Not even pictures can really capture the African experience. From our first moments in Nairobi, gazing out over the Nairobi Southern Bypass Highway, we were entranced. From the 1800 or so photos I took in three days, I winnowed those down to about 450 which you can find in the gallery. I struggled to narrow the photos to 20 here.
Dust and grit in the African skies
After a night in Nairobi, we were whisked off to the Wilson Domestic Airfield for a short hop on a 6 seater Mombasa Airways flight ...
... to Olkiombo Airstrip in the Masai Mara region (see the Google Earth Placemarks provided at the top of the page).
One of the Masai guides from the Kicheche Bush Camp , named Livingstone, picked us up from the airstrip in a landrover and took us back to the camp. There are only six tents in this camp so we were assured very exclusive and personal service.
As this camp is in an eco-conservancy - a privately owned region protected by strict laws - there are no fences surrounding the camp, so all manner of beast, big and small were free to wander through the camp.
Giraffes, elephants, and other beasts wandered throughthe camp. At night, we were strictly forbidden to leave our tent without a guide to lead us from our sleeping tent to the dining tent and back.
Within an hour or so of arriving at the camp, we were fed a lovely 5-course gourmet meal, packed into a landrover and taken off to the savanna for our first safari tour. For a small additional fee, we had our own landrover and driver.
One of the things that surpised me the most was the proximity of the animals to us and to each other. Because the Masai have never hunted the animals for food, they are quite accepting of humans and are not afraid of us in the least. In fact they more or less ingnore us as insignificant to their lives.
While there, we heard that a cheetah had been hunted and killed by a lion. The lions did not like the cheetahs moving in on their prey.
We toured around until sunset, and then enjoyed a traditional (British tradition, that is) sundowner on the plains.
After returning to camp after dark, we shared a wonderful meal with the other tent dwellers, and were in bed by 10:00. Odd noises and large animals pawing at the tent kept us alert for much of the night. In order to make the most of our time, we were awoken in the dark with coffee and biscuits, and were off on safari at the crack of dawn.
We stopped near a hippo pool for breakfast. I am not sure which was the more memorable of this experience - the sound of the hippos snorting as they rose to the surface, or the smell as about 25 of them pooped out their night's food into the pool, in which they were bathing.
The hippo pool was in a bend in the river and so provided us with a relatively safe place to have breakfast.
The animals wander around in great numbers and so we did not actually drive very far from our camp. Zebras mingled freely with ...
... wildebeast, who are a very nervous bunch.
On our last day, we did a bush walk. Note the armed guard with us.
The whistling Acacia tree sports large, sharp spikes. As a result, elephants, which love to eat these trees, have developed large molars which can grind the spikes into an eatable mash. The trees also have a symbiotic relationship with a species of ant, which live in the large brown bulbs. The holes made by the ants whistle when the wind blows through the trees.
We shall return.