Africa!

This past September I took a small group of hearty travelers on a once in a lifetime adventure to Africa.  It was perhaps the most incredible adventure I’ve taken.  The sights and sounds of Africa are like nowhere else because the primary attraction to this incredible landscape is the natural beauty; the animals, the scenery and the breathtaking vistas are just so unforgettable.  We flew into Kenya via Atlanta to Amsterdam then onto Nairobi.  In Nairobi we met up with another small group and we spent the night in the Fairmont Nairobi.  The next morning, still punchy from the travel and time difference of seven hours, he headed out to Samburu Game Preserve where we would spend several days tent camping.

 

samburu entrance
Entrance to Samburu
roughing it
And this is what I call a tent 😉
damn monkey
Tent camping is not without its hazards. We had to prop a table or mat in front of the tent otherwise one of the “locals” just may help themselves to your possessions. Cheeky Monkeys!
monkeys waiting to steal
These baboons sleep at night so we only had to proof our tents during the day.

 

gazelle
Our first day on the plains we were up early and had a safari before breakfast!   Later we had a wonderful lunch buffet then went back out to the Preserve. This is a gazelle. It’s about the size of a South Carolina deer yet it has these wonderful curved antlers.

 

impala
And this is an Impala. He’s very fast yet those horns (antlers) look like they could get caught on a low-hanging branch. Doesn’t resemble that Chevrolet at all.
elephant close up
And this is our car. Custom made for sightseeing. We stayed on a rough dirt road and slowly made our way past a breathtaking array of animals. This photo was taken in Masai Mara however we saw plenty of elephants in Samburu.
elephant and cub
Mother and calf.
giraffes
Watching the giraffes move through their native land was so beautiful.  This was taken in Masai Mara Preserve.
giraffe and acacia tree
Kenya has several landscapes, from flat, grassy plains to mountainous regions
Masai w Jeanne
That night we met some of the local Samburu tribe. They were very gracious and told us many wonderful stories of Kenya.
masai wedding party
I got to dance the Samburu Love Dance and it didn’t work.  Robert Redford was supposed to appear 😉
cat in brush
On one of our morning safaris we saw a lot of lions.  Our van kept its distance and eventually the lions came into view.

big cat!

mother and cub
Mama lion and her cub
monkey in tree
We went out on a morning safari every day. On those slow drives we saw gazelle, impala, elephants. lions, baboons, giraffes and even…
happy cheetah
Cheetahs! These two had just finished a meal of locally-raised, free range gazelle and they look pretty content.  This was taken in Masai Mara.
hippo
One would think that the big cats are dangerous yet the most dangerous animal in Africa is the hippo. They tend to tip over boats and rafts and are very short-tempered.
love birds
Colorful birds were everywhere. These beauties are Fisher’s Lovebirds.
hornbill
Yellow Hornbill
red chested sunbird
Superb Starling
red head agama lizard
Red Head Agama Lizard
weaver in flight
And this industrious little guy is a Weaver Bird. They stitch their nests together while in flight and a large Acacia tree may end up with dozens of Weaver nests.
acacia tree with nests
Like this one.  They look like ornaments.  The weaver birds will build only on the west side of the tree to prevent the wind from destroying the nests.
Crocodile Jeanne
Crocodile Jeanne!
living quarters
Our trip was full of African delights such as these stunning outdoor tents.  This is in Samburu Preserve.
lion paws
This lion was tired of posing so he plopped down and took a nap right in front of us. That’s when I got this great shot of his enormous paw.
Mt Kenya Club
The Mt. Kenya Safari Club was once home to William Holden and is now managed by the Fairmont company. It was certainly a step up from the tents.
kilimanjaro
Mt. Kenya!
breakfast company
This fine hotel was the second part of our adventure. We still went out on daily safaris yet we stayed in a much more refined setting.  One hasn’t had a proper tea until you’ve had it in Kenya.
jeanne
And our views were breathtaking! This is the Great Rift Valley.
peacock
And of course we had plenty of colorful visitors such as this peacock.
stork waiting for a bite
And this pesky stork that was probably looking for a handout. Once wild animals such as this get handouts they may lose interest in providing for themselves so we were asked not to feed this bird.  This is on the patio of the Kenya Safari Club.
pride of lions
On one of our safaris we saw an entire pride of lions!  Kenya is full of incredible sights and sounds.  If you want an incredible African journey, Kenya awaits you.
water buffalo
Cape Water Buffalo

 

rain clouds and plains
Gathering storm.  This is on the plain at Masai Mara.
wildebeasts
Wildebeest herd on the way to Tanzania.  these animals are grazing through their migration. When the storm approached the animals would turn their backs to the storm.

On third part of our adventure we left Mt Kenya and drove past the  mountains and near Nyahururu waterfalls.  After another long drive we arrived at the Great Rift Valley.  Our accommodations had beautiful views over the valley, zebras as gazelles walked freely around the golf course.  We took a guided walk and learned about the acacia tree (there are different varieties) and how the native tribes still use the bark or roots of different trees to cure yellow fever, malaria, prevent stomach worms, etc.  The acacia tree has very long thorns yet it’s home to many animals.  The giraffe eats the leaves but their tongue is created so it can reach around the thorns to get to the leaves.

calm lake
Lake Nakuru, Kenya.  This part of Kenya was incredibly lush and green, it certainly wasn’t what I expected to see in Africa.
zebras protecting flanks
Zebras. These two are in a state of mutual protection, they care covering each other’s flanks to prevent a predator from sneaking up on them.  This was taken in Masai Mara Preserve.
colorful africans
The people of Kenya were incredibly colorful and proud of their fascinating heritage.  These are Masai Mara tribesmen.

After a six hour trip back to Nairobi we had lunch at a beautiful plantation then visited the Karen Blixen farmhouse and museum. Karen Blixen wrote “Out of Africa” and was very generous to the people of Nairobi. Then we went to the Rothschild Giraffe Sanctuary where we got to feed the giraffes.  This particular breed of giraffe is on the endangered species list.

J-iraffe

The Rothschild Giraffe has white legs, the common giraffe has dark chocolate spots with cream between the spots. The Reticulated giraffe has more light brown spots with white between the spots.

the rhino
Yup! I’m petting a rhino. Sadly this guy had been injured in a fight and was blind. So the Sweetwater Game Sanctuary took this rhino in and it was protected from poachers.

On Monday we departed Nairobi for Amboseli National Park which is famous for its open plains where lions and elephants roam and the breathtaking snowcapped Mt. Kilimanjaro dominates the landscape.

This was an amazing adventure.  The people were so kind, helpful, respectful, and happy even though they didn’t have all the material things we do.  Yes, it was dusty and a bit of a culture shock but the country has a stark beauty about it, the people are resourceful but don’t work at the frantic pace that we do in America.

Tents
These are our overnight quarters at Amboseli National Park and Mt. Kilimanjaro is somewhere in the distance.

The food was wonderful, the accommodations different but very charming and we were well taken care of by the staff, tour manager and drivers.  My traveling companions were so very glad they came with me.  It’s an adventure none of us will ever forget.

the group
My ecstatic travelling companions with our driver and tour manager.  No lions were nearby when we took this photo 😉

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