Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Travel TidBits: Kenya Safari

Dear Friends!

After a wonderful wildlife safari in Kenya, I have arrived in Moshi, Tanzania, where I will teach English and computer skills at Give a Heart to Africa, a small school for the empowerment of women ( ). After a good night’s sleep, I am ready for the next part of my adventure. But I am getting ahead of myself and want to tell you about the game reserves, nature and animals that I saw in the last 2 weeks since arriving in Africa.
After arriving in Nairobi, Lynda and I met up with Daniel and Tanya Cox of Natural Exposures (, our photographic tour leaders from Bozeman, Montana. Dan is a great widely published wildlife photographer whom I had met last January in Yellowstone. Dan and Tanya lead and organize photo-tours focusing on nature and wildlife. A small charter plane out of Wilson airport took us to our first destination: Amboseli Game Preserve on the southern border of Kenya, located in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. Being a group of 16 photographers, we were met by our 5 guides and safari vehicles at a small airstrip in the middle of nowhere. The flight had taken us over arid land dotted with some small villages here and there, and the landing strip was a wider dirt road in the wide open savanna. From the air we could already see large herds of grazing elephants.
The Ol Tukai Lodge at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro is nestled in the landscape with small cabins surrounding the central area with the reception, restaurant and open seating area. Fitting with the warm climate, we had lunch on a terrace with a wide view of the plains, and with vervet monkeys climbing the surrounding trees. A Masai in colorful traditional garb was standing guard so that the monkeys would not come down and steal our food. He had a pebble-sling and only needed to raise this for the monkeys to scatter again. We see these monkeys and baboons all over the lodge grounds.
Later that afternoon, everyone was eager to go on the first game drive. The safari vehicles are open on the side and have an open rooftop for maximum viewing. Geared up with our cameras and ready for action, we were not disappointed at the multitude of animals everywhere you looked. The terrain at Amboseli is flat with arid areas, grassland and a swamp area where the elephants and lots of water fowl hang out. The swamp is fed by underground water coming from the snow caped Kilimanjaro. We marveled at th4e herds of elephants with lots of babies and juveniles. These elephants come to the swamp to graze and to cool in the water. At night, they walk for about 30 km to their night resting places at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro. One morning, I was up at dawn before sunrise and I saw the elephants on the horizon slowly walking back to their feeding grounds – what a wonderful sight to see.

Grey crowned Crane

Vervet Monkey with baby

The grey crowned crane is a very elegant bird and when in flight, its colorful plumage is quite a sight to see. We also observed courting and mating behavior – quite a well coordinated dance with each bird in lockstep with the other!
From the largest to the smallest, our first day amazed and so did all the following days. We saw more and more animals and the list is way too long to enumerate them. Needless to say, we saw the ‘big 5’: elephant, buffalo, lion, rhinoceros, and leopard. We also saw cheetah and observed a mother with 2 juvenile cubs sitting on a mount over looking the plains in search for their next meal.

Warthog Family

Ostriches, female and male

Malachite Kingfisher
I hope in my next Travel TidBits to have more images of the wonders of the African ‘bush’.
For today, I am signing off. It’s late and tomorrow I start my teaching in earnest having observed several classes today to get my feet on the ground. I already had one home visit to a student whose family we visited today. But more about that later.

Jambo from Africa!