wanted to shake her hand and thank her for supporting their community.   How nice was that!
Once the police gave us the go ahead, we were on our way (we drove around the nailed boards).  On the way we saw many fruit stands, little towns, and many tire repair centres.
Here is a taxi stand.
 Yes, they are motorcycles.  We are told that we would be taking our life in our own hands if we were to hire one.
Along the way we stopped and visited the  Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers.  This organization was started by three single  entrepreneurial  women who needed to support their children during the 1970s.   It has now grown to over 250 women.   We toured their workshop where they demonstrated how all the products are made from carding, spinning and colouring the wool to make stunning carpets, wall hangings and other things.  The red colour is made from a bug that attaches itself to a cactus.  Once dead and you crush the bug (yes it is true), you can use it as red dye.  We didn’t buy any red goods.
Of course, we spent a lot of time deciding which of these treasures to purchase and to take home without overtaxing our luggage allotment!  IMG_0872 (2)We then headed north to the Samburu Game reserve where we had lunch, then headed out for another game viewing drive.  The land is rugged and semi-arid with spectacular scenic landscape. The Ewaso Nyiro River flows through this reserve and is an oasis for elephants and other wild game.
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This mom had to pull her baby out of the water hole by her trunk because the baby kept sliding in and couldn’t get out!
Our second day was spent on an early morning game viewing (6:30 am… we are no slouches!) then a trip to a Samburu village to see how the tribe lives in this harsh surrounding.  They danced for us and we danced for them.  We saw their houses, blacksmith shop and parliament.  Parliament is a group of logs surrounding a fire pit.  Decisions are made here like who will marry whom (men are allowed to have more than one wife).  Our guide only has one. His father had seven wives and he knows that it’s too much trouble to have any more.
Another game viewing drive in the afternoon where we saw cheetahs and a green mamba snake.  Fortunately we were in the van and he wasn’t.   We also saw a group of crocs who were rolling around in the water with what we thought was a rug.  It turned out to be a giraffe hide.  Balance of nature strikes again! IMG_0961 It’s really hot and humid in Samburu and we are surrounded by high hills (hence the delay in getting on the blog).  We are looking for a more cooler climate in Masai Mara when we head there tomorrow.  Kwaheri Sasa.  That’s Swahili for good bye until tomorrow.

Kenya – Nov 4 and 5 Ol Pejeta – Lions and Rhinos and….

Sleep?  What’s that?  We don’t care because we are having so much fun! After an early sumptuous breakfast our guide driver met us at the hotel and loaded us into a Land Cruiser to take us to Ol Pejeta Conservancy.  Along the way we passed through the imaginary Equator line that divides the northern hemisphere from the southern hemisphere.  Of course there were the prerequisite shopping stalls selling any kind of African gifts you felt compelled to purchase.IMG_0765

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is home to the Big Five animals (rhinos, elephants, lions leopards and buffalo) along with a host of other animals.  Our hotel has a beautiful picture window overlooking an animal watering hole.  At lunch, a couple of us, I won’t mention whom, thought they saw deer and rhinos.  (It was Colleen and Carolyn).  Our waitress thought that was pretty funny because they were gazelles and warthogs.The rest of our time at Ol Pejeta was spent in land rovers with pop-up tops driving through the game reserve viewing African wildlife.  IMG_0822Here’s what we saw:  impalas, elands, water bucks, cape buffalos, lions, crown cranes, antelope, elephants, olive baboons, blacksmith plovers, black rhinos and their babies, gazelles and zebras. IMG_0838 (2) A lion was actually carrying it’s kill (a warthog) to a nice quiet place to eat followed by jackals who were looking for leftovers.   IMG_0816We also had an amazing experience at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary watching these curious, funny, intelligent creatures.   The Sanctuary was built to house orphans that were evacuated from Burundi during their civil war.  One of the more agressive chimps (Max)  thows rocks at people that he takes a dislike to.  IMG_0772We also visited a rhino sancturary and saw a Rhino who had been blinded and now spends his time in leisure protected by the Conservancy.

We are staying at Sweetwater Camp.   It is 217 kilometers from Nairobi and is located on the plains of Mount Kenya. Take a look at the link.  It’s beautiful and we are being spoiled by the staff.  Here is one of our ‘cabins’.  IMG_0844Tomorrow we leave this beautiful mecca and head to Samburu.

Kenya – Nov 3 – Nairobi – We Adopted an Elephant!

Greetings from Kenya.  We are here and feeling wonderful.  After a long but comfortable flight to Nairobi, we spent the night at the beautiful Victorian Sarova Stanley Hotel where we appreciated a good night’s sleep.   Today we were delighted to visit The Daphne Sheldrick orphanage  where abandoned beautiful young elephant calves and other wild animals are housed until they can fend for themselves in the wild. AND, we sponsored an elephant at the orphanage on behalf of the Women’s Travel Network.   ‘Barsilinga’ is a 2 year old elephant who was orphaned as a result of losing his mother to poaching.  We were delighted to be able to help this wonderful orphanage and give some added financial support for Barsilinga.

Kenya day one 3 Kenya day one 2Kenya day one 8After a beautiful outdoor lunch at the Karen Blizen plantation, we visited the Giraffe Manor and climbed a two-story platform to look these beautiful creatures in the eyes.  Because the keepers had treats for us to give them, the giraffes were happy to have us hang around and enjoy their majestic beauty.
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From there we visited the Karen Blixen Museum.  She is the iconic Danish writer whose life story is reflected in the movie ‘Out of Africa’.
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And then, of course, was the shopping at the Kazuri Bead Factory and store.  Back to the hotel for dinner and a well-deserved night’s sleep.  Already we are overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of this country and it’s only day one!

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